Why Science Matters
words and photos by Cindy A. Matthews
Picture this imaginary conversation everyone should be glad never took place in 1796:
Edward Jenner: I don't know, Pete. I thought about inoculating people with a small amount of pus from a cow pox lesion to prevent them from coming down with smallpox, but it's a lame idea.
Pete: What makes you say that, Ed? It's been noted by several scientists how milk maids who've contracted cow pox never come down with smallpox. Something about them developing immunity to smallpox because cow pox is a weaker version of it? You inoculation theory sounds like a great idea. We don't need yet another smallpox epidemic, do we?
Edward Jenner: No, we don't. Smallpox can be deadly, but why bother? People--especially children--will hate me for making them suffer through a scratch in order to prevent them from becoming sick later. Who wants to suffer some momentary discomfort for the prevention of an even worse sickness or death? Not me!
Pete: You can't allow people to get sick and possibly die because you want them to like you. The facts are the facts: Smallpox is deadly, and you have a good theory to test which, if successful, could save thousands--no millions of lives. We can't ignore the facts, Ed.
Edward Jenner: Can't we? Let's pretend we never had this conversation. I know--let's open a funeral parlor. We can make a lot of money burying the dead. Why cure people when you can make money off their suffering instead?
Smallpox was completely eradicated by 1980. Millions, perhaps billions, were saved. This is why science matters.
Ignoring the facts about how we're destroying our biosphere through pollution, or causing climate change (causing floods and droughts and, consequently, food shortages), or preventing cures for diseases from being developed and given freely to every human being who suffers (because profit is seen as more important than people) is why science matters--because science is all about facts.
Not alternative facts, but the actual facts. Science is about proving and repeating positive results, proposing theories, and testing hypotheses. Without the study of the sciences, our world would be filled with superstition and a lot of unnecessary suffering. The fact our world is still filled with superstition and a lot of unnecessary suffering further proves why science matters. Now is not the time to give up on science.
Denying the facts is a denial of problems. Mature, rational individuals know denying problems doesn't make them go away. The problems just get bigger and harder to solve. This week's March for Science focused the public's attention on the fact that our country needs to face facts. We can't allow selfish and greedy billionaires and corporations to continue to destroy our national parks and forests, pollute our air and waterways, poison our land and crops, and take advantage of our sick and elderly neighbors/loved ones by denying them adequate health care. It's time for us to stand up and speak out for our fellow travelers on spaceship Earth and protect the planet which gives and sustains our life.
I attended a March for Science held in Findlay, Ohio. It was small in numbers but not in spirit. Marches for Science were held all around the US and around the world with hundreds of thousands in attendance. This coming week brings a Week of Action, leading up to the People's March for Climate, Jobs and Justice in Washington D.C. on April 29. I encourage you to take part in as many activities you can this week and to invite your friends to join you. Together, we can make an impact by sticking to the facts and by using science for the common good, not evil.
Take a stand for science today and put superstition behind you. A more compassionate, safer, and healthier world awaits us. To quote a sign and popular meme: "There is no planet B." In other words, this is the only Earth we got. Let's keep it intact by sticking with the facts.
Here's a video compilation of March for Science-Earth Day 2017 events from Washington DC: https://youtu.be/S4i2N42TVRo
From the official March for Science web site about the Week of Action:
What an incredible day – thank you. Together, we showed the world that science matters. We sent an important message to our leaders: we will not sit still and let science be attacked. We know that science and its role in our lives is important. Because of you, they know, too.
Here's the good news: our movement is just starting. We want to tap into the incredible success of this event to continue defending science, with your help.
The March is just the beginning. Join the movement.
In the week following the March for Science (April 23-29), we will promote daily actions that serve our mission for supporters around the world to engage in together. This Week of Action will continue the momentum from the march and promote sustained, coordinated science advocacy.
The Week of Action is just one more step toward building a global movement that champions science for the common good. We will grow the network of local chapters around the world and partnering organizations, providing tools and sharing resources, and encouraging science and civic literacy outreach efforts.
We will also give you the tools to reach out to your elected officials so you can tell them why you marched for science.
Together, we will #keepmarching to defend and strengthen the role of science in society to better serve all of our communities.
Share the Week of Action.
We heard from a wide range of participants about why they marched for science. Now we want to use these stories to fuel a movement that protects science and its role in society. We know science has improved, and even saved, lives. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we keep marching forward.
Thank you for your support.
