Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and are not intended to represent Williamson County policy nor intended as legal advice.

1/6/2022

When did we lose our trust in science?

I used to believe that our own ingenuity and survival instinct would save us. That climate change would be controlled through the judicious use of science and innovation. We might wait until things looked gloomy, but we’d pull a hail Mary out of our collective ass and fix it. Today, I am no longer confident we’ll come close to anything like this.

I grew up in a world that had sent a man to the moon, created a reusable space shuttle, and miniaturized computers from the size of a room to something that can fit in the palm of my hand. Our belief in science was complete. We’d watched it destroy disease, lift a man into space and bring him safely down again and revolutionize communication. Then slowly things began to change. As our industry focused on an endless array of consumer goods with built-in obsolescence and the things we surrounded ourselves with became increasingly disposable, our ability to look to the common good began to erode. Once upon a time, it was kings and dictators, oligarchs, and business leaders that viewed the common folk as not just interchangeable but disposable. Somewhere along the way, the rest of us began to think the same. If our fellow man is disposable; if our personal rights are more important than the common good; if the only measure of success is in how much stuff we own, then we are lost.

What frustrates me most is that we know the science works. In the lifetimes of many Americans, we saw crippling diseases banished. Polio vaccines began in 1961 in America. By 1979, it was eradicated in our country. We did it by requiring people to get vaccinated. Smallpox, the first disease to have a recognized vaccine, was eradicated WORLDWIDE by 1977 after a vaccination program began in 1967 and backed by the World Health Organization, using a massive and coordinated campaign to stop outbreaks. Now, here we are. Two years into a pandemic and people are still denying the need to vaccinate or wear a mask. Over 800,000 people have died in the US alone and we’re still struggling to convince people to vaccinate. Too many believe COVID is not serious and weigh their right to travel, to visit family and friends, to go to concerts and restaurants while free of a mask or vaccine as more important than their fellow Americans. They rely on witch doctor level “medicine” such as horse dewormer. A not-insubstantial portion of our society has turned its backs on science and reason.

Those of us who believe in rationality, science, and compassion need to stand up and fight back. Not with harsh or demeaning words, but with our vote. It always and forever comes back to that simple act. It is the true power of the people. Vote for those who follow the science. Vote for those who believe in the worth of every individual. Vote with your pocketbooks and at the ballot box. Don’t give any more money than you must to the corporate shills that have polluted our politics and discourse. Vote their representatives out of office. Look to your neighbors, your community and see where you can make a difference. Who sits in the White House and Congress are important but the people who affect your daily life the most sit on your school boards, city councils, county commissioner’s courts, and more. Pay attention to those people. Keep the conspiracy theorists and business-first folks out of office. Replace them with people who want clean air and water, a better living wage, flourishing schools, and compassion to rule the day not greed.

The road ahead will be difficult and dangerous. We’ve waited too long to solve the climate crisis with a silver bullet. Now, all we can do is prepare and make plans to limit destruction and loss of life. We must forge new paths and understanding so that carnival barkers with their snake oil cures have no further stage on which to hock their wares.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be quick. The easy answers and swift solutions are beyond us now. We survive or fall together. It is long past time we remember these basic truths:

Your freedom ends when it endangers the lives of others.

Your actions affect many more than just yourself; they affect everyone around you.

Science is real and can save our lives if we listen to its wisdom.

The Internet holds many views but not all of them are true.

It’s up to you to educate yourself to be able to tell the false from the factual.

We can change our course but first, we must wrest control from those who worship the status quo. Going on as we have is a recipe for disaster.

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