Music icon Sheryl Crow just wrapped up her "Stop Global Warming College Tour." And while no Rhode Island school hosted her biodiesel bus, the pop singer's persistence on propagandizing young and malleable minds with greenhouse hype sure did resonate with the leftist faculty at Roger Williams University (RWU).
The week before Earth Day, professors teaching CORE 101: Science, Technology and Society broke from a normal day of classes to watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. The eco-marching orders were handed down by the assistant dean of the science department, Jeffrey A. Hughes (contact info here).
On the surface, such an action doesn't sound off alarm bells. Shouldn't institutions of higher learning introduce students to a wide variety of ideas, even ones espoused by liberal politicians?
Perhaps. Students are cheated out of a real education if they don't wrestle with tough questions and if they are not exposed to controversial subjects.
But that's exactly what didn't happen at RWU. An Inconvenient Truth, and only An Inconvenient Truth, was shown by Hughes' cabal, as if that film were the authoritative voice on global warming. So, every core science section—12 in all—consisting of philosophy, political science, english, engineering, and psychology majors
RWU junior Dana Peloso asked Assistant Dean Hughes, "with the scientific community unsure if global warming is man induced or part of the natural cycle of the earth, do you think that it is intellectually honest to show only the alarmist viewpoint? If the movie is still shown, what plans are there to incorporate the ideas of leading global warming skeptics into class discussion?"
The answer: none.
In his response—obtained exclusively by Young America's Foundation—Jeffrey Hughes claimed that "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. I repeat: there is no doubt that we're warming the earth and that a continuation of our activities will lead to profound changes."
Case closed! End of discussion! No more debate! Science—or should I say the Left—has spoken!
Well, if it were only that simple. A person of Jeffrey Hughes' stature should know that science is not about consensus; it's about truth. If consensus were the last word, history textbooks would still teach that the sun revolves around the earth and that the earth is flat.
Take Bjorn Lomborg—author of Skeptical Environmentalist and named by TIME magazine as one of the most influential people of 2004—and Richard Lindzen—professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology—as two examples among many.
Both men identify the current warming period as a normal, planetary phase. During the Medieval period, for instance, the earth was likely as warm as or warmer than the present. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the earth underwent another cycle, this time cooling the planet, sparking fears of a coming ice age. And what about the fact that 97% of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere originates—not from man—but from oceans, swamps, plants and other natural means? Or the fact that temperatures dropped during the post-World War II period when man-made carbon dioxide emissions dramatically increased?
While Jeffrey Hughes doesn't light a candle intellectually to Lomborg or Lindzen, their voices were muted and their data suppressed in RWU's classroom because skeptical views regarding global warming don't fit the Left's prevailing dogma.
The Roger Williams University Assistant Dean pressed on with his defense: "As educators, we're charged to encourage your intellectual growth. That can (actually, will) be uncomfortable at times, and we're also here to help you deal with that discomfort."
What would we mindless knaves ever do without our anointed professors to lead us by the hand? Dana Peloso pleaded for balance; Jeffrey Hughes thrust arrogance and condescension upon him instead.
Ah, yes, those "necessary compromises" the Left seeks to impose on a free people: what we drive; the light bulbs we use; the length of time our air conditioners run; the amount of gasoline we consume; the land we cultivate; the technology we produce, and even the sheets of toilet paper we'd be allotted for bathroom visits.
Roger Williams University bills itself as a place that values "collaboration of students and faculty in research" and "appreciation of global perspectives," two core principles that Jeffrey Hughes dismissed entirely. He neither invited students to offer input nor did he welcome "global perspectives" on climate change. He also scoffed at the school's insistence to train students to "advocate effectively through civil discourse" and to "acquire new information and perspectives." Hughes limited classroom information and he reproached a student who sought to hear an alternative view on a hotly contested subject.
As an assistant dean and as a professor, Jeffrey Hughes violated the very mission of Roger Williams University, which means that the school's president, Roy Nirschel, has every right to take action against him. Like a good leftist "academic," Hughes found it more satisfying to enlist as a Gore mouthpiece than to act as a responsible educator.