More than ever, science is under attack. And Neil DeGrasse Tyson isn’t having it.
Whether it’s outright climate change denial on the right end of the spectrum, or fear-mongering about fluoride, vaccines, and GMOs on the fringe left, it has somehow become acceptable for politicians to tell scientists that they are mistaken about their own findings.
Unfortunately, this shift in public discourse is coming just at the time when science-based policy is becoming more important than ever, especially considering the possible consequences of climate change and how they might be mitigated.
And you know who’s not happy about this? Scientists. Including the current reigning champ of pop science, Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Tyson decided to make a personal statement, a kind of public service announcement about the crisis of science in the political arena.
And it’s well worth watching:
But when the most powerful political leader in the world believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party, how is it possible to improve public understanding of science to ensure that voters go into the ballot box with a sound understanding of the issues?
Obviously, science education is part of the solution. And Tyson has been doing an excellent job of that. But outreach alone won’t be enough to stop the billions of dollars being spent to confuse the public on the issue of climate change.
Clearly it’s going to be an uphill battle. But media figures are increasingly trying to make their voices heard above the noise created by well-funded anti-science. And not just media-friendly scientists like Tyson and Bill Nye — movie director Ron Howard has a plan to make scientists into celebrities, hoping that an increase in social prestige will make people more willing to listen to scientists when they speak out.
And there are also billionaires on the other side of the issue, most notably Elon Musk, whose Tesla cars and Solar City battery packs are nudging the world away from fossil fuel dependence.
As Musk himself said at the most recent TED conference: “I want to be clear, I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.”
Aren’t we all, Elon?
And while people like Tyson and Musk may not see eye-to-eye on everything, surely they’re on the right side of history on this issue. Which, come to think of it, is usually true when you find yourself disagreeing with a person like Donald Trump.