Why we’re marching for science on Saturday

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In a war against science, Miami is the first casualty.

Here we sit, breathtakingly beautiful, at the end of a peninsula of karst limestone, atop the Biscayne aquifer, surrounded by water. With our natural wonders and resources, we’re pretty much paradise, and we’ve got massive tourism, real estate and agricultural industries to show for it. In other words, we’re one of the most expensive catastrophes waiting to happen.

As the existential threats posed by climate change and sea level rise loom large, the risks Miami-Dade County faces from an administration unwilling to accept scientific consensus are immediate and devastating. We must resist every step of the way or we stand to lose everything. That’s why scientists, researchers, educators and anybody who cares about facts and reality are coming together on Saturday to March for Science in Miami.

Science isn’t a partisan issue – it’s a process of questioning, testing and understanding the world around us. When they try to suppress it, what they’re really trying to suppress is information. Knowledge is our most powerful tool, which is why scientific research must continue to be publicly funded and openly communicated.

When people are well-informed about a natural wonder like the Everglades, they place a higher value on it, they’re more willing to take steps to restore and preserve it and they’re more likely to make decisions that take into account causes, circumstances and consequences.

[infobox_default_shortcode title=”March for Science Miami” text=”Our local march is happening Saturday, April 22. It begins with a rally at 11 a.m. at Museum Park (1075 Biscayne Boulevard) and culminates with a science expo at Stephen P. Clark Government Center (111 N.W. 1st Street) from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. More info at sciencemarchmiami.org.” img=”” color=”71, 105, 142, 0.1″]

In Miami, the consequence of ignorance could be the accelerated end of our way of life.

Miami is the most at-risk city in the country in terms of the overall costs of damage from flooding, according to a study by the World Bank and OECD. As sea levels continue to rise at an increasing rate, we’re faced with the prospect of sea water coming in from our coasts and from underneath as the freshwater in our aquifer is displaced by saltwater. Our most vulnerable communities are already seeing more frequent and pronounced flooding, even on bright, sunny days, not to mention King Tide flooding that fills our streets with corrosive sea water.

Saltwater intrusion and flooding threaten our homes, but it also threatens our food. In Miami-Dade, agriculture produces more than $2.7 billion in economic impact every year, and it’s exceptionally vulnerable to environmental degradation, including increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

Losing the ability to cultivate land that has been farmed for generations won’t just cost Miami-Dade economically, it will destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families living and working in areas like Homestead, the Redland and Florida City. Scientific research on mitigation and adaptation needs to continue not just across the world, but locally, here in Miami-Dade, because our climate and terrain don’t exist anywhere else in this country.

The very uniqueness that makes Miami one-of-a-kind is why we need to fight harder to defend our scientific independence and natural resources. Comprising over two-thirds of Miami-Dade County, protected natural lands are another of our most precious ecological assets. With Everglades National Park and Florida Bay to the west and south, and Biscayne National Park to the east, the consequences of having an administration that would not only gut our national parks system but eliminate regulations that protect our land, air and water are devastating. A lack of knowledge from the public and policymakers means we will continue poisoning the very ecosystems that sustain us.

An attack on science is an attack on education, information and truth. The only thing that will help us survive is science. We need research that gives us the technological knowledge and foresight to allow to allow us to continue existing on this planet as a species.

The beauty of science is that while interpretations may change, data points don’t. They’re objective representations of reality gathered through the scientific process, and they’re true whether you like them or not. When we begin to vilify reality, to vilify science, to vilify truth because we don’t like the answers, then we’re ensuring our own destruction.

If we don’t resist, then all of the things that make Miami one of the most amazing places on Earth will be taken from us. If we don’t fight back for our community, then nobody else will.

Original photo via Matthew Hurst here.