Posts Tagged ‘global warming’
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 7, 2013
Recently I made a blog post about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which will likely be adopted by most states in the United States over the next few years, and how these standards placed heavy emphasis on both evolution and climate change. To drive this point home further, the National Center for Science Education’s Mark McCaffrey was recently on NPR discussing just how widespread and sweeping will be these changes…
National Public Radio highlighted climate change education in a segment of its Morning Edition show broadcast on March 27, 2013, featuring NCSE’s Mark McCaffrey. “By the time today’s K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping,” the segment began. “Now, for the first time, new nationwide science standards due out this month [i.e., the Next Generation Science Standards, now expected in April 2013] will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about this climatic shift taking place.”
McCaffrey told NPR, “the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal,” citing survey data indicating that only one in five students “feel like they’ve got a good handle on climate change from what they’ve learned in school” and that two in three students feel that they’re not learning much about it at all in their schools. NCSE’s recent report “Toward a Climate & Energy Literate Society” (PDF) was cited as offering recommendations for improving climate and energy literacy in the United States over the course of the next decade.
The politicization of climate change education is a barrier, however. Besides the spate of legislation, such as the bills considered in Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas in 2013, NPR observed, “educators say the politicization of climate change has led many teachers to avoid the topic altogether. Or, they say some do teach it as a controversy … The end result for students? Confusion.” And the NGSS may provoke a backlash from climate change deniers: a representative of the Heartland Institute indicated that his organization was prepared to be critical of their treatment of climate science.
Heidi Schweingruber of the National Research Council, which developed the framework on which the NGSS are based, said, “There was never a debate about whether climate change would be in there,” adding, “It is a fundamental part of science, and so that’s what our work is based on, the scientific consensus.” She emphasized that climate change presents pedagogical challenges: teachers need to avoid (in NPR’s words) “freaking kids out”. McCaffrey concurred, adding that teachers will need not only training on the science but also preparation to deal with the pressure that comes with teaching it.
Posted in education, global warming denial, science funding, scientific method | Tagged: climate change, content, denial, deniers, education, evolution, global warming, Mark McCaffrey, national, National Center for Science Education, National Public Radio, NCSE, Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS, NPR, public, review, schools, science, standards, teachers, teaching, United States | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 27, 2013
Some time ago I posted about the Next Generation Science Standards (in the United States) and how important it is for teachers and those who support science and education to speak up about the NGSS. Since then I have been fortunate enough to get more involved with this process, learn more about NGSS, and think ahead about its implementation.
First of all, let me note that I got all this information first-hand from Dr. Carol Baker, who is a member of the writing team for the NGSS and who also gave me and my colleagues an excellent presentation on the topic. Some facts I think are important for everyone to know about the NGSS:
*It is not a federal mandate. The NGSS is funded by private organizations – most especially by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching - and it is a collaborative effort between these private sources and a number of states in the U.S. States may choose to accept the NGSS or not, but it should be noted that if they do accept them it will cost the states nothing. Essentially, they get the standards for free!
*Right from the outset, the people organizing and drafting the NGSS wanted to get “buy in” from the states, so they invited every state in the country to send representatives to serve on the writing team for the standards. 26 states (called Lead States) sent representatives and have been directly involved in drafting thse standards as a result. Here is some more information about these states (highlighted in blue below)
So you can see that these states have a broad demographic representation, are bipartisan in breadth, and they also account for over 58% of public school students, and most require three years of science for high school graduation.
*As the NGSS were drafted, the writing team sought feedback from educators in the Lead States, and after the second round of such revisions almost 95% of the original draft has been reworked based upon this feedback. So this is definitely a bottom-up process!
Now, I’d like to mention something very interesting about that last point: it ends up that one of the states which gave the most feedback was Kentucky (which was actually 3rd – beat out only by California and New York). And it appears the vast majority of the feedback from Kentucky educators was in support of emphasizing evolution within the NGSS.
In fact, Dr. Baker (and I agree) seems to think that this is, in effect, a reaction to the Creation Museum residing in Kentucky and the subsequent trouble it makes for science teachers in that state. It also appears that many teachers from many other states are likewise fed up with the political tactics employed by creationists and global warming deniers in their attempts to dumb down the teaching of evolution, climate science, etc.