-- The March for Science team
The Global Green Gathering
a report by Dr. Jill Stein
I just got back from Belgium, the Netherlands and the Global Greens gathering in Liverpool, England, where nearly 2,000 Greens from over 100 countries came together to learn, connect, and get inspired to build our movement for people, planet and peace over profit!
The good news from Western Europe and Liverpool is that the Green movement is growing worldwide. From recent successes in countries like the Netherlands and Austria, to struggles for real democracy in places like Rwanda, South Korea and Russia, members of the global Green family are in the middle of the action.
And it does feel like a family, because Greens from all over the world share the same values and are eager to help each other succeed in solving the problems we all face and creating the better world we know is possible.
Here are some highlights from my time in Liverpool:
Green successes in the Netherlands and Austria
We were invigorated hearing about the recent success of the Dutch Greens, who nearly quadrupled their seats in parliament in the recent election, and the Austrian Greens, who helped Alexander Van der Bellen defeat the far right to become the first Green President! Both campaigns were strongly pro-refugee and pro-human rights, inspiring young people and members of oppressed communities to vote and stop the racist, xenophobic far right from gaining power.
Global Alliance for Real Democracy and Proportional Representation
Many of the countries where Greens have been most successful, such as Germany, have proportional representation voting systems. (For example, a party that gets 15% of the vote gets 15% of seats in parliament). But others are still struggling with the obsolete first-past-the-post system, including Canada, England, and the US. I took part in a panel discussion on the global fight for real democracy, where we heard from New Zealand Greens about the successful campaign to move from first-past-the-post to proportional representation, and shared ideas about how we can fix our broken voting systems and bring about real democracy.
South Korean Greens oppose US-led nuclear arms race
I heard from South Korean Greens about how the US is installing an unwanted, destabilizing "missile defense" system, based on an agreement with the corrupt, recently impeached South Korean president. This missile defense system, known as THAAD, is widely believed to enable a potential nuclear first strike by the US. THAAD is therefore escalating nuclear tensions between the US and both North Korea and China. Watch our conversation about this nuclear arms race and how we can work together for peace in the Korean peninsula on our Facebook page.
Russian Greens struggle for democracy against official repression
I had a fascinating conversation with Olga Tsepilova, a member of the Green Russia faction of the party Yabloko, one of the only democratic opposition parties in Russia remaining from the 1990s. She told how politicians who oppose the Kremlin are kept out of power by ballot access laws, hostile bureaucracy, and media blackouts, painting a picture not unfamiliar to US Greens. Watch our conversation about the Russian Greens’ valiant struggle for democracy on our Facebook page.
Rwandan Greens challenge dictatorship in the heart of Africa
One of the most amazing stories I heard was that of Dr. Frank Habineza, who worked for years to register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, now the country’s only opposition party. Even after their vice presidential candidate was brutally assassinated in the last election, he is running for President this year to give a choice to Rwandans who don’t support the current president, who has been in power since the 1990s. Watch our conversation about the Rwandan Greens’ courageous stand for democracy on our Facebook page.
These are just a few highlights from what was a truly inspiring gathering of Green family from across the globe. One thing was clear: for a better world to be possible, a better US is necessary. I left the Global Greens gathering more committed than ever to building an America, and a world, that works for all of us.
Bringing the fight for voting justice to federal court
From the beginning of the recount effort, we made it clear that we were committed to ensuring the integrity of the election. Our goal was not to change the outcome or to help any one candidate, but simply to verify that the official results matched the will of the voters. In that spirit, we are continuing the fight for voting justice in federal court, challenging the unfairness of Pennsylvania’s election system as a whole.
Pennsylvania’s system forces voters to use unreliable machines that frequently fail and which leave no paper trail of the vote - making it impossible to hold the system accountable to a standard of accuracy and honesty. The system also prevents voters from taking meaningful action to ensure that their votes are counted. This is simply not fair. We have not only a right to vote, but a right to have our votes counted.
For these reasons, we continuing the litigation original begun during the recount on behalf of voters who swear that they were disenfranchised in this year’s election by the state of Pennsylvania. See our latest brief here.
The political establishment doesn’t want anyone to raise the question of whether our election system is fair. But that has never deterred us before, and it won’t stop us now.
We are proud of the campaign that we ran. We are proud of the recount demands that we made. And we are proud to continue the fight for voting justice in federal court.
It’s in our hands,
Jill SteinAt the end of the day, I think we all understand why science matters--it matters for those who come after us.
Protect our future by supporting the scientists who work hard to make tomorrow a better place for all of us. After all, you can't live and grow on "alternative facts" and expect to be healthy, can you?