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Creationists Seek to Stop the Teaching of Climate Change


Critics of the practice of teaching evolution in science classrooms are taking up a new strategy: going after the teaching of global warming.The New York Times reports that a bill recently introduced in Kentucky would encourage teachers to discuss "the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories," including "evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."By linking the global warming debate with these other issues, proponents of the legislation have a two-pronged motive. First, it strengthens their legal argument. Courts have ruled that singling out evolution for criticism violates the separation of church and state, so going after global warming gives them a broader agenda and thus opens a legal loophole. Second, by riding the coattails of rising public doubt about climate science, creationists hope to legitimize their stance against the scientific establishment in general."Wherever there is a battle over evolution now, there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science-to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism," physicist Lawrence M. Krauss of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University told The New York Times.And the bill in Kentucky is only the latest in a string of legislative attempts across the country with similar intent. Just this week, a resolution passed in South Dakota that called for more "balanced" teaching of global warming in public schools, citing that "carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life." Last year the Texas Board of Education required teachers to present all sides of the debate when discussing global warming, and in Oklahoma a bill much like Kentucky's was introduced.Aside from sharing political and legal agendas, critics of global warming and critics of evolution may seem like improbable bedfellows. After all, what does global warming really have to do with creationism, and vice versa? But the two issues share a lot of cultural overlap.For instance, a survey published in October by the Pew Research Center found that white evangelical Protestants were among those least likely to believe that there was "solid evidence" that the Earth was warming because of human activity. Reverend Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a religious group that accepts the science of global warming, noted that many Christian fundamentalists have difficulty accepting the reality of human-induced global warming because they believe only God has the power to alter the climate.Yet despite the obstacles, climate scientists and educators are mounting a movement and counterstrategy of their own. The Climate Education Interagency Working Group, a group that consolidates the efforts of several federal agencies, is making a strong push under President Obama's leadership toward "climate literacy" for both teachers and students.So long as science itself is not banned from the classroom, climate scientists and evolutionists alike still have one major advantage in the fight: sound, empirical evidence.Bryan Nelson is a regular contributor to the Mother Nature Network.Related Articles on Mother Nature Network: Photo (cc) by Flickr user Genista
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Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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The Planet
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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The Planet

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

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Science