NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/08/31
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A Bill Nye video on the creationism/evolution controversy goes viral. Plus a new issue of Reports of the NCSE is available, The New York Times covers climate change in zoos and aquariums, and two NCSE staffers discuss climate change issues at the Daily Kos blog.
BILL NYE VIDEO ON CREATIONISM A two-and-a-half-minute video with Bill Nye discussing the creationism/evolution controversy went viral, garnering over 2.5 million views in its first week on-line. Posted on August 23, 2012, on the YouTube channel of Big Think, under the title "Creationism is not appropriate for children," the video reiterates the centrality of evolution to the life sciences and laments the prevalence of evolution denial in the United States. In it, Nye remarked, "And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future." Nye later told CBS This Morning (August 28, 2012), "My concern is you don't want people growing up not believing in radioactivity, not believing in geology and deep time. You don't want people in the United States growing up without the expectation that we can land spacecraft on Mars. You want people to believe in science, this process, this great idea that humans had to discover more about the universe and our place in it, our place in space. And I really want to emphasize, I'm not attacking anybody's religion, but science, if you go to a museum and you see fossil dinosaur bones, they came from somewhere, and we have by diligent investigation have determined that the earth is 4.54 billion years old." NCSE's Steven Newton was interviewed on KPCC (August 29, 2012) for its story about Nye's video. Nye's remarks were fully in step with the views of the scientific community, Newton explained, adding, "Science teachers around the country are pretty much in sync with scientists around this country in understanding that evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences, and as such, it should be part of the curriculum and it should be taught," citing the courageous teachers in Dover, Pennsylvania, who in 2005 refused to read the evolution disclaimer mandated by the school board there. "Intelligent design or overtly biblical Creationism -- all of them have the same root [in] a denial of evolution and how science works," Newton commented. A Supporter of NCSE, Bill Nye "The Science Guy" was the host of the popular science education television programs Bill Nye the Science Guy -- which won eighteen Emmys -- and The Eyes of Nye; he is currently the executive director of the Planetary Society, the world's large space interest organization. The video was by no means Nye's first excursion into defending the teaching of evolution: in 2011, for example, he told Popular Mechanics, "it's fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don't believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don't believe in science, that's a recipe for disaster. ... the main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong." For Nye's "Creationism is not appropriate for children" video, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU For the CBS This Morning story, visit: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505270_162-57501492/bill-nye-on-creationism-critique-im-not-attacking-religion/ For KPCC's interview with Newton, visit: http://www.scpr.org/programs/patt-morrison/2012/08/29/28156/bill-nye-the-science-guy-warns-about-not-teaching-/ For the Popular Mechanics interview with Nye, visit: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/evolution-classroom-bill-nye-science-education RNCSE 32:4 NOW ON-LINE NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the National Center for Science Education is now available on-line. The issue -- volume 32, number 4 -- features Valerie First's "My Niche in Human Evolution," reporting the author's experiences in discussing evolution as a docent at her local science center and at her local zoo. For his regular People and Places column, Randy Moore discusses the career of Carl Akeley, the pioneering taxidermist whose work is still on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Plus a host of reviews of books on the public understanding of evolution: Tim Beazley reviews Frank S. Ravitch's Marketing Intelligent Design, George Bishop reviews Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer's Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms, Richard F. Firenze reviews David Sloan Wilson's The Neighborhood Project, Timothy H. Goldsmith reviews the films Creation and Darwin's Darkest Hour, Brandon Haught reviews the film No Dinosaurs in Heaven, and Richard P. Meisel reviews Greg Graffin and Steve Olson's Anarchy Evolution. All of these articles, features, and reviews are freely available in PDF form from http://reports.ncse.com. Members of NCSE will shortly be receiving in the mail the print supplement to Reports 32:4, which, in addition to summaries of the on-line material, contains news from the membership, a regular column in which NCSE staffers offer personal reports on what they've been doing to defend the teaching of evolution, a new regular column interviewing NCSE's favorite people -- members of NCSE's board of directors, NCSE's Supporters, recipients of NCSE's Friend of Darwin award, and so on -- and more besides. (Not a member? Join today!) For the table of contents for RNCSE 32:4, visit: http://reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/issue/current/showToc For information about joining NCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/join DISCUSSING CLIMATE CHANGE IN INFORMAL EDUCATION "With many zoos and aquariums now working with conservation organizations and financed by individuals who feel strongly about threatened habitats and species, managers have been wrestling with how aggressive to be in educating visitors on the perils of climate change," reports The New York Times (August 26, 2012). "Surveys show that American zoos and aquariums enjoy a high level of public trust and are ideally positioned to teach," the Times explains. "Yet many managers are fearful of alienating visitors -- and denting ticket sales -- with tours or wall labels that dwell bleakly on damaged coral reefs, melting ice caps or dying trees." The solution: "a patter that would intrigue rather than daunt or depress the average visitor." Paul Boyle, the senior vice president for conservation and education at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, told the Times that most of the association's 224 member institutions have some sort of climate message. The AZA itself is encouraging its member institutions to engage their visitors in understanding climate change, observing, "Overwhelming international scientific consensus confirms that human activities are disturbing Earth's climate ... Effects from climate change are already threatening biodiversity and human health and are expected to increase." For the story in The New York Times, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/science/earth/zoos-and-aquariums-struggle-with-ways-to-discuss-climate-change.html For the AZA's discussion of climate and wildlife, visit: http://www.aza.org/climate-disruption/ NCSE'S MCCAFFREY AND ROSENAU AT DAILY KOS When the popular Daily Kos blog decided to devote a week-long blogathon, running August 17 through August 24, 2012, to climate change, two NCSE staffers were invited to contribute. In "Why climate literacy matters," posted on August 20, 2012, Mark McCaffrey observed, "Ideology, cultural norms, and corporate profits certainly contribute to climate change denial. But arguably one of the biggest drivers of denial is ignorance. Most people, even many meteorologists, never learned anything about climate change in school." There are signs of hope, he explains: "In recent years, a few projects have been funded to develop sound, scientifically accurate climate education materials for educators, museums and science centers, key influentials such as community leaders, and yes, even TV weathercasters." But there is abundant room for improvement, he concluded: "For a real sea change, a national climate and energy literacy initiative is needed so that humans and the ecosystems that sustain us can survive and thrive in the 21st [c]entury." In "Attacks on climate change education are attacks on our future," posted on August 22, 2012, Joshua Rosenau argued, "The greatest climate change battlefield in the US may not be Congress and the White House, but the nation's more than 17,000 elected school boards and the classrooms they run. Disputes over local curriculum make fewer headlines, but those decisions shape the generations that will be most affected by climate change -- the citizens (and voters) who will have to respond to climate change." Reviewing a host of recent incidents of climate change denial in the schools, he urged, "In order for future citizens to be able to make scientifically informed decisions about how to deal with the challenge, the science of climate change needs to be taught -- accurately, thoroughly, and without compromise -- in the classroom." Among those also contributing to the Daily Kos's Climate Change SOS blogathon were Michael E. Mann, John P. Abraham, Bill McKibben, Henry Waxman, Brian DeMelle, Ed Markey, and Al Gore. For McCaffrey's and Rosenau's posts, visit: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/20/1121963/-Why-Climate-Literacy-Matters http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/22/1122994/-Attacks-on-climate-change-education-are-attacks-on-our-future For a chronological list of posts in the blogathon, visit: http://www.dailykos.com/user/Climate%20Change%20SOS/history Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution and climate education and threats to them. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/join