The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Keep America pro-science

Last week I was listening to the BBC’s “World Report,” which discussed how Americans tend to reject science. When it comes to areas of science like global warming, stem cell research and evolution, a large percentage of Americans refuse to believe the scientific community.

I was particularly disturbed this summer when reading about a report from the Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication. The group polled Americans on whether or not they believed in climate change. What makes this survey unique is that they also asked what percentage of climate scientists believe in climate change.

The result was shocking. Only 13 percent of Americans answered correctly; 97 percent of scientists believe in climate change. To make matters worse, the study found that American citizens are less likely to believe in climate change today than they were five years ago.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that the number of scientists who accept climate change, has risen over the past decade. Even extremely balanced, conservative and apolitical organizations like the National Academy of Sciences have ended up strongly affirming climate change.

I have to say, I was quite embarrassed for America during “World Report.” Why do our citizens reject science? I believe that a substantial portion of the responsibility for this willful ignorance lies with conservative politicians. In an effort to appeal to a conservative Christian voter base, the educated men and women of the GOP take a public stance against the scientific community. With the exception of Jon Huntsman and possibly Mitt Romney (whose views on climate change are decidedly on the fence), none of the other Republican candidates agree with the scientific community that humans are contributing to global warming.

Newt Gingrich in particular has willfully put his head in the sand in order to appeal to his voters. He appeared in an ad with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a campaign against climate change, but promptly backpedaled from his position when he entered the presidential race.

It’s a problem when potential leaders of the world reject science. And I’m not just talking about climate change. Stem cell research has potentially lifesaving effects, we just need to let scientists research. When it comes to “believing” in evolution, we have had 150 years to accept it and the majority of the scientific community has.

But when our leaders publicly reject scientific research and consensus, they not only damage the communication of scientific information, they also hurt the world. If our next president refuses to admit that the earth’s rising temperatures and changing weather patterns are a problem, then there will not be debate on how to address climate change; there won’t be any debate at all.

Our president should be aware of climate change and take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, or at least be aware of the problem. Especially as a visible public figure, our leader can influence education, research and environmental policy.

Regardless of how the election progresses, the Republican party cannot and should not allow itself to become associated with anti-science ideas. Our current trajectory is too dangerous and unsustainable for our nation to reject scientific consensus.

Furthermore, I strongly hope that it is politically untenable to take an active stance against science. I know that there are many economically and socially conservative people on SMU’s campus who are educated enough to see climate change as a very real problem. The Republican Party cannot afford to alienate these educated voters.

By rejecting science, Republican politicians dumb down their party, recklessly misinform the public and set our nation and the world on a dangerous path to obsolescence.

It’s time for America to get on board with the people who know what they are talking about when it comes to science: scientists. Let’s leave the debate about whether or not climate change exists behind, and debate how to address it instead.

Paul is the Opinion Editor. He is a junior majoring in voice performance. 

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