from: Phil Jones <p.jonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: Fwd: FYI: Climate Talk's Cancellation Splits a Town
to: "Catherine Drury" <cda.druryatXYZxyznternet.com>
A few people here in CRU have read the book. Some said
they would recommend it to some of the enquiries we get. It is important
to raise the whole issue with the young and the book ought to
succeed in this.
The story below may be of interest. We have never got this response in
the UK. It aptly highlights some of the prejudices within the US that we
occasionally here about.
Several learned societies in the US (American Geophysical Union,
American Met Society and the Geological Society) have put out statements
on climate change (good statements and well argued) in the last few months.
Several US Senators and their henchman have been questioning these,
saying that they are written by a few and are not representative of the
majority of society members!
I wish you luck with the book.
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 05:01:41 -0600
From: Michael Schlesinger <schlesinatXYZxyzos.uiuc.edu>
Subject: FYI: Climate Talk's Cancellation Splits a Town
January 17, 2008
Climate Talk's Cancellation Splits a Town
Kurt Wilson/The Missoulian
Steven W. Running, Nobel laureate climate scientist at the University of Montana.
By JIM ROBBINS
CHOTEAU, Mont. - School authorities' cancellation of a talk that a Nobel laureate
climate researcher was to have given to high school students has deeply divided this
small farming and ranching town at the base of the east side of the Rocky Mountains.
The scholar, Steven W. Running, a professor of ecology at the University of Montana, was
scheduled to speak to about 130 students here last Thursday about his career and the
global changes occurring because of the earth's warming.
Dr. Running was a lead author of a global warming report by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the 400-member United Nations body that shared last year's Nobel
Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. But when some residents complained that
his presentation here would be one-sided because no opposing view would be offered, the
superintendent of Choteau School District No. 1, Kevin St. John, canceled it.
Dr. Running was surprised.
"Disbelief was the primary reaction," he said in a telephone interview. "I've never been
canceled before. But it was almost comical. I had a pretty candid discussion with the
superintendent and the school board, and they said there were some conservative citizens
who didn't want me to speak."
Mr. St. John said that numerous residents had complained to school board members and
that they in turn had suggested that the program be called off.
Those who complained misunderstood the content of the talk, Mr. St. John said, but there
was no time to explain to all of them that Dr. Running was a leading scientist rather
than an agenda-driven ideologue.
"It was my failure to articulate who he is and what he was here for," the superintendent
said. "He's a Nobel scientist, highly distinguished, but people thought he was something
else. Academic freedom is very important here, and science education is very important
Still, as in much of the West, Choteau is home to a deep-seated mistrust of
environmentalism, which many here see as a threat to their agricultural way of life. The
town has also been largely on the pro-development side of a long and sometimes bitter
battle over whether to exploit oil and gas reserves along the wild Rocky Mountain front
or to preserve it primarily for wilderness and wildlife.
Finally, there is the raw politics of the matter. Dr. Running specializes in an issue
associated with Mr. Gore, not a popular figure among many in this predominantly
But Mr. St. John said he had in no way intended to censor Dr. Running, who in fact
presented a previously scheduled evening lecture on climate change at the high school
the day he was to have spoken during school hours. Only a handful of students were among
the 140 or so people at the evening talk, however, because it coincided with a high
school basketball game, a big source of entertainment in small-town Montana. Dr. Running
did not mention the cancellation or the resulting controversy in his presentation, "The
Five Stages of Climate Grief," which was sponsored by the Sonoran Institute, an
The first two of the five stages are denial and anger, Dr. Running said in the phone
interview, so he understands the opposition to his addressing the students.
The controversy here intensified when a local student's article criticizing school
officials was published Monday on the student-created "Class Act Page" of The Great
Falls Tribune, a statewide daily.
"I was insulted as a high school student prepared to enter the world I need to hear both
sides of the story," the student, Kip Barhaugh, 17, said in an interview Tuesday. "I
don't feel there is another side. Global warming is not a controversial issue, it's a
fact. We need to be prepared to deal with it."
People on Main Street here were divided over the cancellation. Melody Martinsen, the
editor of The Choteau Acantha, a local weekly, said that while she rarely received
letters to the editor, "this week I have nine and seven are on the subject, and they are
all chastising the school board."
Kirk Moore, the owner of a farm and ranch store, is a school board member who favored
canceling the talk. But he declined to say why. "No comment," Mr. Moore said. "Go talk
to the superintendent."
Jill Owen, the owner of an organic grocery and bookstore, wrote a letter to the school
board that opposed the cancellation. "We were disappointed the school board would turn
down an opportunity for a Nobel laureate to speak," Ms. Owen said. "We need to inspire
kids in math and science, and it would have been great."
Dr. Running, 57, said high school students were an important audience for his message
about climate change. "Our generation caused the problem," he said, "and I want to talk
to high schools because they are the generation that will solve the problem. And we
can't solve the problem without a free discussion."
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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