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« All over at Barton Moss | Main | Climate Control in the Mail »

Some more responses

A couple more responses to the Climate Control report have appeared, of decidedly variable quality.

Left Foot Forward's take is, as you might expect the kind of thing you would expect from that less than august organ, mostly written without reference to the report at all and not really addressing anything we said in it. Author James Bloodworth has this to say for example

According to the GWPF, telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.

But hang on a minute. What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment? If you can avoid doing so, don’t go around polluting the world – it’s hardly revolutionary advice.

One hardly knows where to start with this. For a start, we do not say that the mere saying of these things is "brainwashing". We say that saying it in every subject and repeating it throughout the child's time in school from nursery to sixth form and beyond is "brainwashing". Expecting children to repeat the mantra as revealed truth in examinations is "brainwashing". Punishing those who question it (see comments to my original post on the report) is "brainwashing".

Bloodworth seems strangely unaware that other people might have different priorities or different preferences or different ways at looking at the world. Some, for example, might feel that more carbon dioxide emissions might be a better thing, particularly as we look at the lights going out (or more likely the prices going through the roof) in the next few years. The LFF author and I might, for example, place a different value on lives of old folk threatened with freezing to death in cold winters. In fact clearly we do. Underneath it all he seems to be working on a Stern-like low discount rate, seeing problems far into the future as looming large and scary. I, in common with most of mankind, discount the future to a much greater extent. What right has Mr Bloodworth to force his discount rate on my children or me? Who does he think he is?

Similarly, Mr Bloodworth seems to think that recycling is something that children should be told to do. Why does he think anything so foolish? Even WRAP, the government's official advisory body on recycling, says that we should not always recycle because recycling sometimes uses more resources than disposal. If children were told to recycle when economically sensible I would have no problem with it. Teaching it as though it were a self-explanatory "good thing" is unscientific ignorance of the highest order.

In fact just what you'd expect from Left Foot Forward.

A somewhat better critique comes from Bill Scott, who is, I understand, the president of the National Association for Environmental Education. Prof Scott talks about the existence of tendentious material in all aspects of the curriculum and speaks of teachers' ability to sift through it. This may well be right, but this is not going to help when the tendentiousness appears in exam papers.

It's also worth pointing out that we were quite careful not to overstate what we had said, and were clear that we were presenting evidence of a problem and could not speak to their prevalence. However, Prof Scott takes us to task for implying that climate related activism was "always proselytising", and asks us if pester power is used by many schools to change parents' behaviour, something he agrees is inappropriate. In the face of our clear statement that we hadn't done this - I imagine such a project is far beyond the meagre resources of GWPF - this seems just a little unreasonable.

But at the end of the day, Prof Scott seems to agree with the conclusion of our report; we need to know much more about what schools are teaching about the environment. For that I, and I'm sure John Shade too, are grateful.

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Reader Comments (25)

Good answer.

"For that I, and I'm sure John Shade too, are grateful."



Apr 10, 2014 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Gpwf meagre resources as compared to the lavish tax subsidised funding of all leftwing ngo's quangoes and fake charities
Ina proportion of 1 to 1000

Check out the posh salaries of those alarmists!

But such is scumbag fascism nowadays

We do noy need taxpaidfor brainwashing at all levels, bbc to start with

Apr 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPtw

"Bloodworth seems strangely unaware that other people might have different priorities or different preferences or different ways at looking at the world. "

He just has the same attitude as so many, if not all, of that ilk. I'm an environmentalist so I am pure, I am right, and all who disagree with me are wrong and their views aren't worth even reading.

The same arrogance as shown by Greenpeace etc. over many years. Any opposition to them is evil and caused by the devil, usually in the guise of an Oil Company.

Apr 10, 2014 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Bish: Who accepts recycling that isn't economically sensible? There occasionally is pressure to recycle marginally useful materials, but land-fill space isn't free. The local governmental authority running my landfill get their money from charging waste-haulers fees (usually by weight of material dumped), so they would prefer that we re-cycle less. Then when the landfill is full, they ask the government for an appropriation to build a new landfill.

Apr 11, 2014 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

How exactly do wind turbines "safeguard the environment"? Or do they do a lot more?

Apr 11, 2014 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

The abysmal quality of responses such as Bloodworth reveals the mediocre quality of the people making decisions. I cannot think of anything worse for the environment than these simpletons, whatever their intentions (and even if these were honorable).

Apr 11, 2014 at 1:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

"What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment? "

Note Mr. Bloodworth: environmental controversies are political, which is to say there are differences of opinion as to what should be done, how much should be spent, and whether the science is consistently accurate when it comes to evaluating things like pollution, extinction of species, climate alarmism, water quality, energy choices, emission controls, etc. As such, when such subjects are taught as part of a curriculum, there are bound to be teachers who, for example, might have extreme views such as the ones you apparently entertain. The danger then becomes that those teachers might be tempted to indoctrinate their students to espouse the political views that you find so dear.

