Forum, March 21: Science Matters

Monday, March 20, 2017
Science Matters

Understanding science helps us understand the world. Science gives us the tools we need to tackle local and global issues like identifying and curing diseases, developing cleaner ways to produce energy, and feeding a growing population, not to mention a wide variety of everyday experiences.

The Montshire Museum of Science and other science museums around the country have positive impacts on the scientific literacy of the communities we serve. Science museums provide carefully designed spaces that encourage visitors and program participants of all ages to wrestle with challenging concepts and learn about unfamiliar phenomena. In fact, communities that encourage scientific literacy can help spur scientific breakthroughs by nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Organizations like the Montshire provide a critical link between the larger scientific community and the public, and they facilitate meaningful exchanges between scientists and their local communities. The work of these organizations is as important as ever in helping to validate scientific inquiry and the use of scientific processes in decision making.

The Montshire Museum of Science was established in 1976 to nurture an interest in and curiosity about the physical and natural world. From its inception, Montshire’s staff, volunteers and supporters believed that the development of scientific literacy and appreciation should begin in childhood and continue through adulthood. Forty years later, we remain committed to this mission. To awaken and encourage a lifelong interest in science, we strive to spark an interest in how our world works, and then provide opportunities to deepen that understanding.

As you engage with a world in which the importance of facts has been brought into question, we encourage you to embrace science. The problem-solvers of the future will continue to rely on the ability to define key problems, gather evidence, test solutions and communicate their ideas.

Marcos Stafne, Montshire executive director

and associate directors Jennifer Rickards, Greg DeFrancis, Bob Raiselis and Beth Krusi


Who Are the Wise Republicans?

On March 15 (“Trump Crafting Climate Directives,” the Valley News reported that White House Republicans are preparing “a sweeping executive order aimed at reversing (Barack Obama’s) climate policies” — while on the very day of that report, 17 House Republicans were introducing “a resolution that calls for using American innovation to improve environmental stewardship.”

Sponsors asserted that “This resolution brings together the priority of addressing the risks of climate change with the importance of protecting and creating American jobs” (Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y); also, “South Florida residents are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change in their daily lives” (Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.). In another sign of enlightenment, 13 House Republicans are now paired with 13 House Democrats in the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the White House are moving ahead to decimate the EPA and curb its authority; to roll back constraints on coal-burning power plants; and to abandon U.S. leadership in the world community’s shared commitment to slow global warming.

Who are the wise Republicans?

One sign of being wise is respecting evidence-based science: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the Earth’s average surface temperature is up since the late 19th century as a result of increased CO2 and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

Another mark of wisdom is watching the market to anticipate economic change, such as the movement away from fossil fuels toward rising demand for ever-cheaper solar and wind technologies.

A third mark of wisdom is acceptance of our moral obligations to future generations — at home and around the world — who’ll be harmed by increasing planetary warming. And a fourth is simply opening our eyes now — to rising sea levels from the Portsmouth, N.H., coast to the South Pacific, to melting glaciers affecting water supplies, to multiplying extreme weather events, shifting climate zones and other existential indicators.

If wisdom in politics matters, we need to ask ourselves, whatever our party loyalties: Are the wise Republicans those 17 in the House on Capitol Hill or those in the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue?

Bob Schultz


Trump’s Alternative Reality

I recently attended a lecture at the library in Quechee titled “The Bill of Rights in the Current Political Climate,” hosted by Peter Teachout. On the way there, I was reminded of a Talking Heads lyric that should’ve been my high school yearbook quote: “The president’s crazy. Did you hear what I said?”

I was astounded to learn that not only have Republican lawmakers begun to take measures to limit protesting, but that drivers in some states are given immunity if they hit a protester. That’s right; it is now legal to hit pedestrians and claim they were in your way!

Additionally, the Trump administration has acrobatically barred media outlets from news conferences, banned Muslims from countries without calling it an all-out ban, promised the moon and the stars without a telescope, and still gives citizens flak about Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger to deflect the truth. Not to mention taking credit for the length of applause for the widow of a war hero. Quite the feat. All this before the teleprompter has had time to cool off!

What’s next — Kim Jong Un has tea at Mar-a-Lago?

We Americans will not accept ludicrous tweets and policies as our reality.

Stephen Handley Jr.