Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Op-Ed: Let’s Raise The Respect And Understanding Of Science For Everyone

By Harry Campbell, PA Office Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Scientists have failed.  We have failed at something so critical to being human, so necessary in our work and our lives, that when done with skill we are in awe.
We have failed to communicate, to relate, and to make relevant to all the role of science in our lives.
For if we had not failed, then the need for and message of today would be unnecessary.
Simply stated science informs the basic structures of our society.  Our medicine, our technologies, our food—all that and more depend on science.
Today, as populations increase and as demands on our limited resources grow, science is and must play a fundamental role in finding solutions.
I’m a water quality scientist…the work I do largely translates science into action—whether it be regulation, legislation, or restoration.
In Pennsylvania roughly 19,000 miles of our rivers and streams don’t meet scientific standards for quality.  They’re simply too polluted.
The legacy of coal mining, intensive agriculture, and urbanization are the leading factors polluting our streams.  How do we know?  Science.
Agencies like PA DEP, EPA”s Bay Program, SRBC, USGS and others study our waters to to determine their health.
That science and the work to identify science-based solutions to restoring our water is vital not only to the things that live in our streams—but to our economy, our communities, and even our health.  
The majority of Pennsylvanians get their drinking water from surface waters like the Conestoga and Susquehanna.  
Science has shown that for every $1 invested in keeping pollution out of the water through things like trees, especially stream-side trees, and other natural-based solutions, $27 is saved in treatment costs to meet human health standards.
Science has also shown that these same solutions reduce nuisance flooding, help cleanse the air, preserve and return wildlife, and increase property values and farm productivity.  
Without science our waters have—and may yet again—catch fire, be laden with raw sewage, and be choked by algae.  
We have a long way to go to meet the goal established in the 1972 Clean Water Act of fishable and swimmable waters, but without it and the science-based regulations from it, things would be far worse.
But no matter who you are, what you do, or what you care about, the principles of sound science apply to you.
Science is everywhere; Science affects everything and everyone.  
And everyone can and should be a scientist.  All it takes is to differentiate evidence from opinion and fact from emotion.
So if you care about your family, if you care about the future of the country and the world, then you care about science.
Join me in raising the respect and understanding of science among our family, friends, and politicians of all stripes.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here for a copy of CBF-PA’s most recent newsletter.
(Note: These remarks were delivered at the March for Science in Lancaster on April 22 - Earth Day.)
Related Stories:
PA Chesapeake Bay Commission Members Spotlight Need For Clean Water Fund In PA

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