Editor’s Note: The Lake Geneva Regional News presents “Party Lines,” a monthly discussion of political issues featuring side-by-side guest columnists from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The column below represents one side of this month’s discussion. Click here for the other side.
The Earth is flat. Is this statement real science or fake news?
Science has demonstrated that this idea is not real science. Eratosthanes, a Greek living before the birth of Christ, accurately calculated the circumference of the Earth by assuming the Earth was a sphere.
But man fell into what is known as the Dark Ages and believed in magic — the fake news of the time. Even today, you can find internet sites that support a flat Earth concept. The Flat Earth Society has many followers and sound very scientific. But to the scientific world, a flat Earth sounds absurd.
Does man have an impact on climate change? Science has weighed in on this question, and the overwhelming answer is yes.
Science is a process. Man has developed an understanding of nature by using a process called the scientific method. It is driven by man’s unique curiosity and desire to solve problems. It formulates laws which state how nature behaves. It develops theories which are the best explanation for why nature behaves as it does.
Science doesn’t care what you believe. It is based on facts — ideas tested over and over by many other scientists. It is honed by a process called peer review. Science is tough on an idea and requires discipline to make sure it is the best explanation for the way nature behaves.
Are we returning to the Dark Ages? Science deniers are dominating society, and they seem to control the media. The internet allows even the craziest conspiracy a forum that has little peer review. There are sites that support the flat Earth idea, and Facebook is loaded with posts supporting the idea that the Earth is flat.
The same is true with the issue of man’s impact on climate change; fake science abounds on the internet. Just because it is found on the internet doesn’t make it true. It lacks the critical element of peer review.
We have leaders who deny the existence of climate change and prevent the exchange and testing of ideas. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker ordered DNR scientists not to use the term “climate change.” Our current president is doing the same to scientists at the federal level. He also “loves his uneducated supporters.” He continues to attack climate change and calls it a Chinese hoax. The fossil-fuel corporations pour billions of dollars on ad campaigns that cast doubt on the existence of climate change. Ironically, Exxon scientists noted that man is causing climate change in the 1980s.
Funding for pure science research is evaporating, and we now rely on the private sector to fund most of our scientific endeavors. Most of the federal science research dollars goes to Pentagon to develop weapons of mass destruction. Ironically, Pentagon dollars funded a project to predict the impact of climate change on military bases near the oceans. Even the Pentagon found climate change a credible threat.
We lack the scientific leadership that was demonstrated by President Kennedy. He set a goal on getting to the moon in 10 years. Money was allocated to support science education. The National Science Foundation (NSF) paid for the science education of teachers. Science programs were developed by scientists, and science books were written with funds from NSF. We taught our citizens to be critical thinkers and how to use science to improve the state of humanity. We did get to the moon, and spin-offs from all the innovations from the space program resulted in a booming economy.
Setting a goal of a green economy would likewise stimulate our economy. It doesn’t really matter if we believe in climate change or not. Ridding our society of fossil fuels can only improve the quality of life. It would improve the quality of our air, water, health, and standard of living. Solar farms are springing up all over the place. We are seeing them provide clean electricity right here in Walworth County along with good-paying jobs.
The transformation to a renewable energy economy is inevitable. Currently, solar is the cheapest way to generate electricity, and we see energy innovation everywhere. What we need is a great science educational system and an accelerated push towards a green economy.
We need a highly scientific literate electorate that can differentiate between real science and fake science. Leaders that depend on their “uneducated supporters” will not lead us to make America great again. They will only lead us back to the Dark Ages.
We need leaders who have a vision of bringing us together to make America the land of opportunity for anyone who has a great idea and is willing to work for it. This ideal is what does make America the great country it is today.
Steven Doelder of the village of Bloomfield is a member of the Walworth County Democratic Party.