March against madness - denial has pushed scientists out to the streets

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and around the world marched in support of science. Next weekend, the People’s Climate Marchwill follow.

Redglass Pictures and StarTalk Radio created a short film in which the brilliant scientist and communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson – though not specifically talking about the science marches – perfectly articulated the motivations behind them.


For example, last weekend’s March for Science was largely a pushback against the creeping science denial among today’s political leaders, about which Dr. Tyson said:

But in this, the 21st Century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not; what is reliable and what is not reliable; what should you believe, what should you not believe. And, when you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it, and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.

The climate march is in response to so many of our political leaders using science denial to obstruct the important debate about policy solutions:

So once you understand that humans are warming the planet, you can then have a political conversation about that … [policy solutions] have political answers. And every minute one is in denial, you are delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.

Mythbuster Adam Savage was interviewed on MSNBC about why he decided to speak at and participate in the March for Science in San Francisco:

we live in a time where people are passing legislation like in North Carolina to not pay attention to science when making legislation about coastal water levels rising. That is absolutely ludicrous and anti-human. We need to make, as you just said, policies based on the best evidence we have available to us, and that’s why I’m marching.

The marches have drawn some attention. PBS NewsHour – the only American network news program to consistently report on climate change – did a story featuring our own Geoffrey Supran:


The underlying problem is that it’s been decades since we’ve known enough about the threats posed by human-caused climate change to mitigate those risks. It should be a no-brainer: we have one planet with one climate that we depend upon entirely for our survival. We are in the process of fundamentally changing its atmosphere by dumping 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide into it every year. Our only reasonable option is to curb that carbon pollution as quickly as possible before we destabilize the Earth’s climate.

We seemed to finally be moving in the right direction with the Paris agreement, and now the American government is reneging on its pledges and doing everything in its power to increase carbon pollution. Members of the House Science Committee, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the President of the United States deny basic scientific findings made decades ago. The President proposed a budget that would slash funding for scientific research, he’s failed to appoint people to key scientific posts in his administration, and Republicans in the House of Representatives passed two bills to stifle science at the EPA.

It’s madness. We are risking the future of our society on the slim chance that a 3% fringe minority of climate scientists is right and 97% are wrong. It’s like playing Russian roulette, but with far worse odds. At least with Russian roulette there’s a 5-in-6 chance (83%) you’ll be fine. That’s a far sight better than the 3-in-100 (3%) gamble our leaders are taking on climate change. Worse yet, even the 3% don’t deny that humans are altering Earth’s climate, which is an inherently risky proposition.

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Posted by dana1981 on Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

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