The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Legislator Exposes Himself.

South Dakota State Representative, Don Kopp (R-District 35, Rapid City) and Interested Party go way back as commenters in the RCJ; he hails as "South Dakota Resident," sometimes. Mr. Kopp is a trained forester. IP is a trained mycophagist.*

We agree that ponderosa pine is depleting water stores recharged in the Black Hills, that the carbon cycle relies on periodic fire, and that hardwood release sequesters water.

Recently, Kopp, self-proclaimed Christian fundamentalist, and several fellow legislators exposed themselves to the ridicule of a national audience by passing a resolution that "recommends" to educators to adopt curricula that denies that a global community of some 7 billion humans have anything whatsoever to do with changes to Earth's climate.

Don, human activity has released one half of the heavy metals in repose on the earth's surface. HALF!

How does the obfuscation of anthropogenic climate disruption, its affects on South Dakota and the Black Hills, not ignore centuries of forestland manipulation?

*mycophagist - a person or animal who eats fungi (especially mushrooms)

Post submitted by Interested Party.


Wayne Gilbert said...

The resolution as drafted by Scientist/Theologian Kopp, and as passed by the House, declared that astrological forces were in part responsible for climate change. Somebody in the Senate caught this and modified the wording. The deletion of the laughable language didn't make the whole idea any less ludicrous however.

Bob Ellis said...

You should take some time out from reading Al Gore talking points and look at some real science. No, I'm not talking about "fudged" computer models, but real, genuine scientific information.

The evidence ( is overwhelming that climate change is a natural, cyclic phenomenon that has been going on for thousands of years, i.e. far longer than there have been SUVs, power plants or organized capitalism on the planet. Even other planets (where there are no humans at all, much less capitalist humans, I should add) are warming. Hint: maybe that ball of fire burning at 11,000 degrees in the middle of our solar system is a more likely culprit than the Ford Expedition.

You are a great illustration of why we need Kopp's bill. It would be a sad thing indeed to see more children be misled into growing up to be as ignorant as you.

Bob Newland said...

Ah, yes. Science. Like that found at Dakota Voice.

Bill Fleming said...

I like that Ellis always says "thousands of years." Never millions or billions. Never even 10,000.

Maybe he'd care to explain.

Besides, no one is arguing that climate change is solely due to human endeavor, but the fact that humans can have a profound impact on the environment is undeniable.

Perhaps Bob E. missed the days when the Cuyahoga river caught on fire.

Question for Ellis. What was the man who chopped down the last tree on Easter Island thinking?

Thad Wasson said...

Ahh, good old Cleveland, Ohio. The mistake on the lake. I said that line to the new weather girl at KOTA. She did not find the humor.

BWJunior said...

Thad, I get it and still smile when someone mentions it as I was born and raised there and in fact was there (though only 5 at the time) when the mighty Cuyahoga last burned. Not one of our finest moments.

Bob Newland said...

"hardwood release sequesters water" ???

IP, would you elaborate a little on that assertion?

Bill Fleming said...

Ellis tells us that the sun is burning at 11,000 degrees.

Perfect illustration of his surface level thinking.

The temperature of the sun at its core is 15 million degrees (farenheit), Bob.

So you're only off by, oh say, 14 million nine hundred and eighty nine thousand degrees.

Hint: it gets cooler as it goes out... but apparently not enough to keep your brain from frying.

So, got any more good numbers for us, Mr. Science?

larry kurtz said...

Bob, here's a 2002 story archived at the RCJ:

Hardwood release refers to the removal of all coniferous tree species especially those stands growing within an aspen clone, (aspen grows as a community) ground fire is often introduced to clear acidic pine needles.
From Wikipedia:
Trees and fungi enjoy a mycorrhyzal symbiosis. This mutualistic association provides the fungus with relatively constant and direct access to carbohydrates, such as glucose and sucrose supplied by the plant. The carbohydrates are translocated from their source (usually leaves) to root tissue and on to fungal partners. In return, the plant gains the benefits of the mycelium's higher absorbtive capacity for water and mineral nutrients (due to comparatively large surface area of mycelium:root ratio), thus improving the plant's mineral absorption capabilities.

Hope that helps.

Wayne Gilbert said...

Ellis cites an article written by a doctoral divinity candidate which, among other things, smugly asserts that carbon dioxide cannot be a pollutant because it is a naturally occurring compound. I'm not a scientist but even I know better than to consider this to be a persuasive or even colorably valid argument. I'm tired of this crap, and don't wonder why scientists aren't getting aggressive about these idiots, whose real agenda is that since Christian dogma is that the world will end soon we don't have to worry about our stewardship of the earth. It's likely that Representative Kopp's assertion that astrology is a cause of climate change is not due to illiteracy but actually reflects his true beliefs. We have not worshipped the sun fervently enough, and therefore it is the likely culprit.

