Scientific discipline is the means by which we understand our physical and natural world. Through observation and experimentation we gain a better understanding of ourselves, and with each generation improve the quality of life of all the world’s peoples. Approximately 5,500 years ago humanity invented the wheel; 2,200 hundred years ago the Chinese invented paper; 1,000 years ago, gunpowder; 600 years ago, the printing press; 400 years, the telescope; 140 years, the light bulb; 70 years, the computer; and a mere 25 years ago the predecessor to the ubiquitous smartphone.
Starting in approximately 1760, the Industrial Revolution changed the world forever. Economic historians agree this is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of plants and animals. It was at this point that GDP, population and the standard of living boomed with the age of the machine. If you compare the world 257 years before 1760, not too different, but 257 years after in 2017 it is unrecognizable. Today every one of us lives better than kings and queens a hundred years ago. But to use a cliche, with great power comes great responsibility.
Scientific inquiry and discovery has given us longer and more prosperous lives, but what has modernity’s exponential growth cost us? Our progress has had dire unintended consequences on the natural systems that support all life. Our soil is depleted, the ozone weakened, our oceans heated, ice caps melting, and the planet’s species are undergoing the sixth mass extinction. This sixth mass extinction is called the Anthropocene extinction. Anthro meaning human, and -cene meaning new. In other words we are now in a biological era where humanity’s activities have a profound impact on our planet.
However, it is the vigorous application of science that will turn this destruction around. But first we must accept that climate change is real, and that it is the direct result of man’s actions. We must recognize the problem, take responsibility, and resolve to find a solution. Frustratingly, ignorance, misinformation and greed stand in the way of people coming together and uniting to solve this problem. Approximately 97% of climate scientists are in consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.
Today’s political climate is a scary one. Successful plans backed by scientific rigor like the Clean Water Act and Clean Power Plan are under threat. We look to scientists as sources of innovation in medicine, technology, education and business. Now more than ever, we need to wake up and listen to them to protect our earthly home, our clean water and our fresh air. Climate change is not a remote, conceptual idea to be argued over by academics. It is an issue that affects each of us in an intimate way every day – every bite of food, every breath and every drink of water we take.
Join me in the fight to bring the voices of climate scientists to the forefront, to advocate for robust government funding of scientific research, and communicating to the world that science is a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.