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In a recent survey, voters overwhelmingly accepted that improving the quality of science education is important to the competitiveness of the United States in the global scene — and a majority agreed that there's a lot of room for improvement.
"After many years in which evolution was the most contentious issue in science education, climate change is now the battle du jour in school districts across the country," the Wall Street Journal (March 11, 2012) reports (subscription required).
"After a period of declining levels of belief in global warming there appears to be a modest rebound in the percentage of Americans that believe temperatures on the planet are increasing," according (PDF) to the latest National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change.
The source of the documents revealing the strategy of the Heartland Institute's campaign to undermine the public's understanding of climate science — including by producing and distributing K-12 curriculum materials propounding climate change denial — revealed himself to be Dr. Peter Gleick, the hydroclimatologist who heads the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security.
"Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars," reported The New York Times (February 15, 2012). The documents in question were obtained from the Heartland Institute, a non-profit organization best known for its attacks on climate science, and posted at DeSmogBlog (February 14, 2012), which "exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change."
Almost half — 47% — of Americans surveyed in 2010 agreed that "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals," and 38% agreed that "the universe began with a huge explosion."
The State of State Science Standards 2012 (PDF), published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is a new report offering a survey and evaluation of the state science standards in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. Among the major problems across the country: "An Undermining of Evolution."