My warning about Gleick to the NCSE
Posted by Jeff Condon on February 23, 2012
I have been debating whether to post this email exchange with the NCSE. In light of the recent Gleick burnout, it seems worthwhile. Readers will recall that I posted on Gleick’s attack on conservative political candidates on behalf of his tax-free 501c3 company. Advertising for or against any political party is illegal activity for a tax-free company in the US (although it is a far too often broken rule). Rarely though, has the attempt reached the magnitudes of Gleik’s letters. Considering that most of his company money comes from taxes taken from business owners, the political aspect of his organization is hard to swallow. I hope to turn him in for tax law violation as soon as he files in 2011.
The NCSE (National Center for Science Education) had focused in the past on evolution science. Something which I think most of us agree. I don’t want to get into “belief” here as this is a settled item in my mind and the focus of different blogs. Still, there are corollaries between evolution and climate science. Both are highly politicized due to individual ‘belief’ rather than science. My point on the matter is that NCSE was on the apolitical side of evolution. Still, they attracted leftist leaders based on the atheist appeal of the science. These leaders failed to recognize that climate science has the same problems as evolution – except in the opposite direction.
Now you may disagree about evolution but this thread isn’t about my opinions on religion. It is about a warning I gave to the NCSE on the extremism of Peter Gleick — well before his recent flame out.
Robert Luhn email@example.com
Some hot news going over the wire today. Note that Peter Gleick and Mark McCaffrey are both involved in our new initiative:
It’s official: NCSE is now stepping into the climate change arena. We’re expanding our mission and we’re expanding our web site.
What follows is our official release, links to our new mission statement, a video introducing NCSE and our new initiative, links to an exclusive excerpt from “Merchants of Doubt”, and more.
Stay tuned: more announcements coming this week!
Qs? Want to interview executive director Genie Scott or our new climate change policy director? Let me know!
I was surprised at the contact.
NCSE TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL
A new initiative in the struggle for quality science education
OAKLAND, CA January 16, 2012
Science education is under attack–again.
This time it’s under attack by climate change deniers, who ignore a mountain of evidence gathered over the last fifty years that the planet is warming and that humans are largely responsible. These deniers attempt to sabotage science education with fringe ideas, pseudoscience, and outright lies.
But the National Center for Science Education won’t let ‘em get away with it.
“We consider climate change a critical issue in our own mission to protect the integrity of science education,” says Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE’s executive director. Long a leader in the fight to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools, NCSE now sees creationist-like tactics being used in the attack on climate education.
“Climate affects everyone, and the decisions we make today will affect generations to come,” says Scott. “We need to teach kids now about the realities of global warming and climate change, so that they’re prepared to make informed, intelligent decisions in the future.”
In this expansion of its core mission, NCSE will help parents, teachers, policymakers, the media, and others to distinguish the real science from the junk science that deniers are trying to push into the science classroom.
The scientific community is applauding NCSE’s new initiative. Said Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):
Added Scott Mandia, the meteorologist who cofounded the Climate Science Rapid Response Team:
“The cavalry has arrived. NCSE, with its passion and experience defending science in our schools, will ensure that teachers can educate students about climate change without fear of reprisal.”
Tackling climate change denial head on
In its initiative to defend climate change education, NCSE will:
* Help parents, teachers, and others fight the introduction of climate change/global warming denial and pseudoscience in the classroom.
* Act as a resource center to connect teachers, scientists, and policymakers with the best information available.
* Provide tools and support to ensure that climate change is properly and effectively taught in public schools.
* Aid those testifying before local and state boards of education, and before local, state, and federal legislative committees.
* Connect local activists with one another, and with scientists and other relevant experts.
New program, new faces
As part of this new initiative, the NCSE has added two key members to its team:
* Dr. Peter Gleick, president and co-founder of The Pacific Institute, joins NCSE’s board of directors. Gleick is a noted hydroclimatologist, an internationally recognized water expert, and a MacArthur Fellow. Gleick’s research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrologic impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources.
* Mark McCaffrey, a long-time climate literacy expert, joins NCSE as climate change programs and policy director. Previously at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), McCaffrey helped spearhead a number of climate and energy literacy programs, and the creation of the Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN), and testified before Congress about climate and environmental education.
Director of Communications
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
My reply was a little less positive:
I am curious that you contacted me for this. I’m a strong believer in
evolution and believe that if there is a god, it was his way. It is
a real and proven science. Global warming is also a real and proven
effect, yet nobody has made a convincing argument for the amount of
warming we’ve measured that is related to human activity or that it is
dangerous. All arguments against that statement are amazingly weak
from a scientific standpoint. Allowing teachers to repeat the
mainstream nonsense about global doom is not a good idea for our
I wonder why your organization would take the dubious step away from
evolution which is known to be politicized by the religious groups and
relatively apolitical from the science side to a political campaign
like AGW science. Is it about money? AGW currently promotes highly
politicized public-polarizing and flat extremist left wing policy.
The data in climate science is improperly used so often that it can
only be described in the worst of terms, yet nobody in the IPCC can
seem to detect it under their government checks. I am published in
climate science. I believe your group has made a huge mistake which
will backfire in time. Now instead of winning the minds of the
uneducated about evolution, you will have painted yourselves into an
unattractive political corner with extremist left wing environmental
groups on the decline.
