Point of View: Not Even Close

She held her tongue as our personal surface temperatures rose, my baseball cap creating a greenhouse effect

An Idaho lawmaker uncomfortable with climate change being taught in the state’s schools — or perhaps simply uncomfortable with education itself — said kids ought to be able to determine on their own, for instance, whether the globe upon which we live is flat or spherical. 

We were hoping the reporter would suggest the legislator read up on Eratosthenes, or, in the alternative, that she and he go outside and put two sticks in the ground somewhat apart from each other so they could observe the different shadow lengths they cast, or that they look at a ship coming up over the horizon, or that they sit down with a laptop and Google the many photos that have been taken of Earth from outer space, or photos of lunar eclipses. But she held her tongue as our personal surface temperatures rose, my baseball cap creating a greenhouse effect.

Presumably, when it’s become abundantly evident that coastal flooding because of melting polar ice and the consequent sea rise has displaced legions of people around the world, when the coral reefs have all died off in acidic oceans, and when extreme weather events such as hurricanes, deluges, wildfires, droughts, heightened air pollution, heat waves, and insect-borne diseases have produced incalculable damage, he will acknowledge that it’s time for the subject to be taught in school, provided, of course, that the kids are encouraged not to jump to any conclusions . . . about climate change, or a heliocentric universe, or the laws of motion, or any of that.

It takes a while for things to sink in, a couple of thousand years, say, in Eratosthenes’s case. Of course there were — nay, still are — naysayers when it came to the teaching of evolution in schools too. If we are the pinnacle of an Intelligent Designer’s experiments, beginning with slime mats four billion years ago and moving onward and upward from there, it’s pretty sad.

And since not everyone can be a Copernicus, a Kepler, a Galileo, a Newton, or an Einstein, who were able to figure things out for themselves, I’m glad there are teachers there for the rest of us, to acclimate us to the world in which we find ourselves, to pique our natural curiosity, and to nurture in us the ability to reason — the ability, once set on our way, to think things through.

We have a teacher in our family, a very good one, who does all the above, and I hate to think that she might ever be hindered in her work, the most essential in society. 

The right to life, free inquiry, free speech, and the pursuit of happiness trumps the right to bear assault weapons in my book. It’s not even close.