News Story

Man-made Global Warming Discussions Heating Up in Michigan

State Board of Education considering discussions about adopting Next Generation Science Standards

The Michigan Department of Education is considering discussing in the "near future" a state standard for science that some say would teach that climate change is man-made and factual.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are being promoted as a new, nationwide curriculum for how science should be taught in grades K-12, and have been met with plenty of controversy.

The State Board of Education is considering discussing the NGSS at a board meeting in the near future, said MDE Spokesman Martin Ackley, in an email. The State Board of Education makes the final call on whether the standards are adopted, Ackley said.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said has started a petition calling him out for introducing a bill to stop the science-equivalent of Common Core from being taught. 

"It's not settled science," Rep. McMillin said. "It's debunked by many organizations. It is being taught as fact. If it was being taught as theory with the other side presented, that would be more reasonable."

Bob Lattimer, president of Citizens for Objective Public Education, a not-profit group in Washington, D.C., said the NGSS generally promotes progressive views on environmentalism.

"NGSS specifically endorses the idea of man-made global warming," Lattimer said in an email.

Mark McCaffrey disagrees. The programs and policy director of the National Center for Science Education, a not-for-profit based on Oakland, Calif., said the NGSS is based on current scientific research that strongly shows that human activities are contributing to climate change.

"From our point of view, this is not a big conspiracy to brainwash kids," he said. "It is an honest attempt to provide all kids with 21st century skills."

The National Center for Science Education described how climate change is addressed in the NGSS:

The idea is explained at the middle school level as follows: 'Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.' The high school level adds, ‘Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. ... Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.'

Those conclusions, however, are not universal.

"There are indications in some variables that increases in greenhouse gases are having a small effect on climate, but there is no 'proof' of this in the classical scientific sense," said John Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. "Mother Nature inflicts large variations on the climate that tend to hide the small effects of the human-caused greenhouse gases."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.