September 23, 2014

A post from the Future

I am writing this from the exotic future envisioned by the science fiction of my childhood. I was awakened to watch men landing and walking on the moon, I had a book called You Will Go to the Moon. Movies and television showed that the future would be an amazing place with flying cars, robots doing all the chores we hated, and white-coated scientists making life better and better.
In other movies, threats to the Earth were discovered by those same white-coated generic Scientists and announced to the United Nations with urgency. Our heroes would discover a scientific solution to keep the disaster at bay as people of earth either panicked or worked to solve the problem. We all built a spaceship, or a spaceray, or some other device to save the earth and our children.
Fast forward to 2014. In the intervening years, we have had some unanticipated changes to the script. Scientists are no longer the white-coated authority figures who are the architects of the rescue, peril, or both of the Earth. Politicians and corporations with other interests have demoted science to "another theory" and elevated religion and expediency up to the same level. For every concern or crisis identified by science we have an "alternative viewpoint" that is given equal gravity and offers soothing reassurance that *all is well*. This is demonstrated every day as crises arise as a result of overpopulation, drought, unprecedented escalations in climate change, fossil fuel depletion, dwindling fresh water supplies, genocide etc.
The reactions to these crises are not urgent meetings of the United Nations with Scientists proposing solutions.
We now have hashtags on twitter. And petitions we can sign during our lunch hour. And lots of well dressed folks wearing white coats over their corporate uniforms reassuring us that science is over-reacting, the crisis is just a theory, and *all is well*
But then, a movie about some crotchety old dame dashing off a grumpy blog post about how science has been devalued and the future ain't what we were promised would be pretty damn boring.