Sunday, August 13, 2017

Make America Dark Again

In just over a week, darkness will be coming to this country. It comes in the shape of a solar eclipse, which at one time was seen as a sign, a portent of things to come. Interestingly, we live in an era when, instead of fleeing the shadow of the moon as it wanders across North America, people are moving in droves to be within the path of totality. This is possible because of science. Yes, I said it, and I stand by it. The ability to track and predict solar eclipses is a gift given to us by astronomers and mathematicians who have this thing figured out to the nth degree. These folks are so very clever, in fact, that they know that "nth degree" means. Serious biz.
It wasn't always that way. There was a time when humans looked up at the sun and were terrified to see it being eaten by some terrifying force that threatened to swallow it whole. Imagine their relief when the light returned and order was restored. About three hours later. Imagine the chaos and terror that might have ensued back before there was a way to forecast such events. The end of days came and I didn't even make it out to Costco to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape.
Of course, that was before the invention of duct tape, which is something we can also take time to thank science for, but not right now. This was back when Galileo was put in prison for saying that the earth was not the center of the universe. Thanks to him and his buddy Coprenicus, I can take a flashlight, a tennis ball, and a globe and entertain fourth graders with the very low-fi version of how all of this magic happens. Thanks to the science of flashlights, too. And globes.
So here we are, in the twenty-first century with families and friends taking time off work to find their little place in the lack of sun. There will be plenty of these folks who would probably like to argue the existence of global warming, since they don't see Florida sinking.
Not yet.
And yet, when climate scientists released their State of the Climate report for 2016, stating that last year was the hottest on record, a great many of us shrugged their shoulders and went back to their Twitter accounts. Oddly enough, it was on Twitter that I was encouraged to consider this science thing by noted science guy, Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's kind of like the Twitter version of Galileo. He keeps jabbering on and on about how the world isn't that hard to figure out if you do the math. Because that is what science does. Next week it's going to bring the darkness. We can't really stop that from happening.
Global warming? There are still things we can do.
Thanks, science.

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