Hope this helps.

Apr 11, 2014 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

"...According to the GWPF, telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”."

There's nothing wrong with these snippets as they're stated. Well, the carbon footprint thing is duplicitous if the intention is for that to mean more than recycling. But then these snippets are cherry picked phrases or rephrased into a different context.

The trouble is that schools are not only teaching people to play nice in the world. They're very much into the destruction of life and Gaia and that mankind is quite evil and that their parents and grandparents are also evil if they fail to act.

Which basically means is that the snippets used by Bloodworth are roughly equivalent to photoshopping polar bears into sad tender poses.

I'm not positive that Prof. Bill Scott was any better when he suggests;

"However, Prof Scott takes us to task for implying that climate related activism was "always proselytizing(sic)", and asks us if pester power is used by many schools to change parents' behavior...".

Changing the direction of topic places GWPF onto a footing they weren't positive they covered and they backtracked, then agreed with the Prof's statement. Change the topic and roll and the engineer types get disarmed by unfamiliar territory!

Let's retrace the statement, "...implying that climate related activism was "always proselytizing"...".
Is there another type of activism? Is the prof implying that there are 'activists' who do not seek to share their beliefs, rally people of similar faith and educate the weak minded? Why call them 'activists'?

Then the activists go to extremes and manage to infiltrate their desired knowledge into school texts and we're supposed to believe that only the children are the targets?
Who helps the kids with their homework?
Who listens to the kids practice?
Who checks their assignments? Projects?

How about we insist that schools teach logic and practice common sense? Perhaps add in some real math, literature and grammar?

Don't forget that kids will also learn the reasons they need to recycle and not pollute basically mean that others who are not happy recyclers, antipollution or low carbon are bad people.

Apr 11, 2014 at 4:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Another Brick in the Wall ?

Apr 11, 2014 at 4:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

You need look no further than the incident of Al Gore's film, riddled with so many scientific errors that a UK judge decided the film could be shown to children only if the teacher explained the errors with the help of a court-prescribed guidebook.

The Ministry of Education had made showing of a scientifically-flawed film compulsory clearly for propaganda purposes, brainwashing.

Apr 11, 2014 at 5:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred Colbourne

I think you should actually checkout some of the problems with recycling. You could by finding out where all the green glass people in the UK carefully recycle goes (there are other examples you could look for). Then check out why landfill is expensive, is the EU involved? I think your council would prefer more rather than less recycling, but that is because politicians have imposed costs rather than market forces. As the Bishop says whether that is good or bad depends on how you view the world and how you weigh the costs and benefits.

Apr 11, 2014 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

"But hang on a minute. What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment?"

He seems to have no understanding of environmentalism. It is nothing to do with safeguarding the environment but rather the imposition of a "pre-industrial medieval utopia". They do not care about the consequences of their zealotry.

They wanted to ban DDT with little regard to the science and let millions die from malaria. Their drive for inefficient renewables damages our economy, doesn't lead to reduction in emissions and increases fuel poverty.

Yes I find it objectionale that politically motivated pseudoscience is being taught in UK schools!

Apr 11, 2014 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Here in the W. Mids the council do collections as required. In the last year or so the result has been serious storage fires that cannot be extinguished and last for almost 2 months. A great deal of black smoke. Of course, they rush around and move the local fish from canals etc. The residents? Well, the residents have to stay indoors with windows shut and clumps of ash dropping/air pollution around the place. Nothing like a bit of composting with flammable materials is there? These council people are seriously dumb ! And I think the Fire Brigade inspection/assessment process has lost it somewhere?

In the local paper the subject of indoctrinating children often flares up...and in come plenty of green/bobbly hats with the doom and intense gloom, and many of them. When you have them young....result! My 6yr old granddaughter has an inbuilt natural crap rejector property I note, which sometimes impacts on me?

Apr 11, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

AS the Bishop says, the critical commentators on the Montford/Shade report are deliberately not referring to the point that is wrong - and illegal - which is to have widespread and often dubious environmental propaganda in just about every school subject, not just geography where it belongs, and to insist on preordained exam answers which do not allow for alternative opinions on a disputed - or dare I say- unsettled topic.

Apr 11, 2014 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. (C.S. Lewis)

Bloodworth, I'd like you to meet Erik Bloodaxe.

