NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/08/03
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A change of mind for a scientist who doubted climate change. And sad news of the death of former NCSE employee Skip Evans.
"A CONVERTED SKEPTIC" A climate scientist who was formerly dismissive of climate change now describes himself as "a converted skeptic." Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and cofounder of the Berkeley Earth project, wrote in a column in The New York Times (July 28, 2012), "Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause." Muller's volte-face was based on the project's analysis of "a collection of 14.4m land temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world dating back to 1753," according to the Guardian (July 29, 2012); Muller wrote in the Times, "Our results show that the average temperature of the earth's land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases." The analysis from the project is not yet been published; it is presently undergoing peer review at the Journal of Geophysical Research. Michael Mann of Penn State University told the Guardian that he welcomed the Berkeley Earth project's results as "demonstrat[ing] once again what scientists have known with some degree of certainty for nearly two decades." He added, "I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions. They are certain to be attacked by the professional climate change denial crowd for their findings." (A minor irony is that the project is partly funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which is connected to various efforts to promote climate change denial.) For Muller's column in The New York Times, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html For information about the Berkeley Earth project, visit: http://berkeleyearth.org/ And for the article in the Guardian, visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jul/29/climate-change-sceptics-change-mind SKIP EVANS DIES Skip Evans, a former employee of NCSE, died on July 26, 2012, at the age of 49, according to a post at The Panda's Thumb blog (July 26, 2012). Born in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, on June 4, 1963, Evans earned a B.S. in computer science from the University of Central Florida in 1987, and thereafter worked as a programmer for a variety of companies in Orlando, Atlanta, and New York City. A man of varied interests, he was active in motorcycle racing, community theater (as actor, director, and playwright), improvisational comedy, and, increasingly, activism on behalf of church/state separation, serving as the secretary of Central Floridians Against Censorship and the president of the Atlanta chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He worked for NCSE as Network Project Director, succeeding Molleen Matsumura, from August 2001 to April 2004. Afterward, he returned to programming, operating his own company from Kalispell and Helena, Montana, and then relocating to Madison, Wisconsin. He remained active in opposing creationism and promoting evolution education, blogging at The Panda?s Thumb and helping to found Wisconsin Citizens for Science and the Madison Science Pub. At the time of his death, he was a senior programmer for SoLoMo Technology. Even before coming to NCSE, Evans was already a stalwart defender of teaching evolution in the public schools. A dogged critic of the flamboyant young-earth creationist Kent Hovind, he requested a copy of Hovind's "dissertation" from Patriot University, only to receive the original document, complete with a taped-in clipping from a magazine, to his surprise and delight. Among his publications in RNCSE were a report of his visit to a "seminar" run by Answers in Genesis and a review of a bizarre creationist novel. During his nearly-three-year stay at NCSE, Evans worked closely with activists in California, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, and Texas, who found his level of commitment impressive and his trademark sense of humor infectious. He produced effective critiques of the "intelligent design" movement's propaganda, such as "Doubting Darwinism through creative license" and "The Discovery Institute pioneers the misinfomercial." His delight in NCSE's Project Steve, which he helped to conceive and implement, was heightened by the fact that his given name, which he rarely used, was Stephen. And as a self-described refugee from the dot-coms, Evans also brought his expertise with information technology to bear, substantially improving NCSE's ability to communicate with, and to facilitate communication among, activists. For the post at The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/07/a-death-in-the.html For Evans's publications in RNCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/18/2/creationism-trip-to-dark-side http://ncse.com/rncse//20/3/ride-to-glory For Evans's critiques of "intelligent design" propaganda, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/general/doubting-darwinism-creative-license http://ncse.com/news/2002/05/discovery-institute-pioneers-mis-infomercial-00298 And for Project Steve (now with 1223 Steves), visit: http://ncse.com/taking-action/project-steve 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. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/join