Contributed by Ben Wilson
On Sunday 15 April, protectors of the critical role of science in our lives gathered in eight cities across Australia, to call on the government to support evidence-based decision making, and to support the bringing back of a ministry of science.
It was the second annual March for Science, and this year’s rally featured speeches by a range of experts.
Vivien Thomson is a farmer and a firefighter, and one of the only women to win the Australian Fire Service Medal for distinguished service. She says science underpins all her work, not only on the farm but also fighting fires.
“I’ve never seen fires be so hard and so fast and harder to put out… the climate surrounding our firefighting capacity is really affecting our ability to put those fires out,” she said.
“It’s like the natural phenomenon are on steroids.”
Science based evidence tells us that human activity is resulting in a greenhouse effect that is causing global warming. Vested interests and those who are misled by them, are waging a ceaseless campaign against science to discredit the overwhelming evidence, and this has encouraged a rise in disrespect for science.
Nevertheless, everyone is experiencing the increasing intensity of heatwaves, floods and droughts. These effects are being felt in Australia.
As Australia experiences one of its hottest Aprils on record, demonstrators called on the government to give greater support to scientific research to tackle climate warming.
“The jury is in, its indisputable human impact on the current warming climate and also the jury is in on how quickly we need to act,” said Spencer, Sydney University Ambassador for mathematics and science.
The denigration of science holds back urgent action on the threat of global warming. This is bad enough on its own and underlines the importance of defending it. But it doesn’t stop here. Science and its growth are essential to civilisation. Our standard of living, health and many other important aspects of our lives depend on it.
Science has from time to time been used for purposes that have resulted in negative consequences. But its positive contribution has been overwhelming and changed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in. Our understanding of how nature works, capacity to find solutions to problems is enhanced with it. The application of scientific method, that is relying on observation, testing, drawing up an understanding of what is going on, observing and testing again, on an ever-going cycle, provides the means to new discoveries.
The war against science denies all this and threatens to plunge us into an age of ignorance. Science needs to be defended, and an important part of this is that scientists must be respected.