To earn a degree from Roger Williams University, students must pass a class on science, technology and society. To pass the class, they must watch Al Gore’s global warming movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” When a conservative student asked for alternative points of view — for example, that warming is caused by natural cycles not human activity — Jeffrey Hughes, assistant dean of marine and natural sciences, said there is no legitimate countervailing view.
“After an initial and heated debate, scientists no longer question whether the atmosphere is being warmed due to human activities and instead are increasingly impressed with the speed and impact of the process,” Hughes wrote. “I repeat: there is no doubt that we’re warming the earth and that a continuation of our activities will lead to profound changes.
“Penguins, polar bears and your unborn children have no vote in this. They must live with decisions we make today,” the assistant dean said.
“As educators, we’re charged to encourage your intellectual growth,” Hughes added. “That can (actually, will) be uncomfortable at times, and we’re also here to help you deal with that discomfort. It’s truly what makes being a human such a joy, privilege and challenge.”
Why not make the professors uncomfortable by presenting arguments by scientists who question the majority view? There are such scientists and there is room for intelligent debate on why the earth is warming, the contributing role of human activity and what tactics would be effective to slow or cope with warming.