Douglas said...

"Question for Ellis. What was the man who chopped down the last tree on Easter Island thinking?"

Maybe, generations from now, this wood will be in a pencil to allow a Republican to vote ?

denature said...

I presume most readers are aware that the vast majority of scientists in the field accept that our recent global warming is real and is primarily due to anthropogenic forces. This is not controversial. See this video, or likely any other by the same author. What We Know About Climate Change

denature said...

Given my post above as the scientific backdrop, I think it's important to realize what the intent of Kopp's resolution was (it was not to go where the balance of scientific evidence leads). South Dakota Public Radio broadcasts legislative proceedings. When the original resolution was about to pass the house Kopp had this to say (excerpted):

Mr. Kopp: "I bring to you this concurrent resolution which I crafted simply asking the schools that where anthropogenic global warming is taught that they may also teach the opposite of that or the other side, which is that warming trends on the planet have been occurring over thousands of years and are natural."

Essentially Kopp is creating a false dichotomy (climate change is either all man or all natural causes). In doing so he ignores the current science standards that are already in place and more comprehensive and balanced in the treatment of climate than his creation.

Kopp goes on to state many of the false or misleading claims in the original resolution including the idea that CO2 is the 'gas of life', which were later amended out by the senate. Kopp fails to appreciate that many of the claims he wants to get in the classroom fail to meet the absolute minimum standard of science--publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

In response to the general question (I'm paraphrasing) if it would be good idea to apply this course of action (balanced teaching) across all curricula in order to teach both sides.

Mr. Kopp: "Yes, I believe it would if these variable opinions are from a scientific nature"

Kopp fails to realize that all the rhetorical techniques used to deny global warming are the same used to claim HIV does not cause AIDS, or that vaccines cause autism, or to deny the Holocaust, or that 9-11 was an inside job. In all these cases the vast balance of scholarship points to a single conclusion, but a vocal and organized group of individuals seek to sow doubt about the consensus position arrived at through careful and published research. We should not encourage our schools to promote fringe positions that haven't met the basic requirements of scholarship.

The asker of the question (Thompson) wondered if abstinence only education would require teaching about birth control.

Given his past writings and that all previous legislative attempts to 'balance teaching' involved getting creationism in the classroom, I presume Kopp is aware that creationists would feel that they meet his standards of a minority opinion based upon a scientific nature.

It seemed to not escape the notice of Rep. Lange, who voted for the amended resolution in the house on Monday (but did not say he favored a creationist viewpoint).

Mr. Lange: "What I'd like to do is simply recall the Scopes trial, which was called the monkey trial back in the 1920s. . . William Jennings Bryan was excoriated for arguing for creationism instead of evolution."

denature said...

Certainly, the senate amended out most of the egregious parts of the resolution. But the misguided intent by the prime sponsor is still in evidence.

Mr. Kopp: "I believe that there are two sides to every scientific argument generally. This isn't proven science and when we only teach one side we're not teaching science, we're teaching politics basically, or an agenda."

Science education is about teaching what the balance of evidence indicates. The only benefit for teaching disproved ideas (like spontaneous generation) is as a jumping off point to allow students to understand how we know what we know. This is certainly not the intent of the legislation. The legislature seems to miss the irony that the sources for teaching that humans don't affect climate will come from political think tanks funded by fossil fuel money. Their resolution claims to be against political viewpoints in science, but absolutely requires them in order to achieve some envisioned balance.

The remaining language conflicts with state science standards. The resolution implies that it's not possible to determine the contribution of different factors to climate: "there are a variety of climatological and meteorological dynamics that can affect world weather phenomena, and the significance and interrelativity of these factors remain unresolved"

Among the state science standards are those that ask students to "describe how various factors may affect global climate" or "explain how human activity changes the land, ocean, and atmosphere of Earth."

What standards are educators supposed to follow now?

Bill Fleming said...

Fortunately, the resolution is not enforceable. Looks like the House may still have an opportunity to dump it. If so, they should. It's an embarrassment.

Bill Fleming said... embarrassment:

Douglas said...

The real irony here is that legislators who apparently can't read, don't understand science, can't interpret data, can't spell, don't understand grammar, use the cousin of the correct word, etc. think they should tell students and teachers what they must learn.