A quotation attributed to Winston Churchill, “A well educated population is the cornerstone of democracy,” was Churchill’s praise for America’s universal education system that Republicans are attempting to bring to a whimpering end. It is in Republicans’ paymasters’ best interest to keep the public ignorant regarding science, because if their sycophants ever understood why science is so important to the nation’s well-being, they would lose a major share of their supporters; especially conservative Christians. Science has been under assault from the religious right because it disproves the mythos inherent in ancient Bronze Age understanding of the world, and to indoctrinate the next generation of Americans into believing fantasy over science, religious groups and Republicans are on a campaign to bring an end to science to advance religion and oil industry profits.
A couple of weeks ago a parent of a student enrolled in a Christian private school was shocked and appalled that his child was being taught creationist dogma as science. The image of the child’s 4th grade science quiz is not a joke, but it is typical of science instruction at private religious schools all over America, and unfortunately, it is being taught in public schools in Republican-controlled states such as Louisiana where Governor Bobby Jindal admitted he was thumbing his nose at the Constitution in pursuit of inculcating ancient fairy tales to public school children in lieu of science. Republican attacks on science have nothing whatsoever to do with religion or religious freedom, but to advance the interests of the dirty energy industry that is wholly responsible for the dangerous climate change that jeopardizes the world’s population.
The latest assault on science in Congress is courtesy of Lamar Smith (R-TX), who proposes ending what Republicans call “frivolous and wasteful research” in what may be the worst attack on the National Science Foundation (NSF) in history. Smith is the new chair of the House of Representatives science committee, and his legislation replaces scientific peer review at the NSF with funding criteria chosen by conservative Christians in Congress, and to guarantee that every other federal science agency is beholden to money-changers in Congress, it will set in motion a process requiring all federal science research to follow suit. If Smith’s bill becomes law, then it will be climate science deniers on big oil’s payroll who decide what scientists are allowed to research; not the scientific community. Smith’s bill is bad news for American scientific research to be sure, but it is horrible news for any chance America will ever address or take steps to combat global climate change and will provide anti-environmental groups like Koch Industries and fossil fuel advocates cover to continue pouring dangerous chemicals into the air that reached record levels last week.
Over the past few years, scientists and environmentalists gave particularly close attention to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and late last week a monitoring station in Hawaii discovered that the daily mean concentration reached a level that is higher than at any time in human history at 400 parts per million according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere, and the 400 ppm threshold is 50 ppm over what climate scientists have designated the safe zone for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. It is noteworthy that it was not the bible, or young-Earth creationists, who noted that the dirty energy industry helped exceed the “safe zone” to avoid deleterious damage of climate change, but then again there is no mention of carbon dioxide destroying the atmosphere in the bible, so the creationist crowd and energy industry has no interest in the dangerous milestone.
The president of the American Meteorological Society, J. Marshall Shepherd, who is also a scientist, said that within the next year climate scientists will “see 400 ppm consistently, and that avoiding the future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in greenhouse gases.” It is not the kind of news Republicans’ in the employ of the energy industry want to hear, because nearly every scientist, environmentalist, and climate-conscious policymaker in the world agree it will require, at a minimum, slashing fossil fuel use, and in the meantime, taking bold steps to adapt for a world with higher temperatures, higher seas, and more extreme weather. Already climate change is wreaking havoc on the environment and is costing Americans hundreds-of-billions of dollars in natural disaster reparations that are the result of drought conditions, flooding, devastating wildfires, and extreme weather events across the nation.
The damage from global climate change is immeasurable, and because Republicans and their energy industry masters can no longer deny the Earth is becoming dangerously warm, they deny the cause and their first line of attack is refuting the scientific community’s findings and warnings by pandering to science-deniers clinging to thousands of years old myths and fairy tales. Their advocacy for teaching the next generation of voters that science is found in the Christian bible book of Genesis all but assures them of a well-trained and scientifically retarded voting bloc that is not only suspicious of science, but will reject it out of hand because they were indoctrinated to believe an all-powerful deity handed down “real science” to Moses.
If Republicans and their creationist voting bloc want their children to enter adulthood with an understanding of the world that rivals stone age cave-dwellers, that is their prerogative and more power to them. However, their assault on real science is an existential threat to every American including those who believe tyrannosaurus ate plants with man on the 6th creation day, and adamantly believe their tenure on this Earth is approaching its end because they will be spirited away when Jesus returns in five years. However, for Americans and the rest of humanity, the prospect of a world ravaged by droughts, water and food shortages, and air saturated with poisonous fossil fuel emissions is a clear and present danger that cannot be ignored if they are to survive.
It is possible that some Americans are too ignorant to understand the importance of scientific research that warns and helps combat the dangers of a rapidly warming Earth, but Republicans know all too well the predicament their dirty energy advocacy is creating for Americans. Still, they have made their decision to help big oil and the Koch brothers defame the scientific community and deny the preponderance of evidence that climate change is man-made, and if they can create the next generation of young-Earth anti-science advocates, and control what scientists research now, then they can rest assured that in their pursuit of profits, they helped create a world that neither dinosaurs nor man can exist in.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.