Last night I had the pleasure of live-tweeting during Congressman Rush Holt's "Geek Out Live!" event, an interactive online panel of Congressman Holt and other scientists talking about the economy, the environment, education, and other issues facing our nation. And my biggest takeaways from that event were these:
- Rush Holt has some solid ideas regarding climate change and banking accountability that people should pay attention to -- check out the video of the event here -- and
- he made a great point when he said that "in today's politics, we must... oppose the impassioned minority who deny reality."
I couldn't agree more.
It's not often that people associate science with governance, or think to elect a scientist by trade to the Senate. But the logical thinking and reasoned responses that Congressman Holt gave were not only thought-provoking, but pragmatic, sensible, and inspiring. This scientific thinking has clearly served Holt well in the Congress, but it could serve the country even better in the Senate.
If those in power were able to think a little more scientifically, to set aside their ideologies and see the evidence before them, I think we would be a lot closer to solving many of this country's problems, like gun violence and climate change.
Holt made a great point on gun violence during the event, saying that if we examined shooting deaths as a public health problem, rather than a gun problem, we would see that over 30,000 people die each year from guns. But instead of discussing the human costs of this violence, lobbyists and politicians are arguing over rights and the Constitution. Yes, we have the right to bear arms, but as many gun violence prevention advocates are quick to point out, we also have the right to live without the fear of being shot. We are consistently more concerned with the rights of gun owners than the rights of gun victims, consistently too afraid of taking away someone's God-given rights to own an AK-47, than concerned with preventing tragedies from occurring.
Another area where we seem to be refusing to look at evidence is with regards to climate change. Anyone looking at the facts would know that climates around the world are changing, that peoples' energy habits and lifestyles are contributing to this climate change, and the results of that climate change are devastating -- Holt used the example of Super Storm Sandy, a storm that hit his state of New Jersey particularly hard, to prove that climate change is real and has devastating and expensive consequences. And yet there are still powerful people who doubt that people contribute to this change -- or that it exists at all.
It seems that in the last decade, the "impassioned minority" has collectively risen up and gotten louder, throwing facts to the roadside and bulldozing anyone who doesn't agree. Whether the topic is women's health, voting rights, gun violence, climate change, education, or banking, past evidence -- "experiments" in scientific context -- and research and evidence don't matter. And it's hurting us as a nation. If we had more people thinking things through the way Congressman Holt explains, we might be closer to solving many of the ills facing us.