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The March for Science is coming up on April 22. This nationwide event on Earth Day has many sister marches, as outlined on the website www.marchforscience.com.

Per the site: “The March for Science is a celebration of science. It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.” My daughter, my friends and I will be marching on April 22. I hope you join me.

A while back, AP Science students at the local high school asked me what the most important thing for them to learn is. I replied: communication. Not only do you have to communicate to your boss, you need to communicate to the people providing funding and, ultimately, to the public.

Bob Bea, the engineer and Cal State Berkeley professor who investigated the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, was bold and brilliant in his assessment of causes.

However, what was more unique is that his results were not just presented in papers and committee hearings. His stories of the human factors contributing to the tragedies made the pages of Men’s Journal, Discover and Rolling Stone, to name a few.

Scientists must follow that model and communicate to a wide audience if research and findings are to have an impact.

Another communication mistake is to allow science to be painted as elitist and different from what people “know on their own.” The best science is cemented by experience.

It is in the field that we get ideas, observe and learn. When planning for a Bike To Work Day many years ago, a city staffer remarked that he didn’t realize Canyon Country was a higher elevation than City Hall. If you ride a bike, you know this.

When hiking in Hart Park in the morning, you can feel the heat on the ridges and the pockets of cool air that persist in the valleys. The situation reverses at night.

A meteorological study I was involved with illustrated how daily temperature changes, wind, and chemical transport are interrelated. That study had lots of historical climate data from regional weather stations, but I already suspected the same thing just from walking the dog.

My husband rolls his eyes when I gleefully predict things in movies, but I almost jumped out of my seat watching the action flick Deepwater Horizon with Mark Wahlberg.

Because of my work with hazardous materials, as soon as I saw the gas seeping out of the vents in one scene I exclaimed, “That’s going to blow up!”

Truly, science and real life intersect, enabling us to ruin even more movies for our family members. Science is not people in lab coats removed from the real world. Science is the real world.

Poet Wendell Berry was interviewed by Bill Moyers in 2013. His encouragement for young activists was as follows: “Don’t get into this with the idea that you’re going to save it and solve all the problems even in your lifetime.

“The important thing to do is to learn all you can about where you are and if you’re going to work there, it becomes even more important to learn everything you can about that place to make common cause with that place and then resigning yourself, becoming patient enough to work with it over a long time.

“And then what you do is increase the possibility that you will make a good example.”

I think in many ways those working in scientific fields need to hear this, too, especially today. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) work is vital to our well-being on so many levels.

Policies and programs for human health, food safety, the environment, sociology, economics, space, oceans, energy, and many other fields are simply guesswork if not informed by data. We must persist and we must communicate.

Today, the world can seem crazy. You can have facts challenged by other facts or, more likely, by #alternativefacts. The worst road we can go down is to discredit and devalue truth, and for that, scientists need to speak up more clearly and more often than ever before.

Complex issues might seem hard to figure out, but that is what scientists live to do. My sign for the March for Science will read something like: “Science: Facts Matter.”

Maria Gutzeit is a chemical engineer, business owner, elected water official and mom living in Santa Clarita.

 

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  • Gil Mertz

    Thank you Maria. A reasonable Democrat. So few left.

    I asked this sincere question some time ago under a similar science subject but no one responded so let me try again. There’s so much controversy and public policy being debated about transgender bills. If this is to be the law, can anyone please explain the science behind transgenderism?

    • charles maurice detallyrand

      You’re really very obsessed with issues of sexuality and gender Gill aren’t you? I mean you’ve posted about these issues regardless of whether or not they’re even tangentially related or not to the subject at hand. But why ask about things for which you already have a set belief? Wasn’t it you who was recently stating it was “an anti science belief” or something like that about those that are transgender and gay? Are you genuinely interested in science and seeking views to broaden your understanding or just looking to confirm your own bias?

