Skip navigation.
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/09/29

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new report on Latino attitudes toward climate change, and the latest
reactions to the flawed set of state science standards proposed in New
Mexico. Plus changes on NCSE's board of directors; congratulations to
Michael E. Mann; and NCSE is seeking a director of development.


"Latinos are much more engaged with the issue of global warming than
are non-Latinos," according to a new report from the Yale Program on
Climate Change Communication. "Latinos are more convinced global
warming is happening and human-caused, more worried about it, perceive
greater risks, are more supportive of climate change policies, and are
more willing to get involved politically."

Asked "Do you think that global warming is happening?" 84% of Latino
respondents said yes, while 6% said no and 10% indicated that they did
not know; 70% of non-Latino respondents said yes, while 14% said no
and 17% indicated that they did not know.

Asked about the primary cause of global warming, 70% of Latino
respondents said that it is caused mostly by human activities, while
21% said that it caused mostly by natural changes in the environment;
among non-Latino respondents the split was 56% to 31%.

Asked about the scientific consensus on global warming, 63% of Latino
respondents said that most scientists think global warming is
happening, while 15% said that there is a lot of disagreement among
scientists; among non-Latino respondents the split was 49% to 28%.

The results for Latinos were based on a survey conducted May 18 to
June 8, 2017, among 2054 Latino adults -- defined as those
self-identifying as "Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican,
Cuban, Cuban American, or 'some other Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino
group'" -- living in the United States, who chose whether to take the
survey in English or Spanish. The margin of error for all Latinos is
+/- 3%.

For the report, visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of polls and surveys on climate change, visit: 


The new state science standards proposed in New Mexico -- which omit
references to evolution, human responsibility for climate change, and
the age of the earth -- are attracting scrutiny and criticism across
the state.

As NCSE previously reported, the proposed standards are modeled on the
performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards,
which have been adopted by eighteen states and the District of
Columbia so far. But, as Mother Jones (September 15, 2017) observed,
"the draft released by New Mexico's education officials changes the
language of a number of NGSS guidelines, downplaying the rise in
global temperatures, striking references to human activity as the
primary cause of climate change, and cutting one mention of evolution
while weakening others."

In its editorial, the Santa Fe New Mexican (September 20, 2017)
observed that "New Mexico values science," adding, "For this state --
of all states -- to adopt even a hint of pseudo-science in its
curriculum should be out of the question. Yet that is apparently what
the state Public Education Department is seeking to do with new
science standards that would omit key scientific concepts, including
those on evolution and climate change." "Already," the editorial
lamented, "the proposed standards are receiving unwanted national
publicity, including articles in Mother Jones magazine, newspapers and
blog posts around the country."

Subsequently, the Santa Fe New Mexican (September 23, 2017)
interviewed a sampling of teachers in the state about their views on
the proposed new standards. None was enthusiastic. A middle school
teacher in Santa Fe warned, "Anybody who wants to pervert the teaching
of science has lots of room to work with," while other teachers,
though appreciating the NGSS-inspired approach of the standards,
expressed concerns about the weakening of the coverage of climate
change. A high school teacher in Los Lunas complained, "The last thing
New Mexico needs is bad standards, and there are some really bad
standards in here."

Two state representatives, G. Andrés Romero (D-District 10) and Bill
McCamley (D-District 53), offered their view in a column for the Las
Cruces Sun-News (September 24, 2017). They blamed the flaws in the
proposed new standards on Governor Susana Martinez (R), who earlier in
2017 vetoed their bill requiring the state to adopt the NGSS: "During
one of the committee hearings, a former member of her staff admitted
the reason for the governor's decision. 'Toward the end of my tenure
at the Public Education Department, I was tasked to edit and change
some of the language in the standards to make them politically

On, New Mexico's senators Tom Udall (D) and Martin
Heinrich (D) wrote that they were "disturbed to learn that the New
Mexico Public Education Department has proposed watering down science
education standards for our public schools by removing any references
to rising temperatures, climate change and evolution." They added, "If
we weaken our science standards to advance an ideological agenda at
the expense of scientific facts, we will put New Mexico at a distinct
disadvantage. And we encourage all New Mexicans to speak out against
this plan to undermine the quality of K-12 science education."

Describing the divergences of the proposed standards from the NGSS as
"fly[ing] in the face of accepted science" and "breathtaking in their
offensiveness," the Albuquerque Journal (September 26, 2017)
editorialized, "Whether [Secretary-Designate of Education Christopher]
Ruszkowski is bowing to political pressure to water down the science
curriculum that New Mexico teachers will deliver to students -- or
simply doesn't believe in climate change, evolution or scientific
dating processes -- his recommendations are deeply troubling and take
New Mexico in the wrong direction for education and the new economy."