Bottom line: Teachers are getting tired of this nonsense, and the NGSS is giving them a way to fight back in a very broad manner. The NGSS emphasizes, unflinchingly and unapologetically, evolutionary and climate change science; the states that choose to adopt the NGSS will have the most up-to-date science standards that show creationism and global warming denial to be the pseudosciences that they are. And they will be held to those standards. Good, it’s about damn time!
I would like to close by sharing Dr. Baker’s response when questioned on this topic about the fight this could create. She said, ”Bring it on!”
Posted in creationism, education, global warming denial, science funding, scientific method | Tagged: Carnegie Foundation, climate change, content, Creation Museum, creationism, denial, deniers, Dr. Carol Baker, education, evolution, global warming, Kentucky, lead states, national, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS, pseudoscience, public, review, schools, science, standards, teachers, teaching, United States, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 5 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 10, 2012
While at Dragon*Con 2012 this past Labor Day weekend, I did many things (check them out here and here) but one of the things of which I was most proud was an interview I did with Ted Meissner, who runs the Secular Buddhist website and podcast. In the interview with me and Ted was Melissa Kaercher and Melissa “Missy” Lee, and we had a wide-ranging and fruitful discussion of how skeptics can have productive and civil conversations with believers in woo and the paranormal. Whether you call yourself a skeptic, a believer, or something else entirely, I think this podcast is well worth a listen…
How often do we have conversations where all participants agree, completely, on all points? Just shy of never. Every day, we are going to run into an expected variety of thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Some of these will be held quite strongly, others not so much. It gets difficult when the passion about ideas is fierce, and the divergence between ideas is wide.
When we do find ourselves in situations where the discussion is going to happen, how can we engage in ways that not only leave doors open, but actively create bridges? Today’s episode is based on a situation that occured at DragonCon, during the science track in a panel discussion about evolution and creationism. It was recorded in a crowded bar, so I thank you for your patience with the background sounds and ask for your understanding that we don’t always have the benefits of quiet, Skype based conversations.
Matt Lowry is a high school physics teacher with a strong interest in promoting science education & critical thinking among his students and the population in general. He is a self-described skeptic, someone who believes in Carl Sagan’s adage that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” His blog The Skeptical Teacher is to allow Matt to expound upon various topics related to skepticism, science, and education.
Melissa Kaercher is a professional colorist, letterer, and web designer from Minneapolis. She is an active part of the skeptic community, participating in Mad Art Lab events, and is a frequent panelist in conventions across the country. Melissa is also co-host of The Geek Life podcast.
Melissa (“Missy”) Lee is the head of Minnesota Skeptics, and is what you might call a “convert” skeptic: once a true believer in all kinds of assorted woo. She values critical thinking skills, and hosts the MN Skeptics Newbie Nights and monthly Drinking Skeptically get togethers in Minneapolis.
Posted in creationism, skeptical community | Tagged: 2012, believers, climate science, creationism, DC, debate, denial, different views, discussion, Dragon*Con, Eugenie Scott, evolution, global warming, interview, Josh Rosneau, Melissa Kaercher, Melissa Lee, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, Nicole Gugliucci, Noisy Astronomer, perspectives, podcast, religion, science, Secular Buddhist, skeptics, Ted Meissner, viewpoints, worldview | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 19, 2012
In a welcome development, the state of California has taken climate science deniers head on. At the website of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, there is a link titled “Climate Change: Just the Facts”. The thing which makes this such a welcome development isn’t that the California governor, Jerry Brown, is promoting the science of climate change and global warming, but this website also takes on the climate science deniers and their claims directly. Take a look and encourage your state government to act in a like manner:
Climate change poses an immediate and growing threat to California’s economy, environment, and to public health. California’s groundbreaking efforts are helping reduce greenhouse gases emissions, which are warming the planet. The state is also taking action to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, including the increased likelihood of both flooding and drought.
While California is taking action, some of those who oppose the move to renewable energy and cleaner transportation have mischaracterized the science of climate change in an effort to create artificial uncertainty about the existence and causes of climate change.
The fact is that on the key issues, the science is clear: climate change is real and happening now; human-made greenhouse gas emissions are affecting our planet; and we need to take action. Just as we reached a point where we stopped debating whether cigarette smoke causes cancer, we need to end the climate change debate and focus on how to solve the problem.
