Anticlimate bill in Kansas

House Bill 2306 (PDF), introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives on February 12, 2013, is a novelty: a "strengths and weaknesses" bill directed at climate science alone. The bill contains two main provisions. The first charges the Kansas state board of education with providing "a course of instruction in science" which will "(1) Provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis; and (2) assist students in developing scientific theories or hypotheses." The second reads, "The legislature recognizes that the teaching of certain scientific topics, such as climate science, may be controversial. The legislature encourages the teaching of such scientific controversies to be made in an objective manner in which both the strengths and weaknesses of such scientific theory or hypothesis are covered."

"The point of the bill is obviously to misrepresent climate science as scientifically controversial," explained NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott. "It's not as though the bill is providing any concrete guidance to teachers. The only effects of enacting such a misguided bill would be to discourage responsible teachers from presenting climate science accurately and to encourage irresponsible teachers to misrepresent it as controversial." She commented that both scientific organizations such as the American Geological Institute and educational organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers have taken firm stands on the necessity of teaching climate science in accordance with the consensus of the scientific community. "Creationists have used the 'strengths-and-weaknesses' dodge for years," she added. "It's not surprising to see climate change deniers doing the same."

According to the state legislature's website, HB 2306 was introduced by, and is currently sponsored by, the House Standing Committee on Education, rather than by any individual legislator. The chair of the committee is Kasha Kelley (R-District 80), the vice chair is Ward Cassidy (R-District 120), and the ranking minority member is Ed Trimmer (D-District 79). Also on the committee are Sue Boldra (R-District 111), John Bradford (R-District 40), Carolyn Bridges (D-District 83), Diana Dierks (R-District 71), Willie Dove (R-District 38), John Ewy (R-District 117), Shanti Gandhi (R-District 52), Amanda Grosserode (R-District 16), Dennis Hedke (R-District 99), Ron Highland (R-District 51), Roderick Houston (D-District 89), Jerry Lunn (R-District 28), Nancy Lusk (D-District 22), Kelly Meigs (R-District 23), Melissa Rooker (R-District 25), and Valdenia Winn (D-District 34).

While it is as yet unclear which members of the committee support HB 2306, it is suggestive that Dennis Hedke — by trade a consulting geophysicist at a firm with clients in the energy industry — recently arranged for two climate change deniers, Willie Soon and John Christy, to testify before the Joint Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy. According to the Lawrence Journal-World (February 5, 2013), Hedke said, "The driving force for moving in the direction of producing the most renewable energy as possible has all been wound up or related to the suggestion that CO2 is bad. There is a lot of data and evidence out there that clearly contradicts that. ... I wanted to make sure our committee members got a chance to see the real data." Soon, in his testimony, contended, "There is no experimental data that exists that supports the view that the Earth's climate is changing in any dangerous way."

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