People yelling over each other, name-calling one another, and tossing a snowball may seem like a normal day at school. This is exactly why it’s so startling to learn that this isn’t a playground being discussed but rather is the United States Congress. I oftentimes wonder how the more mature politicians deal with this type of behavior. More disturbing than the actions though are the profoundly dense views that certain politicians are too stubborn to let go of, especially those that stand in stark contrast to modern science.
Whether it be the belief that the female body can shut down in cases of “legitimate rape” to an elected official stating he had personally seen cases of children being vaccinated leading to “profound mental disorders”, these views are not only empirically unsound, they are profoundly dangerous to the well-being of the general public. They foster notions of varying degrees of the “legitimacy” of rape and further the misconception of links between certain vaccinations and mental disorders, something that has been shown to be false time after time after time again.
Based on the numerous times that elected leaders have failed to represent a scientifically literate public, it shouldn’t come as a grand surprise that many members of Congress are not too keen on the concern over climate change, something that is quite soundly based on empirical evidence.
I, along with many others, have remained critical of President Obama for not taking a more resolute stance on many of the statements that these politicians were making and getting away with. While there were policy changes in the making, one moment early in 2015 defied this silence on the issue. During the State of the Union Address this year, President Obama said that there was no “greater threat to future generations than climate change”. This should have clued the public into the fact that Obama had broken his silence and directed attention to when the Pentagon stated in a recent report that climate change threatens national security.
As the planet heated up, so did President Obama. Known for his relaxed and cool demeanor, even when dealing with the most dense of human beings, Obama let the heat get to him in a perfectly orchestrated moment during this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. President Obama utilized this ideal opportunity to let his spirits fly as he delivered another calm speech, this time with “Luther, President Obama’s anger translator” by his side. Providing comic relief, Luther “translated” or more aptly, expressed, the president’s feelings after talking about each topic. This all changed when he began to reach the end of his speech and began to talk about the climate change deniers. At this point, Luther stared at the president with wide eyes, backing away as the president began, “What kind of stupid, shortsighted, irresponsible, bull—“, at which point Luther cut him off. Obama collected himself as the audience erupted in cheers.
While the delivery may have been in a comedic atmosphere, the topic is one that Obama was serious about. There was to be no more beating around the bush. This is what led to President Obama sitting in to talk with Bill Nye the Science Guy and state, “When you’re making decisions around important issues, make sure that you take science seriously.” On those climate change deniers that state that they aren’t scientists but still deny global warming, Obama bluntly said, “I’m not a scientist either, but I know a lot of scientists. I have the capacity to understand science, to look at facts and base my conclusions on evidence.”
It is the task of our generation to take a step back and decide what types of things ought to shift our views. We must adopt the humbleness of scientists in that we too ought to be willing to change our conclusions if the evidence provides us with a compelling enough reason for doing so. We cannot remain subjugated to foundationally unsound belief systems or proudly hide behind the guise of ignorance. We need to take a stance, so our generation and the generations to come will have a shot at actually changing the world. We must push into a progressive society that will shake its head at Senator James Inhofe throwing a snowball to disprove global warming just as we would dismiss an ignoramus for holding a ruler to the ground and proudly declaring that the Earth can’t possibly be round. It’s time for our generation to be that change we heard of. As the president said, it’s time to for us to grow up and cut all the bullshit.
This article was written by Amar Ojha, founder and writer at dusk magazine.