Earth Day, 2017

Of all the seismic changes in our culture that were either wrought by or illuminated by Trump’s ascendancy, the most disheartening to me is the demotion of science and the scientific method to the status of “belief system”.

It never occurred to me until recently that not only was there no universal agreement on the ability of science to clarify details of how the natural world worked, for example, or to settle what used to be called “old wives tales” once and for all, but that those who trusted science to perform these functions might actually be in the minority among their neighbors.

It was always simple to me. If someone asserted that their grandmother taught them that you could bring cold water to a boil faster than hot water, and that their grandmother was a very wise person, rarely wrong in anything she said, and a fabulous cook as well, there was no reason to “believe” it or “disbelieve” it. It wasn’t something that you had to take on faith, as it could be easily settled by science. In your own kitchen. In ten minutes. And without casting aspersions on the grandmother or her abilities as a cook.

It was either true or it wasn’t. Demonstrate it and learn the truth – the actual truth.

There’s a really cool and yet extremely depressing site called Yale Climate Opinion Maps that will provide a nice way for you to spend a few minutes on Earth Day. It allows you to display where people live who believe that climate change is a real thing, or think it’s caused by humans, or whether they think it will affect them directly, and so on. You can display the information by state, county, congressional district (the doorway to madness!), etc. You can mouse-over the results for more detail in each case. Fun.

Here’s a sample, showing where people live, by county, who think global warming is happening (sorry, you have to go to the site itself for the cool mouse-over info and more).


Here’s one showing, by congressional district, the percentage of adults who think CO2 emissions should be regulated.



And here’s one, by state, showing where people trust scientists on this subject.


Another reason to be happy to live in Massachusetts, except that the climate is actually horrible here.

It would be really great if you could somehow convince the people who don’t “believe in” climate change that when virtually every real scientist in the world tells you climate change is real and human-influenced, then that’s all you need to know about it. You don’t need to inject your grandmother’s ideas about it into the mix (unless she’s a climate scientist, that is, in which case we already know what she thinks).

They can also tell you whether cold water boils faster than hot if you’re curious (spoiler alert: cold water takes longer to boil than hot, of course).

Anyway, from all of us here at GOML, we wish you and yours a Happy Earth Day, and we hope there are many, many more. Or, to be more realistic, at least a few more.


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