Science is Personal?
David Titly is a retired Rear Admiral for the Navy and founder of the Center for Weather and Climate Rise at Penn State and also holds a PhD in meteorology. In a recent interview when asked,
“President Trump’s proposal to increase Defense Department spending by $54 billion is to be funded by making equivalent cuts across the rest of government. That includes significant cuts in science research and climate programs. As a 32-year veteran of the Navy, what does this approach tell you?”
He replied (in part):
“The budget as proposed by the president is absolutely devoid of looking into the future. Cutting future satellites, cutting research that will shed light on what our future condition will be. The only thing that will change is our ability to anticipate. It’s not clear that there is even the slightest flicker of intellectual or scientific curiosity at the highest levels of government. It’s like that light just got snuffed out.” (National Geographic article, December 18, 2017)
But you may say you don’t believe what is called climate change is anything more than nature doing what it does by going through natural cyclical changes. This is said despite the fact that 90% of scientists worldwide are convinced that unless addressed now and addressed aggressively, what we are experiencing in the rapid changes in our climate will have grave consequence for all our futures.
Let’s bring these proposed cuts to the funding for scientific research a little closer to home – my home. My Father spent the last 10 years of his life living with the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually he didn’t know any of us – even his own dear wife. Perhaps you too know of someone who is experiencing these same changes in their memories and personalities. Are you quite prepared for this President, or indeed any President, to sign a bill supporting huge cuts to scientific research with the understanding that funding into the cause and possible cure or prevention of Alzheimer’s will be part of those cuts? Are you ready to let the funding for research into the cancer that your neighbor’s little girl is suffering from be cut due to the fact that, “It’s not clear that there is even the slightest flicker of intellectual or scientific curiosity at the highest levels of government” ?
In thinking about these things I’m not asking myself whether I’m an Independent, Conservative, Liberal, or Libertarian, but whether it is my responsibility to ascertain whether my concern about issues (or lack thereof) is solely for myself and what works for me, or if there perhaps is room in my deliberations to consider if I am truly meant to be my brother’s keeper. And if I am, how might that effect the view that I take to issues as important as these?