School students are about to enjoy the benefits of a new curriculum on climate change - how it works and what it means for them and the planet (nothing good). It's a comprehensive bit of syllabus that, according to Newshub, "cites various sources including the Ministry for the Environment, Stats NZ, the Department of Conservation, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations Environment Program's climate body".
But not, for some reason, Epsom MP David Seymour, who is not happy because the curriculum doesn't allow students to "debate the science" of climate change.
If he thinks a topic has to be spelt out in a syllabus before teenagers will argue about it, he's obviously never met one.
Seymour calls the lesson plan "state-sponsored bullying", because when you don't have facts on your side, hyperbole is your best strategy.
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There's a saying attributed to British journalism teacher Jonathan Foster that deserves to be more widely known: "If someone says it's raining and another person says it's dry, it's not a journalist's job to quote them both. It's their job to look out the window and find out which is true." Journalists – just like people – need to distinguish between matters of fact and matters of opinion and report on them accordingly.
Unfortunately, there are several politicians who could not be relied upon to recognise a fact, or even know when to come in out of the rain. Seymour is the person standing outside, drenched to the skin, saying, "I don't know if you'd technically call it 'rain'."
Spare a thought, in this context, for the hard-working drones at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the part of the government that actually does stuff. MFAT is calling for suggestions on what can be done to protect the planet's biodiversity, also under threat in the complex conglomeration of current environmental concerns. New draft global targets are up for discussion, and your representatives will be taking them to the UN Biodiversity Conference in China this year.
Although it is politicians, not public servants, who get media exposure, it's good to be reminded that there are people being paid by your taxes who are actually working to find solutions to problems rather than using them as bait to get attention and votes.
Parliament is also about to consider the Education and Training Bill 2019, which will make religious education in schools an opt-in alternative.
Everyone is born atheist, so religious belief is something that must be taught. And indeed, all kids should be encouraged to learn about all religions – their influence on literature, art and music; how they shape the culture and behaviour of peoples; and how they provide a haven for rogues and scoundrels. From the Christchurch mosque attack to the US elections, religious beliefs have a direct and often devastating effect on the daily lives of everyone on the planet.
Meanwhile, for the deniers, the climate change "hoax" is an article of faith to which they cling with a fervour that would put your average suicide bomber to shame.
With climate change in and religion out as school subjects, we are facing the exciting prospect that we could find out what happens when reason and logic are used as a basis for making decisions. It's possible that 2020 will see an epidemic of rational thinking break out, among young people at least.
I am not entirely sure what the solution to the climate crisis is – or even if there is one, this late - but it will definitely start with having an educated population to consider the possibilities.