Science is real. This is another line on our neighborhood sign. How did we get to the point where you had to say this? Where people scorn science and believe in conspiracies that are more bizarre than science fiction or fantasy. Science is based on observation and study of the natural world and yet people would rather make up their own worlds and scorn research because they don’t like what they see. They don’t want to face up to inconvenient truths so they deal in and depend on ‘alternative facts’…ie – lies.

I am the son and grandson of college graduates. My grandfather was a chemist, my mom was a botany major, and I was a chemistry major. My father was a civil engineer. We all depend on science. It is the structure of our physical world. Some things are beyond debate. Like the damage that we do to our world constantly. Man-made change is as clear as the smoke that rises up from the car exhaust pipes on a cold day and sickens the air we breathe.

To safeguard our food, our water, and our air, we need regulations that protect us against contaminants that would harm us. Because of food inspections, we can have confidence when we grocery shop. Because of workplace safety rules, we can work securely. Because of regulations requiring wetlands and other protected natural spaces, and national parks and forests, we can still observe a multitude of wildlife species. What would our world be like if we didn’t have forward-thinking conservationists who worked to set aside some of the most beautiful places in nature for future generations to enjoy?

And what would it have been like to live in the days, not so long ago, when bloodletting was considered healthy? When surgery was done without anesthesia? When more military men died from disease and infection than bullets and bombs? What would it have been like to live in a day when most people could not read or write and doctors did not have accurate information on internal organs because human dissection (autopsy) was seen as unholy.

Science is not perfect and it does not solve all problems. Life in society is often messy. But it has enabled us to progress and also to make peace with our world. We don’t have to fight it but rather use science to understand our world and live in connection with it. Science is real.