Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Attacks on scientists

I read this article in Physics Today about how scientists are under attack in Europe. Anarchist groups in Europe blame capitalism for all of our problems and scientists are to blame for much of capitalism. Physics Today quotes from an article in Nature written by Leigh Phillips and says, "terrorists argue “that technology, and indeed civilization, is responsible for the world’s ills, and that scientists are the handmaidens of capitalism”.

This is quite ironic when you think about how capitalist groups are also attacking scientists. Climate scientist everywhere are under attack from a very well funded and organized campaign. Some of the groups behind much of this campaign are Koch Industries, Scaife Foundation. The Heartland Institute, a front organization for the fossil fuel industry, also provides funds for this campaign.

So, anarchists on one end of the spectrum blame scientists for capitalism. Extreme capitalists on the other end of the spectrum are blaming scientists for working against their interests. Maybe someone should explain to both of these groups that scientists merely try to figure out how nature works. What people do with that knowledge is a different story and not really our responsibility. Explosives have been used to do terrible things, but they have also been used to do wonderful things. In fact, explosives have been used for good much more than for bad, but there will still be people who think that scientists are somehow at fault for their work that led to the discovery of those explosives.

All of this relates to the climate wars. Scientists are merely trying to figure out what is happening in nature. Nature is not sentient and is not affected by what we know or don't know. What happens will happen whether we understand it, or not. When people try to shut up climate scientists and attack their work all they are doing is increasing ignorance. The climate will continue to change, even without any climate scientists to study it. But, if we all stop, then when the changes to the climate happen there won't be anyone to understand why those changes are occurring.

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