A surprising number of people contacted me during the past week about the recent mass wildlife deaths reported all over the world and posted across the internet. Some say it’s a sign of “End Times” (although apparently Kirk Cameron disagrees) and others wonder what’s changed in the environment.
John Roach has got the full story, including an interview with conservation biologist Stuart Pimm about the real reason we should all be concerned: Although such events are relatively routine (just not typically reported), one in six bird species is threatened with extinction.
That’s a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s just the kind of crisis that should be making headlines. So if you work at a newspaper, write a blog, or choose content for other media, please consider reporting the real story here….
Yesterday, I flew into Albany where we landed on a snowy runway just as it started to really come down. I then made my way to Bard College where, for January, all first year undergraduates are required to participate in the Citizen Science program:
an intensive introduction to the sciences for all first-year undergraduate students, beginning in January 2011. Stemming from Bard’s recent efforts to revitalize science education within the context of the liberal arts, the innovative program is designed to take science learning beyond the laboratory and give students the tools, attitudes, and motivation to use science and mathematics concepts in their daily lives. The Citizen Science Program, required of all students in their first year at Bard, will be held over a three-week intersession period each January.
“In this nation, even first-class undergraduate institutions fail to adequately educate the nonscientist in matters concerning science,” says Leon Botstein, Bard College president. “This failure has become particularly acute as an increasing number of significant issues facing the country and world—including health and the environment—relate to matters of scientific analysis and policy. An entering first-year student should find a new and different way of training to be a scientist or engineer, and the undecided first-year student should be required to confront science in a way that could lead to a radical shift in interest and career.”
Hey I think I like this Botstein guy. Anyway I’ll be lecturing to the entire freshman class about our “Unscientific America”–in which the public doesn’t understand science and scientists don’t understand the public–and what we can do about it tonight. Meantime, here’s the view outside where I’m staying–incredibly quiet and peaceful: