climate change

I’m Not A Scientist, But l’ll Be Marching For Science On Earth Day

Asheville, North Carolina, USA - August 5, 2013: Protesters hold signs protesting NC state Republican politics at a Moral Monday Rally in Asheville, North Carolina

It’s a common narrative: Liberal woman residing in an urban metropolis enters the voting booth on Election Day and confidently casts her vote for an historic new woman president, looking forward to watching her candidate confidently win. As the results trickle in that evening, she is horrified by the fact that so many of the country’s votes are in direct opposition to hers. She goes to bed, forlorn and emotionally exhausted, wondering if the balance will have swung in a more “blue” direction by morning. Liberal woman wakes up the next day, peers at the news alert on her phone, and instantaneously feels physically ill at the sight of “Trump” and “President” in the same sentence.

For this particular liberal woman, so much of the recent news cycle has been nausea-inducing, but this past month’s announcement of the withdrawal of funding for arts, housing development, the state department, and others by the Trump administration horrified me on a basic human morality level. For me, these cuts are further indications that our current government intends to lay ongoing groundwork for drastic subjugation of the impoverished and underprivileged.

However, the substantial cuts to science funding across multiple institutions, such as the EPA, NIH, NOAA, and NASA, with accompanying cuts to associated science education are particularly disheartening because of the breadth of its implication (read: may affect outcome of the entire human race).

You see, unless we humans as a species start colonizing other earths (there’s always that new group of potentially habitable planets, am I right?), even the richest people in the world will not be able to escape the planet they’ve ancestrally called home when it is eventually rendered permanently desolate.

I know, I know—I may sound like a lunatic conspiracy theorist, barking about climate change and other causes so dear to called “snowflakes.” But you don’t have to be a climate scientist to witness the everyday effects of our warming planet.You don’t have to be a biologist to know humans have played a major role in rapidly increasing animal extinction.

What we know about literally anything in our physical world, from cancer to caribou, is the result of scientists’ unendingly inquisitive work. People have worked tirelessly throughout history to discover iotas of information that may somehow be integrated into a larger framework, a framework that often decides whether we live or die. So, like the organizers of March For Science, I recognize that “…science serves the interests of all humans, not just those in power.”

I don’t work in a STEM field. I haven’t conducted official scientific research. Hell, I didn’t even make it through nursing school. But I have borne witness to the effects of scientific inquiry in my life and the lives of others. Because of this, on Earth Day (April 22), I’m going to March for Science for the following reasons:

1. Modern medicine has improved our lives, but has a long way to go. When my 7-month old son experienced three seizure-like events in a span of four days, his neurologist could not provide a definitive explanation for why they occurred. After additional EEG testing and a several-month stint on anti-seizure medication, the doctor urged us to discontinue the medicine with the belief that our son would very likely never have a seizure again. It is a modern miracle that a medicine exists to have kept our son from potentially life-threatening events of brain-related electrical overload now, but it is a future miracle to be able to understand more thoroughly why seizures (and the non-epileptic neurological events that mimic them) occur to begin with.

2. Chicago is hot enough in summer that I really actually miss winter. Dear Weather Gods, spring may be upon us, but there is still time yet to deliver another big dump of shiver-inducing, snowball-rolling flakes. Please don’t neglect us here in the Midwest. We’ve had one “big” snowstorm this year, and honestly, it was measly and pathetic, and clearly a nasty reminder of how we’re all going to deep fry in the coming sunny months. Before the world becomes one enduring sauna, I take this last moment to appeal to you.

3. If we are going to be denied access to contraceptives, routine gynecological care, or the ability to have an abortion, there better be a verdant place for future generations to successfully proliferate. Enough said.

I’ll admit that I don’t know the ultimate endgame of these budget cuts, except it is my hypothesis that our current administration would like the American people to be asleep while they work through the night to benefit only those in positions of power.

I may be one person, but I intend to shout as loudly as necessary for dissenters to hear me, to suggest that everyone take up scientific inquiry into their own lives.

When we don’t realize the impact of systems in place on our own lives, we are more likely to take said systems for granted. And although it may be exhausting work to take up, I’d rather wake up tomorrow knowing that I dug my heels in and did what I could. See you in the streets

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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