Two letters on the opinion page of the May 1 edition of the News-Times caught my attention. The first was from a science denier with, at best, a tenuous grip on the fundamentals of Earth science and the misconception that he is ready for a new career as a stand up comic. There is much that we do not understand about how the Earth works. The point of science is to help us understand the world in which we live. Once all the questions have been answered, there will be no need for science. Spoiler alert: all the questions will never be answered, and science will always be needed, not to provide concrete answers, but to establish the facts that allow each of us to draw our own conclusions.
The attempt to tie the poorly understood shifting of Earth’s magnetic poles to “pesky manmade global warming” shows either an appalling lack of understanding or a really poorly developed sense of humor, or more likely both. The announcement this morning that 1 million organisms are being pushed toward extinction by human activity, including global climate change, says all that needs to be said on that topic. As to the obviously tongue-in-cheek reference to blaming Trump, I can only say that we do not need to make up things to blame on science denier in chief. He has enough problems already.
Immediately following Mr. Folkers’ letter was a heartfelt thank you from Sam Case fifth grader Madison Smallwood. Madison thanks political leaders in Newport for their recent decision to take a first small step to reduce the presence of single use plastics in our environment. As a retired teacher of Earth science and oceanography, I am encouraged by the fact that young people are seeking to take charge of their own lives, and to make their feelings known.
So we arrive at one of those opportunities to draw our own conclusions. Who are we going to support? Either you accept the facts (not conclusions) or you don’t. The ball is in your court.