Astronomy, Ecology, and Social Ethics: Looking at Climate Trends for 2016


This comes from The Vatican Observatory – as I noted in my post (God’s Wrath or Man’s Ignorance) yesterday, we have been given stewardship of this planet.

2016 has been a record setting year in regard to climate change. NASA has confirmed that the temperatures from January to June have set new, all-time highs. An article on NASA’s website from July 19, 2016 states that temperatures are 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than recent historical averages. Sea ice levels in the first five months receded to new lows since we began to measure it with satellites in 1979. Though some may question the reality of global warming, science is confirming that our world’s climate is changing and rapidly. For the full article on recent NASA findings about our climate, click here. Thankfully, the record ice melt in the first five months of this year has slowed through the month of June. This slowing will keep the arctic ice from setting even more record lows. Nevertheless, NASA has stated that these findings are pointing to a “new normal” for our climate and are seeking to answer the question, “What does this mean going … Continue reading →

Source: Astronomy, Ecology, and Social Ethics: Looking at Climate Trends for 2016

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions


I am posting these questions and opening it up for comments.  What are your answers and how do you think the various candidates should respond?  The only thing that I ask is that your answers be supportable and not a variant on pseudo-science (see “An Assignment on Academic and Scientific Integrity”).

20 Questions for the Presidential Candidates

These 20 questions were solicited from the public and refined by experts at America’s leading nonpartisan science and engineering organizations.

President Obama, Senator McCain, and Governor Romney answered similar questions in 2008 and 2012. Our promotion of their responses garnered more than 850 million earned media impressions each cycle.

  1. Innovation

Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation?

  1. Research

Many scientific advances require long-term investment to fund research over a period of longer than the two, four, or six year terms that govern political cycles. In the current climate of budgetary constraints, what are your science and engineering research priorities and how will you balance short-term versus long-term funding?

  1. Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

  1. Biodiversity

Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity?

  1. The Internet

The Internet has become a foundation of economic, social, law enforcement, and military activity. What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyberattack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet?

  1. Mental Health

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

  1. Energy

Strategic management of the US energy portfolio can have powerful economic, environmental, and foreign policy impacts. How do you see the energy landscape evolving over the next 4 to 8 years, and, as President, what will your energy strategy be?

  1. Education

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?

  1. Public Health

Public health efforts like smoking cessation, drunk driving laws, vaccination, and water fluoridation have improved health and productivity and save millions of lives. How would you improve federal research and our public health system to better protect Americans from emerging diseases and other public health threats, such as antibiotic resistant superbugs?

  1. Water

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values.  If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?

  1. Nuclear Power

Nuclear power can meet electricity demand without producing greenhouse gases, but it raises national security and environmental concerns. What is your plan for the use, expansion, or phasing out of nuclear power, and what steps will you take to monitor, manage and secure nuclear materials over their life cycle?

  1. Food

Agriculture involves a complex balance of land and energy use, worker health and safety, water use and quality, and access to healthy and affordable food, all of which have inputs of objective knowledge from science. How would you manage the US agricultural enterprise to our highest benefit in the most sustainable way?

  1. Global Challenges

We now live in a global economy with a large and growing human population. These factors create economic, public health, and environmental challenges that do not respect national borders. How would your administration balance national interests with global cooperation when tackling threats made clear by science, such as pandemic diseases and climate change, that cross national borders?

  1. Regulations

Science is essential to many of the laws and policies that keep Americans safe and secure. How would science inform your administration’s decisions to add, modify, or remove federal regulations, and how would you encourage a thriving business sector while protecting Americans vulnerable to public health and environmental threats?

  1. Vaccination

Public health officials warn that we need to take more steps to prevent international epidemics from viruses such as Ebola and Zika. Meanwhile, measles is resurgent due to decreasing vaccination rates. How will your administration support vaccine science?

  1. Space

There is a political debate over America’s national approach to space exploration and use. What should America’s national goals be for space exploration and earth observation from space, and what steps would your administration take to achieve them?

