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"Let’s go back to the good old days when we believed our scientists."

Science has saved this country many times. 

 When Germany was using the seemingly unstoppable weapon of the submarine to sink our supply ships during World War II, it was American scientists that were able to miniaturize radar and put it in airplanes and use that radar to hunt submarines.  

The Germans believed this was impossible but it turned the tide of the war in the Atlantic.

American scientists were in a race against German scientists to figure out how to split the atom because they knew it would release huge amounts of energy.  

Our military sabotaged their atomic efforts while our scientific community continued the herculean effort of figuring out how to unleash the power of the atom. 

The United States won that scientific race which made it possible to end World War II without invading Japan.

After the war, Jonas Salk, an American scientist, invented a vaccine for Polio. Prior to the vaccine, approximately 3,000 Americans died of Polio and 21,000 were left with varying degrees of paralysis each year.  Polio was incredibly frightening for American families, but science eradicated that fear.

Yellow Fever nearly kept the United States from building the Panama Canal.  Workers died, as if in war.  Walter Reed was made aware that a doctor in Cuba had discovered that mosquitoes were the cause of Yellow Fever.  

Many could not believe that mosquitoes were the cause of such devastation, but orders were given and an all-out war was waged on mosquitoes in Panama. 

 The building of the Panama Canal actually stopped to focus on extermination of Aedes Aegypti, the Yellow Fever carrier.  The death rates declined precipitously and the canal was completed because we believed in science.

More recently, do you remember the hole in the ozone layer that threatened our atmosphere that keeps us safe from ultra violet rays? 

 In 1987, the countries of the earth banned the chemicals and processes that were destroying the ozone layer.  The earth has been healing itself ever since.  I don’t know what ozone is, or ultra violet rays, or which chemicals were destroying the atmosphere. 

 I remember freon, which is no longer being used.  I trusted our scientists to research and find remedies.  They saved us from a catastrophe.

I am a history teacher so I could go on with these examples for pages. 

 What concerns me is that the United States appears to have turned its back on science.

There were scientists that said you could not split an atom, and scientists that said, mosquitoes could not possibly be the cause of yellow fever and that human activity could not be destroying the ozone layer. 

But when the evidence became a consensus among scientists, we sprang into action and made life saving changes.  We the people did not override the scientists and say, “There is no way to split an atom, quit wasting money on it” or “It can’t be mosquitoes that are killing our workers by the 100’s in Panama, they are so small.”  

We expected the professionals who know more about these things than we do to figure it out and fix it.  The scientists KNOW that global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. 

 We had agreements in the Paris Climate Accord to address these concerns and save the earth. 

   Why would we believe a non-scientist who claims to know that “global warming is not caused by humans?” Not sure exactly when or why the United States began to embrace anti-intellectualism, but to continue being the power we have been, we need to trust our scientists and professionals. 

They know more about this than you and I.

  It does not seem farfetched that if a mosquito could have stopped the building of the Panama Canal, which it nearly did, then humans with vastly superior impact can be destroying the atmosphere that keeps us alive. 

 Let’s go back to the good old days when we believed our scientists.

Barry Smith is a retired history teacher.

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