“Isn't it the responsibility of scientists, if you believe that you have found something that can affect the environment, isn't it your responsibility to do something about it, enough so that action actually takes place?…If not us, who? If not now, when? "
Those are the words of the recently deseased F. Sherwood Rowland (in the picture above), who was one foreground figures in research on chlorofluorocarbons and their effects on the stratospheric ozone. This is one of the most shining examples of human development. 1) Science saw a problem, that the ozone layers are disappearing due to something we produce; 2) the scientists explained to the public and the politicians that we need to do things about this; 3) the pressure from the public led to political changes despite the industry saying things like "there will never be any more refridgerators if you bann these substances"; 4) once the law is passed, the technology quickly evolves, so that refridgerators are constructed more cheaply than before; and, finally, 5) nature heals, and balance is restored. That is the 5-step formula we need to go back to again and again, in relation to problem after problem that we are facing in the next few decades.
However, I think that there is another even more general point to this formula. It is not only the natural scientists who discover things in nature that need to communicate with politicians. The natural scientists also need to knock on the door on economists, who need to develop new economic theories that makes it easier to put the cost where it is at, and that makes more natural incentives for companies and politicians to do the right thing. And they also need to knock on the door of social scientists, who gets into the minds of ordinary people, and political leaders, regarding how to best communicate key scientific insights.
And completely zoomed out, we, the Science collective, need to become responsible for the worldview that we are producing - because it is ultimately this worldview that decides what we do, both as individuals and as a society. In the old days, the church had both the power of creating our worldviews and the power over the politicians that created laws and decisions that reflected this worldview. It was a whole. Perhaps not a benevolent whole, but still a whole. The triangle in the figure below was intact. Somebody was behind the wheels. Perhaps driving to a place that was best for the drivers, and not for the general population. But they were driving somewhere. Now, Science is just a blind machine that produces papers. There is no collective worldview that is being produced, and that everybody feels responsible for, in terms of updating the little part that they are responsible for, in terms of thinking how their little part will effect the whole. This responsibility needs to return. This is one of the reasons why I am doing this worldview series.