Commentary  Letters: Support Science, #VoteScience

This September, millions of young people worldwide marched at climate strikes protesting government inaction. The message, delivered by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, was clear: “Listen to the science”. Young adults dominated the turnout at these marches and acted as a driving force, with their heads held high and voices calling for change. This generation is connected and passionate about their community, willing to engage with peers on politics, and protest for political change based on science. 

We, as members of  Youthnited Nations, aim to inspire the youth community to engage and bring about changes to their local communities. We ask you to support the #VoteScience campaign by bringing science to the forefront of this year’s federal election and to support evidence-based policymaking. In collaboration with Evidence for Democracy, Science & Policy Exchange and many other scientific communities, we ask of you to build upon this vision for change, and to vote for science in Canada’s upcoming federal election.

The value of science is immeasurable. It drives forward our knowledge of many fields in society including public health, renewable energy, education, and agriculture. Science is at its best impartial, providing an empirical non-partisan assessment of the underpinnings of the challenges that face society. Thus, it is crucial for evidence-based facts to form the foundation for policy design. 

Over 6 million people across the world marched for the climate strikes; we now ask you to elect policymakers that will implement their vision.

Science has acted as a catalyst in many important policies that have propelled changes in society. Policies regarding asbestos, smoking, and ozone layer destruction were made possible only because policymakers across the political spectrum listened and worked together with the scientific community in order to deal with societal problems. We worked together, as neighbours, members of the electorate and public servants shaping policies for a better tomorrow. 

Today, in an age of misinformation, we are in dire need of leaders who will engage with the scientific community and actively support science-based policies. 

Consider the recent anti-vaccination movement. The scientific evidence is well established: vaccination is a seminal achievement in public health. As such, this is a clear case where policymakers must consult with the scientific community to address this problem. Fortunately, policies for mandatory vaccinations have gained momentum. Following numerous outbreaks of preventable diseases in Canada, the United States, and Europe, the provincial government of British Columbia implemented mandatory immunisation records. Moreover, the city of Toronto recently voted to limit exemptions for standard vaccinations within their students’ populations. These policies are clear examples of policymakers actively responding to problems identified by the scientific community.

As evidenced by the recent wave of climate strikes, it is clear that climate change is another key area in which a better collaboration between policymakers and scientists should be promoted. The scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that human activity does contribute to climate change. However, not all political parties recognize the urgency of climate change. Since the People’s Party of Canada actively denies the scientific community’s consensus, Elections Canada proposed considering any discussion about climate change to be a “partisan activity”. Similar policies that disregard the scientific community’s conclusions misrepresent science policy and are an affront to the scientific community. 

On October 21, unite for your beliefs, stand up for science, and vote in support of evidence-based policies. 

By co-signing to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Canadian Government pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, yet Environment and Climate Change Canada’s own report estimates that its current policies will only achieve 19% at best. This is not enough. The science is sound: disastrous consequences will result from our inability to maintain global temperatures below a 1.5 degree Celsius increase. Over 6 million people across the world marched for the climate strikes; we now ask you to elect policymakers that will implement their vision.

Greta Thunberg’s words were clear, simple and decisive: “Listen to the science, act on the science”.

The youth of today are often perceived as politically apathetic.  However, the recent global climate strikes and increasing youth voter turnout since 2011 clearly demonstrate the contrary. We believe that our generation of youth is actively involved and passionate about building a better world for both current and future generations. Increasingly, young people demonstrate that they are amply informed and should be seen as able to influence policy. We cannot afford to fail in our duty to be engaged in the political sphere.

On September 27, 2019, Greta Thunberg rallied a crowd of 500,000 climate change activists in Montreal and said: “If the people in power won’t take their responsibility, then we will. It should not be up to us, but somebody needs to do it.” 

Connect and engage with your MPs. Email, tweet and call them. Ask about their views on science and for their opinions on issues that are important to you. On October 21, unite for your beliefs, stand up for science, and vote in support of evidence-based policies.