Science is our salvation as a species, but until we can unhinge the heavy door of intransigence we shall remain doomed to the dark abyss of ignorance; we shall remain that sailor, swallowed by the uncontrollable maelstrom raging around us.Oscar scholin, 2019
A world devoid of science is a perpetual night where not even the faintest stars of reason glimmer in the distance. We, in an effort to preserve our fundamental truths, often resist new ideas. While the scientific attitude does include a healthy amount of skepticism to challenge those ideas, curiosity and humility—an openness to new ideas, even if contrary to personal beliefs—are two other integral aspects to approaching science. Thus, the ramifications of people at large as skeptical and intransigent rather than skeptical and receptive are grave: millions of people dismiss science itself as unimportant or uninfluential in their lives. When people discount science, they discount reason and knowledge, and they essentially admit that they cannot and will not look beyond to understand the true nature of the universe. On a larger scale, a world that discounts science plunges itself into the filth of its own vanity and ignorance—a world whose future is as bleak and hopeless as is a sailor’s who, with his head tipped down and his hat covering his eyes, fails to heed the ominous warnings of thunderheads on a warm, lethargic summer afternoon.
Too many of us today are that sailor, caring only for immediate gratification, blind to the frightening storm infringing upon our horizon. The problem is that storm is no longer some obscure mark on the horizon; that storm is hitting the shore, and it will not be long before that storm becomes irreversible. I believe climate change is that storm, and we desperately need to embrace science to best combat the threat; however, scores of people are running away from science because of their inflexibility.
With millions of people already displaced by the effects of climate change, we face a pivotal moment in human history: our actions or inactions directly impact the future of our progeny and our planet. Education is the greatest weapon against ignorance, and companies like 3M can arm people to fight the storm by investing in education. This past October, 3M donated supplies to the I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio, to support the education of underprivileged students. 3M’s aid helps to ensure that those students have the materials necessary to learn and are now are more likely to continue their education and value science more. These companies can also take their support beyond the classroom to ensure a deeper appreciation of science. 3M provided countless hours of mentorship to the all-female robotics team the Robettes, instilling confidence and an appreciation for science through a hands-on approach to learning. 3M and other companies, however, should not limit themselves to solely supporting STEM; they should support the humanities, too, to connect what students are learning in the classroom or the robotics room to the realities of society. Teaching the history of science or the ethics of self-driving cars will provide students with the bigger picture: they will see the connections between their past, present, and future and thus have an even stronger regard for science. They will be better prepared to face climate change.
Science is the driving force of humanity, unlocking the workings of the universe and bringing about discoveries that directly impact our lives. The benefits of science are infinite in capacity, only limited by the human imagination. Science has brought us the lightbulb and penicillin, the Copernican universe and evolution, special relativity and a model of DNA. Science has given us a framework for analyzing how the universe works and our place in it. While science has cured my illnesses and brought the world to my fingertips via the Internet, my greatest benefit from science is how it has changed the way I view the world. I had viewed the sunset colors as enigmatic and mysterious. I now understand that higher frequency light (blue, green) refracts more than lower frequency light (red); because of this bending, green light will appear slightly above the red, producing the momentary “green flash.” Looking at the sunset through the lens of science did not detract from its natural beauty; rather, as I discovered the principles governing something as familiar as a sunset, my appreciation of the spectacle increased in fascination. My experience gives me hope that science can lift the pall of ignorance preventing us from seeing and acting on the storm of climate change.But if humanity is to survive, individuals must first make the connections between science and their own wellbeing. 3M and other companies can act as catalysts for that change through their support of education by bringing science to the masses and showing just how important science is to daily life and to the future longevity of the human race. Science is our salvation as a species, but until we can unhinge the heavy door of intransigence we shall remain doomed to the dark abyss of ignorance; we shall remain that sailor, swallowed by the uncontrollable maelstrom raging around us.
I wrote the above essay for a scholarship competition from 3M on how science has benefited my life, what a world without an appreciation for science is like, and what companies like 3M can do to decrease people’s skepticism about science at a time when we desperately need to embrace it to combat the myriad problems facing us and our planet. I will update this post when I hear the results of the scholarship in mid-January.