Cherish not only those who you love, but that which you love. Yesterday I went with my wife on the March for Science in Bristol, the city where we fell in love many years ago. We were on one of over 600 marches globally, to express a love for the science that has brought us so much, and promises so much more.
We do not want in the future to find ourselves mournfully recalling the words of some great poet, words of regret at our careless disregard, our taking for granted –
“When to the session of sweet silent thought,
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste….”
(Shakespeare, Sonnet 30)
Humanity needs more experts now than ever before, but it also needs poets and novelists too to find that voice, that will reach the hearts of those who will be hurt by the cynical disregard for truth, for evidence.
This is no longer the preserve of cranks, but now influences men (and it is mostly men) in power who attack the science of evolution, vaccination and climate change, that has saved the lives of billions and promises to save the lives of billions more in the future. Notwithstanding the more prosaic inability to live without the fruits of science (try having a no science friday).
That is why the over 600 cities that Marched for Science yesterday spoke with a true voice. Science is for everyone and we all benefit from its fruits but just as few really know where their food comes from, we have become blind to the processes and creativity of the scientists who will bring us the next wonders, and the next solutions to the challenges we face. We the people, and scientists, must both now pledge to remedy our careless assumption that the Englightenment will prevail against the tide of ignorance that has reached the pinnacle of power, without strong and systemic defenses.
We ignore these threats at our peril.
Let’s not regret being so careless that we allowed an opinionated, ideologically motivated few to use their positions of power to drown out the voices of reason.
Let us, most of all, not waste our dear, precious time.
. . .. o o O o o .. . .
Richard W. Erskine, essaysconcerning.com, 23rd April 2017
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The speakers at the Bristol event were Professor Bruce Hood from the Bristol University’s School of Experimental Psychology; TV naturalist Chris Packham; science writer and scientist Dr Simon Singh; At-Bristol’s creative director Anna Starkey; and, scientist and writer Dr Suzi Gage.
Youtube videos of their speeches available here >
2 responses to “Lest we regret: science not silence”
When this was written in 1990:
published estimates of CO2 doubling sensitivity ranged over a factor of 3,
Several dozen perr reviewed estimates later, and a decade after I noted the frustrating fact in _Foreign Affairs_ , they still do.
The thermodynamics of radiative transfer have never been in question , but bringing them into actual correlation and convergence with the behavior of complex, non-linear hydrodynamic systems continues to elude us, even as the projections of the most sophisticated finite element models of global climate continue to unravel with long running into vaguely Bayesian clouds.
The essential problem is that the models on which climate policy are not things , and I place greater hope on instrumental progress in such areas as earth observing satellites than heuristic progress in modeling to drive climate science towards the consillience with natural history of which you write.
Russell, unfortunately, the observations are confirming the predictions of the climate modellers. Manabe expressed his surprise at how the patterns of warming of his primitive early models were being vindicated by modern observations http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-computer-model-princeton-stouffer-manabe-vindicated-30-years-global-warming-a7609976.html … yes, the ECS estimate range is wide, because there are a compounded factors that lead us from bad, to very bad, to catastrophic. But just as Manabe & Wetherald provided insights that have been validated, so do current models. The models are essential as a risk management tool, not as a replacement for observations, as I wrote about in my essay “In Praise of Computer Models”. Actually, not using models to help in assessing risks – especially for regional and seasonal impacts – would be a complete abrogation of responsibility by Governments.