Today is Earth Day and I have it on good authority that the Earth is a huuuge fan of science! Geology, of course, but also biology, chemistry, physics—really all the sciences.
Now, not everyone is such a big fan. When you want things to be a certain way, and science tells you they’re not—that’s unfortunate.
If I go to the doctor, and he runs some tests and the results come back and they’re not good, and we repeat the tests and they’re still not good—I’m not going to like that. But it sure isn’t going to do me any good to pretend the results are wrong.
So, when icecaps are melting, and sea levels are rising, and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in the past 400,000 years; when the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activity is responsible for these changes—I’m not going to like that. But it sure isn’t going to do me—or anyone else—any good to pretend it isn’t happening, or that humans aren’t responsible.
Let me tell you what the adult thing to do would be. I bet you already know this.
If I’m sick, I’m going to go to my doctor, or a specialist, and I’m going to ask for help. And they’re going to take what they know about my illness, about the treatments for my illness, and they’re going to give me some options, based on the best scientific evidence, of how to treat my illness.
With climate change impacting our cities, our coastline, our entire biosphere, wouldn’t we go to our scientists, our engineers, and ask for help? So they could take what they know and give us some options, based on the best scientific evidence, of how to respond?
But that’s not what’s happening in Washington.
So, I’m going to recommend something—a different science, a social science—political science.
There’s never been a more important time for scientists, and people who care about science, to be involved in politics—advocating, working on campaigns and in political parties, and running for office.
There’s an old adage in politics that says, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
For too long, scientists stayed out of politics and away from the table, fearful that involvement would jeopardize grants or credibility. Despite staying out of the fray, their funding is being slashed and their credibility is being attacked. There’s no longer anything to be gained by silence, and there’s too much at stake not to act.
Today is a start. There are organizations that will help you learn about politics, winning elections, and governing.
As scientists, I trust you’re reconciled to looking at the world as it is, not as you wish it might be. Success in politics demands a similar objectivity.
But, while candidates need to be clear-eyed about strategy, there’s also this: passion matters in politics.
People who are passionate vote. They volunteer on campaigns. They donate to candidates. They show up at town halls. They call and write their elected officials. They write letters to the editor. They talk to their friends and they organize. They come to a rally like this one and they go home with a plan to do more, and soon, you have a movement, you have people with a vision, goals, and the energy to achieve those goals. And that energy is fueled by passion.
I think this group has that passion. Am I right?
Good! Thanks for being here. Get involved. Stay involved. I’ll see you on the campaign trail.