  1. Opioids

There is a growing opioid problem in the United States, with tragic costs to lives, families and society. How would your administration enlist researchers, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies in addressing this issue?

  1. Ocean Health

There is growing concern over the decline of fisheries and the overall health of the ocean: scientists estimate that 90% of stocks are fished at or beyond sustainable limits, habitats like coral reefs are threatened by ocean acidification, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What efforts would your administration make to improve the health of our ocean and coastlines and increase the long-term sustainability of ocean fisheries?

  1. Immigration

There is much current political discussion about immigration policy and border controls. Would you support any changes in immigration policy regarding scientists and engineers who receive their graduate degree at an American university? Conversely, what is your opinion of recent controversy over employment and the H1-B Visa program?

  1. Scientific Integrity

Evidence from science is the surest basis for fair and just public policy, but that is predicated on the integrity of that evidence and of the scientific process used to produce it, which must be both transparent and free from political bias and pressure. How will you foster a culture of scientific transparency and accountability in government, while protecting scientists and federal agencies from political interference in their work?

Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation


This comes from a blogging friend in North Carolina.  What I find interesting is that Reverend Barber asked to speak at both political conventions because the nature of his talk went beyond political boundaries.  And yet the Republican party, despite all their talk about being pro-Christian, refused to let him do so.

You cannot say that you are a Christian when you refuse to hear the Word of God, especially when it calls you to task.  What was it that John the Baptizer and Jesus Himself called us to do?  It was to repent and change our ways!


During the dueling Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Rev. Dr. William Barber’s Moral Movement asked both parties to allow him to address with them the Scripture’s call to …

Source: Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation

Monthly Clergy Letter Project Newsletter


The new issue of Clergy Project Newsletter is now available on-line. I urge you all to check this out as it has information related to the teaching of science and academic freedom.

There is a section in this month’s newsletter for you to sign up for the 2017 Evolution Weekend.  You can contribute to the 2017 Weekend by offering thoughts on what the theme should be (the themes for past years are listed).

No matter whether you are clergy or laity, I urge you to check it out and get involved in the project.

An Open Letter To Donald Trump


Dear Mr. Trump,

After the latest terror attack in France, you proudly proclaimed that you would have Congress declare war on ISIS if you were elected President.

I will give you credit. There have been perhaps one or two candidates for President who have campaigned on the platform of starting a war. At least you have declared that you will follow the Constitution and have Congress declare war instead of taking off on your own.

And it makes a little difference because of the number of proposals that you have previously made that defy Constitutional authority.

But what are you going to do if Congress doesn’t do as you ask? Remember, Congress does not work for you nor does it automatically do your bidding; Congress works for the people (though they have to be occasionally reminded of that fact).

And, if they do agree, how are you going to do this? Where will this battle be fought? Will you simply bomb ISIS wherever it may be? Do you even know where these criminals hide? Or do they all look alike to you? Since ISIS is not a country or geographical entity, will you seek the help of countries in which ISIS is operating? Or will you simply invade these countries? Do you intend to include France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom on your list of targets because elements of ISIS are in those countries? How much of the world do you plan to destroy in this quest?

Will you send the youth of this country, our wives and husbands,our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, to fight this war? Or will you proclaim that the other countries will pay the price for this war?

And what sort of bombs will you drop if this is your course of action?

What will you do that we are not already doing? And more importantly, what are you going to do when this war is over, if it is ever finished? Do you intend to keep us in a state of war forever?

Who will pay for this war that you propose? Who will rebuild the world that you seek to destroy? What will happen to all of the people whose homes and lands are destroyed in the process of defeating ISIS? Will our doors be open to those who only want to live a life in peace? Or will you slam the doors in their face and say that they are part of the problem?

Being President is an important task and decisions made by our President reverberate throughout the world.

You may say that this is a world at war; how will you make this a world at peace?