March 2017

10th Annual Darwin Day Celebration

This year’s event featured a panel of four scientists, Kristen Hawkes, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Alan Rogers, Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Biology, Court Strong, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and Paul Ricketts, Research Assistant Department of Physics and Astronomy. We had a lively discussion with HoU Vice President Elaine Stehel submitting questions about the importance of science, the veracity of climate change, the future of science funding, etc. All of the panelists had different insights into the state of science in general and climate science in particular. There was unanimous concern about the future of current programs but a generally optimistic feeling that with events like our Darwin Day that we should not give up. After the pre-planned questions, Elaine opened the discussion to comments and questions from the audience. The clock ran out before the questions and enthusiasm did but there was a cake to be cut and consumed and priorities are priorities after all!

—Wayne Wilson

During the Reception Hour, I took the opportunity to mingle with many visitors attending this Darwin Day. In the conversations, many were asked “How did you hear about our Darwin Day Anniversary Event”, and most of the responses were FACEBOOK.
Then, also I spent some time observing the ‘tablers’ who were invited to participate. They were all very pleased with the size of the crowd and the interest and curiosity shown to their displays.

Clark Planetarium – Thomas Quayle, Education Program Specialist and NASA/ JPL Solar System Ambassador, and his assistant, Mark, set up two 32” monitors with hands-on ability to manipulate the different earth models. One model is used for the public by NASA and the other one by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They were both impressed by the knowledge and pertinent inquiries posed by the individuals who spent time at these displays. They would like to be included in any of our future events. Thomas would like to invite us all to visit the Planetarium sometime soon and, also, the Salt Lake County Climate Health Symposium on April 5 and 6. This is an all-day event held at the Conservation Garden Park in South Jordan where they will have a similar display.

HEAL Utah – Laura Schmidt, Outreach Coordinator, was kept very busy informing her visitors about what this grassroots advocacy group is about. They engage in legislative and regulatory settings to champion clean air, clean energy, and to protect Utah from nuclear, toxic, and dirty energy threats. She felt they all seemed to understand the need for further research into the changing climate issue.

Natural History Museum of Utah – Matt Whittaker, MPA, BA, Community Outreach Coordinator, relayed to me several times how glad we invited them to attend and to please include them in other programs. Alexandra Coconis sent a memo to me in reply to my Thank You Letter,“I had a great time preparing for this event and speaking with people about her mammologists research at the NHMU. The size of the crowd and the timing was perfect for having substantive conversations. I can’t express how much Matt and I were pleased of with the well-organized event. So, thank you, and, yes please keep us in mind in the future” Ally Tracy Aviary – Jamie Murphy, Marketing and Events Coordinator, sent a delightful pair, Amanda Anderson and Cooper Farr, to share their knowledge and enthusiasm on the variety of birds in their care. Along with the colorful brochures there were flyers about “Skiing and Birds”, an event to be held on Saturday, March 11, beginning at 5:00 p.m., in partnership with Alta Ski Resort and a Citizen Science Program that collects baseline data on Alta’s birds, to inform conservation and stewardship. (See their website for many details). They were so pleased with the response from those who visited their table, they would like to be invited back again.

Citizens Climate Lobby – David Folland, MD, Utah State Coordinator, could not attend as was planned, so sent two volunteers, Jihyun Noh and Margie McCloy, giving them the opportunity to share information about CCL. They did have a very busy time keeping up with all the questions about this advocacy group. I have attended several ‘climate change’ events where David has presented their mission on “Carbon Fee and Dividend” a complicated but needed issue to address. Of course, a more in depth presentation could be in the works.

Thank you, Elaine, Bob, John, Eliot and other committee members for allowing me to be a part of this incredibly successful “10th Darwin Day Anniversary” event. Hopefully, I will be able to be a part of the 2018 celebration.

—Sally Jo Fuller


Some Pictures From the Event

Darwin Day 2107 Cake

Elaine Stehel, Darwin Day Committee Chair

Robert Lane, HoU President

HoU Board Members Left to right: Wayne Wilson, Steve Hanka, Elaine Stehel, Robert Lane, Sally Jo Fuller, Art King, and Leona Blackbird

Atheists of Utah

Citizens Climate Lobby

Humanists of Utah

Natural History Museum

HEAL Utah

Panel of Scientists Left to Right: Cort Strong, Alan Rogers, Paul Ricketts, Kristen Hawkes, and moderator Elaine Stehel

The Audience

Elaine with a Knife!