We have compiled the key facts about climate science, the expert consensus, and some of the common arguments from and responses to those who spread doubt and confusion to prevent action:
Posted in global warming denial, politics | Tagged: AGW, anthropogenic, California, climate change, Climategate, conspiracy, conspiracy theory, cover up, denialism, denier, Earth, global warming, governor, GW, hoax, hockey stick, Jerry Brown, policy, politics, science, skeptic, solar, Sun, temperature | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 17, 2012
Now that I’m back from TAM 2012, I am finally catching up on some blogging. In this post, I wanted to share a rough transcript I made of another panel I saw the weekend before TAM at Convergence/SkepchickCon 2012 titled “How to Save the Polar Bears” – as the name implies, the subject was on how to address questions of the effects of global warming as well as climate change denialism. Read on…
How to Save the Polar Bears
with Greg Laden, Shawn Otto, Maggie Koerth-Baker, John Abraham, and Desiree Schell (moderator)
Desiree: Let’s all commit now that climate change is indeed a real thing that is occurring. Greg, can you start with telling us the effects of climate change?
Greg: I’ll first talk about the effects of all the CO2 being released. The first effect is that it is warmer. For example, we are now experiencing the warmest year on record (so far). There are also likely to be drastic shifts in the weather patterns due to the amount of heat the atmosphere can hold. It probably means in more areas more rain in short bursts – so more droughts interrupted by heavy rains.
Also, the oceans will become more acidic, so organisms which are affected by high acid water will be hurt.
Finally, see level rise… glaciers melt, water expands, so the ocean level goes up. It could be a big factor in the short term.
Desiree: there are other more tangible effects like on agriculture.
Greg: yes, for example, many trees are getting killed by parasites because those parasites valve moved into regions (due to climate change) they never were before. Also, plants are drying out due to drought and this is leading to a lot of nasty wildfires.
People think that climate change effects is a future thing, but since the 1970s we have seen agricultural failures and desertification which are likely already linked to climate change. It is currently occurring.
Desiree: one thing that might change is disease patterns.
Greg: yes, many disease patterns have changed. Most epidemic diseases we as humans experience are due to things we have changed about our environment.
We have become a bit complacent about diseases, because in the 1930s we developed antibiotics. The problem is with the changes we are making now due to climate change, these disease effects are not so easily fought.
Desiree: Maggie, can you speak to power usage?
Maggie: the biggest energy usage we have now is buildings, more than transportation, and we use most of that energy to perfect our indoor climate (AC) which affects the outdoor climate, and so on. This also affects our power grids, because there is an increase in demand for electricity due to the higher temperatures. And the grid is much more sensitive than people think, and in these extremes you can get blackouts.
Desiree: Shawn, what was the political response to these issues?
Shawn: Nothing. An attempt was made in 2010 to address these issues, but about 500 million dollars was poured into Congress by the energy lobbyists to defeat any kind of climate bill. And the Obama administration had to make a calculated decision to go with healthcare reform instead.
There have been many on the right who have attempted to downplay climate change mitigation. Many people are pushing a “teach the controversy” argument against the teaching of climate change science. They wish to replace political opinion with actual science. There have been political attempts to make sea level rise “illegal” – North Carolina almost passed a bill making it illegal for communities to consider the effect of sea level rise unless the legislation gives prior permission, and if they do the community cannot go with the science
(about 1 meter in a century) but instead about 8 inches.
Virginia recently followed suit, saying we cannot talk about “sea level rise” but “frequent flooding” instead. This kind of throwing up political smokescreens is what is going on now.
In a way, you cannot blame the (public) corporations for this so much because they are required by law to pursue profits for shareholders on quarterly basis. So money drives a lot of it.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in global warming denial | Tagged: 2012, anthropogenic, climate, climate change, con, Convergence, denial, denialism, deniers, Desiree Schell, discussion, economics, election, electricity, energy, global warming, Greg Laden, grid, GW, John Abraham, Maggie Koerth-Baker, men, politics, power, science, Science Debate, Shawn Otto, Skepchick, SkepchickCon, skeptic, skepticism, weather | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 17, 2012
As many of you know, one of the best pro-science groups out there is the National Center for Science Education; they specialize in defending the teaching of evolutionary science while simultaneously battling attempts by creationists to push their non-scientific ideas into the public schools. However, in recent months the NCSE has brought its expertise into a new fight: the climate science wars. Many climate science deniers employ the same kinds of tactics in their denial of global warming as creationists apply in their denial of evolution, and the NCSE decided it was time to start exposing these pseudo-scientific tactics. So, to help facilitate this process, I wanted to share with you a talk by NCSE’s climate expert Mark McCaffrey wherein he dissects climate change denial; the use of doubt, delay, and denial; myths and misperceptions deniers push, and more…
Posted in creationism, education, global warming denial | Tagged: AGW, anthropogenic, climate change, creationism, delay, denial, denialism, denier, doubt, education, educators, Eugenie Scott, evolution, Genie Scott, global warming, GW, ID, intelligent design, Mark McCaffrey, misperceptions, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, public, schools, science, skeptical, skeptics, teachers, teaching | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 19, 2012
There was some very welcome news this week on the science education front: the National Center for Science Education, long associated with the strong defense of evolutionary science curricula in public schools, is now joining the cause of defending climate science from the deniers. This statement from the NCSE illustrates why they’ve taken this important step…
NCSE has long focused upon defending and promoting the teaching of evolution and the nature of science. Why are we now adding climate change to this list?
