Science and the Public

I’m not a scientist by learning, or particularly by disposition. However, I believe in evolution, that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health and that global warming is caused by man and is a real and genuine danger to human life in the future if not adequately addressed. The reason I believe those things is because I’ve had access to the work of scientists freely available in the public domain in a free society, read or watched a reasonable amount and then made up my own mind.

There’s a fascinating question that is a very live issue right now. That is the extent to which scientists should become public advocates for a particular perspective. This has become a hot topic as the new American government seeks to gag and sideline scientists who speak out about global warming and climate change.

The viewpoints of the opposing sides, and probably the most appropriate way forward are set out very articulately in this podcast:

ABC Radio – The Science Show – Can a Scientist be a Sentinel?

This is valuable material to share with science students who may never have really have reflected very deeply on the ambiguity, at times, of scientific facts, dogma and the ways in which science gets co-opted to put forward particular views and perspectives by those with an agenda.

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Amazing Potential in Solar Power

I’m always interested to follow the latest things happening that have the potential to stem the devastating impact of climate change and environmental destruction – our legacy to the next generations that will follow us.

So, I was excited to see this short video, though couldn’t help wondering why there hasn’t been more publicity about this;

Solar Roadways – Film

Could it be that some of the cynics posting in the comments sections at the bottom of that page are right – i.e. could this have too much potential to be acceptable to the big industries that rely on fossil fuels for their livelihood? Would they have the will and the power to kill such an idea?

This is one worth tracking over coming months to see what happens. I’m sure many students would be interested to study this idea, to know more about the science behind it and to be part of the creative ideation process as its potential is explored.

350.org Local in Delhi

Here’s a mail i received bringing news of the creation of local presence in Delhi for the 350.org campaign on global warning. There’s an event on 5th June. I can’t attend, but the organisers are happy for me to share the details with all who read this blog. Their only request is that if you plan to attend, please RSVP before hand as they have a limited amount of space.

Dear friend,
On the 5th of May, people across the planet connected the dots between extreme weather and climate change. Climate Impacts Day was highly significant in showing the world what climate change really means, from the richest to the poorest and from different corners of the world, impacts are being witnessed at an alarming rate.
But our work is far from over if we are to address this challenge with the vigor it demands. For this reason, 350 has launched the 350 Local Platform earlier this year. 350 Local aims to provide our top organizers the resources they would need to build the movement beyond the days of action.
In Delhi, 350.org is collaborating with WISER to launch the 350 WISER Delhi local group. The initiative will look at the challenge of India’s development in the context of climate change. The group will be in Delhi and will focus on events, actions, projects and campaigns in the capital city that can transition India towards a clean energy future.

It is designed to connect, facilitate and empower the people within and beyond the 350 & wiser networks. Sounds like what you’re looking for? Then join us for the launch of the 350-Wiser Delhi Local Group.
When: June 5th, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
Where: Moonlighting, 19, Hemkunt Colony, GK I
Guest Speaker: Soumya Dutta from the India Peoples Science Forum
Facebook event group: http://act.350.org/go/1684?t=5&akid=1935.231339.WHk–A
Here is the flow of the event for the evening of June 5th.
6:30 – 6:50 – Introduction to 350.org and WISER
6:50 – 7:40 – Screening of films around climate change, coal and community action
7:40 – 8:00 – A short talk by Mr. Soumya Dutta
8:00 – 8:30 – Local group launch and QnA
8:30 – 9:30 – Snacks and the discussion continues
Given the limited seating capacity, we request you to RSVP to ayesha@350.org, +91-9873944487 or +91-9849016371.
Hoping to see you there on June 5th.
Thanking you.

Environment in Danger

Professor James Lovelock is one of the most important scientists in the arguments about climate, global warming and man’s relationship with the planet.

He was the first person to identify high and growing levels of CFCs in the atmosphere and proposed the Gaia hypothesis which proposes that living and non-living parts of the earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.

Somewhat controversially for the last few years he has suggested that the only solution to man’s power needs is nuclear power. Even then, some of his predictions are truly scary.

Here are some excerpts from a recent interview with BBC. If he’s right, then there’s a lot to think about:

We Can’t Save the Planet

Honest Education

Man is responsible for increased carbon emissions. Increased carbon emissions are warming the planet. The planet warming up is going to be disastrous. Man is heading towards creation of a calamity.

I believe anyone who sells such simplistic understanding of a scientifically complex world, especially as educators working with children is engaging in a deception at least as bad as the fundamentalists in America who demand the teaching of creationism and rejection of evolution.

The fact is that education should not be afraid to open even quite young children up to an understanding that humans are very complex beings living in an infinitely complex world governed by science wherein there are vast realms where we do not have all the answers.

Further, an understanding of science’s past should lead all learners to contemplate on how much they should trust today’s certainties. it is not enough to just enjoy a smug titter over the fact that people once believed the earth was flat or that illness could be eliminated through the letting of blood.

Education is not a ‘sales job’ whereby we tout today’s simplicities and quick recipes as blocks of digestable knowledge, (tested through a simple regurgitation process called exams!) Young learners should be actively encouraged to question anything and everything, building their awareness and skills for how to question and how new possibilities are postulated, researched and affirmed or rejected.

Returning to where i started with global warming here are two fascinating articles from the BBC. The first opens up for the learner many of the complexities of the issue that are so often left out, especially in material written for children. The second article is an editorial piece explaining some of the controversy resulting from the first.

BBC Article 1

BBC Article 2

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