Practicing What We Preach

~Letter to the Editor~

For ten years Humanists of Utah have sponsored an annual event to honor Charles Darwin and promote science. This year’s celebration was held at the University of Utah’s Officer’s Club at Fort Douglas, a better venue than ever before if only for ease of parking.

Billed as an event of, “Joyful Living, Rational Thinking and Responsible Behavior,” a member of our board used this occasion to express his personal views on science and religion; this after one or more of our guest panelists had expressed their opinion that reasoned inclusive and thoughtful discussion is a more productive form of engagement.

I think that any such comments should have been prefaced with a disclaimer that the views expressed were his own and that he was not speaking on behalf of Humanists of Utah. It would have been easy for an unknowing participant to construe his opinions to be those of The Humanists of Utah.

I am not happy to have been publicly included by inference in a personal rant that has the potential to undo two decades of our chapter’s patiently sown community good will.

Community events held under the auspices of the Humanists of Utah should always be inclusive and strive to never alienate any of our attendees.

—Bob Mayhew


HoU Happenings

March 21 at 5:00 PM
Dinner with Youth Resource Center
This event requires and RSVP and FIRM commitment!

Two shifts:

Meal Prep – 4:30 to 6:30 PM Food drop off/preparation/serve
Cleanup – 6:30 to 7:00 PM
Saturday, April 22—3:30 to 5:00 PM
Deep Cleaning Volunteers of America’s Youth Resource Center

The Youth Resource Center is a drop-in center where homeless and at-risk teens in Utah can come, every day, 365 days a year, for three hot meals a day, and emergency shelter at night, as well as for classes, events, and other resources to improve their lives, provided by licensed clinical social workers, counselors, case workers, lawyers, staff members, and volunteers. All of this is amazing, and life-changing work! We will be doing a deep cleaning, so come dressed to work!

Both events a VOA Youth Resource Center 888 So 400 W, SLC

More information is available at the HoU Facebook page

Contact Elaine Stehel for more info/RSVP elaine@humanistsofutah.org


President’s Report

This month’s general meeting will be sort of a combination book club meeting and a celebration of Pi Day. I’m looking forward to both and I’m hoping more members and guests will join this book club. I especially enjoy meetings where there is a discussion, about a book or something from the news. Books are also one of my favorite things, so discussing books puts two things I enjoy together. So I hope you will join us. Also, to help celebrate Pi Day, we decided to change the usual refreshments and are going to serve Pie.

Our tenth annual Darwin Day celebration was a great success and I again want to thank Elaine, Sally Jo, John and everyone who helped make it a success. The forum about climate change was a welcome change from a single speaker and I think we should use it more often, both for Darwin Day and at times, our regular meetings.

In my opening remarks at Darwin Day, I mentioned the fact that when we discuss and or argue about climate change we are being diverted from the discussion of the fact that the things that humans do that effects climate, is also detrimental in other ways to the environment and toxic to all living organisms. It may be an exercise in stating the obvious, but I want to write a little about why pollution exists rather than how it gets there and what it does.

We humans just don’t want to pay the full price for dealing with our waste products. While it is understandable that our species can never have zero impact on the environment, we could do a lot better. The problem is, that our capitalism and free enterprise systems lends themselves to greed. The number under the bottom line must come first, and one of the first places to cut cost is in disposing of waste products. So, we get toothless regulations or no regulations and as is often the case, health concerns are overridden by the quest for big profits. They really don’t care if they’re killing living creatures, including humans. One example is that the quest for profits keeps us dependent on a technology that is over a hundred years old, the internal combustion engine. All kinds of alternative technologies exist and have existed for quite some time that can reduce our energy consumption, but they are just not profitable enough on their own or they threaten to eliminate the enormous profits of the long-established energy producers and their cohorts in other industries.

Anyway, like I said, I may be stating the obvious, but it worth repeating. So I’ll leave it at that and close by again saying that I hope to see soon at our March meeting.

—Robert Lane
President, HoU