Do facts matter? Can objective reality be rebuked?
I’m stunned these questions need to be addressed. But these are the times in which we find ourselves.
History bears out in horrifying clarity what happens when facts are subsumed to fictions and objective reality is ignored.
Between 20 and 43 million people starved to death in China in the early 1960s when millions of farmers were pulled off the land to work in steel mills in the midst of a crippling drought. The reality that tens of millions of people would need to eat during what amounted to a famine was ignored by the Chinese government. Chairman Mao proclaimed this delusional plan, “The Great Leap Forward,” a great success. It was forbidden to be referred to as anything else long after the humanitarian catastrophe was over.
Objective reality can only be rebuked at great peril.
You can use any words you want to describe a situation but it doesn’t change the facts or reality.
Today, the environmental catastrophe of climate change is so immense it is believed the Sixth Mass Extinction is already well on its way. Civilization as we know it will likely be a casualty.
Objective observation, not just by scientific researchers, but by the Aleut, Yupik and Inuit natives in the Arctic, the island dwellers of the South Pacific and the Bangladeshis in the Ganges River delta, confirm the dire situation we face. They see it with their own eyes every day. The impact imperils their livelihoods and their entire ways of life.
Joining the chorus of scientists and regional communities, the business community sees climate change as a recipe for economic collapse. The Business Insider magazine has been raising alarms for over a decade. Economic, humanitarian and environmental catastrophe is racing headlong toward us.
On Jan. 25, the Trump administration issued a gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, the Untied States Department of Agriculture, and the Interior Department, and other federal agencies. Funding for grants and programs already underway within the EPA, including toxic clean up super funds, was frozen.
The thwarting of the free flow of information among a democratic people is an anathema to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. If corporations are people, as the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United, then certainly agencies are people, protected by the First Amendment to the right of free speech.
Americans need facts to make informed decisions with their buying power, with their votes and with their lifestyle choices. The research done by scientists is an important source for well-thought-out information.
Scientists at these agencies need to continue their pursuit of fact-based knowledge of the complex and every-chasing reality of our environment. They need the freedom and support to discover causes and solutions.
And American businesses can not only succeed but thrive by working with researchers to innovate and invent the products and services that will stem the flow of carbon into our atmosphere and bring it safely back into the earth from which it came.
This moment in human history is too close to the brink to toss facts and reality to wind for the short-sighted and foolish whims of those who embrace magical thinking and make believe.
Now more than ever facts matter.
And reality doesn’t care what we think or believe. It will simply carry on without us.
(Update Jan.30, The Washington Post reports that the administration has lifted the freeze on EPA grants. Some of the original agency orders not to speak to the press or Congress have been eased.)