I swear this is not from the Onion.
Last week the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a resolution urging that instruction in the public schools be balanced between global warming advocates and skeptics. There is nothing shocking about that. Lawmakers throughout the United States are raising questions about global warming, rightly or wrongly.
The shocking development in HRC 1009 is what the bill urges global warming instruction in the public schools should include.
“That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative.”
You read those words correctly. HRC 1009 urges instruction about the “astrological” and “cosmological” affects on global warming.
I had to scurry to Merriam-Webster to make sure there was not an obscure definition to these terms that I was unfamiliar with.
Astrology: “the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects.”
An archaic definition does define astrology as astronomy.
Cosmology: “a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of the universe” or “a theory or doctrine describing the natural order of the universe” or “a branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe.”
Whether or not Saturn is in the second house in Gemini does not convince me that carbon dioxide is going to contribute more or less to the melting of Antarctica.
I also failed to see how the “nature of the universe” was going to clarify the global warming debate on earth.
I called Don Kopp, the state House Representative who authored the bill. A personable, friendly and chatty individual Kopp enlightened me on what happened.
Kopp said that the legislative analysts at the Legislative Research Council added the questionable language. Kopp denied ever putting it in the bill. Kopp said the analysts put in the “technical jargon” to make the bill workable in the legal world.
Oh, my, I’m thinking, the state of South Dakota has hired political scientists and lawyers to review legislator’s bills and codify the law with “technical jargon” like “astrological.”
Kopp said “astrological” is not what the analysts meant. They meant to use “astronomical.” He said that even when he reread the bill, he misread it as “astronomical.”
“No excuse for that,” Kopp said. “It was my bill. I should have read it closer.”
Okay. A literary error, albeit a highly embarrassing one at that.
Yet what difference does it matter if it is “astrological” or “astronomical.” A black hole or supernova are going to have as much impact on global warming as whatever is in Aries on a particular day in a particular year. Instead of believing in the supernatural, the Legislature only sounds scientifically illiterate. I suppose that is an improvement though.
I then turned to “cosmological.” Three times Kopp sputtered “carbonogical” in response.
I corrected him that the word in his bill was “cosmological.” Kopp professed ignorance at the word, again pointing to the Legislative Research Council as the guilty inserters of the language.
Nevertheless, these bizarre phrases passed the House by a 36 to 30 vote with Kopp coaxing 32 of his colleagues to cosponsor. Apparently, none of them felt anything wrong with the “astrological” or “cosmological” influences on global warming.
As Kopp said, “Nobody caught that.”
The bill went to the Senate before Kopp discovered the errors. He said only when “skeptics” of his bill pointed out the “astrological” error, did he notice it. The Senate passed a more reasonable, if less comical version that replaced all references but “climatological and meteorological dynamics” affecting global warming.
Kopp’s intent with the bill was to remove the politics from global warming. He said only “qualified scientists” in meteorology and climatology should teach the subject in the schools. After watching the South Dakota Legislature butcher science and confuse chart reading with star gazing, I have to agree. The politicians need to get their noses out of science, and that includes Kopp and the blockhead analysts who nearl urged South Dakota schools to teach children that astrology is an answer to global warming.
The blind and ignorant are leading the way, and it is scary.