Year in review: Sci+Tech

Scientific Skepticism

This year saw two articles highlighting the vital importance of scientific literacy. Lack of scientific knowledge may sometimes lay dormant, but other times, it pops up to rear its ugly head. “Many scientific and technological breakthroughs which altered our perception of the world have had to go through obstacles and time to be commonly accepted”, as stated in the article “threatening the future of science” by Cédric Parages (March 27, 2017). It goes on to discuss how even though it was demonstrated that the Earth was known to not be flat as early as 600 B.C., to this day there are still individuals and organizations that deny this claim. Whether we choose to wholeheartedly acknowledge it or not, the climate is in fact rapidly changing, and we are in for the ride.

Thinking about scientific skepticism as a whole reminds me of the famous quote “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win”. In particular, the anti-vaccine movement has gathered some steam as of late, which is quite worrying, especially given the concept of heart immunity as discussed in “A dose of nonsense” from February 6 2017 written by Lindsay Burns. Our only way out of this mess is to continue educating everyone on the necessity of vaccination.

By: Igor Zlobine

Climate change is certainly one of the biggest problems in the 21st century

Over the course of this year the effects of climate change has been undeniable. As discussed in the article “Climate change on the grid” from October 3rd by Louis Warnock electricity production is tightly linked to our overall greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately one third of emissions in the U.S. in 2014. “Micheal Mann, a leading figure in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested earlier this year that a global warming of 2 degrees celcius could be reached as soon as 2036.” The smart grid must be taken into account, and utilized properly if we are to mitigate the project fifty per cent increase in world energy consumption over the coming 25 years.

Furthermore, as discussed in the article “Climate change-induced migration” Cédric Parages, published on April 3, climate change puts those of lower socioeconomic status at the most risk – by 2030, 100 million people might be forced back to living in poverty as a result of climate change. We must realize that this is not some far away future that may never actually come to fruition, as Bangladesh alone is currently attempting to relocate 20 million citizens in response to climate change. We are already undergoing the sixth mass extinction event the Earth has witnessed, and it is up to use to slow it down.

By: Igor Zlobine

This year was marked by setbacks in the fight against climate change. Following Trump’s electoral promise to bring back coal as a major player in the power industry and his resolute stance on gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, environmentalists feared the worst. What could happen on the American continent as a result of modern-day industry backed up by coal can already be seen in China, where decades of coal-reliance had dire consequences (see “China’s air pollution crisis” by Cédric Parages, January 16, 2017). From spikes in infant diseases to zones where the life expectancy is significantly shorter, China had a lot of problems to deal with. Temporary solutions like installing air locks and elaborate air filtration systems in buildings were rapidly put in place in affluent areas, but real salvation should come from the new Chinese energy policy goals, which include injecting 350 billion dollars in clean energy technology by 2020 in an effort to replace coal and reduce air pollution.

By: Marc Cataford