March For Science, April 22

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Once again, I apologize for getting just a bit political on this blog, but this is a cause near and dear to my heart.   We now find ourselves in a reality where science, education, space and climate change research are all under direct attack.  Climatology is vital to the near-future habitability of our planet… not to overstate, but this is kind of a big deal, folks.

The new administration is promising to renege on the Paris Climate Agreement (which was already a relatively timid response to climate change in the first place).   Already we’ve seen a signed order rendering the Clean Water Rule null and void; allowing for the unregulated polluting of many rivers and ground water tables.   There is also a retrograde plan to go full-tilt boogie on coal; reopening abandoned, obsolete, dangerous coal mines for the promise of a few thousand jobs.   The proposed coal plan makes about as much sense as reopening the horse-and-buggy trade, or eschewing Netflix and putting a Blockbuster Video VHS rental store back on every street corner.

Sometimes forward progress costs jobs; the coal industry was vulnerable to this, as fracking edged it out and provided an abundance of cheap, natural gas (fracking is an equally dangerous alternative, but that’s another subject…).

There have also been advances in green energy that have provided viable (and far safer) alternatives, such as wind turbines, solar arrays and reduced emission (and even fuel cell-powered) vehicles.   The previous eight years have seen more radical development in green energy than the last 50.   And now, all of that gain is threatened.

In the rest of the industrial world (even in key culprit nation China), humanity’s responsibility for climate change is accepted as fact.  The United States is the only major first-world industrial nation that still refers to climate change (and humanity’s role in it) it as ‘theory.’   97% of the world’s climatologists agree on humanity’s role in climate change; the other 3% work for oil companies.

For me, this is not about left/right politics.   This is about the future habitability of the planet for our species; not about restoring obsolete and dangerous coal mining jobs, or bringing back gas guzzlers.

The current retrograde thinking in Washington regarding climate science is the exact opposite of what we should be doing, and at the worst possible time.

A Guide To Trump’s Reversal on Climate Change/ theatlantic.com

This administration is undoing years of clean water initiatives, green energy incentives, climate change research, wind/solar farm plants, and lower industrial/vehicle emission standards which were all designed to wean us off of our messy, dirty dependence on fossil fuels.   And now?  We’re going back to coal.   We’re basically giving our planet’s melting polar ice, increasingly unstable weather systems and rising global CO2 levels the middle finger by rolling back emissions and industrial standards on a federal level (one of the many times I’m very glad to be living in eco-friendly California… but California is but ONE state of 50).

In the past, I’ve usually signed ballot initiatives, online petitions and voted every 2-4 years to ‘make a difference.’  But now, for the first time in my 50-plus years of being alive, I’m going to march; as part of the March For Science.

The MFS Mission Statement below (cut-and-pasted from their website, via the above link):

The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.

Why

 

Science, scientists, and evidence-based policymaking are under attack. Budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets, and threats to dismantle government agencies harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate, and jobs at risk. It is time for people who support science to take a public stand and be counted.

What

The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.

How

 

We are building a broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science. All with your support!*

Who

People who value science. Science advocates, science educators, scientists, and concerned citizens. More than 170 partner organizations and counting. And you!

Where

The National Mall in Washington, DC and 425+ satellite marches around the world. For DC, event details here, and info on buses here.

When

April 22nd, 2017. But that’s only the beginning…

 

 Why We March/Youtube.com

There are hundreds of these marches planned all over the world; I found one in my city only about 20 minutes away.   I realize a march or demonstration isn’t a ‘solution’ per se, but the only alternative is to basically sit this one out and do nothing, which is precisely what this administration is hoping we will do.  Well, I won’t.   Not now.  Not while the future health of our planet and its habitability for our species is at stake.   Political will can effect many changes or at least shed light on issues.  The recent Women’s March in January had bigger attendee numbers than the presidential inauguration.   There are, in fact, many examples throughout history where massive, peaceful demonstrations have translated into eventual political and social change through willpower.   This time the stakes are science education and the health of our very planet.  Pretty big stakes, in my humble opinion.

And if our planet is to survive the actions of this current administration (not to mention the unforeseen consequences of the entire industrial age of humankind),  I don’t want to say that I only voted during elections and signed online petitions.

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A bit of backstory: I’ve been a 20-year member of The Planetary Society, a non-profit organization that began in 1980 under the late Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray, currently headed by our CEO Bill Nye (the Science Guy; who works tirelessly on our behalf).   I’ve attended events of the Society, including some of the local Planetfests and other celebrations.

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Planetary Society original founders Dr. Bruce Murray, Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Louis Friedman.

Part of the mission statement of the Society, in addition to space science for its own sake, is to keep a watchful eye on the health of our own planet through the study of others.

Carl Sagan’s original essay on Venus/Cosmos/io9.com

Carl Sagan was one of the first to understand how the ‘runaway greenhouse effect’ of the planet Venus (via massive vulcanism that released CO2 into the atmosphere) has left the entire planet hotter than the hottest ovens on Earth, and with an atmospheric density about 90 times that of Earth at sea level.   It’s a dangerous signpost of where our own planet may be heading… not through natural overactive volcanic activity, but through our own shortsightedness and our deliberate unwillingness to acknowledge the truth of our actions and their effects on our planet.

We can either accept this situation and do absolutely nothing… or we can make a stand and resist.   I’ve no right or business telling any reader what to do, but I plan to march.  On Earth Day.   April 22nd.   I hope you do as well.

Take care.

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