Here is a press release that will be distributed shortly:


NCSE TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL

A new initiative in the struggle for quality science education

OAKLAND, CA January 16, 2012

Science education is under attack–again.

This time it’s under attack by climate change deniers, who ignore a mountain of evidence gathered over the last fifty years that the planet is warming and that humans are largely responsible. These deniers attempt to sabotage science education with fringe ideas, pseudoscience, and outright lies.

But the National Center for Science Education won’t let ‘em get away with it.

“We consider climate change a critical issue in our own mission to protect the integrity of science education,” says Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE’s executive director. Long a leader in the fight to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools, NCSE now sees creationist-like tactics being used in the attack on climate education.

“Climate affects everyone, and the decisions we make today will affect generations to come,” says Scott. “We need to teach kids now about the realities of global warming and climate change, so that they’re prepared to make informed, intelligent decisions in the future.”

In this expansion of its core mission, NCSE will help parents, teachers, policymakers, the media, and others to distinguish the real science from the junk science that deniers are trying to push into the science classroom.

“Polls show that Americans’ understanding of climate change is very shallow. One study found that only 54% of teens realize that global warming is happening,” says Mark McCaffrey, a climate and environmental education expert who has joined the NCSE as its new climate change programs and policy director. “Why? Because of a barrage of misinformation on climate change, coupled with a lack of accurate climate education. I’m excited to be part of NCSE’s efforts to help to reverse these disturbing trends.”

The scientific community is applauding NCSE’s new initiative. Said Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

“AAAS has long admired the NCSE’s efforts to protect the integrity of science. We are delighted to see the Center expand its activities to ensure that climate science is appropriately taught in our nation’s schools.”

“We applaud the NCSE for its efforts to promote the teaching of climate change in our nation’s classrooms,” said Dr. Francis Eberle, executive director of the
National Science Teachers Association. “Teachers should not be subjected to ideological opposition to the teaching of climate change from parents, administrators, or members of the community.”

Added Scott Mandia, the meteorologist who cofounded the Climate Science Rapid Response Team:

“The cavalry has arrived. NCSE, with its passion and experience defending science in our schools, will ensure that teachers can educate students about climate change without fear of reprisal.”

Tackling climate change denial head on

In its initiative to defend climate change education, NCSE will:

* Help parents, teachers, and others fight the introduction of climate change/global warming denial and pseudoscience in the classroom.

* Act as a resource center to connect teachers, scientists, and policymakers with the best information available.

* Provide tools and support to ensure that climate change is properly and effectively taught in public schools.

* Aid those testifying before local and state boards of education, and before local, state, and federal legislative committees.

* Connect local activists with one another, and with scientists and other relevant experts.

New program, new faces

As part of this new initiative, the NCSE has added two key members to its team:

* Dr. Peter Gleick, president and co-founder of The Pacific Institute, joins NCSE’s board of directors. Gleick is a noted hydroclimatologist, an internationally recognized water expert, and a MacArthur Fellow. Gleick’s research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrologic impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources.

* Mark McCaffrey, a long-time climate literacy expert, joins NCSE as climate change programs and policy director. Previously at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), McCaffrey helped spearhead a number of climate and energy literacy programs, and the creation of the Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN), and testified before Congress about climate and environmental education.

Comments

  1. #1 Crochety Scientismist
    January 16, 2012

    So, will NSCSE be reassuring Christians that there really is no conflict between their faith and acceptance of Anthropogenic Global Warming? Just as God could use evolution to work His Holy Will, now he may be using climate change as his means to chastise humanity for its spiritual failures? After all, He only promised not to flood us again, so it’s “the fire next time.” Oh, wait.. what about polar meltdown and rising sea levels? Does that count? This could prove to be interesting, if Scott and company continue to follow their pattern of telling Christians how to reinterpret their theology to accommodate science.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2012

    You are over-characterizing the “accommodationist” spin of the NCSE, and unfairly so.

  3. #3 Crochety Scientismist
    January 16, 2012

    Unfair? Sorry if you think so, but I think that NCSE and Eugenie Scott need to be criticized more publicly for their distortion of science.

    I once spoke to Scott about her rhetorical use of “methodological naturalism,” which she uses to suggest that while naturalism may be a tool, it is not integral to science, and that some of reality may require an approach that transcends naturalism. In a more or less private conversation after one of her public lectures, she agreed with me that naturalism is, in fact, a unifying theory of science that continues to be tested every day, with its probability of truth approaching ever closer to certainty. But in public, she will not say so. I understand that being truthful in this case would conflict with the political agenda of NCSE. But I think that it is shameful that science has to be promoted in the United States by pandering to popular superstition.

    Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps NCSE can support climate science without slipping into religious accommodation. And perhaps Scott will one day support a view of evolution as the workings of an unsupervised natural universe. But, in the long run, for science to survive and grow in this culture, I believe that it will have to come to terms with the essential unifying theory of naturalism. And that is something that NCSE does not appear to want to promote.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2012

    Yeah, you’re wrong. You’re basing your conclusions on what might well be a misunderstanding on your part, or a mutual misunderstanding between the two of you regarding what you were talking about, from one private conversation, and taking that to assert that the NCSE has a “religious accommodation” approach.

    I’ve been having “private” (and public) conversations with Genie since we first met about 25 years ago and what you are saying totally conflicts with my own private experience.

    “Working with” or “trying to get on board” religious groups is probably a good idea and I’m happy the NCSE is doing that to the extent it is. The fact that the NCSE does not represent the perfect, representative deployment of the POV of many atheists and scientists and such (including me) is hardly the point; I have a hard time demanding that the world bend precicely to my will for some reason!

    The NCSE does not advocate any policies or perspectives that place any gods in any gaps, allow for any aspect of evolution to be deified or spiritualized or anything. That they work with religious groups or organizations is, I understand, annoying to some, but if you find that annoying you’re missing a very important point. The NCSE does not accomodate. The fact that the NCSE does not puke directly onto the shoes of everything that is not an atheist does not make it so.

  5. #5 vhutchison
    January 16, 2012

    Greg is absolutely correct. I get very tired of the unfounded attacks on NCSE as being ‘accomodationist.’

    As a ‘pragmatic politician’, I can assure you we would would never win legislative battles in Oklahoma (and elsewhere) by attacking religion as some of the gnu atheists suggest. Indeed, so far we have defeated creationist bills here with major help from mainstream religions and the Interfaith Alliances.

  6. #7 Crochety Scientismist
    January 16, 2012

    Yeah, I must be wrong. I just misunderstand when Scott adopts Alvin Plantinga’s arguments, and I am told that “a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views.” So I guess science must be treated as just a tool for filling out our lab notebooks, not as a means for understanding who and what we truly are. “The most difficult questions for us to think about critically are the ones where one answer better suits our ends, even if another one is truer.”

    (The above quotes are from Science and Religion, Methodology and Humanism, a speech by Eugenie Scott accepting the 1998 AHA “Isaac Asimov Science Award”.)

    Nope, I do understand what they are doing, and I understand their strategic reasons. But I disagree with both their philosophy and strategy, and I do not think it is a distortion to say that NCSE and Scott may be doing as much harm to the cause of public understanding of the true nature of science as they do good by popularizing its findings. They can continue to modify what they know to be the truth to better fit the political climate, but I will not support them while they do so.

    To me, “New Atheism” (or my own “Old Atheism” of over 40 years) is not a matter of tone, but a commitment to science as an ethic of telling the truth, to the extent that we can know it. The notion that we must embrace a “better suited” lie and defer the inconvenient but “truer” truth is not just annoying, but unacceptable. Does truth-telling (telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, without the help of gods) qualify as part of your multiplicity of approaches?

  7. #8 Achrachno
    January 16, 2012

    I tend to think that accommodating the religious to science is a rather different thing from accommodating scientists to religion. Showing the religious that certain things are certainly true based on all the observable evidence, but that they can still hang on to compatible but “critical” parts of their religion, is not so bad. Especially not if it causes them to bring their general views closer to reality and to support real science. Some religious beliefs are totally unsupported by any evidence but are relatively harmless. It’s more important to oppose the really pernicious ideas and let the trivia slide. Choose your battles. But, we should certainly oppose any attempts to spread nonsense to others, even the trivial sort.

    I’m unclear on how climate science has anything much to do with religion anyway. The Bible never mentions C02, for example. NCSE should be able to pull this off without direct religious conflict. I’m not saying they’ll convince any deniers.

  8. #9 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2012

    I disagree with both their philosophy and strategy, and I do not think it is a distortion to say that NCSE and Scott may be doing as much harm to the cause of public understanding of the true nature of science as they do good by popularizing its findings.

    I’m listening. Document the harm.

    Please explain how “a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views.” has anything to do with getting stickers out of textbooks in public schools or marshaling legal protection for teachers fired for teaching evolution. Explain how your problem with that sentence it took you the last hour to find, which has nothing to do with anything, takes away from the spectacular defeat of Intelligent Design at Dover, which the NCSE engineered?

    Can you provide an actual examples of the NCSE being untruthful about evolutionary biology (the subject of their activism) or its teaching in schools. No, you can’t. And no, making shit up is not part of the multiplicity of approaches. If you actually read the post to which I refer you could not possibly come away with that.

    No, something else is going on here, with you, and its mainly your problem. You ought to consider trying to help rather than just telling us to get off your lawn.

