06 January 2018

Science, not silence


2017 was a year that brought a big change in me, and in my life too. And not in the way I was expecting.
See I’m an introvert, the happiest when I tinker with the analysis of datasets, coding, writing, or reading a good book. But the current trend in politics pushed me in activism and motivated me to start this blog.
In 2017, the first time in my life, I went out to protest. I joined the March for science.
I do not like how the current administration treats science. I consider what they are doing a grave mistake that will put this country so far back, that today’s situation will seem preferable.
I’ve seen something like that happening in my country of origin. The economy was deteriorating, science was shunned, and during my childhood TV was complaining about ‘brain drain’ because smart people were leaving the country. And I can tell you that today, people in my country of origin think life was way better during the times of the start of a decline when 'brain drain' just started.
The scope of science removal from the USA government and governmental websites under Trump’s administration is troublesome. And you can see the first indications of the ‘brain drain’. Partly with French initiative, partly with degradation of the USA education, and partly with creating the unfriendly environment and stopping smart immigrants coming here.
For me, personally, the hackle-raising-change is in the Office of Science and Technology Police. This office still does not have a director, i.e. person that is supposed to be top science advisor to the president. And at the beginning of the 2017 description of office was changed removing the line “ensures that the policies of the Executive Branch are informed by sound science.”
Today’s society, civilization, and even our own existence need sound science. We cannot ignore science. Not now. There is too many of us, our technology is too complicated, and our effects on the planet are too big to ignore. If we wish to survive as a species, we have to follow the science.
And I am not talking about climate change only. I’m talking about everything. Science and the scientific method are the best way for humans to discover the truth and learn about reality. That’s why even the science deniers will use word science to back their claims, even when their evidence is not obtained by scientific methods nor can pass scientific scrutiny.
And now, the USA has a government which does not care about science.
There are some expected changes, Trump ran as climate change denier, and he did his best to remove anything connected with climate change from governmental websites. Of course, he himself is not climate change denier. At one of his properties in the UK, he uses climate change as a justification for certain building strategy. Basically, he will spend his own money to mitigate the effects of something he, as a president, does not wish to admit it exists.
But let us go back to visible changes.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website is one of the worse. No surprises there. Any mention of climate change or helpful links to prepare for climate change effects were scrubbed. And not only the website is under attack. The scientists who work for the agency are slowly leaving. They are resigning or getting their research funds cut, effectively terminating their positions.
Department of interior website lost the overview of the Interior’s climate change priorities. Also, any mention of rising sea levels, worsening wildfires, and changes in our ecosystems are gone.
Department of Transportation lost multiple pages mentioning the environmental effect of transportation. Any connection between fossil fuel and pollution was removed.
Department of Energy website changed too. As one would expect under this administration. Emphasis on clean energy is removed, replacing it with emphasis on that mystical growth from fossil fuels, completely ignoring the facts that market itself is moving away from fossil fuels.
Department of State removed or watered down anything connected with climate change.
National Institutes of Health also lost climate change references including all known threats to the health from the climate change.
National Park Service lost 90 documents describing climate action plans.
And there were even attempts to distort the reality to fit the current administration’s ideology. Federal Emergency Management Agency removed temporarily statistic on access to electricity and drinking water in Puerto Rico. Today, the statistic is back, but the incident causes bitterness in my throat. Something so vital for the wellbeing of USA citizens is manipulated by a current ideology of Trump and his cabinet.
It was not hard to see at the beginning of this year that this administration is going away from the science, as the changes clearly demonstrate. I am still distraught with this direction. It is hard to comprehend that such a progressive culture as the USA can change so much.
I’m not sure how we came to this point. I am not sure how come that living in concert with reality and truth is not important anymore. But here we are.
Last year I started this blog simply to show that science is not something evil, that scientists are not monsters but humans like you. And I did it in hope that a bit more science and truth online might help someone not to feel totally flabbergasted by all these science denials around us.

I survived a civil war, and learn there that one of the biggest mistakes people can make is to stay silent. In my country of origin, people were silent during the buildup to the war and during the war itself. They would see the wrong thing being done and stay silent. After the war I was often wondered could the war be avoided if people spoke up.
So now I’m not staying silent. Science is important.
So now, at the beginning of the new year, I am even more adamant to continue with my blog, to continue making noise. Science, not silence.

Stay smart

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