Progressive View: Science is Truth

by Kevin Henning
For the “Progressive Views,” Boerne Star, Friday June 26, 2020

March For Science event in Austin, Tx promoting the sciences.
Image provided by “Wil C. Fry” on Flickr is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

In a recent interview Dr. Anthony Fauci, considered the top infectious-disease expert in the US, talked about science at length.  He expressed great frustration: “One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.” He went on to say “science is truth” and to warn folks that to deal with the pandemic until we have a vaccine, we must avoid crowded spaces, continue to social distance, wear masks, test, and implement contact tracing.  Wearing masks should be a no brainer.  A  mask protects others and unfortunately, it appears the anti-maskers simply don’t care about others.  Anti-vaxxers also reject science and put us all at risk,  because being vaccinated protects everyone not just person who is given the vaccine.  How discouraging to see COVID-19 flare-ups across the country but particularly nearby in San Antonio and New Braunfels.  On June 19,  there was a huge crowd in line to be tested at the free COVID testing site at the EMS facility on North Main in Boerne. This demonstrates that lots of folks are concerned about catching the disease but we still see incredibly poor mask wearing throughout the community.  Science is truth and I guess many will have to learn that the hard way. Unfortunately, more people will get sick because of ignorance and arrogance.

People who deny climate change and the horrible fate that awaits humankind if we don’t take aggressive action to mitigate carbon dioxide and methane emissions are also science deniers. 

My go-to person of climate science is Texas Tech Climate Scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe who says:  “The data tells us the planet is warming; the science is clear that humans are responsible; the impacts we’re seeing today are already serious; and our future is in our hands.  Sea level is rising due to: (a) the thermal expansion of sea water as it warms, and (b) melting of land-based ice including glaciers and ice sheets.  It’s an opportunity—to transform the fabric of our society, from its current patterns of consumption that will soon exceed our planetary boundaries to one that’s able to sustain our human civilization for millennia to come.”  Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2009 to 2017advises:  “We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required, and the less suffering there will be.” Even Pope Francis understands and supports addressing global warming through his campaign for action on climate change,  proclaiming the existence of a “right of the environment” and urging countries to stop abusing it. 

Pope Francis also supports the scientific concept of evolution and issued a statement at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation.”  Pope Francis has embraced science as a way of learning about the world and is not a science denier.  Yet so many people reject the proven scientific principles of evolution and climate change. Evolution by natural selection is one of the most substantiated principles in the history of science, supported by evidence from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including paleontology, geology, genetics, developmental biology and more recently, DNA evidence.  DNA tracing lets scientists trace lineages back to common ancestors, conclusively,  proving Charles Darwin’s great discovery establishing that “all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.”  Unfortunately,  we are in an age where many Americans have become increasingly skeptical of scientific findings.  Politics and vested interests play a role.  Also, many  seem to be held hostage by ideologies and misinformation.  Remember how the tobacco industry lied and used persuasive ad campaigns to promote cancer causing smoking or how the petroleum industry kept leaded gasoline in use for many years after it was proven that is was a major health hazard.  Perhaps more complexity in our world is causing folks to hang on to old ideas even when confronted with evidence that demonstrates the contrary. Yes, many folks doubt science and society continues to suffer as a result.  All I am asking today is for everyone to wear masks when they can’t social distance.

Let’s all mask up—science is truth!

Kevin Henning is the Chair of the Kendall County Democratic Party

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