MISSOULA (AP) – A climate scientist who was on the United Nations panel that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore says a recent speech to high school students was canceled because of the controversy over global warming.
Steve Running, an ecology professor and global climate scientist at the University of Montana, was scheduled to give two speeches at Choteau High School on Jan. 10. The first to students was canceled, while the second, scheduled for that night, went as planned.
“The thing that’s ironic is that I wasn’t even going to talk about global warming to the kids,” Running said. “I was just going to try to give an inspirational speech for young people about the jobs of science. But I guess that’s pretty scary stuff.”
Choteau schools Superintendent Kevin St. John said Wednesday that he canceled the first speech in part because people began calling the school board with concerns.
“If Dr. Running hadn’t been also speaking at the school again that night, it might have been a different decision,” he said. “But I felt like people were still going to get to hear him, and I didn’t want all the controversy at the school.”
Since then, school board members have referred reporters’ calls about the canceled speech to St. John, who is new to the community and to the school district.
The cancellation also has prompted several people to write to their local newspapers.
Choteau High School senior Kip Barhaugh wrote a short article for the opinion page of the Great Falls Tribune.
“Our school leaders seem to be under the impression that high school students are not able to hear about what some deem ‘controversial issues’ and form individual judgments,” Barhaugh wrote. “This raises the question of what public high school education is. Is it the spoon-feeding of information to America’s next generation or is it presenting this generation with all the facts and allowing students to decide how those facts are interpreted?”
Choteau is about 100 miles northeast of Missoula.
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