Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Free The Truth, sound the alarm

The Federal Way School Board last night ditched its ridiculous but temporary moratorium on Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, even as board members defended their actions using the cover argument that they did not want students to be blindly indoctrinated without hearing more than one point of view.

(Their pretense about hearing from all sides is completely moot in this case because there is no longer a scientific debate about global warming).

The boneheaded decision has caused some progressive minded citizens to contemplate challenging the incumbents on the school board, which would definitely be a good thing. The Federal Way School Board needs to be more representative of the community it makes decisions for.

Most of the current board members unsurprisingly have ties to the local right wing, including the ultraconservative Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an organization with a mission of destroying the public education system, one step at a time. (One of their immediate goals is union busting, or more succinctly, the destruction of the Washington Education Association).

Meanwhile, over in Yakima, the principal of Eisenhower High has unfairly stopped the school's environmental club from screening An Inconvenient Truth, saying the film must first go through the materials process (which consists of a committee review and then ultimate approval by the principal, who wields veto power) to determine if it has educational value.

The principal's action surprised the club and its adviser, who did not think the process applied to club activities. And why should it? Club participation is voluntary. Public school buildings across America are used for optional extra curricular activities that are not part of the school day nor the core curricula.

In fact, schools are often simply used as meeting spaces, lent out to individuals or groups whose business is wholly unrelated to education.

Eisenhower's principal, Stacey Locke, did not provide a satisfactory explanation for her actions (and we would not have expected her to be able to supply one). Eisenhower's environmental club should have the right to screen An Inconvenient Truth, and indeed, the film is not only completely appropriate in that setting, but it should also be shown in science classes.

Scotland's already doing it:
Former US vice president Al Gore's climate change film is to be shown in all of Scotland's secondary schools, it has been announced...Plans to show it were announced ahead of an event in Glasgow attended by Mr Gore and former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
It's one of the most important and lauded documentary films of all time. It should be part of the curriculum. Even right wing media have been swayed by The Truth. As Fox Noise Channel's Roger Friedman says, "It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative...your mind will be changed in a nanosecond."

Audiences across the country have been shaken to their core. The general public is more aware of and more concerned about global warming than ever before. Americans of all ages are eager to hear what Al Gore has to say.

Gore just this week came to the Pacific Northwest - to Idaho, and more specifically Boise - to give his slide show and extended, updated lecture on global warming. Julie from Red State Rebels has a terrific writeup of his appearance, which was nothing less than a giant hit:
The former vice president brought his famous "slide show" to BSU on Monday night, much of it the same as what he presented in the film An Inconvenient Truth. But Gore continues to update and tailor his presentation for each audience he's addressing - so here, for example, he highlighted how the incidence and severity of forest fires has increased with temperatures over the past decade.

He noted that he was in Japan last week for that nation's premier of An Inconvenient Truth, and observed how, in Japanese, the word crisis is represented by two symbols: one for danger, one for opportunity. To get to the opportunity, we must face up to the danger, he said.

Gore is not afraid to face the skeptics, the ranks of whom he said are dwindling faster than glaciers. What if your child had a fever, you went to the doctor, and the doctor told you to take action - but you said, "Well, I read this science fiction book and I'm not sure what you're saying is true"?

Gore said folks who still question global warming are those who, if their child's crib was on fire, would declare their child flame-retardant.

To the skeptics, he shows evidence of glacial earthquakes in Greenland - seven in 1993, quadruple that in 2005. He shows studies that revealed how, of 928 peer-reviewed scientific studies, none disputed global warming - but 53% of 636 articles in the popular press did so (including this morning's Page 1 story in the Idaho Statesman).

He also roundly debunks the false choices between a vibrant economy and a healthy environment, noting how growing legions of CEOs are embracing the idea that we can have both.
Read the whole report and the diary at Daily Kos. Julie also has a good roundup of the news stories about Gore's visit.

It's time to free the truth. Political will may be, as Al Gore says, a "renewable resource", but we will not be able to summon the strength to deal with this crisis until a greater number of us understand the threat. And that's where An Inconvenient Truth comes in and why it is so critically important. As Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the film:
In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.
It is not acceptable for school administrators and school boards to block, ban, or mire this film in bureaucratic red tape. The truth needs to be free, no matter how inconvenient it may be.

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