Regent Nancy Bettger listens to University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook at the Iowa Board of Trustees meeting at the University of Iowa Levitt College Placement Center in Iowa City, Iowa, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa State University is introducing a climate science degree program this fall. But one of her members of the Iowa Board of Governors seems more concerned about the program’s political climate.

“Climate change is a very political subject,” said Regent Nancy Boettger, a former Republican senator. “My concern is freedom of speech. “

Boettger has offered to contribute to the program any climate change materials he has received as a legislator. This includes what she called “non-PC opinions.” Thanks to her coverage by Vanessa Miller in The Gazette, we now know that her two books that Boettger gave to Iowa were from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

The NIPPCC is essentially a group of climate science deniers, skeptics and “realists” who believe that human-induced global warming is changing the climate and producing the consequences we are already seeing. questioning the scientific consensus.

“Humans have a small impact on the Earth’s climate, and the warming that can occur as a result of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is due to global temperatures, the cryosphere (the region covered by ice), ), may have little effect on the hydrosphere (oceans, lakes, rivers), or the weather,” claims one of Bettger’s donated books.

This, of course, is in contrast to the mountains of scientific research and data that clearly show that the planet is warming due to extreme weather events that have become increasingly intense and frequent due to climate change. Without action to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to warming, the crisis will only get worse in the coming decades.

Iowa State’s programs should be grounded in sound science, not in an effort to ensure that “non-PC” opinions receive equal weight in the classroom. The problem of real speech is another attempt to put political pressure on professors who create curricula for subjects that make conservative politicians and appointees uncomfortable.

We’ve seen legislatures try to control how racial issues and systemic racism are taught in classrooms. I’ve seen it ringing We’ve seen it in the annual legislative debate of bills that would abolish college tenure.

At the very least, these efforts force educators to think twice about addressing politically sensitive topics and deprive students of opportunities to delve into important issues.

The board’s job is to provide high-level administration of the state university, not to reach out to the classroom to micromanage the curriculum. Let climate scientists decide how best to teach climate science.

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