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Fight for Science

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Jamie C. (With some content from a Spirit of Eureka leaflet distributed at March for Science)

Science is important not only because of its obvious technological benefits to humanity, but also because it gives us an ever-deeper understanding of the universe.

Science never upholds theories based on inadequate evidence and unfalsifiable ideas, but rather seeks its truths from facts. Research and experiment give rise to ever better theories, or models, explaining more and more phenomena in the real world. 

A good theory explains more than the facts it was designed to explain. But no theory is sacred: there is always a myriad of scientists trying to show a theory is, at least partially, false. 

Additionally, research papers need evidence-based results and go through a strict peer-review process. Consequently, when there is a large consensus amongst relevant scientists, that consensus should be respected.

Recently, however, the Western world has treated science contemptuously ignoring many a consensus. 

When profits of multinational corporations are threatened, the 98% of consensus scientists are given equal or less time in the billionaire-owned media, than the 2% opposing. In this way, doubt is created, and the short-term interests of the big end of town take precedence over the long-term interests of Jack & Jill Citizen.

Climate Science Research 
Multinational companies & their associations have opposed climate science findings for years, while publicly giving lip-service support. 

A 2012 US Union of Concerned Scientists report noted that General Electric backed six environmental research groups accepting the scientific climate change consensus, whilst funding four organisations questioning it. 

The multinational oil giant, ConocoPhillips said in 2011 that it “recognises” human activity leads to climate change, yet in 2009 argued against the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that heat-trapping greenhouse gases were pollutants endangering public welfare.

The US Chamber of Commerce and the US National Association of Manufacturers have doggedly fought greater environmental regulation. Now the situation is even worse with a climate change denier as US President.

David Suzuki, the well-known Canadian scientist, pointing out that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper cancelled virtually all Canadian research on climate change, put it well: “…the politicians and corporate executives are driven by a totally different set of values, by the drive for profit, for growth, and for power”.

Australia’s plight — business first, science last
Although Turnbull renewed the CSIRO climate science focus — research which once led the world — and reversed some of the more than 1000 sackings of the Abbott era, irreplaceable experts such as the CSIRO’s Dr John Church, an expert in estimating & understanding sea-level rise, have lost their jobs.

As the Climate Science Centre head said, “You can’t cut a third of a climate science group and not suffer some damage to reputation” and agreed that the losses would have a major negative impact on Australian research.

Whilst “crying poor” that it must lower the deficit and leaving hundreds of scientists jobless, the Turnbull administration sings from the multinational hymn book, somehow finding money to reduce taxes for smaller businesses as the first step towards implementing the Business Council of Australia’s goal of an across-the-board business tax reduction to 22%. The Business Council allows only the very largest corporations as members.

“Clean coal” nonsense
The current administration also peddles the anti-scientific “clean coal” theory. Burning coal for electricity emits toxic & carcinogenic substances into our air, water & land. The Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering estimated coal’s health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion per year and the new plants still produce about 80% of the emissions of an equivalent old plant, while renewables such as wind & solar emit zero emissions. Moreover, “clean coal” prevents Australia meeting its obligations to reduce emissions, by 2030, 26-28% below 2005 levels.

What is the answer?
The attitude to science is a class question: the ruling class often ignores science when its short-term profits are at stake whereas genuine respect for science advantages the working class and its allies.

We need to fight for an independent working class agenda including proper respect for scientific conclusions, and work towards an independent and socialist Australia in which evidence-based science research is not at the mercy of imperialist greed.


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