Sunday, March 3, 2024

We need the expertise of scientists

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

The current global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to witness the ability of scientists to design and deploy different technologies in record time to mitigate the devastation caused by the virus, such as creating vaccines that reduce deaths by more than 90%, developing new antiviral treatments, or identifying the best behaviors to adopt to reduce from transmission of infection. Since our managers have also primarily used the results of these developments to guide their decision-making process, we have been able to appreciate the benefits of such an approach. Does this mean that we have learned how to use our scientific or technological discoveries to solve the difficult problems we will have to face in the future?

Certain events of recent days seem to show us that nothing is less certain. Thus, two reports from official and competent organizations recently highlighted flaws in the design of the REM de l’Est project. In its response, this same government, which prides itself on letting science guide its decisions, essentially struggled to insult the authors of the report and smugly encourage them to “return their homework.” Rather than draw inspiration from a comprehensive analysis of needs based on reliable data, we chose to serve up Battle Alley Cats. This government position does not seem to be an exception, in the end it is very similar to those adopted in other files, such as those of the possible third link or tramway in Quebec, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the province’s greenhouse.

In the near future we will have to face an ever-growing list of existential problems: climate change, loss of biodiversity, the emergence of new epidemics either due to the emergence of new pathogens or due to the development of resistance to treatment structures, the regulation of urban living environments … more than ever, We will therefore need the expertise of scientists. Traditionally, the conditions that allow them to best develop their imagination and creativity exist in a space where educational and intellectual freedom takes precedence. While it is conceivable that a democratic system would be best able to foster such conditions, we unfortunately find that science and technology are in fact hostage to those same leaders whom we have democratically elected.

We deserve better from a system in which problem-solving depends more on the whims of today’s politicians than on the results of professional, rational, and reasonable analysis. Churchill said that democracy was a bad system, but that all other options were worse. That shouldn’t stop us from trying to improve it though. Without being able to improve our politicians, we can imagine structures in which decision-making is protected from their excesses.

Let’s see in the video

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