When science and politics diverge


Last night, we were treated to a remarkably interesting episode of the ABC’s Q&A. Regardless of whether or not the science episode is part of the ABC legitimising keeping Q&A out of the news department, the episode was an excellent example of the chasm between the genuine scientific issues of our day – and the rhetoric chosen by our leaders.

For example, eminent physicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson and ABC knock-about mathematician Adam Spencer discussed the quest to find basic life in outer space (something they claim we will detect within our generation), as well as the opportunities that will very soon be in our grasp for humanity to explore, utilise, and colonise the solar system, and indeed the universe.

They then spoke about the massive development in knowledge and technology that we are currently undergoing, which will make the social and economic changes that took place through the Industrial Revolution look like child’s play.

Screen shot 2015-08-04 at 5.12.11 PMThese current and soon to be made advances in technology and robotics have the potential to change the world and ‘disrupt’ over 40 per cent of traditional jobs within the next few years. This is a massive issue that we are already starting to face, but about which no one, not even a single politician or political leader is speaking.

But our leaders are speaking about other scientific issues. For example we have President Barack Obama yesterday, stating: “No challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a change in climate.”

Really? Really?

These comments from President Obama come from yesterday’s launch of a new campaign to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power stations, in a last ditch (and rather misguided) attempt to leave something of a legacy. The moral poseurs will be proud – but many will be left shaking their heads, wondering how we allowed ourselves to get sidetracked by global-warming *oops* “climate-change” rhetoric, and ignored other genuine challenges that we are facing, and will face in the next few years to come.

Mr President, it seems the science is way ahead of you. When are you going to face the actual global challenges and opportunities ahead of us, rather than reacting with a misguided knee-jerk desire to take us back to an imagined pre-industrial utopia?

What we are seeing, in last night’s Q&A, and in our mainstream media generally, is the rather dramatic divergence between politics and science.