Jon Foley poses for a portrait.

Jonathan Foley is the executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, which has been dubbed “the greenest museum on the planet.” The academy has gone so far as to divest its financial assets from fossil fuel companies. Foley’s research focuses on sustainability and how climate change impacts global agriculture. He recently co-authored an article titled “How to Fight the War on Science and Win.” Foley joins us to talk about the role of science, scientists and institutions like the Cal Academy during the Trump administration.

Further Reading

Guests:
Jonathan Foley, executive director, California Academy of Sciences

  • Curious

    “President Trump’s decision to muzzle key areas of scientific research signals an important milestone.”

    What did you think of Obama’s decision to intimidate anyone and suppress the opinion of anyone who questions whether the so-called “settled science” is indeed settled? Do you cite the false “97% of scientists agree that climate change is caused by man”?

    • Kevin Skipper

      The things that Trump has muzzled are not science. They are ideological assertions predicated upon shaky theories and heavily skewed corporate subsidized pseudoscholarship.

  • Curious

    It is settled science that life begins at conception. Do you accept that? If not, why not? If so, do you oppose abortion?

  • Paul

    To what extent has postmodernism created confusion in the sciences and higher learning? Is there really a feminist mathematics, a queer geography, and an Islamic astronomy? Or are these ridiculous overreaches proving that some people are a little to full of themselves?

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3482752?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
    http://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/Queer_Geography
    https://explorable.com/islamic-astronomy

    Gad Saad: “Postmodernism is Nonsensical Anti-Science”

    • Kevin Skipper

      No the first two. Yes to the latter. Islamic art, music and scripture are rife with astronomical reference and calculations that prove accurate to this day.

      • Paul

        Except that it wasn’t Arab Muslims who did that art, it was largely dhimmis i.e. non-Muslims who were subjugated by the Muslim invaders. Therefore “Islamic” in this context means about as much as e.g. saying a drawing done last year in Libya is Obama Art.

        • Kevin Skipper

          Perhaps but is the same not true of the Coptic iconography that we know as Coptic. Nobody seems to have much of an issue with the fact that Christianity borrows it main figure from a Jewish Nazarene? Hindu is an amalgamation of Tantra and (surprise) early Judaism. I would be interested to hear your reaction about Catholic rites and figures. Those guys pretty much do it buffet style.

          Obama is a person. A man who led the country for less than a decade. There is no Obama art to speak of. Maybe Obama cinematography.

          George W. Bush. Now there’s an artist. From President to pet portraits.

          • Paul

            The point really is to not attribute to Islam advances that were not due to Islam but that just happened to occur on its watch. Whereas feminist mathematics is a different kind of overreach.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Anything that white males didn’t think of all by themselves is pretty much made-up.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Islam was the first to enforce literacy. Christians still prefer to have their religion read to them by experts. Basically men in dresses and costume jewelry. Go figure.

          • Paul

            Islam was all about book-burning. It’s well documented they’d go into cities and burn anything that wasn’t a Koran.

          • Kevin Skipper

            “Well documented.” In books. Not in the Koran. Something survived. Fire-proof paper, an ancient secret of persecuted Christians.

          • Paul

            Have you ever looked in the Koran, the Sunna etc.?

          • Kevin Skipper

            Skimmed it. Why?

        • geraldfnord

          There were plenty of non-Muslims in Europe not doing any of that. As for ‘subjugated’, well, until very recently—only a century—it was much safer and more comfortable being a Jew or Christian in Muslim lands than a Jew in Europe, and Muslims were rein verboten.

          • Die.Leit

            part of that is because neither jews nor mohammedans are native to Europe, just as the mohammedans arrived amongst majority Christian societies by conquest without the numbers to oppress

          • Kevin Skipper

            Sorry. Mohommedans and Judaics BUILT Europe. Earliest buidings and Universities were originally mosques (Salamanca) and temples (Jerusalem to Damascus to Smyrna).

            History proves that Christians and their favored race built very little and created virtually nothing. A couple centuries of rebranding and misappropriation. Just like today.

