Friday, January 15, 2021

Why aren't our Scientists shouting from the Rooftops?


 

-Image by Robert Jones from Pixabay  


 

People from overseas have been asking why we aren't doing more to protect our koalas, why there hasn't been more action about bushfire prevention and why our policies don't reflect the urgency of Climate Change. Just when Climate scientists could be saying, “Nyah, Nyah, told you so," the majority are strangely silent. This is a great tragedy since most of the progress humans have made over the last 500 years or so – in health and sanitation, in technology and in mobility and communication, we owe to the work of scientists, yet now when our own lives, not mention that of almost every other species depends on them, we hear very little.

 If you have also been scratching your head as to why there is such a disconnect between what is coming out the lab and the field and why a surprisingly large number of people who ought to know better, including many of our policy makers, are still in denial about Climate Change, even when the evidence is staring them in the face, then you will find some of the answers in the following pages kindly reprinted from “The Conversation.” We are not alone in this either. Reports coming out of the USA in 2014 showed that only around 50% of the population believed climate change was real with things getting decidedly worse under the Trump administration and as more and more people turn to the internet for their information, which has, to put it mildly, less rigorous standards of proof and peer review than the scientific community.

It makes me fear we are entering a new Dark Age where myth and superstition will once again replace knowledge based on testing and facts while we fall deeper into environmental crisis and just when we need scientists most. The following won’t be strictly in order because I want to end on a more optimistic note. 

  1.   The first is about what happens to scientists if they are too outspoken
  2.  The second is about how the commercial media, dependent as it is advertising revenue is complicit in creating doubt about Climate Change
  3. The next is about defending scientific integrity against huge waves of disinformation
  4. And finally it is about the enormous role of science in the future if we wish to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change.

Although some of the articles are now a couple of years old, these issues have been going on for decades. Even back in 2000 when I was doing Environmental Journalism as part of my degree, I was warned that my career would be very short if I focussed only on what was wrong or what needed doing.  It was. Self -censorship in both science and the media is also common. 

If you want to support our scientists, then demand continued funding for public interest research and universities and for the protection of whistleblowers.  Defunding of areas such as Environmental Protection, Protection of Endangered Species and Public Lands must also stop too if we are to have anything left at all.  

PS  “The Conversation,” is a great read if you want to hear directly from people doing research in many different fields.

No comments: