We had Speech Night, a few days ago. I spoke on the matter that has disturbed my thinking for some time. It was on the need for a deeper appreciation of the fragility of our planet and the requirement to understand it better. Let me quote a smidgeon of what I said.
“In this fragile world, there squabble the zealots, the greedy and the stupid who are unaware of the miracle of their existence. The vast blackness of space with its sterile yellow dots is interrupted by the fruitful blue of our planet. It is a place of breathtaking beauty, of extraordinary connectedness and of an ingenuity that hints at the presence of God.
Too many live on this miraculous orb oblivious of that privilege. There is a bored indifference to the crushed insects beneath our feet and an arrogant presumption that we will last forever. We pull resources out of the earth as a child pulls wings off a fly, and we build arsenals to destroy those who stand in our way.
We need to do things differently. Our very survival depends on it. We need to understand the privilege of living. We need to treasure our world enough to care for it. We need good people with good minds. We need a new generation of leaders, but not just any leader. We need the sort of person who knows the difference between exploitation and development. We need creative people who are inspired by wonder rather than greed. The well-being of our planet, indeed, its very survival, is going to depend on a proper understanding of the future. Of particular importance is the need for scientific accuracy in areas such as climate change and sustainability.
At its heart, Science is a question. It is exploration. The decline in scientific skill in contemporary society invites untested opinion to be expressed as fact. This vanity threatens to dismantle learning and, perhaps, society itself. In an age threatened with endemic narcissism, scientific thought is needed because it humbles us with awe, and an appreciation of what we don’t know.
Einstein wrote that:
Whoever undertakes to set himself as a judge in the field of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.
We need to be humble enough to recognise what we don’t know, and to treat lightly on our planet until we know more.”
Do you agree?