New Mexico’s public education secretary looks to deny global warming, evolution

New Mexico’s public education secretary, Christopher Ruszkowski, is defending new proposed science standards that have been widely criticized for deleting or omitting references to global warming, evolution and the age of the earth.

State education officials are holding their one and only public hearing Monday to gather comments on the proposed standards.

In a public message published Sunday, Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski says the new standards will give teachers and families flexibility and local control around science materials, curriculum and content. He did not specifically address how the standards address the teaching of evolution and climate change.

Ruszkowski’s idea is in contrast to firm scientific evidence on both counts. (EDITORIAL NOTE: Christopher Ruszkowski is far from a person interested in the education of New Mexico’s children. he pushes a Republican, no-factual based idea as one that wilalllow parents a choice”. In reality it is simply a step back toward the dark ages).

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal. – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.1

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

Global temperature rise

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.5 Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months. 6  + more Earth’s vital signs: Global temperature An indicator of current global average temperature as measured by NASA; updated monthly. Global Climate Change: Causes An overview of the greenhouse effect and other contributors to abrupt climate change. Graphic: Global warming from 1880 to 2015 A visualization of global temperature changes since 1880 based on NASA GISS data.

Warming oceans

The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2, 300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.7 + more Climate Kids: What is happening in the ocean? An overview of the ocean’s role in climate change and how it stores and releases heat from the atmosphere. Video: Oceans of climate change A lighthearted look at the effect of climate change on the world’s oceans and the heat capacity of water. Article: Warming ocean causing most Antarctic ice shelf mass loss Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent’s ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found.

Shrinking ice sheets

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.

Image: Flowing meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet + more Vital Signs: Land Ice An indicator of the current volume and the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets using data from NASA’s Grace satellite. Global Ice Viewer An interactive exploration of how global warming is affecting sea ice, glaciers and continental ice sheets world wide.

Glacial retreat

Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.9

Image: The disappearing snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro, from space. + more Interactive: Global ice viewer An interactive exploration of how global warming is affect sea ice, glaciers and continental ice sheets worldwide.

Decreased snow cover

Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.15 + more National Snow and Ice Data Center As an information and referral center in support of polar and cryospheric research, NSIDC archives and distributes digital and analog snow, ice, and Earth Observatory: Snow Cover Time series of global snow cover from NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Sea level rise

Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century.4

Image: Republic of Maldives: Vulnerable to sea level rise + more Earth’s vital signs: Sea Level An indicator of current global sea level as measured by satellites; updated monthly. Quiz: Sea level Test your knowledge of sea level rise with this interactive quiz.

Declining Arctic sea ice

Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.8

Image: Visualization of the 2012 Arctic sea ice minimum, the lowest on record + more Earth’s vital signs: Sea ice An indicator of changes in the Arctic sea ice minimum over time. Arctic sea ice extent both affects and is affected by global climate change. Interactive: Global ice viewer An interactive exploration of how global warming is affecting sea ice, glaciers and continental ice sheets worldwide. NASA’s Operation Icebridge mission NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth’s polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system.

Extreme events

The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.10 + more Precipitation Measurement Missions The official website for NASA’s fleet of Earth science missions that study rainfall and other types precipitation around the globe. Precipitation Quiz Earth’s water is stored in ice and snow, lakes and rivers, the atmosphere and the oceans. How much do you know about how water is cycled around our planet and the crucial role it plays in our climate?

Ocean acidification

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.11, 12 This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.13, 14 + more How does climate change affect coral reefs? Article about how global warming leads to coral bleaching and changes ocean chemistry, leading to acidification. The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem NOAA page on ocean acidification.

EVOLUTION:

The fact of evolution is the most fundamental issue and the one established with utmost certainty. During the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin (1809–1882) gathered much evidence in its support, but the evidence has accumulated continuously ever since, derived from all biological disciplines. The evolutionary origin of organisms is today a scientific conclusion established with the kind of certainty attributable to such scientific concepts as the roundness of the Earth, the motions of the planets, and the molecular composition of matter. This degree of certainty beyond reasonable doubt is what is implied when biologists say that evolution is a fact ; the evolutionary origin of organisms is accepted by virtually every biologist.

The mechanisms of evolution operate at the genomic level. Changes in DNA sequences affect the composition and expression of our genes, the basic units of inheritance. To understand how different species have evolved we have to look at the DNA sequences in their genomes. Our evolutionary history is written into our genome. The human genome looks the way it does because of all the genetic changes that affected our ancestors. When DNA and genes in different species look very similar, this is usually taken as evidence of them sharing ancestors. For example, humans and the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, share much of their DNA. 75 per cent of genes that cause diseases in humans are also found in the fruit fly. DNA accumulates changes over time. Some of these changes can be beneficial, and provide a selective advantage for an organism. Other changes may be harmful if they affect an important, everyday function. As a result some genes do not change much. They are said to be conserved.

Different types of evolution

Convergent evolution

When the same adaptations evolve independently, under similar selection pressures. For example, flying insects, birds and bats have all evolved the ability to fly, but independently of each other.

Co-evolution

When two species or groups of species have evolved alongside each other where one adapts to changes in the other. For example, flowering plants and pollinating insects such as bees.

Adaptive radiation

When a species splits into a number of new forms when a change in the environment makes new resources available or creates new environmental challenges. For example, finches on the Galapagos Islands have developed different shaped beaks to take advantage of the different kinds of food available on different islands.

Top scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, science education associations and major New Mexico school districts are asking the state to adopt unedited standards developed by a consortium on states.

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