How to live and do science in a changing world

The most accepted theory for the biodiversity is that evolution and the origin of species are driven by the changing in environmental characteristics (Darwin, 1859). However, the pace in which changes occur is being accelerated since the humans started their journey on Earth. The history of the Homo sapiens (Linnaeus, 1758) is made of great inconsistency in actions, beliefs and strategies for survival. Humans are, thus, elected, as the most prominent actors in the fostering of sharper changes in the world.

The scale where we can interfere is very broad, from global climate changes to inconsistency in policies, ideology and market. In the end, science permeates and affront all these changes, and is often forgotten by the humans as the most resilient support of the society. We know that climate change is a process intensified in the last decades and, is directly linked to human activities, such as industrialization, use of fossil fuels, or land use (Oreskes 2004ORESKES N. 2004. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Science 306(5702): 1686.). These changes posit great challenges in the quality of life in the near future, indicating great modifications in the area occupied by cities, promoted by extreme events of temperatures, scarcity or excess of water, and alterations in the suitability of lands to produce foods (Stevanović et al. 2016STEVANOVIĆ M, POPP A, LOTZE-CAMPEN H, DIETRICH JP, MÜLLER C, BONSCH M, SCHMITZ C, BODIRSKY BL, HUMPENÖDER F AND WEINDL I. 2016. The impact of high-end climate change on agricultural welfare. Sci Adv 2(8): e1501452. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501452.
https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1501452...
). The question that lies in a scientific mind is: how could science be even clearer to define the responsible agents in order to avoid such scenarios, taking actions to prevent humanity from itself?

However, we are facing not only a more effective changing paradigm in the environment but also in the way of thinking of the human society. World is passing through an unprecedented crisis, in a moment of separatisms, civilizations questioning their need to interact with other people, and terrorism becoming a common reality (Butler 2015BUTLER D. 2015. Terrorism science: 5 insights into jihad in Europe. Nature 528: 20-21. ). Science could not predict the sharp shift from the globalization process to the actual scenario, possibly because the human mind does not follow a trend, or obey a mathematical model. In a national view of the shifting process, Brazilian scientists are struggling with an abrupt change in the availability of resources to survive and to do science (Angelo 2017ANGELO C. 2017. Brazilian scientists reeling as federal funds slashed by nearly half. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature.2017.21766.
https://doi.org/10.1038/nature.2017.2176...
, Escobar 2017ESCOBAR H. 2017. In Brazil, researchers struggle to fend off deepening budget cuts. Science. doi:10.1126/science.aar2805
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar2805...
). In a moment when the country found itself in a great political and economic crisis, the investment on science was elected one of the most exposed to reduction. This action clearly states that the importance of science is not properly recognized by the Brazilian agents and regulators of the public resources.

I found this thematic important to be discussed in this Editorial, as I copied from the articles present in this issue the words/sentences ‘climate change’, ‘biodiversity’, ‘resistance’, ‘cultural persistence’, ‘drought’, ‘science communication’. I remark that these words are not limited to natural processes, but harnessed by human actions, what interferes in the way we live and do science in this changing world.

To finish, it is important to honor the scientific thinking. The most prominent landmark of science is its constancy, based on the scientific methodology, which does not accept results with the specific number of replications, trial tests, proof of concept. Together, these characteristics make science the most parsimonious and reliable strategy to promote the needed changes in the world, reaffirming its importance for the society, and leading humans for a better quality of life. For us, scientists, it is time to be strong, since together we can show the world that science can bring sustainability, for the environment and for the human life on Earth.

REFERENCES

  • ANGELO C. 2017. Brazilian scientists reeling as federal funds slashed by nearly half. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature.2017.21766.
    » https://doi.org/10.1038/nature.2017.21766
  • BUTLER D. 2015. Terrorism science: 5 insights into jihad in Europe. Nature 528: 20-21.
  • ESCOBAR H. 2017. In Brazil, researchers struggle to fend off deepening budget cuts. Science. doi:10.1126/science.aar2805
    » https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar2805
  • ORESKES N. 2004. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Science 306(5702): 1686.
  • STEVANOVIĆ M, POPP A, LOTZE-CAMPEN H, DIETRICH JP, MÜLLER C, BONSCH M, SCHMITZ C, BODIRSKY BL, HUMPENÖDER F AND WEINDL I. 2016. The impact of high-end climate change on agricultural welfare. Sci Adv 2(8): e1501452. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501452.
    » https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1501452

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Jan-Mar 2018
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