Monday, April 28, 2008

Earth Science Literacy Initiative

The Earth Science Literacy Initiative is holding a 12-day online conference starting May 12 to establish the “Big Ideas” and supporting concepts that all Americans should know about Earth sciences. Joaquin Ruiz, a geoscientist and dean at the University of Arizona, is a member of the organizing committee.

The group's motivation is that,

"Critical decisions involving Earth science are continuously made within the political and educational realms, with significant impacts on all American citizens."

"The research community must do a better job of helping the public understand the most important concepts emerging from geoscience research. However, understanding scientific discoveries requires a science-literate population."

"Unfortunately, we also live at a time when there are strong movements that seek to discredit the discoveries of scientific research. Whether acting out of fear, misunderstanding or malice, these movements often portray the healthy debate of scientific inquiry as confusion and a lack of agreement. An individual or set of individuals pushing certain self-serving agendas can almost always find a quote or viewpoint that backs their idea. Many of the foundations of our sciences, such as the age of the Earth, radioactive decay, biological and planetary evolution, climate change, and even the existence of plate tectonics, are discredited and ridiculed by extracting fragmented quotes from prominent scientists and taking them out of context.

A deep schism is opening up within our country: at the same time that tremendous scientific advances are being made, increasing percentages of Americans are refusing to believe them."

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