Popular astrophysicist and anointed spokesperson for science Neil deGrasse Tyson is not impressed by the recent antics of Republican leaders, from Sen. Ted Cruz's directive that NASA stop focusing on Earth to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's reported ban on the term "climate change."
“I don’t know if our country has any precedent for emergent scientific truths to be debated on political grounds,” he said during a live appearance in Sarasota, Florida, referring to the aforementioned censorship. “I’m astonished by that. Astonished and disappointed. I thought as a nation we were above this.”
Tyson, who is the director of the Hayden Planetarium and, as a side gig, host of the hit series Cosmos, also stood up for NASA's work studying climate change, which Cruz, as chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, is actively discouraging.
“If you’re going to ignore Earth -- and no one else is paying attention to Earth the way NASA is -- you could be planting the seeds of your own destruction,” he argued, adding, “It’d be different if most of [NASA’s budget] was spent on Earth, but that’s not the case.”
It's easy to shake our heads at politicians who seem to be actively steering us toward destruction, but in what's sure to be his most inflammatory statement, Tyson maintained that the real people to blame are the ones who put climate deniers in office in the first place. "I don't blame the politicians for a damn thing because we vote for the politicians," he told his audience. "I blame the electorate."
With our understanding of the imminent threat of climate change arguably greater than it's ever been before, there's reason to hope that the electorate might take that message to heart: taking a stance that directly opposes the scientific evidence on climate change could be becoming a political liability. Still, polling data shows that Americans have some catching up to do when it comes to understanding the dangers of global warming -- perhaps those living in Miami, California and other places already experiencing the impacts of our changing climate could lead the way for the rest of us.