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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/07/17

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The latest on climate change education measures before the United
States Senate. Sad news of the death of the paleontologist David M.
Raup. And a preview of Mann and Kump's Dire Predictions.


Two of the three amendments concerning climate change education under
consideration are out of commission as the United States Senate
continues to discuss a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act of 1965.

A proposed amendment (SA 2176) to establish the Climate Change
Education Act, which would have instituted a competitive grant program
aimed in part at developing and improving educational material and
teacher training on the topic of climate change, was rejected on a
44-53 vote on July 15, 2015.

The amendment was proposed by Edward Markey (D-Massachussetts), who
was quoted by the Washington Post (July 15, 2015) as saying, "The
children of our country deserve the best scientific education they can
get on this topic ... They are the future leaders of this country and
the world. They must be equipped."

Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), however, argued against the federal
government's involvement in curriculum and instruction, warning, "Just
imagine what the curriculum on climate change would be if we shifted
from President Obama to President Cruz and then back to President
Sanders and then to President Trump."

Meanwhile, a proposed amendment (SA 2144) that would have directed the
administrators of EPA and NOAA to provide state and local educational
agencies with "balanced, objective resources on climate theory,"
proposed by Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), was withdrawn without a vote
on July 15, 2015.

Wicker was the sole dissenter to a resolution "that climate change is
real and not a hoax" that was before the Senate in 2015, as National
Public Radio (January 23, 2015) reported, and among dozens of senators
that dissented from a similar amendment that acknowledged human
influence on climate change.

Still under consideration is a resolution (SA 2175) that refers to the
scientific evidence for human-induced climate change as "overwhelming
and undeniable" and holds that "instruction in climate science is
important for all students and should not be prohibited by any unit of
State or local government."

"Passage of SA 2175 would put the Senate on record as firmly
supporting climate change education," NCSE's executive director Ann
Reid commented. "I urge you to get in touch with your senators and
express your support for the resolution."

For the three amendments, visit: 

For the story in the Washington Post, visit: 

For the story from National Public Radio, visit: 

And for NCSE's action alert, visit: 


The paleontologist David M. Raup died on July 9, 2015, at the age of
82, according to a press release from the University of Chicago (July
14, 2015). The press release explains, "Raup was widely known for the
new approaches he brought repeatedly to paleontology, such as
extensive computation, modern evolutionary biology, theoretical
ecology, and mathematical modeling." Raup was also a pedagogical
innovator: Principles of Paleontology (1971, 1978), his textbook
coauthored with Steven M. Stanley, focused on paleontological methods
rather than adopting a systematic or historical approach. To the
public, he was famous for his popular books explaining his views on
periodicities in mass extinctions: The Nemesis Affair (1985) and
Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? (1991).

A vivid and candid writer, Raup was often misleadingly quoted by
creationists. For example, a supposedly antievolutionary phrase from a
1979 essay of his -- "we have even fewer examples of evolutionary
transitions than we had in Darwin's time" -- is still in circulation,
although in context it is clear that Raup was talking about such
evolutionary transitions as driven by natural selection alone; in the
same article, he writes, "This record of change pretty clearly
demonstrates that evolution has occurred if we define evolution simply
as change; but it does not tell us how this change took place, and
that is really the question." Raup contributed a chapter on "The
Geological and Paleontological Arguments of Creationism" to Laurie R.
Godfrey's Scientists Confront Creationism (1984), in which he
commented, "[Duane] Gish ... has popularized the notion that the rocks
and the fossils say NO to evolution. As I will show here, the rocks
and the fossils say YES to evolution!" Later in his life, Raup was
apparently intrigued by the "intelligent design" movement, reportedly
having a better opinion of Phillip Johnson's scholarship than did his
colleague Stephen Jay Gould.

Raup was born in Boston on April 24, 1933. He received his B.S. from
the University of Chicago in 1953 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in geology
from Harvard University in 1955 and 1957. He taught at Caltech and the
John Hopkins University before becoming a professor of geology at the
University of Rochester from 1966 to 1978. Returning to Chicago, he
was curator of geology from 1978 to 1980 and dean of science from 1980
to 1982 at the Field Museum of Natural History. He also joined the
Department of the Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago in
1980, becoming emeritus in 1995. His honors included the
Paleontological Society's Charles Schuchert Award in 1973, election to
the National Academy of Sciences in 1979, and the Paleontological
Society Medal in 1995.

For the University of Chicago's press release, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Michael E. Mann and Lee R.
Kump's Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change (second edition,
DK Publishing, 2015). The preview includes brief chapters on "Taking
action in the face of uncertainty," "Greenhouse gases on the rise,"
"How does modern warming differ from past warming trends?" "How to
build a climate model," "How sensitive is the climate?" "The highway
to extinction?" "Where do all those emissions come from?"
"Geoengineering," "But what can I do about it?" and "The known
unknowns & unknown unknowns."

The publisher writes, "Dire Predictions is a must-read for anyone
interested in understanding global warming and climate change ...
Updated to include the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC), Dire Predictions dives into the information
documented by the IPCC in an illustrated, visually-stunning, and
undeniably powerful way." A member of NCSE's Advisory Council and a
recipient of NCSE's Friend of the Planet award in 2014, Mann is
Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State
University; Kump is Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State

For the preview of Dire Predictions (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Minda Berbeco interviewing a middle school teacher about pushback to
climate education: 

* NCSE intern Nikita Daryanani reviewing three elementary-level
resources on evolution: 

* Stephanie Keep castigating NBC News for fomenting a misconception
about evolution: 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, 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.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204

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