          • Die.Leit

            right-o, just like iodine is a liquid… sorry, a madrassa is not a place of learning (maybe memorizing), and Rome and Greece built early Europe (and almost everything of value around the Mediterranean)

          • Kevin Skipper

            Jews and Muslims ruled Europe for half a millennium. Secular/Christian rule has yet to see one complete century. Crusades ended with the Renaissance. the Medici and their were Hebrew Jews who turned Jesuit. The money was dressed up as Catholic. The aftermath left Western Europe to adopt Christian rule only after it was known to be recodified under, again, semi-secular, not Christian rule.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Any location in Europe that was forbidden to Jews was run by Muslims and vice versa. The ever-indebted Christians have always been dependent on itinerant and incidental revenue.

    • turquoisewaters

      Serious hard scientists don’t concern themselves with any of these. They are not at all confused.

  • EIDALM

    In this regard the name of Frank Oppenheimer, brother of Robert Oppenheimer who was thedirector of the Manhattan project, father of the atom bomb, Frank Oppenheimer created Tech-nation

  • EIDALM

    In this regard the name of Frank Oppenheimer, brother of Robert Oppenheimer who was the director of the Manhattan project, father of the atom bomb, Frank Oppenheimer who created the Exploratorium on an empty Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco, the Marina district,in 1969 and filled it with great scientific models and excremental physics that was great fun to visit for school kids, adults, and even scientists like myself….Frank Oppenhiemer managed and ran the Exploratorium until his death from lung cancer in 1985. Frank Oppenheimer just like his brother Robert was a great scientist who brought lots of fun and joy to those who visited his exploratorium.

    • Die.Leit

      Glenn Seaborg

  • EIDALM

    In this regard the name of Frank Oppenheimer, brother of Robert Oppenheimer who was thedirector of the Manhattan project, father of the atom bomb, Frank Oppenheimer created Tech-nation

  • EIDALM

    The general; scientific knowledge of Americans is real low compared with many nations in the World as it is evident to the sad fact that one of five Americans still believe that the Sun evolves around the Earth, and many other wrong and misconception about science, World history, geography, as well real poor performance and understanding of basic math.

  • EIDALM

    Science quiz…1) what is the true color of water 2) The only two liquids elements at room temperature 3) Which chemical elements named after the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, the Devil, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Berkeley, U C Berkeley physicists and Chemists 4) What the origin of the word Chemistry…5) Chemical element once it is produced in giant stars, the star blow up in less than a second and goes super nova. 6) The brightest star in the sky…7) The origin of the pharmaceutical symbol Rx …8) Rivers, which one is the longest, largest, shortest, narrowest, and the widest..8) In physics what are WIMPS, MACHOS, and Axions….

    • Kevin Skipper

      1.True color of water: grey
      2.Liquid elements: Mercury and Iodine
      3.Lithium, Helium, Lutentium(?), Whiteyum(kidding!) Europeum (kidding again) Lutentium (?) Francium AND Gallium, Polonium, Moscovium, Berkelium.
      4. Chemar from the Latin for “to burn or react with.”
      5. Helium
      6. Polaris (star) Jupiter (body)
      7. Rivers: Would all be guesses.
      8. sounds like new nicknames for research assistants. First two: leading dark matter candidates. Third: subatomic neutrally charged pseudoscalar.
      9. If I understand the question, Venus.
      10. Though incorrectly, it’s Ethiopia (Palestine and Saudi Arabia are close second and third).
      11) Jupiter
      12) Argentina, Cyprus

      • William – SF

        There are two #8s and two #11s. Incomplete is considered failure. 😉

        • Kevin Skipper

          Where are you answers, Proctor? Busy doodling in that Kama Sutra? Just like science, be sure you’re reading an authentic edition. Lotta fakers out there.

          • William – SF

            …busy looking over your shoulder, Nerd.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Too late. Already turned mine in. Gonna see if I can hook Krasny up with that Elissa Epel from yesterday. They seemed to like each other. “Is ‘tushie’ a clinical term?” M.K., you DOG, you! Mackin’! I support it. Her science is a bit misled but she’s a cutie! Thumbs up to milfery. At the same time, I’m sure she has some comely post-doc’s who’d like to pick my ‘brain’.

          • William – SF

            Oy! Time for some RT glitter clock porn…

          • Kevin Skipper

            smh. You and Robert should start a Benjamin Banneker cosplay club.

      • EIDALM

        Thank you for your answers…1, is wrong, 3 is partially wrong 4 is wrong 5 is wrong 6 is wrong 7 has better answer 8 is partially wrong and incomplete second 8 is wrong 10 is wrong 11 not answered second 11 is wrong….but you did well.

