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Watt's Happening: Every day, all day, we trust science

Science underpins virtually our every action, every day
ErniePluggingIn
Ernie Freeman of Fort St. John plugs in his electric car.

Too much information can be overwhelming, especially climate information. It’s big, it’s global, it’s got charts and graphs and math, it’s affecting everyone and everything… it’s just too much! This can lead to denial, a very human self-defense mechanism that we all fall back on from time to time.

Too much information — “There is so much conflicting info out there, who’s right, who’s wrong?” — has one easy fix: trust the science. Climate scientists around the world agree climate change is real, it has begun, and is quickly getting worse, and human-made carbon emissions from burning fuel are by far the largest drivers of this dramatic change.

And science tells us exactly what to do about it too. Phase out burning fuel as quickly as possible and move to renewable energy (mostly solar, wind, and storage) to replace it. The science says “electrify everything you can, right away” and reap the many benefits of doing so — a cleaner, healthier world for everyone, including all the other species we share this planet with; less expensive energy that is more reliable and more available to everyone; lots of job and business opportunities during the transition … and so much more.

But people still tell me “I don’t trust the science around climate change. I’m not so sure the scientists are right.” (I hear the same thing about Covid-19 and vaccines: “I don’t trust the science.”)

Don’t trust the science, eh?

Well, actually you do

Every day, all day, you trust science, often with your life and the lives of those you love at stake.

You trust science every time you drive your car or fly in an airplane.

You trust science every time you drink water, eat store-bought food, or flush a toilet.

You trust science every time you talk to a doctor or need a hospital.

You trust science every time you take a drug or get a prescription filled.

You trust the science every time you listen to a weather report, use a phone or computer to work, learn, play or communicate, every time you drive over a bridge, use toothpaste, grab a cheeseburger at the drive through…

In spite of not questioning for a second the science that underpins virtually our every action every day, some still question the science behind two of the largest, most bewildering, most complex, most important issues they are likely to face in their lifetimes: the global pandemic and global climate change.

Science helps us understand things. We trust the science every day because it works so very, very well.

But science is not dogmatic. It is not a belief system; it is a fact system that is always evolving, always moving forward. It’s the best thing we’ve got for truth telling, by far.

Feeling overwhelmed with far too much conflicting information or from not enough? Just fall back on the most up-to-date, most widely accepted science.

Not enough

Not enough information is also bad for you. Knowing there is an immense problem but not knowing how to fix it, or the benefits of doing so, can leave us hopeless, discouraged and filled with anxiety. What can I do?

One group is tackling the climate information problem head on: Climate Education Reform BC, a group of secondary students who are leading the Reform to Transform campaign to revolutionize climate change education at all levels.

These students are deeply troubled by what they see, (and don’t see) in the province’s educational system. Their vision is the “effective implementation of climate change education that fully addresses the complexities of this topic and prepares students to fight climate change.”

They ask for the provincial government to commit to treating the climate crisis as a true emergency, to announce this as a public declaration, and then reflect this through rapid changes in the education system.

They ask that climate justice education be mandatory at all grade levels, addressing the fact-based physical climate science, but also climate politics, climate justice and anti-oppression, stewardship and community activism; and practical examples of action and mitigation as real world solutions and opportunities, “addressing climate change as the severe, holistic crisis it is.”

Brilliant! To learn more, check out climateeducationreformbc.ca.

We are in the golden age of information, but getting the balance between too much and not enough is proving to be one of our greatest challenges.


Don Pettit is a community columnist living in Dawson Creek and Executive Director of the Peace Energy Co-operative.