Letter to the editor: Do we need doctors or climatologists?
April 29, 2013
Teaching climate change at South Tahoe High School could be great for some students, but trying to make it a standard that applies to all students is ridiculous. Climate change is studied using mathematical models that require a solid understanding of calculus and partial differential equations. In order for high school students to become effective students of climate change, or even to be able to read and understand articles written about climate change, they would need to learn calculus and partial differential equations.
There are many fields of science that do not require calculus. A medical doctor or geologist could most likely go through their entire career without ever needing to use calculus. With universal health care coverage on the horizon, it would make sense for STHS to focus on trying to train students in the biological sciences. Because, as more people get health coverage, there is going to be an increased demand for doctors.
The study of climate change is entirely based on creating mathematical models of the world and spinning them up till they reach a steady state and then adding in a factor that represents anthropogenic changes to our atmosphere and spinning the model up again for a 100 years or so till it reaches a steady state. If the two steady states are different, then your model predicts anthropogenic climate change. When using low resolution models of the 1980s the final state was globally warmer, but with today's high resolution models the state is different, but not necessarily warmer. Hence the change in name to climate change.
Climate change is neither fact nor fiction, but a prediction about what might happen based on what did happen in a fictionalized virtual world. Certain kids will love it, but it is not for everybody.
South Lake Tahoe
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