        • Kevin Skipper

          Thanks. I’ll accept your grade with the caveat that it is accompanied by ‘correct’ answers, worthy refutations, and a better explanation of the one of the 11’s that you claim I did not answer.

          To be sure, I submitted a quiz of my own. Feel free to give it a look.

          • EIDALM

            The True color of water is blue, you actually can see it in big volume, Trillium is named after Earth, Selenium named after the Moon, Helium named after the Sun…..Chemistry come from ancient Egypt name of Kemet once the star core end up with iron, it collapses in less than a second and goes super nova …The brightest star in the sky is the Sun, and the brightest star in the night sky is Sirius …Rx comes from Ancient Egyptian symbol Eyes of Horus…The longest river is the Nile over 4100 miles, largest as the amount of water flowing per second. is the Amazon, the shortest is the D river in Oregon and the Roe river in Missouri both are 200 feet, the widest is Rio De Plata in Argentina which is more than 200 miles, the narrowest is the Hue river in China which is only 10 inches.

          • Kevin Skipper

            fair enough. especially regarding Chemistry Rx and Egypt. Downright embarrassing. How are you doing on those four questions?

            H and He hyperfused into Fe? Far out (or the opposite). I did not know that, Dude. Does that question parallel theories regarding the origin of Earth and related planets?

          • EIDALM

            Are you proud of your lack of knowledge and ignorance,,,,All new generations stars start their cycle with 75% hydrogen and 25% helium with traces of lithium, the fusion reaction starts with hydrogen-hydrogen as well as hydrogen-helium interactions, then both reactions produces Boron as well beryllium. then more fusion with that will produce nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and the fusion process continues to produce higher up elements, from Florine, Neon, etc which through more fusion with more hydrogen and helium as well as neutrons produces higher element up the atomic number to sulfur and,phosphorous, with more fusion goes higher up and makes more and more heavier elements….But once the core of the star becomes more and more iron, the fusion process stops because you can not produce energy from the fusion of iron without supplying energy, as that happens the balance between gravity and heat pressure ends, and gravity wins and the star collapse within a second…Iron has atomic number of 26, so all other heavier elements above iron, from nickle, copper, up to lead, silver, gold and all the way up to Uranium which have atomic number 92 all are formed during the star collapse and super nova which combines lighter elements with neutrons by the weak force and neutrinos….

          • Kevin Skipper

            I’m proud that the couple items that I didn’t know offhand are miniscule in comparison to that which I do. Renders my admission and implicit humility appropriate, especially as the quiz I offered has yet to be touched by any of you, supposed science expert or otherwise.

            Next to a narrow knowledge base, even the momentary ignorance of the wise is sufficient teaches volumes.

            To be sure, I already conceded my errors, thanked you and moved on. I said that I would look into intra-stellar atomic transmutation myself. Thanks the same for your explanation.

            Four questions. Complete sentences and grammatically correct paragraphs, please.

          • Geoff Pritchard

            Water is colorless, not blue.

          • EIDALM

            Water is blue, go to lit swimming pool at night and you will see that….

        • Kevin Skipper

          We both know that nobody else is gonna tackle that quiz. William went ahead and filled in the blanks with cocktail jokes.
          Go ahead and release the answers.

  • jakeleone

    Let’s not create hysteria. The debate is about specific things, such as will Carbon emission cause a green house effect that destroys the environment.

    And on that, can we agree that a strong middle class in the United States, that is motivated to do the right thing is critical to abating the atmospheric carbon imbalance. If you look at any country with rampant poverty, they don’t even have this debate.

  • Bill_Woods

    “The Real War on Science”

    My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don’t devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It’s fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren’t you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives’ threat to science?
    My friends don’t like my answer: because there isn’t much to write about. Conservatives just don’t have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the “party of science.” But I’ve done my homework. I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties?
    Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced? … Mooney rails at scientists and politicians who oppose government policies favored by progressives like himself, but if you’re looking for serious damage to the enterprise of science, he offers only three examples.
    All three are in his first chapter, during Mooney’s brief acknowledgment that leftists “here and there” have been guilty of “science abuse.” First, there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, … Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, … Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, … Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.

    https://www.city-journal.org/html/real-war-science-14782.html

    • Kevin Skipper

      The collateral casualties are the tears and gnashing teeth of vanquished dogmatists and ideologues. Numbers depend on one’s method of counting. I tend to modify any of those estimates by a factor of 10 to the negative second power.