Although both evolution and climate change are accepted by the scientific community, both topics remain controversial among the public. As a result, teachers trying to teach evolution and/or climate change too often face opposition in their communities. Such opposition is based on ideology, not science, although the ideologies differ: religious ideologies in the case of evolution, economic and political ideologies in the case of climate change. In both cases, the result is that teachers are pressured to downplay these topics, misrepresent them as scientifically controversial, and air supposedly scientifically credible alternatives to them.
There are parallels, then, in the ways these two scientific topics are viewed by the general public, in the reasons for the widespread rejection of them by a substantial portion of the public, and in what happens when teachers try, responsibly, to teach them. So we decided to do what we can to help. …
In true NCSE fashion, they provide a page of resources for teachers, scientists, parents, and concerned citizens to help with the promotion of good climate science education while also battling back against the climate science deniers. Check it out and pass it along…
Posted in creationism, education, global warming denial | Tagged: AGW, anthropogenic, climate change, creationism, denial, denialism, denier, education, educators, Eugenie Scott, evolution, Genie Scott, global warming, GW, ID, intelligent design, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, public, schools, science, teachers, teaching | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 16, 2012
I recently listened to an episode of the Point of Inquiry podcast titled “The Debunking Handbook” which dealt with the question of how to most effectively go about “debunking” various myths, pseudosciences, and misconceptions. The general thrust of the episode, which I highly recommend, is that most of us who call ourselves skeptics don’t really do that good of a job of communicating our debunking in a successful manner. In fact, many skeptics actually make the problem worse by inadvertently reinforcing the bunk they are trying to debunk!
Needless to say, this kind of thing is right up my alley, and I think it is well worth your while to take heed of the advice given in “The Debunking Handbook”…
Posted on 27 November 2011 by John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky
The Debunking Handbook, a guide to debunking misinformation, is now freely available to download. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there’s no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation.
The Handbook explores the surprising fact that debunking myths can sometimes reinforce the myth in peoples’ minds. Communicators need to be aware of the various backfire effects and how to avoid them, such as:
Posted in psychology, skeptical community | Tagged: AGW, anthropogenic, anthropogenic global warming, backfire effect, bunk, climate change, debunk, debunker, debunking, Debunking Handbook, denial, deniers, global warming, GW, John Cook, misconception, misinformation, myths, podcast, Point of Inquiry, pseudoscience, psychology, science, skeptic, skeptical, Skeptical Science | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 24, 2011
[**Update (10-30-11): It seems the deniers have already started to respond to this news. One interesting response is apparently to accuse Prof Richard Muller, the skeptical physicist behind the Berkeley Earth Project, of a Climategate-like scandal (I guess the deniers now view him as a "traitor"): http://news.yahoo.com/skeptic-finds-now-agrees-global-warming-real-142616605.html ]
In a bit of news which kind of goes into the “truth is stranger than fiction” category, I wanted to share with you all the latest in the ongoing drama that is the “Climategate” fiasco. (If you need to get up to speed on the whole “Climategate” thing, just see some of my earlier blog posts here, here, and here)
To date, there have been multiple investigations into the allegations that the worldwide community of climate scientists is somehow conspiring to cover up “the truth” that global warming is really just a hoax, and all of these investigations have shown the exact opposite. However, in true conspiracy theorist fashion, many ideologically-driven climate change deniers (I refuse to call them “skeptics”, because they are not skeptical in the positive sense of that word) have clung to the idea that somehow there is a vast plan on the part of scientists all over the planet to deceive the rest of us into believing that the Earth is warming and that humans are contributing significantly to it.
