Written by Sophia Anner, ESLLC 2016-2017
In the past week or so since Trump became President, many actions have been taken to undermine science. Many organizations such as the National Parks and the EPA have been instructed to severely limit the information released to the public (such as on Twitter), the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone Pipeline have been pushed back onto the table for construction, and climate change has been removed as an issue on whitehouse.gov. In response, scientists and like-minded citizens have decided to take to the streets.
In a similar vein as the Women’s March (and sister marches), an official March for Science is in the works. From the official website for the event comes this blurb: “The March for Science is a diverse, nonpartisan group that defends and celebrates publicly funded and publicly accessible science as a foundation of American freedom and prosperity. Science guides nearly every aspect of our lives and it is critical that political leaders and policymakers support scientific research and incorporate science into their decision making.” The call to action is open to any person “who values empirical science”.
As a fellow scientist, I find it confounding that people don’t believe in science. Science is meant to be apolitical and nonpartisan, and science rules the universe. Science is structured upon facts, and while questioning scientific ideas (read: hypotheses) with additional research is generally encouraged, sometimes there isn’t room for it. Take climate change, for example. While rooted in evidence and data, many people don’t believe in it, and while science is meant to be non-partisan, the most vocal deniers are Republicans, and the most vocal believers are Democrats. There is no room to argue about it because the vast majority of scientists agree that action needs to be taken immediately, and science climate change is something that affects every person on the planet. It’s idiotic that the United States can afford to ignore dealing with climate change when as a nation we play such a large role in the world.
As a people, we decided to vote against science when we voted for Trump. I know this seems harsh, I know that you personally likely did not vote for Trump, but we (in the LLC, as college educated students, as a liberal state) do not reflect the entire United States. In fact, per an (albeit slightly outdated) study from Pew Research Center in 2009 revealed that only six percent of scientists identify as Republicans. Feasibly, this shouldn’t matter because science is based on facts, which everyone accepts, right? Unfortunately, there are many issues that are approved by the scientific community but not in the public, like climate change. While many go along for the science ride when taking medications and enjoying fresh air, some believe that science goes against their beliefs. Generally, this is because climate change solutions are greatly embedded in policy change in the United States, and so it must be a political matter.
You can see how as a firm believer in science, it can be frustrating when people don’t believe facts. It’s like trying to prove that two plus three equals five with someone who doesn’t believe in addition. But to be fair, I was raised by liberal parents in a liberal town in a liberal school that taught evolution and climate change as part of the curriculum. When someone is raised in a conservative town with conservative parents in a conservative school that teaches creationism and that climate change is made up, it’s easy to see why they think the way they do. And when most of the nation’s scientists don’t identify as Republican, it’s not too hard to follow that a Republican could be alienated by a scientific community that believes that are the end all be all of facts, not to mention that these scientists align with the opposing views of many Republicans. There is also the whole religion that comes into play – many scientists are not religious, many Republican are, which aggravates this whole conundrum.
In the end, what is there to do? Many Republicans seem to be against politically charged science, and Trump is undermining many aspects of science (by cutting tax-funded research), so maybe there will be a Republican turnout at the March for Science. All I can really advise is to stay informed, stay angry, and look out for a sister march in Denver.