Believing in Science

It's not up for interpretation.

While+millions+protest+around+the+world%2C+there+are+still+some+who+believe+that+climate+change+does+not+exist.+

Photograph by Courtesy Creative Commons

While millions protest around the world, there are still some who believe that climate change does not exist.

Two plus two is four. Obviously. 

A force of gravity allows us to walk on the ground at all times. Basic stuff. 

The Earth is round. But, wait, is it? 

When I first heard of “flat-earthers,” I thought it had to be a joke. People on the Internet probably created this faction as a form of political satire against climate change and evolution skeptics. Nevertheless, research into these self-proclaimed truth-holders showed that there are indeed people who believe that the Earth is flat. That NASA was

Photograph by Trekky0623
A Flat Earth model depicting Antarctica as an ice wall surrounding a disc-shaped Earth.
(Image: © Creative Commons 1.0 Generic/Trekky0623)

lying to us with their pictures of the Earth. That “globe-earthers” are unwittingly promoting the government’s plot to keep us in the dark. 

You might still think I’m kidding about this, and frankly, I don’t blame you. Unless the hundreds of avid globe-deniers that filled the Crowne Plaza in Dallas, Texas for the Flat Earth International Convention on November 14 and 15 comprise the best orchestrated theatrical phenomenon of the twenty-first century, I’m (unfortunately) not kidding. These people genuinely believe that every map of the Earth we are familiar with is a conspiracy and that the quote-on-quote scientists who have pushed the spherical earth model are trying to protect the government’s supremacy, even if it means shielding the public from the truth. But, as nonsensical as it may sound, this is not the first time the science-renunciation phenomenon has appeared.  

Let’s pose a hypothetical scenario. You eat candy day in and day out without ever brushing your teeth. You, unsurprisingly, wind up with a terrible toothache. The first dentist you go to says you have a cavity and you need to stop eating so much candy, start brushing your teeth and get the cavity removed immediately. For some reason, you decide to go to ninety-nine more dentists. Ninety-seven of the hundred say the same thing as the first, whereas only three say you seem fine and should continue with your current habits. Who do you believe? Any logical person would tell you to go with the opinion backed by the 97% majority. Rudimentary, right? 

According to NASA, 97% of meteorologists agree that humans are causing climate change. By the aforementioned dentist logic, you’d think that we’d collectively – regardless of whether we lean left or right, who we voted for in the last election or which religion we believe in – decide to do something about the damage that we (along with previous generations) have caused. You’d think we’d at least join in an attempt to make this world inhabitable for the next generation. 

Still, those with dime-store  scientific knowledge have decided to interpret data that clearly shows the detrimental effects of industrialization on our planet such that these “strange patterns” can be explained by the Earth’s “natural fluctuations.” They discount the fact that the world’s average temperature’s spiking trend has not been irregular since the onslaught of industrialization, and that such a change is unprecedented. 

And then there are those who pretend to not be a part of the problem by saying that climate change is occurring, but it can be reversed through small changes like using paper bags instead of plastic and growing a small garden in one’s backyard. Though these can make a difference in our carbon footprint, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the former president of the United Nations’ General Assembly stated in March of 2019, “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our plane.” With such high stakes, it seems absurd that people believe that by solely advocating for small changes in our daily lives, which will at best, only be followed by a fraction of those in positions of privilege, we will solve the monstrous dangers that climate change imposes on us. Though humans do negatively impact the planet in their day-to-day lives, solving climate change won’t even be feasible until restrictions are placed on big companies to curtail their carbon footprint, even at the expense of their profit. I predict that the statement I just made will cause some readers to angrily slam their computer screens or rapidly rush to the comments section to explain to me that I am going against the capitalist principles this country was built on, but before you do that, I beckon you to take a big breath and bear with me through my next lines of reasoning.

As a person who grew up in a socialist country, and subsequently was forced to flee it, I understand and praise the benefits of the laissez-faire economic policies that this country prides itself on. However, laissez-faire has its limits. The same économistes who came up with these ideas in 18th-century France recognized that this policy could only function if the government could intervene in the economy to preserve property, life, and individual freedom. In the face of climate change, companies like the mere hundred that were said to cause 71% of global emissions by a 2017 Climate Accountability Institute report, are disrupting the property of all humans (the planet), and the life of all those generations that will be destined to live in an irreversibly damaged planet lest we enact major change now. Regulating carbon emissions will benefit all humans: it doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum you’re on, or whether you’re CEO of ExxonMobil or a subsistence farmer in southern California. 

When Hirohito’s Japan was threatening America during World War II, the entire country rallied together to defend this country, regardless of where everyone stood on the political spectrum.

When Al-Qaeda members caused the death of almost 3,000 people in New York City on September 11, 2001, the entire nation rallied together to fight Islamic extremism, regardless of where everyone stood on the political spectrum.

When climate change models predict that the increasing average temperature across cities in the United States will bring devastating heat waves, severe rainstorms, and droughts, (see https://www.vox.com/a/weather-climate-change-us-cities-global-warming), the entire nation should rally together to fight the effects of human-caused climate change, regardless of where anyone may stand on the political spectrum. 

It is critical to remember this: science is not part of a liberal or conservative agenda. It is simply science.