The annual celebration of Earth Day held special meaning today as the community of San Luis Obispo in Central California stood up in protest against the callous disregard of science in Donald Trump’s Presidential agenda. This was no hippie love fest of rebellious youth in the vein of the 1960s. Serious interest among the mainstream populace of local residents interspersed with respected academicians and lab coated, practitioners from the sciences created an atmosphere of concern about the ominous fate of our planet today.
Yes, these were decent people demanding action today and they enthusiastically welcomed any intelligent explanations, costumed attire, or poster displays to justify their reasoning. A middle school science teacher expressing concern that funding cuts would jeopardize her science class curriculum. A religious call of atheists to question the unproven existence of life and death. A physics instructor admonishing politicians for showing ignorance of the basic tenets in his class curriculum. A community outreach effort pleading for new volunteers to save their precious watersheds and canyons.
Fundamental truths cannot be ignored by state/local politicians today. The Central California coast appears particularly vulnerable to climate change. As the sea levels rise from global warming, farmland and residential coastlines can become inundated with flooding catastrophes. With the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, air pollution will conceivably reach alarming levels. Extreme changes in global weather will likely trigger intense seismic activity along fault zones that lie on or near the mid-state coastline.
Walking amongst this “sea of protest” today, I realized a more immediate concern of this attack on science. Are we becoming a country that reduces our citizens capacity to read, question, and think thoroughly about the future of our planet? Are we dropping the “standard of truth” so low to allow the alternative facts and outright lies that have been consistently used to to defend our President’s actions? To embrace these global challenges, let us remember then the basic, thinking steps of the scientific method: Observe, question, hypothesize, experiment , and draw logical conclusions. Policy does not overrule science: science determines principled action.