Is Simon Subversive?
by Gordon Fulks
Is Simon subversive? Of course not! Simon is my neighbor’s lovable orange and white tomcat who comes to visit Cali, the wild calico female cat who has taken up residence in my outbuilding. They get along famously because Cali is willing to share some of her food with Simon.
Simon has become world famous because of a story I wrote about him that the Washington Post thought was subverting their religious beliefs about a climate Armageddon. Then there was the Independent in Great Britain that echoed the Post‘s insistence that Simon and all who support him need to be canceled for rejecting their nonsense about a ‘climate crisis.’ A Brazilian publication saw Simon the Solar-Powered Cat in a favorable light.
Detractors thought that Simon should have discussed climate and not mentioned that carbon dioxide is the miracle molecule that powers life on Earth. In the intolerant world of those pushing a climate catastrophe, carbon dioxide is BAD. Period. Full stop!
Too many journalists without scientific backgrounds have decided that no one is allowed to say anything good about carbon dioxide. It is a “pollutant.” Again, full stop!
The scientific reality is that carbon dioxide plays many vital roles in life on Earth, from being the source of all the carbon for all of the carbon creatures who live on this planet (including us) to participating in the temperature balance of the planet. Hence, we need to understand all of its roles, and avoid demonizing it. It is vital that children understand the importance of carbon dioxide, before making judgments as to an ideal level in the atmosphere. HINT: more is better.
Children should understand what you get when you mix carbon dioxide with water. If we do it, we get soda water. But if green plants get those same two ingredients in the presence of sunlight, they produce a simple sugar called glucose. From that, the plant goes on to make other sugars, starches, fats,
cellulose, and proteins. This is the basis of life on Earth, both the substance and the energy for life.
Children also need to learn that adults frequently do not tell the truth, especially when their jobs are at stake. Virtually all children and too many adults are willing to take what others tell them at face value, without thinking for themselves at all. That is reminiscent of the comic line from Gilbert and Sullivan: “I always voted at my party’s call, and I never thought of thinking for myself at all!”
Hence, children need to be taught to think like scientists, which means weighing the real evidence and never jumping to conclusions. This is heretical thinking in a Post-Modern world where feelings and groupthink are supposed to replace rational behavior. Climate fanatics have moved us so far beyond rational thinking that the new national science standards for teaching children in the United States have dropped the Scientific Method in favor of ‘consensus.’
Yes, you read that correctly. Students no longer need to understand the very basis of science. But they most certainly need to understand that carbon dioxide is evil! What a disaster for those who are expected to be our next generation of scientists, engineers, physicians, and even journalists.
To address this assault on science, I persuaded a national organization of prominent scientists, known as the CO2 Coalition, to develop educational materials for children. I am one of the Directors of that nonprofit–and now chairman of their education committee.
Our illustrated short stories and videos are designed to help children (and adults) understand some of the topics that have been so badly distorted by climate fanatics.
Before the Coalition began efforts for children, we published scholarly papers that the climate cabal was effectively blocking from publication elsewhere. The cabal owes some of its success to the blocking of differing perspectives, thereby shutting down the discourse so important to science. But scholars talking to scholars does not effectively address the pervasive propaganda directed at the general population. “Scholars” on the radical side are not about to spoil their ready access to government cash by publicly admitting that there is no climate crisis.
Hence, we are directing more of our energy toward popular articles for adults and very simple but completely accurate materials for children. Children are being assaulted by fanatics intent on teaching them what to think, not how to think. The last thing they want are children who doubt prevailing paradigms. We counter the propaganda by providing children with the important scientific facts, derived from evidence. And then we encourage them to think for themselves.
This is similar to what the first scientific society, the British Royal Society, did in 1660 when they adopted the motto “Nullius in verba” or “Take nobody’s word for it.” That expressed the desire of the Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to make decisions based on evidence. It reflected their determination to avoid what happened to Galileo in the early 1600s, when he fell victim to the religious fanatics of his day, the Inquisition. The subject then involved the moons of Jupiter, not climate.
Armed with our three comics and several videos that are beautifully illustrated by a world-class Brazilian artist, Thiago Hellinger, the Coalition purchased exhibit space at the March meeting of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) in Atlanta. We distributed hundreds of free copies of our publications to teachers, including Once Upon a Time, Simon the Solar-Powered Cat, and The Magic Mirror.
We knew that the NSTA was heavily alarmist but hoped that they would see our presence as a golden opportunity to engage in dialogue about what is the best science for children. That could have provided valuable material for teachers to take back to their classrooms. We even prepared and distributed a detailed scientific assessment of where we differ with them about climate science.
Did they see this as a chance to promote their perspectives and constructively engage skeptics? Heavens NO! They reacted with anger that anyone would dare challenge them and demanded we leave immediately.
When I wrote a letter to their Executive Director asking that she apologize for their intolerance, she instead went to the Washington Post to complain that our challenge violated their rules. They specifically complained about Simon.
Yes, challenging NSTA “science” is not allowed in their authoritarian world because they fear losing scientific debates on subjects they know little about. It might also reveal that they are determined to teach inaccurate and politicized science to children.
Since the NSTA threw out the Coalition on the second day of the conference, we were able to talk with a great many teachers on the first day. Most of the attendees were very supportive. One expressed gratitude for our efforts but said she would be fired for teaching the real science to children. One man who strenuously objected, emphasized that he was a physician from the National Institutes of Health and therefore understood much more about climate science than we did. Rafaella Nascimento calmly told him that she and Sharon Camp are PhD chemists, and our Executive Director, who was also there, is a geologist. Our people at the conference were far better qualified people to talk about climate than the attendees or the NSTA. No wonder the NSTA was worried about us.
The 125 scientists and economists who are members of the CO2 Coalition have much better qualifications to discuss climate than most who earn their living promoting hysteria.
Meanwhile back in Oregon, Simon is purrfectly content visiting his lady friend and eating her food (solar energy). He is completely oblivious to the consternation he is causing around the world, as his story is translated into many languages and children learn the truth about carbon dioxide.
This commentary was first published April 25, 2023 at the Northwest Connection
CO2 Coalition Director Gordon J. Fulks holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.