The Dangers of Ignoring our Scientists

Follow the Leaders – Isaac Cordal

The tobacco industry paved the way for ignoring our scientists. Unable to deny their product was both addictive and harmful, they casted doubt, ridiculing doctors and scientists who spoke out. In1998, they admitted they had lied and paid billions in law suits, miniscule considering their addicted customers and ongoing profits. Now they are casting doubt on the dangers of second hand smoke. Again doctors are speaking up; this time the majority is no longer gullible. Now 34 US states have state-wide 100% smoke-free indoor air laws for worksites and 33 communities in Missouri have enacted comprehensive smoke-free ordinances. Such ordinances result in reduced cigarette sales and healthier communities. Now the cigarette state excise tax median is $1.53, ranging from $4.35 to the lowest rate in the nation, Missouri’s seventeen cents. As for heeding the warnings our doctors, unfortunately Missouri and our local Boonville City Council aren’t pursuing a smoke-free ordinance.

Other industries saw the power of dismissing our scientists and casting doubt. Now documents confirm as early as the seventies the oil industry knew their product was harming our environment.  Initially, politicians across both party lines united, ready to take on this challenge. Not to be bothered, the oil industry chose to cast doubt, bringing all progress to a halt. For years the industry has been bullying the public and politicians. They now fuel doubt with fear, claiming reducing carbons will impede progress.  Sadly, our Environment, once revered and shared by all, has now become a partisan issue. Ignoring our scientist’s warnings, politicians continually attempt to weaken our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and overthrow the environmental laws put in place to protect us, a dangerous practice indeed.

In stark contrast, other countries value and benefit from their scientists. Last year all the world leaders united and developed the Paris Agreement. All agreed, Climate Change is a world-wide problem and ambitious goals and immediate actions are needed to minimize further damage and suffering. Glacier melt, rising oceans and erratic weather patterns make it hard to ignore. Staunch deniers are slowly admitting Climate Change is real but maintain humans aren’t the cause; those scientists have a sinister agenda! If we had simply followed our scientist’s advice over 45 years ago, not only would we have prevented great human suffering and environmental damage world-wide, we would now be thriving with a healthy robust clean renewables economy meeting all our energy needs. Instead we are left with an escalating problem difficult to reverse.

Meanwhile a small Central American nation, Costa Rica, takes the lead generating 99% of their electricity from renewables in 2015; 100% so far this year. These visionaries are clearly on target to meet their goal to be free of fossil fuels in just five years. More reasons to embrace our scientists next week.

Many industries have enjoyed great influence and profits by following the tobacco and oil industries lead. It has now become common practice for many to value industry’s opinions over our scientists.  In the seventies, the chemical, plastic and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) industries all exploded with very little oversight. While our lifespan was increasing due to new medical advances, sadly that is now no longer true. In the 1900s, the top causes of death were pneumonia or flu, tuberculosis and gastrointestinal infections; now 50% of our deaths are due to heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

Scientists and doctors warn us about exposure to thousands of chemicals, cigarettes, GMO products, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and processed foods. Yet when the overwhelming majority requested transparent GMO labeling laws, our Congress chose to cater to the GMO industry, dismissing our scientists and the public majority. Our leaders remain complacent accepting health compromising chemicals and products as a given, favoring treatment research over prevention.

The environmental scientists warn us about our over-consumptive habits. They say we are putting future generations at risk dipping into resources they will sorely need. They cry we are polluting our soils, air, waterways and food with too many chemicals, and plastics. They tell us chemicals are killing our much needed pollinators (Monarch butterflies and bees); soaking our crops, seeds, yards and gardens with dangerous pesticides and herbicides like neonics and glyphosate (e.g. Round Up) are causing great harm. They warn us industry is compromising our aquifers and waterways with sloppy extraction/production, and reoccurring oil/fracking/chemical leaks and spills. They caution us we are generating and improperly disposing a wide array of hazardous waste. Then say ever prevalent toxic Styrofoam is compromising our soil, waterways, and wildlife, and overflowing our landfills.  Scientific warnings are dismissed. Scientists have developed innovative “Zero Waste” strategies, solutions widely ignored in the United States. While industry could eliminate toxins, and financially benefit by reducing and reusing their waste, they don’t bother. As long as industry isn’t held accountable for their waste, they will continue to vie for more lax environmental laws.  Meanwhile, their pollution becomes our problem as the general public.

Fortunately, scientists aren’t only warning us, they continue their research and offer alternatives. To benefit from our scientists – we need to listen and value their opinions. With change comes opportunity. In the same way I trust my doctor, I always choose to believe our scientists.  Out of great reverence for our beautiful Earth, nature and the people around me, I’m glad we have our scientist watch-dogs. If we don’t heed their advice, I fear we and future generations are doomed! It’s time for a revolution!






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