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Dear Science Marchers: Are You Actually Promoting Science?

The March For Science protesters sadly got caught up in the latest, trendy anti-Trump protest gig. Though nominally nonpartisan under the hashtag #NoSidesInScience, Brittney McNamara at TeenVogue correctly identifies these Earth Day marchers as merely anti-Trumpers (though I disagree with her that they are “woke,”– more like well-meaning, slumbering bubble-dwellers).

Yale University professor Dan Kahan, an elite, self-identified bubble-dweller, found that Tea Partiers, i.e. many people in President Trump’s core base, are actually more scientifically literate than non-Tea Partiers! Kahan has the intellectual honesty to confess:

As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.  All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the “paper” (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).  

I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments–all very negative– of what I understand the “Tea Party movement” to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.

Despite the praiseworthy goal of protecting our environment, these March For Science protesters are denying the scientific and economic outcomes around what happens when government tries to force “green” policy that backfires, for example in Germany, and actually causes emissions to increase. Poor and middle income families get hurt by carbon taxes and other “green policies” because they spend more of their household budget on energy than rich families.

Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry has an insightful post on18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970.” Perry also points out some inconvenient truths that those March For Science protesters seem to be ignoring:

1. From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Annual Report for 2016, we’re actually in the longest major hurricane drought in US history of 11 years (and counting): The last major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) to make landfall in the US was Wilma on October 24, 2005. This major hurricane drought [of more than 11 years] surpassed the previous record of eight years from 1861-1868 when no major hurricane struck the coast of the United States. On average, a major hurricane makes landfall in the U.S. about once every three years.

2. The frequency of hurricanes in the US has been declining … In the seven years between 2010 and 2016, there were only eight hurricanes (all Category 1 and 2), which is the lowest number of hurricanes during the first seven years of any decade in the history of NOAA’s data back to 1850. It’s also far lower than the previous low of 14 hurricanes during the period from 1900 to 1906.

3. What you probably won’t hear about from the Earth Day supporters is the amazing “decarbonization” of the United States over the last decade or so …. even as CO2 emissions from energy consumption have been rising throughout most of the rest of the world. Energy-related carbon emissions in the US have been falling since the 2007 peak, and were at their lowest level last year in nearly a quarter century, going back to 1992. And the environmentalists and the “Earth Day” movement really had very little to do with this amazing “greening” of America. Rather, it’s mostly because of hydraulic fracturing and the increasing substitution of natural gas for coal as a fuel source for electric power, see related CD post here.

First it was the Women’s March, which was supposed to be about inclusion but sadly wasn’t. Same with the Day Without A Woman strikers–e.g. marchers bent on A Day Without Pro-Life Women Among Them. The March For Science was next in this latest fad, a true life version of the tone deaf Pepsi ad flop. While one-sided protests make for killer/epic/stylish Insta photos, sadly they keep driving a wedge in our cultural fabric. America deserves better!

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