Beyond being fun and intellectually stimulating, why take science seriously? I’ve been thinking a lot about what Steve Jobs has given the world. Like Einstein and Galileo, Jobs gave us cutting-edge science, but he also elevated design to a new level in the way we communicate with each other.
A recent NPR article outlines, Why the US Needs To Learn More Science:
“Much of the way we understand reality and live our lives comes from technological applications of scientific discoveries, driven by engineers and designers…To close our eyes to science is to buy a one-way ticket back to the obscurantism of the early Middle Ages.”
Close Our Eyes To Science?
As I watch the Republican presidential debates, it’s clear that attitudes are shifting. Anti-science rhetoric has some of our political leaders spouting ideas that go directly against proven science. Why are we being asked not to think and understand the why, what and where of important scientific issues? Will putting our faith (and votes) into irrational fears make the issues disappear?
Open Our Children’s Eyes To Science
As a teacher and parent, this worries me. The scientific process has always been a reliable generator of knowledge. Science demands the gathering of evidence, the testing and re-testing, and peer review of findings until results are consistent. Science advances when weak theories are disproved and strong theories are replicated over and over. For children, science helps them understand the world around them. It also gives them a solid foundation for solving many of the earth’s problems. Science is freedom. Science is worth teaching and fighting for.
Can We Take Climate Science Seriously?
One such problem our children will be handed down is climate change. To ridicule climate science in the face of definitive scientific consensus: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other scientific academy around the world, not to mention the unpaid global work of thousands of scientists for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is heartbreaking. We’ve seen the science of the greenhouse effect for 200 years. Use of fossil fuels for the past 150 years has been proven to produce greenhouse gases that are warming the planet to disastrous levels. This is an unequivocal scientific fact. We must look to science for the difficult answers to this situation and take action. Working against the tides of science deniers, many of which have been shown to be compensated to question the scientific facts, makes this task so much harder.
Let’s not shortchange the value of science and our children’s future. Only a well-informed society can make educated choices. How can we encourage our school children to love science, care for the planet, and clean up our water, land and air, if our future leaders don’t take science seriously?