And the Las Cruces Sun-News (September 27, 2017) editorially condemned
the idea that the proposed standards represent a satisfactory
compromise, writing, "Science isn't about finding the middle ground.
It's not about presenting a wide range of options designed to conform
to various political and religious beliefs and simply letting people
choose which one they are the most comfortable with. The proposed
changes may soothe the feelings of those who disagree with scientific
conclusions, but they will put our students at a disadvantage when
competing against those from other states where the standards are more
rigorous and less susceptible to political whims."

There is still time for concerned New Mexicans to protest the proposed
standards. The Public Education Department will be accepting written
comments on the standards from the public through October 16, 2017 and
will then hold a public hearing in Santa Fe.

For the story in Mother Jones, visit: 

For the editorial and the story in the Santa Fe New Mexican, visit: 

For the columns in the Las Cruces Sun-News and on NMPolitics,net, visit: 

For the editorial in the Albuquerque Journal, visit: 

For the editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News, visit: 

For information on the comment period and the public hearing on the
standards, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Mexico, visit: 


At a recent meeting of NCSE's board of directors, Kenneth R. Miller
was elected as president, replacing Francisco J. Ayala, whose term on
the board expired. Miller is Professor of Biology and Royce Family
Professor for Teaching Excellence at Brown University; his honors
include the AAAS's Award for Public Understanding of Science
Technology as well as NCSE's Friend of Darwin award. He testified for
the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover. His books include Finding
Darwin's God (1999) and Only a Theory (2008).

"We are grateful to Francisco Ayala for his years of service to NCSE
and to the cause of defending the integrity of science education,
including his serving in the McLean trial and spearheading the
National Academy of Sciences's efforts on behalf of evolution
education," commented NCSE's executive director Ann Reid. "Ken Miller
will be a splendid successor," she added. "He has been involved with
NCSE since even before the organization was officially formed, and we
are confident that his contributions will continue to be of immense

Also leaving the board was Barbara Forrest, professor of philosophy at
Southeastern Louisiana University. Forrest was the author, with Paul
R. Gross, of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent
Design (2004). Like Miller, she testified for the plaintiffs in
Kitzmiller v. Dover, the 2005 case establishing the
unconstitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" creationism in
the public schools. Her honors include the American Society for Cell
Biology's Public Service award and NCSE's Friend of Darwin award.

Joining the board is Vicki Chandler, the Dean of Natural Sciences at
Minerva Schools at KGI. A leading plant geneticist, Chandler is a
member of the National Academy of Sciences, serving on its governing
council from 2007 to 2010, and of the National Science Board. Also
joining the board is Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of
Science at Harvard University. With Erik M. Conway, Oreskes wrote
Merchants of Doubt (2010). Her honors include NCSE's Friend of the
Planet award.

On NCSE's board of directors the two new members, Vicki Chandler and
Naomi Oreskes, join President Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University,
Treasurer Lorne Trottier of Matrox, Secretary Robert M. West of
Informal Learning Experiences, Michael Haas of Orion Renewable Energy
Group, Richard B. Katskee of Americans United for Separation of Church
and State, Barry Polisky, and Benjamin D. Santer of Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory.

For information about NCSE's board of directors, visit: 


NCSE is delighted to congratulate Michael E. Mann on receiving the
James Shea Award for 2017. Presented by the National Association of
Geoscience Teachers, the award honors "exceptional contributions in
the form of writing and/or editing of Earth science materials (broadly
construed) that are of interest to the general public and/or teachers
of Earth science."

Announcing the award, NAGT described Mann's "contributions to the
earth sciences as a researcher, author, lecturer, and advocate" as
"legendary," adding, "He is one of a few courageous climate scientists
who continue to play a leading role in calling the attention of the
public and policy makers to the overriding environmental challenge of
the twenty-first century: anthropogenic climate change."

Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State
University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences
and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He is also director
of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. His latest book,
coauthored with Tom Toles, is The Madhouse Effect (Columbia University
Press, 2016). A member of NCSE's Advisory Council, he received NCSE's
Friend of the Planet Award in 2014.

For NAGT's announcement, visit: 


NCSE is seeking to hire a Director of Development. The full-time
position involves ensuring that donors feel connected to NCSE and
appreciated for their role in achieving its mission. The Director will
work with NCSE's individual donor base, identify and cultivate major
donors, research and coordinate institutional funding opportunities,
and lead the staff's and the board's development efforts. Further
information about duties, qualifications, salary and benefits, and the
application process is available from NCSE's job page.

For NCSE's job page, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Claire Adrian-Tucci reporting on her recent Science Booster Club road trip: 

For NCSE's blog, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

Check out NCSE's blog: 

Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: 

Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: 

NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: 

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!