Seemingly from the moment I threw myself into my first research project, I have always found a home in science. Home for me is defined as a generous and supportive community, daily questions posed and answers found, and the knowledge that some things are fact. Trust in science is also integral, as it allows for a base of certainty from where we can explore uncertainty. I find that when you accept science, you accept all of the aspects that makes it that welcoming home: the community, questions snd answers, knowledge and fact. So to witness humanity struggle with accepting science because of an uncomfortable truth is both unsettling and angering.

Last week on August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a climate change report detailing the past, present and future of our planet in their Sixth Assessment Report. Compared to past reports, the Sixth is being described as the harshest and most dire of warnings by the IPCC. Of the many statements made in the report, the IPCC clearly stated that the Earth’s climate is warming as a direct result of human’s increased CO2 emissions.

Some statements by the IPCC were not warnings, not even tips for changes needing to be made. Many of the statements that had once been used as potential consequences of climate change were already stated as irreversible. So sea levels will continue to rise, ice sheets will melt and oceans will fill with more water. Now, future consequences look and sound more dire, especially for today’s youth who might have to witness these statements turn to reality: increased variation of the global water cycle bringing more monsoons and irregular heavy rains, more severe dry events, abrupt ocean circulation changes and more could be coming our way. Once a threat, now a scarily true possibility.

One statistic that has always made me curious, however, was reading that 97% of scientists believe in the existence of human-driven climate change. Although this percentage is the overwhelming majority, this still leaves 3% of scientists who therefore do not believe in human-driven climate change despite being involved in STEM. On the other hand, statistics of the general population in America, UK and Australia show that between 5-8% of their population do not believe human-driven climate change, which is an expected increase compared to scientists. But again, this percentage of people amounts to 21.01 to 33.61 million climate change deniers in only three nations. So how has science’s message been so widely ill-received (or not at all)?

As human beings, we are all capable of formulating our own decisions and viewpoints. Many avenues have been created to enhance the number of perspectives one can be exposed to, hence allowing for more diversity in viewpoint to be explored by the general public. Having knowledge about other perspectives makes global citizens. However, many tools used to share information today actually aid in relaying bias towards a single viewpoint. The internet is one such tool: provide key words pointing you to a specific viewpoint, and the search engine will find sources and writing that will give you what you desire. Social media, allowing for communication and connection, also allows for individuals united over similar beliefs to influence one another and others on such platforms. So can we truly be surprised if some claim that their evidence denying climate change was all retrieved and supported through innocent searches of the internet, or through that knowledgeable account on Twitter? The same tools that were designed to create knowledge are actively being put to use to erode and destroy fact.

It’s frustrating as a youth to have to watch the process of climate change being viewed as a political point only supported at rallies without tangible follow-up action. Our livelihoods are at stake, and many are already reeling from climate change’s effects (torrential rains in Japan, Europe’s wildfires). Yet, where is the action? And on top of this absence of action, there are those who believe that evidence accounts for little if it isn’t convenient. So while the direness and blunt reality of climate change is being bore by every youth born into this time, others believe we are above even this reality.

Climate change is just one example of how science always champions action, and how it is sometimes society’s unwillingness towards action or misunderstanding of scientific fact that holds humanity back instead.


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