After the extraordinary nonsense of Earth Science 4th Edition’s last chapter, I’m fervently hoping this one is a bit less stuffed with inanity. Our heads and desks all could use the break.
Refreshingly, we begin with an ecowarrior-worthy bit on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ocean currents, we’re told, gather our plastic waste and concentrate it in an area of the Pacific Ocean that “could be larger than Texas!” Bad for the environment, bad for animals, they say, without pretending there’s anything good about it. It’s ES4 at its actual best. Yeah, the kids reading this textbook will end up desperately ignorant about science, but at least they won’t end up thinking pollution is a glory unto God. They may even agree to help us preserve the planet, as long as that doesn’t require responsible birth control.
Look, I’ll take what positives I can get.
I’m frankly in awe at the fact they’ve got a paean o’ praise to Charles Moore, a man who was motivated “to get involved in marine environmentalism.” They actually said that like they think it’s a good thing. Amazing. And then, in their babbling about Dominion and Ocean Motion, they actually baldly state, “Reducing man-made-marine pollution is clearly a worthy priority for us.”
Call the doctor – my heart just stopped.
Ahhh, much better. Right. Where were we?
Oh, yes. Then they admit that “changing global climate seems to be affected sea level, so the height of tides in some places is becoming a concern.” Good thing they didn’t agree it’s human activity causing the problem, or I’d have a flatlined for sure.
Contrary to Bill O’Reilly, they can explain why the tide goes in and out. They do quite a good job, actually, even clearly explaining why there’s also a tidal bulge on the side of the earth opposite the moon:
So as the moon revolves around the earth, the earth revolves around the moon, too. This means that, compared to the center of rotation, the far side of the earth from the moon is moving faster than the near side. This extra speed causes the ocean water on the for side to be thrown into a heap, just like mud gets flung off a spinning wheel.
Of course, it’s better explained as inertia, but give ’em a A for non-creationist effort.
We get through currents relatively unscathed, although the way the authors explain them is a bit of a muddle. One gets the feeling they don’t quite understand them, a feeling reinforced by the way they describe Ekman spirals as being deflected more with depth due to the Coriolis effect. Actually, the spiral’s shallower waters are moving faster than the deeper, which creates the spiral – it’s not that the Coriolis effect is stronger at depth, which the ES4 authors portray as the main reason. I know, shock-horror, imagine creationists not understanding science!, etc.
At last, we hook up with some Godly nonsense in the subsection on Ocean Migrations. After a long description of the migratory routes of various sea critters and birds, the authors show us just how far creationism can take us in our quest to understand the natural world:
How did these creatures come to rely on ocean migrations to survive? This is just another example of how God provides for His creatures in their design. How much more then can He also provide for us, whom He has made to bear His image!
Isn’t this marvelous, it’s because God made it that way, he definitely likes us bestest, the end. Ain’t science easy, kids?!
Their explanation of upwelling is frankly painful: they seem to confuse Ekman spirals with Ekman transport, and forget to mention the rather important part wind plays in moving surface water out of the way. They also seem to be convinced water is upwelling at the equator because it’s being squeezed by gyres, which is not mentioned by any of the educational articles I looked at. Methinks they don’t quite know what they’re talking about. Again.
But even they can’t fuck up waves too badly. Then a very cursory discussion of coastal landforms ends the chapter. We’re not even given a sermon. God’s apparently too busy sunbathing on the beach to interfere with its features.
With that short sprint, we’re now two-thirds done with our ocean triathlon. Of course there are no winners when it comes to reading creationist textbooks, but we’ll see just how much God-nonsense they can chuck in our path as we hoof it toward the finish line.
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