Exit Strategy: Weird Science and a Showing a Little Class


    Here in Colorado, and across the country, we’ve got to get our OCD on to save the planet.

    Back when I was in the first grade, and we hunted wooly mammoths for fun, a few of us got to sit in on the science class with the big kids.

    We made thermometers with straws, water glasses and raspberry Kool-Aid. It was reddest. What seemed like magic at first, as the red liquid climbed up the straw while the water glass was heated, became a satisfying moment of understanding as we learned what chemical and physical actions at play mysteriously pushed the Kool-Aid up the tube.

    There are no unanswered questions about how all this works. The explanation of what heat is, how it increases the volume of liquids and forces it up a tube are at once fabulously complex and easy enough for a first grader to grasp.

    I get it because the explanation is not only easy to prove, but it makes sense when you understand all the moving parts.

    It was at that young age that I understood why and how the scientific method was so satisfying. Like someone who can’t stop checking to see if the door is locked, you can at once be pleased that something in nature makes sense, and you can try keep trying to jiggle the handle, or run the experiment, and get the same, exact results.

    That satisfaction in looking closely, understanding and trying it several times, or reading about how some other fastidious questioner did all that, is what science is all about.

    Disputing the clarity of what things like climate change, vaccination and genetically modified foods is what science tries to battle, and loses. Those who deny climate change or environmental science or light-rail ticket sales believe in what they want, not science.

    It never ceases to shock me.

    There’s no doubt that climate change deniers and dismissers of environmental science line up every day to benefit from science they do believe in: air travel, weather prediction, cancer treatment and elevators that take them to the top of impossibly tall buildings.

    The science that these deniers don’t believe in, however, would have them make financial and convenience sacrifices to keep all of us from becoming extinct. Extinct, as in, everybody’s dead.

    I firmly grasp and appreciate the vast volumes of credible research and analysis that shows, without a doubt, that humans have heated up the atmosphere, and the consequences will be increasingly dangerous. I don’t, however, believe that what we’ve done will end life on Earth — just life as we know it, and more than likely human life. At least dominant human life.

    Greedy, naive, corrupt and just plain stupid deniers, however, aren’t the only ones that pick and choose scientific findings like favorite or disagreeable fruits and vegetables at the market.

    I know many a bleeding heart liberal who either outright defies the unequivocal science behind human vaccination, or has some lingering doubts based on nothing that makes a lick of sense or has a page of credible backing.

    Many of these same fans of science look for the non-GMO label in their Aurora-area grocery stores. Despite the fact — yes fact — that there is no scientific evidence that genetically modified foods are any safer nor any more dangerous for people to eat than non-GMO foods, critics continue to believe what they want, and not what science clearly shows.

    These sins, however, pale in comparison to a new army of conservative soldiers bent on discrediting science in the same way President Donald Trump tries to discredit liars in the press that keep savagely printing the truth.

    Leaders in Congress, and now leaders in key White House jobs, aren’t just placid bureaucrats who get pushed around by politics, these people are armed warriors in the fight against science and reason.

    The U.S. Senate chairman of that institution’s committee on all things environmental is the world’s most vocal climate-change denier, a man who called that issue “the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state.” That’s Oklahoma’s own Sen. James Inhofe. After Republicans won a majority of seats in the upper house of Congress, he started running the show of shows on that committee.

    This is the man who insists there is great controversy in the world over whether climate change is “real.” Repeatedly, the ever-growing body of scientists from all over the universe have said, indeed, stuff is just about to get real.

    Not so, says Sen. Sage. A few years ago — because this has sadly been going on since the end of the Clinton administration — Inhofe provided Congress and the world a list of hundreds of “scientists” who say the whole thing is a conspiracy created by liberals because they want to rule the world. These academic deniers were people like Chris Allen. Allen isn’t a scientist, but he plays one on TV. Kinda. He doesn’t even have any kind of college degree, he’s “Weatherman Chris” for a FOX TV affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And he said the temperatures look pretty much the same to him these days.

    “My biggest argument against putting the primary blame on humans for climate change is that it completely takes God out of the picture,” Weatherman Chris wrote on his TV blog in 2007.

    And there you have it. Who are you going to believe? Inhofe, Weatherman Chris and a band of politicians who don’t believe any of it because, dammit, they just don’t like it, or are you going to believe everyone on the planet with credibility and credentials that has become a chorus of thousands all saying the same thing: Better do something — fast?

    Inhofe is now joined and emboldened by another Oklahoma synaptically-challenged fool: EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Trump’s choice was once attorney general for the great state of affairs in Oklahoma. It’s a place where women’s reproductive rights and gays are as endangered as people trying to duck falling buildings during earthquakes scientifically explained by fracking there. Science, and especially global warming science, is in Oklahoma akin to annoying know-it-alls, like Obama and other creepy academics.

    Pruitt and Inhofe play hard and fast to a group of conservative, cranky Americans who know little about science in general and even less about complex global climatology.

    At the root of it all? We don’t know what in the hell we’re talking about. In study after study, Americans and students fall further and further down the world list of kids who understand math and science. The crap I hear and read on social media and in person would depress even a third-grade science teacher, whose job it is to help us first learn to think and then learn to learn.

    Right now, we’re down there with Chile, Romania and a handful of near-third-world countries that at least have sense enough to trust someone who does know.

    Europe is flying probes to take a close look at comets. The Chinese are headed to Mars. Americans are howling at the moon. Down the road, we must force our kids to take math and science seriously. In the short term, we need to learn to depend on people who really know.

    So who are you going to trust? The guy who invents and builds the stuff you ride, fly  and use to treat your illnesses, or the guy who equates the whole climate science thing to the “Third Reich”?

    Channel your inner OCD science kid, folks. If you can’t logically explain it, prove it and make it pass the smell test, keep looking.

    And looking for the reason the left lane on any Aurora-area highway moves slower than the rest, I’m out of here.

    Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at [email protected] or 303-750-7555.