  9. #10 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2012

    Crochety: When I first read your quote I suspected something was wrong.

    Let’s talk about quote mining. Let’s talk about truth. Let’s talk about you quote mining in order to avoid the truth. In this case, the truth being that you don’t have an argument. It is ironic that you appeal to the Gnu Atheist approach (and imply oddly that I’m not one, which is a bit silly) while at the same time you use the exact tactics that are used by creationists. In fact, this all makes me wonder if you are in fact a creationist who is some sort of Poe.

    The full quote IN CONTEXT:

    “I argue for the separation of methodological from philosophical materialism for logical reasons, and for reasons based on the philosophy of science. It is also possible to argue from a strategic standpoint. Living as we do in a society in which only a small percentage of our fellow citizens are nontheists, we who support the teaching of evolution in the public schools should avoid the creationist’s position of forcing a choice between God and Darwin. Creationists are perfectly happy if only 10% of the population (the percentage of nontheists) accepts evolution. I am not. I want people to understand and accept the science of evolution; whether or not someone builds from this science a philosophical system that parallels mine is logically and strategically independent. An ideology drawn from science is not the same as science itself.

    Ironically, I find myself being praised and encouraged in my position by conservative Christians and taking flak from some fellow nontheists, including some scientists. I must say, though, that over the last several months I have presented lectures at several universities and two meetings of professional scientists in which I have argued that a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views. One should be taught to our children in school, and the other can optionally be taught to our children at home. Once this view is explained, I have found far more support than disagreement among my university colleagues. Even someone who may disagree with my logic or understanding of philosophy of science often understands the strategic reasons for separating methodological from philosophical materialism — if we want more Americans to understand evolution.

    http://ncse.com/rncse/18/2/science-religion-methodology-humanism

    Enough of that.

  10. #11 Achrachno
    January 16, 2012

    Gladiator takes things many steps beyond mere crackpot. Ceramic dust or Poe?

  11. #12 NJ
    January 16, 2012

    Achrachno@12:

    Gladiator takes things many steps beyond mere crackpot

    Which raises the possibility that it is another sockpuppet of SB troll Rob Hood, who seems to haunt this blog and Orac’s place. The claims of Marxism and of the impending collapse of the New World Order are tells.

  12. #13 Crochety Scientismist
    January 17, 2012

    I am sorry that I seem to have so raised your ire, but this is, to me, an important issue. I find it sad that so many are satisfied with science being treated as a “loose leaf notebook of facts,” as Jacob Bronowski put it.

    You ask what harm does such accommodation do? What does it have to do with removal of stickers from biology books? Well, if you have read the speech, you know what it had to do with getting the National Association of Biology Teachers to back off from a statement that evolution is unsupervised and impersonal. I must assume that you consider that to be a good move, and no harm.

    You think that ID was defeated at Dover, but it is still alive and well in the minds of all those who may “accept” evolution, but see in it the hand of an omnipotent intelligence, not the unsupervised and impersonal workings of natural selection. The harm is that it is a distortion of science to pretend that naturalism is a “philosophy” or “methodology” or anything other than a central unifying theory that enters into the experimental design of everyday science, of every scientific experiment ever done.

    Yeah, I know, you don’t think it’s important. But that distortion will eventually come back to bite science educators in chemistry, physics, astronomy, and cosmology. Why should scientists puzzle over dark matter, since god can make the galaxies move in any way he wants to?

    It took me only about ten minutes to find that speech. I am quite familiar with it (I was there when she gave it). If there is some point to your accusation of “quote mining,” I must beg your pardon, but I missed it. I gave the link to the full source and and did not, as far as I can see, distort her meaning. Your longer quote, in context, does not change that meaning.

    Believe me, I don’t care what kind of atheist you want to be. As I said, my kind of atheism is a scientific one that values truth-telling. I think Scott is being hypocritical, saying one thing to the public, while knowing better, that naturalistic materialism is a crucial and well-confirmed theory in science. You disagree. You apparently think she is sincere in her dismissal of naturalism as an ideology; perhaps you even agree with her that naturalism is best taught at home, and not as a crucial part of science itself. I think that it is a problem, either way. You think it is my problem; I think that the fact that so many will agree with you is, or will eventually be, a problem for the future of our scientific civilization.

    So apparently we just disagree, and neither of us is likely to convince the other. Thank you for an interesting discussion.

