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Why Didn't You March for Science on Earth Day?

 

There is a reason millions of people took to the streets on Earth Day in support of science.  Its because its important.

 

Literally all of the most important issues facing us today rely on a solid base of fact. And to get that solid base of fact, you have to do the research and you have to prove the points scientifically.

 

We cannot treat science like a bad friend. Oh sure, we welcome science when it does something nice for us like find a cure for cancer or make our phones smarter. But then shun it when it delivers us some bad news like there are consequences to polluting our air and water that may eventually end with disastrous consequences.

 

CBS News dedicated most of its Saturday broadcast to stories about the ecology and global climate change, but then near the end of their show, oddly, they inserted a story about what they called “Climate Realists”. A small group of non-scientists who have organized a group to protest the use of tax money on programs that promote what they think is the “myth of global climate change”.

 

The problem I have with giving this group airtime is that it might give them the same weight in the public eye as those who have done the hard work of actually proving that climate change is real; Real scientists.  Seeking opinions on big scientific issues from none scientists is like seeking medical advice from a plumber.

 

The people in these groups can believe anything they want. But if all they have to support their views are unsupported theories, then their opinions are worthless to the rest of us.  Hey, no one wants to hear that the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, that sea temperatures and ocean levels are rising. The bee populations are dropping dangerously low and pesticides are contributing to chronic health problems etc, etc, etc… But we cannot do anything about any of these things without the knowledge and the understanding of how these problems began. Where the problems are right now and where they are trending into the future. And this can only be done by real scientific research.

 

We currently have a President who has repeatedly said he thinks global climate change is a hoax.  Oh he has no problem believing the former President was not an American citizen. But climate change, that’s something he cannot wrap his oddly topped head around.  He once used an example that he uses his hair spray (God knows he must use enough hairspray to cause permanent damage to the ozone layer) in his sealed condominium high atop Trump Tower.  How can that spray possibly get out of his hermetically sealed home into the atmosphere?

 

Yup. That was the observation on which the President has based his beliefs. Not the literally hundreds of years of scientific data collected all across the globe. Not decades of observations from space that clearly show the reduction of the poles and the rise of ocean waters. Not the army of scientist who agree at a rate of 99% that climate change is man-made and real. And yet this is the man who is cutting funding to science programs like a lawn service going after dandelions.

 

The big problem with all this is the universe doesn’t care that Trump cannot understand how the accumulative effects of decades and decades of harmful emissions can have an effect on the planet. The effects are there to see for anyone who wants to acknowledge them.  The universe doesn’t care if your preacher wants you to believe its God’s will that a tornado destroyed your home or maybe took your neighbor’s family’s lives. The signs are all there if we care to acknowledge them.  We can use less harmful chemicals. We can make observations that can predict disasters.  Shame on those who ignore them when science (and if you choose to believe, God) gave us the abilities to observe our world and make educated decisions based on those observations that might save lives. Observations that could change behaviors that could make the planet better.

 

One of these “Climate Realists” actually said, “More people die in cold weather than warm weather. So the trend towards warmer weather is a good thing.”

 

Ugh. This is the kind of short-sighted thinking that hurts so many people.  If we all just took that statement at face value in its most simplistic form, sure, we all like a warm sunny day over the cutting winds of a winter blizzard. But that really is not what we are talking about here, is it?  Air temperatures are trending 20 to 30 degrees warmer world wide. The same thing is happening in our ocean temps. That means that a lovely warm sunny day is no longer a balmy 79 degrees. Its 109 degrees!  And a hot day is no longer 90. Its a deadly 120 degrees.  And thats going to kill a lot more people than a chilly winter day might.  And thanks to science, we know warmer oceans create more violent weather patterns.  Hurricanes are bigger. Tornadoes are bigger. Storms are bigger.  And all you have to do is ask your local weatherman how many weather records have been broken in the last decade?  And how many of those records have been repeatedly broken recently.

 

I know that Climate Change exists because of simple observations I can make outside my own window.  I know the sun induces sunburn much faster than it did when I was a kid. I remember being outside from sun up to sun down as a kid during summer days never thinking once about sun protection and yet sun burns were rare.  Today, the sun will turn me into a lobster in a couple of hours without sunscreen.  I also remember the deep heavy snows I endured in my childhood during the winter.  Snows deep enough to build elaborate forts in our backyard. Snows that shut my home town down for days while we all slowly dug out.  Now deep snowy winters are the exception. The last few winters produced dangerous ice storms rather than snow.  I’ve seen multiple epic rains that resulted in stunning flash floods.  Rains like I have never seen before. Not drops, but buckets of water coming down from the sky faster than any of storm drains could handle.  I bet you can think of odd weather you have never witnessed before. And I bet you have noticed its happening more than ever before too.  I know that weather is cyclical and there have always been extremes. But its the sheer amount of extremes that have been happening lately that should catch your attention.

 

Climate change is real. And its happening right outside your door if you take a good honest look.

 

One of the hurdles we need to cross is the idea that science is in some way the enemy of faith.  Worship leaders are doing a real disservice to their flocks by preaching against scientific discovery.  I think there is a simple way to get past this. Its actually a fact that many of the world’s scientists are faithful people. One of the ways I personally came to grips with this was in the words of Charles Darwin himself. Many in the religious circles demonize Darwin for proposing the idea of Evolution. But what is often overlooked was that Darwin was a devoutly religious man who credited God for creating a process by which his creatures could adapt over time to the challenges of new environments. What a beautiful way for faithful folks to look at the world scientifically.  Science is not the enemy of religion. Getting past this obstacle can go along way towards more scientific acceptance.

 

Of course the main reason to resist scientific facts is the all mighty dollar.  Very short-sighted business people would rather make their bucks now on practices that harm the environment than take the possibly expensive steps to go green.

 

That’s right. Greed is what is killing our planet.  Greed is the root cause of all the things that keep us from making the necessary changes.  Greed funds apposing and misleading theories that keep the media calling Global Climate Change a “debate” rather than a fact.

 

That leaves the door open for people who don’t want to believe facts.  Though it might make them feel good to be in denial, that’s the kind of thinking that keeps the rest of us from moving the ball forward.  There is no debate here anymore. This is not an abstract theory.  Climate change is happening and its happening right in front of all of us.

 

Getting back to valuing science is the key.  If America truly wants to have a brighter future, it needs to vote down and shout down ignorance.  The countries that are currently thriving are countries that have the best education systems. Its that simple. We need to put a real priority on science and tech education.  Again, if we choose to consider the facts, America is lagging way behind the rest of the world in education. America is no longer producing the creative and technical minds that are capable of true innovative thinking.  The problem with the United State’s economy is not that foreigners are flooding in to take jobs away from qualified Americans. The problem is the lack of qualified Americans able to step into high tech careers.

 

So that’s why so many concerned people got out to march and protest on Earth Day in the name of science.  If you truly care about America’s future, why weren’t you out there too?

 

- Joseph Pillsbury- Bogsworld.com