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NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2018/05/18

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new national poll on public opinion on climate change. A disturbing
attack on evolution in Arizona's draft science standards. And a nice
display of legislative support for climate change education in
Connecticut.

A NEW PEW POLL ON CLIMATE CHANGE

"About half of Americans say the Earth is warming mosly due to human
activity," according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Asked, "Which of these three statements about the Earth's temperature
comes closest to your view?" 53% of respondents preferred or leaned
toward "The Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity
such as burning fossil fuels," 29% preferred or leaned toward "The
Earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural patterns in the
Earth's environment," and 17% preferred or leaned toward "There is no
solid evidence that the Earth is getting warmer." The results are
similar to those from a 2016 Pew Research Center survey.

"There are wide differences in beliefs about climate change by
politics," the report observed, continuing, "About eight-in-ten
liberal Democrats (83%) say the Earth is getting warmer mostly because
of human activity. In contrast, 18% of conservative Republicans say
this, a difference of 65 percentage points. Some 46% of conservative
Republicans say the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural
patterns and 36% say there is no solid evidence of warming." These
differences have been shown in previous surveys.

Asked, "From what you have heard or read, which of these three
statements about the Earth's temperature comes closest to WHAT MOST
CLIMATE SCIENTISTS SAY?" (emphasis in original), 66% of respondents
preferred or leaned toward "The Earth is getting warmer mostly because
of human activity such as burning fossil fuels," 17% preferred or
leaned toward "The Earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural
patterns in the Earth's environment," and 16% preferred or leaned
toward "There is no solid evidence that the Earth is getting warmer."

Here, too, there was a similar political split. While 88% of liberal
Democrats and 69% of moderate/conservative Democrats responding agreed
that most climate scientists attribute global warming to human
activity, only 57% of moderate/liberal Republicans and 40% of
conservative Republicans responding agreed. (Most climate scientists
indeed attribute global warming to human activity: multiple surveys
show that the level of consensus among climate scientists is upward of
97%.)

The survey was conducted March 27-April 9, 2018, among 2541
respondents in a nationally representative panel. The margin of
sampling error for the full sample was +/- 2.7%.

For the report of the Pew Research Center's survey (PDF), visit:
http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2018/05/11152912/Embargoed-Report-energy-climate-5-9-18.pdf 

EVOLUTION UNDER ATTACK IN ARIZONA?

As a draft of new science standards for Arizona are undergoing public
comment, "experts are alarmed" about changes imposed by staffers at
the department of education, KNAU in Flagstaff reports (May 14, 2018)
-- and evolution is affected.

"Department staff deleted or qualified the word 'evolution' throughout
the document," KNAU reports. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch was
quoted as saying, "We can [be] quite sure, I think, that the revisions
are aimed deliberately at softening the treatment of evolution, and
thus misleading teachers and students about the scientific standing of
evolution."

For example, where the writing committee's version of a standard for
the eighth grade explained, "the process of natural selection provides
an explanation of how new species can evolve," the revised version
referred instead to "the processes by which a species may change over
time in response to environmental conditions," thus avoiding both the
e-word and the idea of speciation.

KNAU added, "Evolution has been amply confirmed by science, just like
photosynthesis or relativity. Branch says it's absurd to use ambiguous
or tentative language. 'These are very bad revisions that were made,
they clearly weren't endorsed by the writing committee, and it's
somewhat disrespectful to [the members of the writing committee] to
make these changes.'" The department declined to be interviewed.

The draft standards are available for public comment until May 28,
2018. NCSE encourages Arizonans concerned about the integrity of
science education in their state to review and comment; NCSE is
available to help.

For the KNAU story, visit:
http://knau.org/post/science-educators-raise-alarms-about-revised-k-12-standards 

For information about the Arizona science standards, visit:
http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/k-12standards/k12engagement/az_sci_ss_standards-review/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Arizona, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/arizona 

A CLARIFICATION ABOUT CONNECTICUT'S CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION BILL

Connecticut's Senate Bill 345, addressing climate change education in
the state's public schools, died when the Connecticut General Assembly
adjourned sine die on May 10, 2018, as NCSE previously reported. But
it turns out that its provisions were previously included in a
different environment-related bill, House Bill 5360. As amended, HB
5360 passed the House on a 109-41 vote on May 8, 2018, and the Senate
on a 36-0 vote on May 9, 2018.

Like the version of SB 345 passed by the Senate, HB 5360 allows,
rather than requires, the teaching of "climate change consistent with
the Next Generation Science Standards" as part of the science
curriculum in the public schools, while requiring the state board of
education and the state department of energy and environmental
protection to help local and regional school districts to do so.

For information about Connecticut's House Bill 5360, visit:
https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05360&which_year=2018 

For information about Connecticut's Senate Bill 345, visit:
https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB00345&which_year=2018 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Connecticut, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/connecticut 

CONNECTICUT'S CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION BILL STALLS

When the Connecticut General Assembly adjourned sine die on May 10,
2018, Senate Bill 345, addressing climate change education in the
state's public schools, died on the House of Representatives calendar.
Just three days before, the bill was passed by the Senate on a 29-6
vote, albeit in amended form.

As originally introduced, the bill sought to require the teaching of
climate change "consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards"
in the state's public schools, and also to task the state department
of energy and environmental protection with helping local and regional
school districts develop appropriate curricula to do so.

As passed by the Senate, however, the bill only sought to allow the
teaching of "climate change consistent with the Next Generation
Science Standards" as part of the science curriculum in the public
schools. Connecticut in fact adopted the NGSS in 2015, so climate
change is presumably already generally taught.

The bill was also amended to require the state board of education to
assist and encourage local and regional boards of education to teach
climate change; the state department of energy and environmental
protection was still tasked with helping local and regional school
districts develop appropriate curricula to do so.

For information about Connecticut's Senate Bill 345, visit:
https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB00345&which_year=2018 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Connecticut, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/connecticut 

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.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
510-601-7203
fax 510-788-7971
branch@ncse.com 
https://ncse.com 

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