Apr 11, 2014 at 9:58 AM | Registered Commenterperry

Landfill space isn't free because the EU says it isn't free.
The UK is not running out of landfill space and no more is France. Denmark and Holland might be a different kettle of fish and (beyond Europe) I doubt if there is a lot of spare land in the likes of Singapore.
We are expected to recycle paper (some of which is reusable), cardboard (ditto), glass (not really), plastic (usually at uneconomic cost and then only certain plastics not including the ubiquitous plastic bag!), tin cans (also not economic) and various electrical appliances (which we ship to China for them to put into landfill, at what unnecessary cost in CO2 I couldn't say).
On the other hand a worked out limestone/sand/gravel pit or open-cast coal mine — properly regulated — can within 10 years be brought back into productive use for a range of uses from housing to re-forestation to recreation. That is also recycling and a damn sight cheaper and less contentious (how many different coloured bins/boxes have you got cluttering up your hallway and can you remember what they are all for?) than the present governmental obsession with the subject which is bordering on the anal-retentive!

Apr 11, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Every time something like this comes up it is amazing just how many quangos are out there suckling at the public teat - all simply repeating the same mantra that government need to "act" but few with any sensible advice on which acts to take. Yet for the mere cost of HS2 we could build 5 to 10 fission reactors, some of which could be made to burn the waste of the others. It's not the will to do it and it sure isn't skeptics or greens holding it up, just the endless constipative UK bureaucracy and dogmatic dependency on an obviously failed energy market created by previous feckless administrations.

On topic though, I doubt we can blame teachers. The museums and textbooks all repeat the same stuff with no nuance about uncertainties whatsoever. It's not the first time that obvious nonsense is taught as if it was fact and it won't be the last. Working with us is the fact that the scientific community has the collective memory of a gnat. This global warming argument has been trotted out 3 times in the last 100 years along with 2 cooling scares, all of which ended because nature changed it's mind. So when the inevitable next cool dip comes it will be the end of the warming scare and the beginning of a new ice age scare with attendant predictions of extreme weather events and crop failures.

Apr 11, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The recycling is part of the propaganda. It is not the worth or otherwise of the effort which is important, it is the aspect of universal involvement, of doing your bit to save the planet and the all-important factor of being able to denounce anyone who does not play as a traitor to environmentalism and sustainability and thereby to the Earth itself. Collectivism which leads to compulsion and must not be questioned. Involvement matters, effectiveness not so much.

Apr 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Welcome to the black and white world of the greeners.
At the risk of being humerous, I am recycling this interesting article.

Apr 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The priority should be to
before you expose children to dogma
Ironically alarmist material is great material for teaching critical thinking by taking it into schools and have kids pick thru it against a list fallacy is of logical fallacies.

Apr 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.
- yep not telling kids that SOMETIMES recycling is counterproductive and bad for the environment is brainwashing
..similar to "not about the science, but rather about dirty PR"
.. it is also consistant with the lobbying not actually being about the environment, but rather being about pushing some other political message in an unchallengable way

Apr 11, 2014 at 6:44 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I hope that the children are taught that a long time ago, when people like me were their age, we would -

1. Wash out glass milk bottle that were then taken away by the delivery man to be used again.
2. Beer, and pop came in glass bottles could be redeemed of money when returned to the shop for recycling.
3. Woolen clothing that had seen better days was unpicked and the wool (if in good order) re-knitted into a new item.
4. Worn-out clothing and linen were often repaired or remade to something new. Very worn items were cut-up to be used as cleaning cloths.
5. Medicine bottles and jars were returned to the pharmacies for reuse.
6. Vegetables came from gardens and allotments, gluts of fruit and vegetables were often given to the needy.
7. Greater reliance on public transport, though most people would walk more. A walk of 5 to 10 miles per day was not unusual.
8. Packaging was mostly paper based and nearly all reused.
9. The rag-an'-bone man would come around and remove old items for resale, repair, or to be remade. He would also sharpen knife, scissors, etc.

It was the age of make-do and mend, it was often tough but it was fun. There was more 'recycling' back then but by the 1980s, and it all changed for the worse. By then we had become a 'throw-away society', and we've been throwing it all away ever since,

Apr 11, 2014 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

On recycling, out here in Chia, I get hold of one of the old b oys one sees around to come to my apartment where he weighs all the paper, bottles etc that my partner has collected. He duly weighs them, pays us the going rate and hey presto - the free market at work!

On another occasion, I was in the park with my students having a picnic. Come the time to leave, I asked the students to clear up all the empty bottles to keep the place tidy. "no need" they replied and pointed to the various people watching us and they said"as soon as we leave, they will come and pick it all up and then sell it on- no teacher, by leaving it here we are giving these people employment!"

Apr 12, 2014 at 6:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterSankara

The priority should be to
before you expose children to dogma
Ironically alarmist material is great material for teaching critical thinking by taking it into schools and have kids pick thru it against a list fallacy is of logical fallacies.

Apr 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM | stewgreen


Doing it ..
and my Swedish 6th-9th grade students are ... loving it :-)

Apr 12, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrady

I guess the proprietors of 'Left Forward' must have gone to a British school. They are perfect examples of Educationally Inculcated Bigotry.

Apr 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

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