  13. #14 Matt Hagen
    January 17, 2012

    Religion has no place in our schools. That is why we do not allow prayer in school. If we did, who would choose which religious beliefs to teach. Teach what you want in your own place of worship. There is no need to tie Science with religion. Science is based on facts and religion is based on beliefs. The scientific community is 90% certain that the earth is warming due to man’s burning of fossil fuels. 97% of climate scientists believe climate change is caused from the burning of fossil fuels. So does the International Panel on Climate change, NASA, U.S. Global Change Research Program, International Arctic Science Committee, American Association for the Advancement of Science and at least 32 national science academies around the world. Its time the propaganda spread by the fossil fuel industry is put to rest. We need to tell our elected officials to stop listening to corporate lobbyists and do the work of the people. Log onto http://greensentry.net/index.html to see how.

  14. #15 charlenevsmith
    January 17, 2012

    Whats the difference between High Speed Universities and “Brick and Mortar?” Online pays for the education. It does not pay for athletic programs or programs that are not beneficial to all. There is no socio-economic or social cast systems.

  15. #16 KnightBiologist
    January 17, 2012

    Thanks for posting this news. I’m teaching A.P. Environmental Science (high school) and we’re going to cover climate and climate change very soon here so, I can use all the help I can get!

  16. #17 Gladiator of the Ages
    January 17, 2012

    NJ must be canadian. Too much sodium flouride and the decreased need to think for oneself when socialist government thinks for you can take its toll on human intelligence.

    “Fossil” fuels is a false statement. Since the 1960s we have known that the earth naturally produces oil and that we will never run out. Governmentts and corporations do not like the idea of this getting out since it would cut into the “supply and demand” money chain.

    Want to know about climate change? it is real, but not manmade. The earth constants vents CO2 and has been doing so long before man starting burning oil. Nature produces far more CO2 than man does.

    Noah had a climate change problem that even AL Gore could not have profited from. Due to the one continent seperating into seven, the earth’s deep channels were opened up and spilled trillion s of tons of water persceond onto dry land. Eathquakes, volcanoes, mountains rising fropm the sea floor, and rain coming down like man has never seen before for 40 days and 40 nights. Afterwards, the entire earth was different. A gran canyon and many mountains had been formed due to land masses retreating and water seceding and continuous earthquakes and flooding. After that came an ice age as a resutl that killed numerous species of animals including dinosaurs – the ones that were not hunted for food, skins, or sport.

    Al Gore would have been proud.

  17. #18 Greg Laden
    January 17, 2012

    “”Fossil” fuels is a false statement. Since the 1960s we have known that the earth naturally produces oil and that we will never run out. Governmentts and corporations do not like the idea of this getting out since it would cut into the “supply and demand” money chain.”

    Yes, yes, indeed. There are Oil Factories located deep in the earth where aliens have enslaved hoards of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) to craft fresh oil out of Unicorn Piss.

  18. #19 Matt Hagen
    January 17, 2012

    Gladiator/Greg: I would love to hear where get your information from. I suspect Glenn Beck,Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. While it is true that co2 is generated in much greater quantities from the natural carbon cycle, the extra amount of co2 produced by by burning fossil fuels, does not get absorbed by the land and ocean. Atmospheric CO2 is now at its highest level in 15 to 20 million years.
    Abiogenic or naturally accruing, sources of oil have been found, but never in commercially profitable amounts. There is controversy on how much abiogenic oil we have and how difficult it would be to acquire. Fossil fuel oil is what we are using now. Spending more time and money on a fuel that we know is destroying our environment only makes sense to oil companies and the people who have been fooled by their propaganda.
    Not sure what the point is about Noah. I’m guessing you don’t believe animals are endangered and extinct from destroying habitats and overhunting.

  19. #20 Achrachno
    January 17, 2012

    Boy, and I thought Gladiator was a bit off kilter before.

  20. #21 NJ
    January 19, 2012

    GotA@ 18:

    NJ must be canadian. Too much sodium flouride and the decreased need to think for oneself when socialist government thinks for you can take its toll on human intelligence.

    Comment #48 at Respectful Insolence post of December 20, 2011:

    Ever try to have an intelligent conversation with a Canadian? It won’t happen unless the Canadian is a politician who drinks water that is flouride free. The rest of the population are rather dumb. I lay it off on the sodium flouride, but then again, living in a socialist society where most people have the government think for them instead of thinking for themselves can make a population less intelligent as well.

    The poster has been identified as having previously posted as ‘Dr. Smart’, ‘Medicien Man’ & ‘Santas Little Helper’ over at Orac’s. He used to post under his real name – Rob Hood – until people actually visited his website and pointed out he was not just an uneducable YEC but also a conspiracy nut of the highest order.

    Obviously its Greg’s blog and Greg’s rules, but if known sockpuppetry is a bannable offense, then this loon is clearly first in line.

  21. #22 v-pills
    January 19, 2012

    I lay it off on the sodium flouride, but then again, living in a socialist society where most people have the government think for them instead of thinking for themselves can make a population less intelligent as well.

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