As such, it seems that there was an effort by many of these deniers to prop up their conspiracy theory by performing their own independent analysis of the climate data. However, in an interesting twist, it seems that upon completing their analysis, the researchers tapped by the deniers actually concluded the opposite of what they had hoped: global warming is indeed real! It’s all outlined in this recent BBC article…
The Earth’s surface really is getting warmer, a new analysis by a US scientific group set up in the wake of the “Climategate” affair has concluded.
The Berkeley Earth Project has used new methods and some new data, but finds the same warming trend seen by groups such as the UK Met Office and Nasa.
The project received funds from sources that back organisations lobbying against action on climate change. …
That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? The climate change deniers decide that all the science on the topic isn’t trustworthy, so they hire a group of their own investigators to look at the data, and they end up getting exactly the same conclusions as has been stated for years by the international climate science community. It gets better…
… The project was established by University of California physics professor Richard Muller, who was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data.
He gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including such luminaries as Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year’s Nobel Physics Prize for research showing the Universe’s expansion is accelerating.
Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable foundations maintained by the Koch brothers, the billionaire US industrialists, who have also donated large sums to organisations lobbying against acceptance of man-made global warming.
“I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data,” Prof Muller told BBC News.
“Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared.”
The group’s work also examined claims from “sceptical” bloggers that temperature data from weather stations did not show a true global warming trend.
The claim was that many stations have registered warming because they are located in or near cities, and those cities have been growing – the urban heat island effect.
The Berkeley group found about 40,000 weather stations around the world whose output has been recorded and stored in digital form.
It developed a new way of analysing the data to plot the global temperature trend over land since 1800.
What came out was a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world’s three most important and established groups, whose work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate sceptic circles. [emphasis added]
In fact, below is a copy of that graph: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in global warming denial | Tagged: AGW, anthropogenic, Berkeley Earth Project, Britain, climate change, Climate Research Institute, Climategate, conspiracy, conspiracy theory, cover up, CRU, denialism, denier, Earth, emails, global warming, GW, hacked, hacking, hide the decline, hoax, hockey stick, House of Commons, investigation, Koch, Koch brothers, Muller, Phil Jones, Prof Muller, Richard Muller, science, skeptic, solar, Sun, temperature, trick, UK, United Kingdom, University of East Anglia | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 15, 2011
Well, it seems that GOP/Tea Party presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann’s recent anti-vaccine comments at Monday night’s Republican debate have gotten her into some pretty hot water. Good! Someone who is that out to lunch on such a core issue of science, medicine, and public health needs to be seriously criticized and derided in the public square, because they certainly have no place in being anywhere near holding public office, in my opinion.
Message to Michelle Bachmann…
One of the most wonderful bits of blowback against Bachmann was in reference to a truly outlandish claim she made in a Fox News interview:
“There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate,” Bachmann said. “She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences.” [emphasis added]
That stupid claim was just too much for some bioethicists who have expressed their skepticism by quite literally putting their money where their mouths are:
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s story about a woman who claimed that her daughter suffered “mental retardation” after receiving a vaccine against HPV could fetch the woman’s family thousands of dollars. But the family can only collect if Bachmann or the unnamed woman can prove the story is true.
Two bioethics professors have offered to pay more than $10,000 for medical records that prove the anecdote Bachmann told after Monday night’s Republican presidential debate is true, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…
Folks, this is precisely the kind of thing which needs to be done when someone who is as high profile as Bachmann (a potential presidential contender, for frak’s sake!) makes as stupid and dangerous a claim as she made. The mere fact that she made this dubious claim to begin with is bad enough, because it will undoubtedly scare already nervous parents into not getting their kids vaccinated. I would love to see more skeptical activism of this kind in the future – perhaps it is the start of a trend?
While I’m at it, I should also report about how Bachmann herself is publicly responding to the whole fracas. Well, at least I’d like to report on what she has to say, but apparently her campaign is going mum on the issue. Perhaps that’s for the best – I think it would be preferable if Michelle Bachmann just kept her mouth shut for good.
Posted in medical woo, politics | Tagged: $10000, 2012, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, bet, bioethicist, bioethics, campaign, cancer, cervical cancer, claim, climate change, debate, evolution, global warming, GOP, health, HPV, inoculation, Jenny McCarthy, medicine, Michelle Bachmann, president, presidential, primary, professors, race, Republican, retardation, Rick Perry, science, shots, Tea Party, vaccine, white house | Leave a Comment »