Two weeks ago Dr. Eugenie Scott, the Director of N.C.S.E., came to Los Angeles for a tribute screening of the movie, “Inherit the Wind,” on it’s 50th anniversary. While in town I managed to get her to sit down to talk about some of the basic aspects of the N.C.S.E. which could be of relevance to the folks defending climate science. Here are some excerpts of what she had to say, presented in this 5 minute video.


Over the past five years, through the making of my two feature films (“Flock of Dodos,” “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy”) I’ve had the opportunity to see the attacks on evolution and climate science. I’ve also been given a good look at the efforts to defend these two fields of science. I think a few simple patterns are evident.

The defense of evolution has a relatively hierarchical structure to it with strong leadership, has scored a number of major victories, and today has a network of well-organized, grassroots resources keeping a vigilant eye on “flare ups” (as Genie calls them in the video) around the country.

In contrast, the current feeling in the climate community is a sense of defeat (after the collapse of all major legislative efforts, the growth of skepticism about global warming, and the aggressive media coup scored after the Climategate incident a year ago). At a recent climate activism workshop I attended there were complaints about the problems of “20 environmental groups all doing the same thing,” and a clear absence of agreement over who exactly is in charge when it comes to defending the profession of climate science. It seems to me there are elements of Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker article, “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” to be seen — specifically the contrast between a hierarchical structure versus a network in confronting aggressive opposition.

For both efforts, there are countless very dedicated, even heroic, individuals working at the grassroots level while the large science organizations attempt to stay clear of politics. But in my impression there is one very clear difference. For the issue of evolution, there has existed for over two decades a central “clearinghouse,” organization — the National Center for Science Education. As Genie says in the video, throughout the evolution community, there is a general widespread response of, “Go see NCSE,” when people have ANY questions about the attacks on evolution.

I don’t see anything similar for the defense of climate science.