  • Kevin Skipper

    True science is made stronger by tough questioning. “Science” is vulnerable to attack because it depends on profits for validity.

    I honestly believe that while people love the idea of science, there is indeed a war talking place. As the general population gains greater access to fact-checking and cross-references, the time needed to question a theory or assertion naturally shrinks. The same is true for the manner in which many science-related ideas have proven ideologically influential and even profitable. To some, increased debate and demand for clarification are indeed, a war against anyone attempting to promote a theory. To that idea, I offer a reminder:

    True SCIENCE loves, actually ADORES questioning. Good questions, bad questions, smart ones and stupid ones. The concepts and institutions that feel threatened by the flames of this ‘war’ are not actually science. If I wanted to create a scientific experiment to test if a given material was science or not, I’d question it and record its reaction. Science that refuses question cannot be referred to as such. It is more aptly called “ideology’, ‘dogma,’ or my personal and ever-provocative favorite, ‘Pseudo-Science.’

    Anyone who really wanted to lay the global warming “debate” to rest need only present a coherent Ted Talk devoid of sponsored material. Until then….

    In my opinion, true scientists have nothing to fear from this coming storm or war, as it were. As for UC and various other state-subsidized programs, I’m can’t say the same.

  • William – SF

    Just say it!! – Trump and Republicans pooh pooh climate change solely because of money! Money! Whether from Koch Brother political contributions, primary scared Republicans, or Big Oil and fossil fuels corporate interests, it’s all about money – health and safety of the planet and the human race be dammed!

    Donald Trump famously dismissed climate change as a hoax dreamed up by China to steal jobs. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the chairman of a Senate subcommittee on science, calls climate change a “pseudo-scientific theory” and a “religion.”

    http://www.vox.com/polyarchy/2016/9/14/12905660/primary-elections-scare-republicans
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/
    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/10/republicans-can-understand-science-and-still-deny-climate-change/503003/
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/11/climate-change-is-undeniable-so-why-is-the-gop-still-denying-it/

  • Chuck

    With my children I was a member and
    frequent visitor to the Cal Academy. With my grandchildren, I found a
    beautiful and crowded building with some elaborate exhibits but not
    enough to justify regular visits or membership. The digital exhibits
    are a deterrent—we already have too much screen time and there is
    plenty of science education available online.

    If you had more interpersonal or hands
    on science or guided tours of the urban jungle, the coasts, Golden
    Gate Park, Crissy Field or the Presidio it would entice me to rejoin.
    Many years ago I took a Cal Academy tour to Yosemite and got a
    science lesson that I wish I had received in high school biology.

    More of the “hands on” approach to
    biology, along the line of the Exploratorium for physics would be
    great. My 10 year old grandson is starting an ant colony and has done
    much online research. Cal Academy has one of the leading experts and
    has lots of collections of various species but I could see no real
    opportunity for him to tap into those resources. It would be great if
    you had week long summer camps for children of various age groups,
    like the Marine Sanctuary in Marin or the Cal State / Monterey
    aquarium. Such activities would complement the travel and lecture
    programs designed more for adults.

  • geraldfnord

    Have the Mob[ile Party] ever really liked science and scientists? They love the fruits of science, but in their personal and work lives the sort of algorithmic data-collection and questioning vital to doing science will get you into trouble. Nascent scientists are often pariah’d, and in fact the most popular sit-com in Murka is devoted to mocking scientists.

    • Curious

      You know that Tea Partiers are better educated about science than libs, right?

      • geraldfnord

        What peer-reviewed study shewed that?

        • Curious

          A finding in a study on the relationship between science literacy and political ideology surprised the Yale professor behind it: Tea party members know more science than non-tea partiers.

          Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him.

          “I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote.

      • Kevin Skipper

        True that! Same with history and, really, religion. Been using against the gullible for centuries!

    • Another Mike

      When I first saw the Big Bang Theory I thought it was a documentary. It mocks nerds, some of whom are scientists.

      • geraldfnord

        I spent years with many hundreds of Caltech and J.P.L. people, and few even approached the level of cluelessness, selfishness, physical unattractiveness, and complete lack of self-reflexion exhibited by all the four main scientist characters on that show.

        Just consider how much uglier—in conventional terms, which are what matter in mass entertainment—Mayim Bialik is made-up to be than her normal, science-Ph.D., self.

