We live in a complex world of cultural, political, economic and religious diversity. However, the one unifying force that has helped propel humankind toward greater health and prosperity has been the unfoldment of a scientific understanding of man and nature. From Copernicus’ discovery that the sun was the center of our solar system, to Newton’s description of gravity, to Einstein’s explanation of the relationship between time, matter and energy and to the discovery of the DNA helix, science has illuminated the nature of the universe and led to the invention of technologies that have improved the quality of life for us all. While science and technology don’t have all the answers and almost all the technologies based on science can have unintended side effects, on balance, science has been an incredible force for progress over the past several centuries.
Yet, the current administration has waged a war against science from its very beginnings. It has made repeated attempts to reduce funding for science agencies and cut their staffs, forced some of the most highly experienced government scientists into retirement, created a hostile environment for scientists within those agencies, consistently delayed the appointment of science advisors, and employed openly anti-science rhetoric from the top down. The question is why?
The simplest answer is that the preponderance of scientific evidence on many issues does not align with this administration’s goals. Many of those goals are driven by special interests. For example, while 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and primarily man-made and that we must immediately reduce carbon emissions dramatically or we will face catastrophic and irreversible changes in global weather patterns, fossil fuel companies do not want the public to believe these facts and have waged a decadeslong campaign to influence public opinion to doubt the climate research.
At a time when renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are now cheaper than traditional fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, the current administration has acted on behalf of the fossil fuel interests to actively dispute that climate change is real and that man-made sources of CO2 and methane are the primary drivers.
Instead, it has banned government agencies from using the term climate change, has reversed regulations meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as fuel standards for cars and methane-emission standards for natural gas wells and has promoted inefficient and polluting energy technologies such as coal rather than the now more cost-effective technologies of solar and wind power. All this while our own Department of Defense has identified climate change as one of the most serious threats to our national security in the coming decades.
Let’s put science back in the White House this fall by voting in a new administration committed to embracing science as the foundation of policy decisions.