Also, incorporating politically extreme personalities in the board
like Gleick is a very bad decision which will take a group with a
proper message about evolution and make it into the politically
unattractive nightmare Greenpeace has become. I fear that there is
little balance left in the leadership group if they cannot see the
insanity of his publicly stated anti-industrial political positions.
Evolution is a strong science with traceable evidence from many paths.
AGW is a weak science based on a kernel of truth that is highly
Still, I am curious as to what you think my review of this situation
would help. Negative press is still press but it would be decidedly
The reply took a bit of time but here is the main letter:
Thanks for the note. Nope, we’re not getting into climate change for the money! I wish.
Nope…it boils down to a couple of things:
–Climate change is happening, human activities are a big part of the problem, and the evidence from all corners is pretty darn convincing. Convincing enough for the likes of Dr. Richard Muller to come around on the topic. And he’s a longtime global warming skeptic. (see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204422404576594872796327348.html)
–We’re seeing the same kind of science denial with climate change as we’ve seen with evolution. In fact, several bills proposed last year linked the two, arguing as usual, for schools to teach the “other side” of evolution and over climate change.
–Yes, politics is driving much of the debate. But NCSE’s goal has always been to depoliticize science…and to teach science, and only science, in the classroom. And the “state of the art”, consensus science at that. That’s why we oppose teaching belief systems in schools (like ID) and why we oppose teaching bad science (namely, the “alternatives” to explaining climate change.)
But the heck with me. Here’s what Genie Scott says:
NCSE has always encouraged the teaching of the scientific consensus at the K-12 level. For one thing, students at the pre-college-level receive instruction in basic or foundational scientific principles, for the most part, rarely if ever venturing into cutting-edge topics. Furthermore, classroom teachers are not researchers, and should not be expected to choose between competing views of issues that are in contention within the scientific community. We probably agree that teachers should take their lead from the scientific community.
That said, my understanding of survey research data that has been done on both climate scientists as well as scientists in general indicates that there is, in fact, a considerable consensus among our peers that the planet is getting warmer. There is also almost an equally-strong consensus that human activities have contributed to this warming.
NCSE supports teachers teaching the scientific consensus. If this consensus changes, we will certainly encourage teachers to change their content. For now, however, we will follow the lead of state science education standards as well as the national science education standards (to be based upon guidelines drafted by a committee appointed by the National Academy of Sciences) and support the teaching of human-influenced climate change.
We have found that a great deal of controversy over global warming and other climate change topics focuses more on the consequences of climate change rather than the reliability of the science behind that conclusion. It is true that there are many decisions that need to be made by the public and elected leaders about what, if anything, should be done about climate changes. Because NCSE is not a policy Institute, we will not take positions on such issues. For example, we would not express an opinion about the superiority of either a carbon tax or cap and trade — but we would encourage students or any other citizen to base any such decision on sound science.
I don’t know if you are aware, but the “consensus” is an exaggerated
government program. As I said, you are making a huge mistake and
hiring extremists to the board really turns me off to your group in
There are true questions that the consensus ignores because it would
undermine their position. In order to support their message, your
‘scientists’ also ignore these questions.
“We have found that a great deal of controversy over global warming
and other climate change topics focuses more on the consequences of
climate change rather than the reliability of the science behind that
Incorrect and it smacks of the standard propaganda meme published by
the “consensus”. Do you get your info from Real Climate? That would
also be a mistake.
The questions of every technical skeptic I’ve discussed this with
revolve around the magnitude of the effect first, again not whether it
exists. Then it becomes the certainty to which we know that magnitude
and finally we move to the consequences which in the literature
typically range from reasonably possible to utterly fake.
“Because NCSE is not a policy Institute, we will not take positions on
such issues. “
All of the policies being proposed are in a single anti-industry
(which is anti-science IMO) direction. They are in response to the
exaggerated and all too often fake damage predictions. To pretend you
are not taking a policy position while promoting left wing polluted
science is not going to be an easy sell.
You have taken a scientifically clear issue like evolution, which is
polluted for religious purpose by some in the public, and added to it
climate change which is more accurately represented by the scientific
public and is in fact politically polluted by those working in the
science. It takes all credibility away from your evolution arguments.
Don’t take it from me though, the scientists will tell you themselves.
A small quote from Dr. Roy Spencer:
“Unfortunately, there is no way to “fix” the IPCC, and there never
was. The reason is that its formation over 20 years ago was to support
political and energy policy goals, not to search for scientific truth.
I know this not only because one of the first IPCC directors told me
so, but also because it is the way the IPCC leadership behaves. If you
disagree with their interpretation of climate change, you are left out
of the IPCC process. They ignore or fight against any evidence which
does not support their policy-driven mission, even to the point of
pressuring scientific journals not to publish papers which might hurt
the IPCC’s efforts.”
It is unfortunate that you intend to push this insanity on our
children. The consensus is a politically forced condition. Stating
that you will change when the consensus changes, is a willfully blind
approach to life.
Of course there is money for you in it.
Robert Luhn firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. But as for “making money” off this? Wow, tell me how! We’re a nonprofit (emphasis on the “non”) and we can always use a few $$.
Greenpeace is a multi-hundred million dollar non-profit, anyone think nobody is making money? Guh?
Well, I sent him another letter telling him their new position wasn’t going to work out. Sure enough, Gleick flamed out within another month.
I sent him this on the 20th.
I’m sorry to say this but I did warn you about Gleick.
didn’t take long.
As I said, you should listen to me. Lets see how long it takes your
group to learn about climate change ‘science’.