I had a conversation with my students today about the “politicization” of science. Specifically, we spoke about the EPA. The current U.S. administration has no respect for science and has made no secret of that fact. Scott Pruitt’s appointment as the head of the EPA is pathetic and would be laughable, if it weren’t so dangerous. The deletion of much of the climate change info from the EPA website is only the tip of the iceberg. EPA scientists getting fired or leaving out of disgust speaks volumes about what’s going on there. Pruitt’s just getting started, too.
If my 12-year old students can see through the lack of integrity and vile agenda of appointing someone like Pruitt to head an agency charged with protecting the environment, surely adults can figure it out, too. Even kids see how money and politics drives so much hypocrisy and corruption. It’s pretty sad that as adults, we can’t protect the next generation from the stupidity of people in power. All Trump has to lose is Mar-a-Lago. All these kids have to lose can’t even be calculated.
There’s little doubt in my mind that I will receive at least one email from a parent, telling me to keep my “liberal agenda” out of the classroom. Never mind that scientists overwhelmingly agree that climate change is being driven primarily by human activity. For people like these parents, science is “good” when it helps create shiny objects like cell phones and flat-screen TVs to distract them from reality. Science is “bad” when it tells them something they don’t want to hear, like the climate is changing, or that not vaccinating their kids is dangerous. These are people who never learned about or experienced terrible diseases like smallpox and polio, or breathed a sigh of relief when vaccines were developed. These are people who will continue to deny whatever they don’t want to believe, regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, most of my students’ parents are more intelligent than these unfortunate souls. I don’t need my own version of the Scopes Monkey Trial, believe me!
Denial is frightening. I wish climate change was a hoax. I’d jump for joy. But I’m not going to lie to my students. I just wish speaking the truth didn’t make me wonder what kind of nasty bullshit is going to wind up in my inbox.