      • Gil Mertz

        Nice dodge, Chuck. My question is totally relevant to the writer’s subject about how we should be guided by science and not ideology. Whenever that comes up, I test it against what you leftists are trying to force down everyone’s throats as a matter of public policy. It is your side that has forced abortion on demand, gay marriage, and now transgenderism on our culture. I am only asking that you provide scientific evidence to justify your ideology. When you don’t have a good answer your default position is to just personally attack the one asking the question. My obsession is finding the truth, Chuck. You should try it sometime..

        Now, would you like to try again or will it just be more personal attacks?

        • lois eisenberg

          “Now, would you like to try again or will it just be more personal attacks?”
          Don’t throw rocks at a glass house.”
          Look at yourself in the mirror regarding personal attacks !!!

        • charles maurice detallyrand

          But are you really interested in finding the truth gil? Maybe I’m wrong here but I don’t exactly believe you are interested in any scientific explanations for questions you feel are settled by your faith?

          • Gil Mertz

            So far Charles, you’ve responded with accusations that I am obsessed with sex and that I’m just a closed minded Christian not interested in learning the truth. Gee Chuck, now that you have me completely figured out, want to try a third time to answer my simple question or can I expect just more personal insults?

      • Ron Bischof

        Speaking of obsessions, I’ve noted your predilection for attacking an individual’s character rather than addressing their arguments.

        Are you going to address Gil’s point or not?

  • Gil Mertz

    One other quick thought about Democratic Voices today. Last week Kevin Buck wrote his final column. It was actually a beautifully written farewell. In fact, it was so charming that I had to wonder where that Kevin Buck had been all these years. So far different than the usual dishonest and offensive rhetoric of why he hates anyone who is different from him, especially Republicans. But what I noticed was that after 20 years of columns, he got just one response when he said farewell. Wow, 20 years and no followers of note. Not even his flame throwing comrades at Democratic Voices had anything to post on his behalf.

    My point is that the hyper-partisan bloviating doesn’t win anyone’s hearts or change anyone’s minds, a lesson totally lost on today’s Democratic leaders in Washington. I would encourage Democratic Voices to do less angry venting and write more thought provoking columns like Maria Gutzeit.

    • Gary Bierend

      Buck’s final column was his best, and it was sad that only one person commented. Personally, I won’t miss his particular brand of partisan blather. Apparently, neither will those that agreed with him. I feel sorry for him, I’m sure he expected more of a response than that.

    • lois eisenberg

      BREAKING NEWS
      “A U.S. aircraft carrier that the White House declared a deterrent to North Korea was at the time sailing in the opposite direction”
      Another fabrication by the liar-in-chief and his administration !!
      Facts matter !!
      The angry venting is well founded in disgust for the man who desires to be king
      and continues to liar and rile up the American people in utter fabrications
      of how we stand about the situation in North Korea !!

  • Ron Bischof

    I found your column rational and readable, Maria.

    Regarding the “March for Science”, I’d expand by noting that science is a process that should inform policy but is not a policy itself. Policies are formulated by participating individuals and organizations and they should be based on facts and reason rather than impulse and emotions. Then the respective polities in our Republic evaluate and vote on these policies as communicated and ultimately legislated by our representatives.

    Realizing that humans are involved, rational, reasonable and well-intentioned people may disagree on what the most efficacious and cost effective approaches are to solving problems that are informed by the scientific process. Disparities on policy solutions are therefore not a pro-science/anti-science binary.

    As an engineer, no doubt this expansion isn’t revelatory. For the online readers, I thought it important to illuminate as some are wont to politicize “science”.

    • Maria Gutzeit

      Hi Ron: I hope this reaches you. Thank you for your kind and clarifying words in the Signal. I strongly agree we should not politicize science.

      • Ron Bischof

        Understanding the limits on column length, it was my pleasure to assist, Maria.

  • lois eisenberg

    “Marching because facts matter”
    Any kind of marching to protest the negative is positive !!
    Facts do matter “Fake facts” are to counter and try to divert from the truth !!
    The liar-in-chief and his ilk do not know how to tell the truth!!

  • lois eisenberg

    BREAKING NEWS
    “A U.S. aircraft carrier that the White House declared a deterrent to North Korea was at the time sailing in the opposite direction”
    Another fabrication by the liar-in-chief and his administration !!
    Facts matter !!