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NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2018/09/07

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

Kudos for Michael E. Mann, and sad news of the death of Luigi Luca
Cavalli-Sforza.

CONGRATULATIONS TO MICHAEL E. MANN

NCSE is delighted to congratulate Michael E. Mann on his selection to
receive the 2018 Climate Communication Prize from the American
Geological Union. The prize is conferred annually in recognition for
communication of climate science. Previous recipients include Stefan
Rahmstorf, Richard B. Alley, Richard C. J. Somerville, Katharine
Hayhoe, Kevin E. Trenberth, Jeffrey T. Kiehl, and Gavin A. Schmidt.

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 Eos's story about the prize, visit:
https://eos.org/agu-news/2018-agu-union-medal-award-and-prize-recipients-announced 

LUIGI LUCA CAVALLI-SFORZA DIES

The distinguished geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza died on August
31, 2018, at the age of 96, according to La Repubblica (September 1,
2018). "More than any other human geneticist, Cavalli-Sforza believed
in the potential of genes and culture together to trace humanity's
origins," wrote the anthropologist John Hawks in his obituary
(September 2, 2018). "In the course of his work, he pioneered new
ideas and models that brought together these two distinct areas of
science. Like most scientists, many of his ideas would turn out to be
wrong in the details. But his work helped form the foundation of our
current knowledge of human genome variation across the world."

Unsurprisingly for a scientist famous for analyzing the genes of
contemporary human populations to obtain insight into their history,
Cavalli-Sforza regarded evolution as established science. In "Why It
Is Useful to Know the Modern Theory of Evolution" (2009, coauthored
with Francesco Cavalli-Sforza), he wrote, "Today evolution is no more
a hypothesis and there are ample proofs that it is motored by natural
selection. Knowledge of the sources of inherited variation and of the
mechanisms that maintain it, at the same time favoring the
transformation and differentiation of species, has greatly enriched a
well-organized theory. The succession of evolutionary steps leading to
the great variety of living organisms is being traced with astonishing
precision thanks to the detailed analysis of whole genomes. That
species change is no more a hypothesis or a debatable theory, and how
and why they do so is becoming a matter of detailed proofs." In the
same article, he deplored the existence of religious obstacles to the
acceptance of evolution, especially in the United States, and
suggested that "differences of importance between religious and
scientific views in the interpretation of the mechanisms of evolution
... can be removed simply by more precise explanations."

Cavalli-Sforza was born in Genoa, Italy, on January 25, 1922. He
received a M.D. degree from the University of Pavia in 1944. After
stints at Cambridge University, where he worked with R. A. Fisher on
bacterial genetics, and a series of Italian universities, he was a
professor at Stanford University from 1970 to 1992. Among his books
were The Genetics of Human Populations (1971, coauthored with Walter
Bodmer), The History and Geography of Human Genes (1994, coauthored
with Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza), and The Great Human Diasporas
(1995, coauthored with Francesco Cavalli-Sforza). His honors included
membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the Balzan Prize
for 1999.

For the obituaries in La Repubblica and from John Hawks, visit:
http://www.repubblica.it/scienze/2018/09/01/news/e_morto_luigi_luca_cavalli-sforza-205385204 
https://medium.com/@johnhawks/the-man-who-tried-to-catalog-humanity-b433c3f31872 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website --
https://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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