Neil deGrasse Tyson: We Can All Avoid Dying "Young and Poor"

The astrophysicist reflects on the state of science after the midterm elections.

Only time will tell how much the Democrats in the House of Representatives use their newfound power from Tuesday’s midterms for scientific good, but Neil deGrasse Tyson tells Inverse that doing so will benefit everyone, Democrat or not.

“I don’t know how the country stands on science,” the astrophysicist and StarTalk host says in the video above. “What I do know is that election rhetoric might or might not embrace science, but at the end of the day, science is the engine for tomorrow’s health, wealth, and security.”

"So no matter where you are on political spectrum, to deny the role and value of science is to bankrupt the country and have you die young and poor.

“So no matter where you are on the political spectrum, to deny the role and value of science is to bankrupt the country and have you die young and poor.”

Of all the Trump administration’s policies that could lead humans to a rapid and impoverished death, its stance on climate change is most immediately worrisome. In 2017, Trump backed out of the Paris Climate Accord, which bound the US to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Committing to the Paris agreement, Trump argued, conflicted with his “America First” policy of protecting US businesses by hampering their productivity.

Meanwhile, scientists have clearly identified myriad ways climate change is already affecting the planet: It’s causing “catastrophic” effects on mental health; making enormous chunks of Antarctica float off and melt; giving bugs an unprecedented appetite; and making beer more expensive. At this rate, we won’t just die young and poor; we’ll be painfully sober when it happens, too.

As for “America First,” well, here’s what climate change has done to Yellowstone, a jewel among the country’s national parks.

Fortunately, the shift in House control means that the House Science Committee is, as Vice pointed out, run by people who actually believe that climate change is real. Several of the Democrats who won House seats have science backgrounds, and many in the science community are cautiously hopeful.

Elizabeth Gore, senior vice-president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, told Nature News that “It is going to change the dialogue in Washington, and will certainly change the dynamic around science and the environment.”

Tyson, noting that the House also has a record number of women in it, said, “So, that’s a very good start and surely more will follow. That’s good.”

Startalk season 5 premieres on November 12 on the National Geographic channel.

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