Wednesday, May 18

Red alert: listen to science!

Science is an activity society service. It is behind each and every one of the technological advances that allow us to enjoy a quality of life unsuspected just a century ago. And not only that: together with the Humanities, they are the source of knowledge that feeds the human spirit, our life breath as a species. Consequently, most people who dedicate themselves to Science do so with a vocation for public service, with the main objective of generating knowledge to put it at the service of society for the benefit of all. For several decades, the scientific community has been warning of the severe environmental impact of anthropogenic origin, generated by our civilizations, which is changing the face of the Earth and threatening our survival. They are alterations that reach an exponential progression due to the lack of forceful actions, something that has brought us to the edge of the precipice. We have run out of time, but the politicians do not seem willing to put the bell on the cat; They continue to navigate lukewarm waters unable to assume their responsibility, immersed as they are in this theater that liberal democracies have become, in which the “political game” is nothing more than the development of short-term electoral tactics. The result of this way of understanding politics materializes in actions that are easy to sell to the public for their immediate positive effects, while far-reaching changes whose implementation is as urgent as it is critical are relegated to the drawer of oblivion. It is true that almost all countries today presume to have an “ecological transformation agenda”, but due to its lukewarmness, they would rather seem like smoke screens, to silence the protests of a sector of society concerned about the magnitude of the threat, than authentic shock plans to get out of a global alert situation.

The conclusions contained in the summary for politicians of the third study of the Sixth Major Assessment Report of the IPCCthe UN Intergovernmental Group of Experts on climate change, are a sweetened and diplomatic version of what needs to be explained to society, so that politicians can continue arguing about whether they are greyhounds or podencos. This has unleashed the indignation of the scientific community, beginning with those who have worked directly on the preparation of a report whose final summary has been decaffeinated by spurious interests to the detriment of the veracity and, above all, of the forcefulness in the proposals that the general public deserves in the face of a problem of this magnitude. The desperation of those who, being fully aware of the drama, are seeing how the pressure of the great lobby it mutes their voice, it has led them to carry out actions that manage to be on the front page of the media to alert society. The international scientific rebellion is an act of responsibility of scientists towards society.

Throwing biodegradable red paint (in fact, beetroot water) at the gates of Congress is not a lack of respect for popular sovereignty, as some journalists and commentators affirmed without deigning to mention the reasons for the act. It is not an act of vandalism either. The paint disappeared with a simple hose, and the demonstrators were in charge of collecting cans and papers so that everything was clean. Vandalism is what we are doing to the planet. That is what the press should denounce, emphasizing precisely the inaction of politicians and other great powers represented in society. With their rebellion, scientists have only shown their commitment to society’s right to be properly informed on a matter of this gravity, risking becoming the object of ridicule by the usual spokesmen, being reduced by the security forces –11 riot control vans were dispatched–, and to receive severe fines. Instead of sharply criticizing an action that was as spectacular as it was innocent and courageous, the fourth power You should reflect on your attitude and your contribution to the disaster. Not only is it not aligning itself with Science with the forcefulness that would be desirable for the benefit of all, but it is also becoming an extraordinarily useful tool for those seeking a empowerment of ignorance for your benefit. It is particularly discouraging that, for some media, the heart of the newswhat the headlines echo, is precisely the paint stain on the face of Congress, without even deigning to mention climate change. Childishness? Blindness? political agenda? For other media the red spot also deserves a prominent place in the headlines, although at least they clarify in the same headline its reason for being: to warn of climate change. It is evident that staining the facade of an institution as important for our democracy as Congress is red has a powerful reason for being, explained by scientists to the media present at the event. Red represents blood, a powerful symbol of the state of tragic emergency in which we find ourselves, a “code red for humanity”, according to the UN secretary general, who reminds us that not acting leads humanity down a suicidal path. How is it possible that a little bit of beet water thrown on a facade and stripped of its symbolism becomes news, relegating the lives of millions of people whose future is compromised by climate change to indifference? Pointing to the finger that the Moon points to in such a critical issue as this, denotes a disheartening lack of respect towards society as a whole.

As long as there is life there is hope, and the scientific community clings to it while pointing the way to politicians. There are technical means to alleviate the situation, which can be implemented in parallel to making the necessary change in the production model. It also emphasizes the need to revalue social justice, the only guarantee that we will all get out of this mess together, as would be expected from the moral being that we believe we are. And pedagogy, pedagogy, pedagogy, because everyone has to understand the reason for the changes that are coming. Scientists are not limited to warning about the problem of climate change: they are also concerned with finding understandable narratives for the whole world and, above all, solutions. You have to listen to them.