Majority of Americans Want Climate Education in Schools
In a rebuke to efforts by the Heartland Institute and at least 10 state legislatures, a large majority of Americans believe climate change should be taught in schools, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) reported Wednesday.
When the YPCCC asked Americans, "Should schools teach our children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming?", a national average of 78 percent either somewhat or strongly agreed that they should.
Moreover, a large majority shared that view in all of the 50 states and more than 3,000 counties surveyed, whether or not they favored Republicans or Democrats in elections.
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
The results suggest that efforts in at least 10 states to alter how climate change is addressed in state educational standards are out of step with voters.
For example, YPCCC holds up the case of Idaho, where state legislators argued that no section on human-caused climate change should be included in state science standards, but instead arguments for and against a human role should be presented. Scientists and educators successfully argued that such a move would damage the education and futures of students by presenting a scientific consensus on an urgent issue as up-for-debate. The final decision was in line with the majority of Idahoans views, since, according to YPCCC data, 76 percent of them support climate education.
The same is true for the residents of other states debating their science standards, including Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
National Center for Science Education Deputy Director Glenn Branch told Business Insider in 2017 that, when it comes to determining state science standards, "the two topics that arouse the most discontent and controversy are climate change and evolution."
But the YPCCC data suggests that that controversy is manufactured at the political level and not felt by most Americans.
One key controversy-monger, according to YPCCC, is the climate-denying think tank the Heartland Institute. In March 2017, the fossil-fuel-funded group sent out 25,000 copies of a book called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming to science teachers nationwide.
Koch-Funded Group Tries to Persuade 200,000 Science Teachers That Climate Change Is Debatable https://t.co/Qd4qFk8hYL @ALECExposed @prwatch— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1490908510.0
Despite that effort, majority opinion seems more in line with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a science-education template that Branch called "the gold standard." The NGSS clearly link human activity to climate change and have been accepted by 19 states and Washington, DC, Business Insider reported.
However, more teacher education is needed to ensure U.S. school children are learning accurate climate science. YPCCC cited research published in Science that found that only 30 percent of middle school and 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Worse, 30 percent of teachers who teach climate change tell their students it is due to natural causes.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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