Friday, April 06, 2007

Ponder the maunder

Here is a site that is highly illustrative on many levels. It was prepared as an extra credit assignment by a high school student, Kristen Byrnes, of Portland, Maine. It is her take on the climate change controversy and presents her distillation of the available information.

On one level it is a wonderful example of an individual learning for themselves. It is dynamism in practice. Kristen used the internet to access the information she needed, waded through blog sites and posts, read extensively and synthesized what she found into her own opinion.

What has been fascinating, has been the reaction in the climate blogosphere to this high school student self-educating herself on this topic. Mostly because she has come up with the "wrong" answer for AGW advocates, the reaction on most blog sites has been to query what she has read, to point out where she must not have understood properly and/or to otherwise admonish her for her gall in thinking for herself. Clearly, she must be guilty of one of these errors to have got things so "wrong". (Kind of a junior Lomborg reaction).

The exchanges I have seen where Kristen has responded to comments reveal that she is indeed well in command of the subject matter. Yes she has read whatever paper she was referred to and, no she doesn't agree, or she understands it to being saying something different. All in all, Kristen shows herself to be well-informed, reasonable and comfortable with the opinions she has reached.

Two things baffle her: (1) why the two "sides" in the climate change controversy can not be more civil, balanced and less antagonistic towards each other, and (2) why anyone should be so threatened as to be defensive about a high school project.

In short, why can't the adults be more adult about this whole thing?