Climate science is depressing. Not gonna lie. Sometimes after a day spent teaching hundreds of people how screwed we are, I feel pretty bummed out. You have to admit, the best case scenarios—the ones where we all make a huge effort towards a sustainable future, the ones that require major policy changes and sacrifice and cooperation—are still kind of grim. We could lose 30% of the species on Earth instead of 70%! Woohoo!
And the winner, by universal acclaim, was the story of Inky, the Houdini of octopuses, who escaped his aquarium in New Zealand and found his way back to the ocean. Is it possible that this story was so popular in the U.S. because we all yearn for a way to escape the endless presidential primary season?
Do you remember the megachurch pastor and religious broadcaster D. James Kennedy (1930–2007)? He was a busy guy, but he found the time to preach against evolution, promoting both young-earth creationism (he was the honorary chair of Answers in Genesis’s Creation “Museum”) and “intelligent design” creationism (inviting such figures as Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, and William Dembski to his shows). Tom McIver’s Anti-Evolution: A Reader’s Guide to Writings Before and After Darwin describes a 1986 pamphlet based on one of Kennedy’s sermons as “delivered with great confidence and authority, yet ... filled with highly misleading distortions and outright falsehoods.” Here’s a sample from Kennedy’s Solving Bible Mysteries (2000), in which he writes, “Sir Julian Huxley, the leading evolutionist in the world until his death in 1975, once said, ‘It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of Creation … Evolution if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe the Bible.’”
Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to double in the next 20 years unless radical changes are made. As people argue over policies to address climate change and how to best educate the public about it, I actually work in a position where I can effect major change. Am I politician? A CEO of an energy company? A magic genie? No, I work with buildings. That’s right, your regular, boring, run-of-the-mill buildings.
In late March I traveled down to Nashville to attend one of my favorite conferences, NSTA—the National Science Teacher Association conference. If you haven’t been, this is an absolute must go for anyone interested in science education. Everyone is there, from textbook authors to science celebrities to teachers upon teachers upon teachers. Flamingos run through the exhibit halls (really!), teachers scream with delight as they spin in huge gyroscopes, and Schmitty the Weather Dog tap-dances his way into our hearts. It’s basically Circus Circus for science nerds and I love it.
In part 1, Jon Perry told me how his company and website Stated Clearly came to be. The short story is that he wanted to find a way to explain his love of and wonder at evolution to his family and friends, many of whom would be classified as evolution deniers or at least evolution doubters. It didn’t take long for teachers to find and show Perry’s engaging animations in class, which set him on a course of creating videos for educational use.
I have a few erasable white boards on my desk that I use to keep track of, well, everything. Although they are frequently commandeered by my 5-year-old to practice her letters, the boards do a pretty good job of reminding me of all I have to do. In one corner is a list of languishing blog topics. Among them, “Stated Clearly.” I can’t remember how these two words came to be on my to-blog list, but there they have sat for some time.
It’s Quenstedtoceras leachi, at any rate if the label from Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology is to be trusted. (After last week’s debacle, in which it was revealed that I can’t tell spirifers apart from fusilinids, I am understandably wary.)