        Perhaps the show has depths that have escaped me:I cannot watch more than some tens of minutes because it seemed pure minstrelsy.

  • Paul

    I saw a graph of worldwide oil production, which is declining by the way, and a small bump on it represents the output of fracking and shale oil production. It seems Wall Street is obsessed with that small bump, but why are we as a country not instead focusing on the big picture that fuel prices are set to soar and as a result could lead to a major die off of humans if we don’t plan for the inevitable crisis? I suspect the Chinese and Europeans already are planning. Has the USA been hijacked by the loony capitalist fringe?

  • geraldfnord

    Scientists are disliked for caring about stupid stuff like how the real world works, as opposed to important stuff like constantly boasting, sexual and economic predation, and accumulating huge piles of gold.

  • Another Mike

    Is there no occasion or speaker free from Trump-bashing?
    Dr. Foley should lower the pitch of his voice and work to persuade his opponents, not tell them how stupid they are.

    • Paul

      Agreed because there was a loony capitalist fringe long before Trump.

      • Another Mike

        There is a generational change — in his free time, George W. Bush rode his mountain bike where GHW Bush drove his Cigarette boat.

        • Kevin Skipper

          That cigarette was a beast. I think it was a Donzi. H.W. was the closest to Jason Bourne or James Bond that we’ve seen. I’ll leave it at that.

      • Geoff Pritchard

        Oh please explain how NPR is beholden to Cargill and Monsanto. That’s priceless. I learn so much about the lunatic fringe when I read the comments. Your imaginations never cease to amaze me.

    • Kevin Skipper

      Seems to me that he’s just keeping the conversation clear of dogma and refraction.

    • turquoisewaters

      After Trump’s appointments to all positions that are relevant for the environment, you really can’t be surprised.
      To this day, no Republican candidate for president is willing to stand up and say that the earth is more than 4000 years old. It is ludicrous.

      • Curious

        LOL!! Fake news!

  • Another Mike

    Why is NASA doing earth science, anyways? Isn’t that just a classic example of mission creep? Let NASA put up and maintain the satellites, let NOAA study the data.

  • Kevin Skipper

    I like where Foley is going with this. Doesn’t bother arguing with what’s factual or not but encourages focusing on solutions. Good Man!

  • Bill_Woods

    Since Scott Pruitt is the only Trump appointment to the EPA thus far — and he wasn’t confirmed until mid-February — one wonders who was changing the EPA website to downplay climate change and science.

  • Another Mike

    And Dr. Foley’s focus on climate change reminds me of the Catholic Church’s former focus on sexual sins. The Church realized there’s a lot more to morality than sexuality — including social justice. I wish Dr. Foley would direct some attention to the rest of science.

  • Kevin Skipper

    HA! The caller, “Steve” is an expert witness from Alabama! Sounds to me like HE’s paid off to dispute issues that threaten certain opinions. Incredible.

  • Commnt8r

    Biomimicry is a great way to teach science. There are lesson plans free to educators from the Biomimicry Institute, founded by the wonderful Janine Benyus. www.https://biomimicry.org/education/ It not only gets kids outside, but links nature to design – giving kids a hands on way to make their own discoveries.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Another Science Quiz:

    -The modern horse was genetically isolated in what region?
    -Genetic memory is referred to in which feature of Egyptian iconography. Judaic? Christian? ‘Indigenous’ American?
    -Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin and Melanin are all are pigment (photo-energy absorbing/reflecting) arrangements of what basic biological element?
    -With what mysterious substance are these pigments analogous?
    -Which region/s of Earth offer access to navigable gaps in the Van Allen Radiation Belts?
    -What is the relative gravity on the surface of the moon? How long would a pebble kicked up by a moon rover wheel take to hit the ground in comparison to a similar event on Earth?
    -How many cultures have preserved historical references to the last Great Diluvian Event. Into what time-frame do these cultures place this event?
    -Where was wheat first cultivated? Rice? Other cereals? When?
    -What is the chemical compound common to all psychedelics and entheogens? Hint: Similar to the compounds found in both tree-frog skin and turkey meat.

  • turquoisewaters

    We (or is it they?) chose money-making today over taking care of the earth for tomorrow.

  • karaj lost coast

    originally posted this song ‘climate of denial’ during paris conference. never imagined more recent turn of events. much work ahead, check it out! and share as possible…

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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