The New Zealand Times reports on the current meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and fears that current anti-science campaigns will destroy the world:
Science is “under siege,” top academics and educators were warned repeatedly at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting as they were urged to better communicate their work to the public.
Scientific solutions are needed to solve global crises — from food and water shortages to environmental destruction — “but the public now does not understand science,” leading US climate change expert and Nasa scientist James Hansen told the meeting.
“We have a planetary emergency, and very few people recognise that.”
The theme of the five-day meeting, attended by some 8,000 scientists from 50 countries, was “Flattening the world: Building a global knowledge society.”
“It’s about persuading people to believe in science, at a time when disturbing numbers don’t,” said meeting co-chair Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University in this western Canadian city.
Rosling, pointing to charts showing how human populations changed with technology and how without science the majority of a family’s children die, said it is naive to think that humanity can easily go backward in history.
“I get angry when I hear people say: ‘In the rainforest people live in ecological balance.’ They don’t. They die in ecological balance,” he said.
Outgoing AAAS president Nina Fedoroff, a renowned expert on life sciences and biotechnology, said a growing anti-science attitude “probably lies in our own psyche.”
“Belief systems, especially when tinged with fear, are not easily dispersed with facts,” she said, noting that in the United States “fewer people ‘believe’ in climate change each year.”