Recent Events by the World Rainforest Fund
Darwin Day Celebration
The World Rainforest Fund helped throw the main and largest Darwin Day celebration in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Fellowship of Humanity Hall in Oakland, California. The event was organized by David Seaborg, President of the World Rainforest Fund. About 120 people attended. It was a resounding success; people had a fantastically wonderful time, and gave reviews on the internet averaging 4 and a half out of 5 stars. The first Darwin Day was in February, 1995, in Kresge Auditorium on the Stanford University campus. The event was first conceived by Dr. Bob Stephens, who resides in the South Bay Area, California. It has grown into an event celebrated all over the world in the years following its inception. The purpose was science education, promoting the teaching of evolution in schools, promoting education about global climate change and countering its deniers, and educating about the plight of rainforests and the need to preserve them.
The first speaker at this Darwin Day celebration in Oakland was Peter Hess, Director for Religious Community Outreach at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a non-profit organization providing information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate science in public school science education. Dr. Hess gave a 15-minute power point presentation on the work of the NCSE and the need for education in schools and of the general public concerning evolution and global climate change, and the need to correct the misinformation and pseudoscience of creationists and climate change deniers.
The next speaker was George Smoot, an astrophysicist and cosmologist, who is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006, sharing it with John Mather for their work on the Cosmic Background Explorer that led to the measurement of the non-uniformities of the cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang that started the Universe. He donated his share of the Nobel Prize money, less travel costs, to a charitable foundation. Dr. Smoot gave a power presentation for 15 minutes on Charles Darwin, his voyage on the Beagle, the theory of evolution, and how Darwin arrived at it, as well as the need to teach it, not creationism, in public schools.
The third and final speaker was David Seaborg, an evolutionary biologist who originated the idea that organisms evolve as feedback systems, directing their own evolution as much as the environment does, and who showed that the genetic code is on a local optimum called an adaptive peak and how populations cross from one adaptive peak to another. He also is writing a book on his theory that organisms alter the chemistry of the air, soil, and water, and build symbiotic alliances with the result that they greatly increase the number of species. He gave the keynote address, an hour-long power point presentation on the principles of modern evolutionary theory, what is known about it today, and the current scientific controversies concerning it. He presented his lecture dressed as Charles Darwin, with artificial side burns, a white dress shirt, vest, and long gray coat. He took on the character of Darwin, acting like him as best he could, giving a theatrical as well as scientific presentation. The only exception is that he did not attempt to speak with an English accent, since he is not adept at that. He answered questions for a half hour after his lecture, staying in character as Darwin. All three speakers were received tremendously well, with great enthusiasm.
Then David Seaborg presented 5 animals and explained about their evolution, ecology, habits, predators, prey, defense mechanisms, and so on, passing them around to the fascinated audience, allowing anyone who wanted to touch or hold them. Almost everyone held all of them; one or two elected to touch them; no one declined to at least touch them. He answered questions about the animals. David, himself an amateur herpetologist, was assisted in this by 4 other amateur herpetologists: David Boland, Wolfgang Keil, Adam Ortega, and John Potash. These 4 also gave information and answered questions about the animals, and helped watch them as they were passed around. The animals included a Pygmy Egyptian Hedgehog from the Middle East, a Red-footed Tortoise from South America, a Northern Blue-tongued Skink from Australia, and a normal Reticulated Python from Southeast Asia. The fifth animal was another Reticulated Python, but with 2 mutations that gave it an exceptionally beautiful and unusual appearance. One mutation, called platinum, gave it a yellow color, and the other, called tiger, elongated the reticulated pattern on the snake. Usually David Seaborg brings animals from his own collection, but this time the animals were generously provided by amateur herpetologist David Boland. The animals were a tremendous hit with the audience.
Next the attendees enjoyed a pot luck dinner. This included a toast of champagne and sparkling soda led by David Seaborg, to Darwin, other scientists who added to our knowledge, science, those who promote of the teaching of evolution, and those who combat global climate change and its deniers. A chocolate birthday cake for Charles Darwin was brought out. It had these words on it: “Happy 204th Birthday, Charles Darwin”. There were candles in the shape of numbers, placed to read “204”. Since Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, this was the celebration of his 204th birthday. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Charles Darwin. Still dressed as Darwin, David blew out the candles.
After dinner, the toast, and cake, some people stayed for a while and engaged in lively conversations, some about science, herpetology, ecology, and evolution. The event ended when everyone departed at about 7:30 PM. It was a spectacular success.
Fundraising Dinner in Berkeley, California
On October 17, 2012, we threw a fundraising dinner at the Flavors of the Himalayas Restaurant in Berkeley, California. Speakers after the dinner were two scientists on the International Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, which shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore, and our President David Seaborg. Nepalese children entertained the guests with dances from their country. People enjoyed themselves and money was raised to save the rainforests of Latin America.
Up-coming Events of the World Rainforest Fund
We are throwing a large all-day conference at the David Brower Center, in Berkeley, California, in November, 2013. The event will have leaders of environmental organizations, such as Earth Island Institute and the Sierra Club, political leaders, such as Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman John Garamendi, and Nobel Prize winners, as speakers. These are examples of possible speakers, but are not confirmed and not set in stone. They are examples of the type of speakers at the event. This portion of the event will take place from 9 AM to 5 PM. Participants will bring their own lunches or buy them at nearby restaurants. In the evening, there will be dinner and a reception, with socializing and networking. There will be music with a band and dancing in the evening. Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead will be invited to play. He is an acquaintance of David Seaborg, the President of WRF, the organization organizing the event.
The purposes of the event are: raise money for the World Rainforest Fund and participating environmental and peace organizations; build goodwill and communication between these organizations; educate the general public on the need to save rainforest and on environmental issues, mainly global climate change and biodiversity; give the participating organizations an opportunity to educate the public about their work and recruit members; provide a venue for environmentalists to meet each other and network; and allow participants a chance to celebrate and have fun. Environmental and peace organizations will be permitted to set up educational tables. In return, they will invite their members on their mailing lists to the event. It is anticipated that up to 175 people will attend. The Goldman Theater, the likely room it will be held in at the Brower Center, has a capacity of 178.