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Tennessee editorial roundup

By The Associated PressMay 29, 2019

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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May 29

Chattanooga Times on climate change:

The facts are pretty stunning.

As record hot temperature records fell across the South over the holiday weekend and farmers sweated to catch up with planting after the wettest spring on record, data shows it’s not just the South, and it’s not just a fluke.

“ Global surface temperatures in 2019 — based only on January through March — are on track to make this year the second or third warmest since records began in the mid-1800s, behind only 2016 and possibly 2017.

“ Ocean heat set a new record in early 2019, with more warmth in the oceans than at any time since 1940.

“ Arctic sea ice is currently at a record low for this time of year. Antarctic sea ice also set new record lows in January.

“ The latest data shows that the level of the world’s oceans continued to rise in 2019, with sea levels around 3.34 inches higher than in the early 1990s.

“ Atmospheric methane concentrations have increased at an accelerating rate, reaching record highs in recent months.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump in coming months will complete the rollback of environmental regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. Not only did he pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, he’s now expected to push his hard-line views on other nations. Not only has he dismissed the predictions of world scientists about climate change, but he is refusing to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it is stripped of any references to climate change.

He has the best words, you know. He’s gets them right from the Koch brothers, who’ve undermined for years the very science on which climate change policy rests.

According to The New York Times, “the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.”

The Times says that the administration’s prime target has been the National Climate Assessment, produced by an interagency task force about every four years since 2000. Government scientists used computer-generated models in their most recent report to project that if fossil fuel emissions continue unchecked, the earth’s atmosphere could warm by as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. That would lead to drastically higher sea levels, more devastating storms and droughts, crop failures, food losses and severe health consequences.

“Work on the next report, which is expected to be released in 2021 or 2022, has already begun. But from now on, officials said, such worst-case scenario projections will not automatically be included in the National Climate Assessment or in some other scientific reports produced by the government,” the Times writes.

Philip B. Duffy, the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the government’s most recent National Climate Assessment, told the Times: “What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize the science — to push the science in a direction that’s consistent with their politics.”

James Hewitt, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency, defended the proposed changes.

“The previous use of inaccurate modeling that focuses on worst-case emissions scenarios, that does not reflect real-world conditions, needs to be thoroughly re-examined and tested if such information is going to serve as the scientific foundation of nationwide decision-making now and in the future.”

In other words, to stop the climate change, we’re just going to stop researching weather.

If you don’t want your children to be successful in business, just stop sending them to math class.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the Trump administration came at about the same time as a new assessment of NASA’s record of global temperatures revealed the agency’s estimate of Earth’s long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit.

Nor is it likely a coincidence that Koch Industries and other fossil fuel-based organizations have and continue to finance campaigns to both influence climate policy and make Americans doubt the seriousness of global warming.

And here’s the insult added to injury: Facebook — an organization that could be, if it chose to be, a positive force in the fight against catastrophic climate change — instead has partnered with CheckYourFact.com, an arm of the conservative, anti-science media site The Daily Caller, which has published misinformation about climate science for years.

So Facebook’s effort to deal with “fake news” is The Daily Caller, which of course is backed by the Kochs — America’s biggest funders of climate science misinformation.

Enjoy that hotter weather.

Online: https://www.timesfreepress.com

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May 23

Johnson City Press on applied knowledge:

Practical experience with real-world tasks often means as much to students’ potential as anything they learn from books. It means applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to things they can sink their teeth into before hopefully taking pride in the results.

That’s why we’ve been so impressed with the work Elizabethton High School has done with the juniors who developed an award-winning podcast about “Murderous Mary,” the legendary elephant hanged in neighboring Erwin. Podcasters John Gouge, Jaxton Holly, Deanna Hull, and Caleb Miller won a National Public Radio contest, which meant their work aired on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and “All Things Considered” earlier this month.

The project required real research, real interviewing skills and real use of technology. The result not only tells the story of Mary’s tragic end, but also about how Erwin has worked to overcome the stigma of being the town where the elephant was hanged, giving the community some positive press on a national scale.

“We all thought it was interesting, so we stuck with it,” Hull told Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson. “We learned how to work cohesively, that talking to adults isn’t as intimidating as it seems, and to never give up no matter how bad things appear. We were pretty far behind, but we kept trying and finally got it together in the last three days.”

Hull’s attitude said it all. You can’t develop those qualities any other way.

This week, Thompson gave readers another example of how real-world experience can make a difference for both students and a community. Hampton High School students Zack Oliver, James Ellison, Macon Barden, Joe Huskins, Quentin Tomlin, Bryan Spock and Neyland Sluder drew up plans and diagrams for Carter County’s new Landfill Convenience Station in Roan Mountain.

The students took a field trip to the center, taking measurements and observations of the center and the land on which it stands. Armed with that information, the students completed a design, which was used by the county to make an application for a grant to fund the project. They helped the county avoid architectural and engineering fees, which the class also had done with other county departments on previous projects.

When Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was seeking office, one of his key platform positions was reforming career-technical education by introducing more real-world experience via partnerships with private business and industry. The goal is for students to leave high school with employment skills that will land them real jobs. A better educated workforce should in turn attract more companies to the state.

The work students have done in Carter County and Elizabethton is proof how important practical application is to education. The two projects are just a few examples of how area teachers are incorporating it into their lessons — both in career-technical classes and academic disciplines.

Tennessee must do everything it can to take such models to the next level. Practical application should be standard in our public schools.

Online: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/

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