January 9th, 2021

Alara Tuncer

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. 

Perhaps I was three, maybe four, sitting in a tub, soaking in bath water. The first memory I have of my existence is one where I am sitting surrounded in bubbly splendor, holding tiny little tubes filled with color. My already large eyes grow in the reflection of the glass bottles as I hold them closer, observing the color and viscosity changes as the contents drip, drop, drip, drop. I remember it so well; the photographic evidence taken by my parents has likely helped. I’ll spare you the sight of seeing baby me—in my birthday suit. Feeling like something between a magician and a cook, it was then that I realized—sitting and mixing little hotel shampoo bottles—that I was going to become a scientist. Now that I’ve lived enough to have strong and informed opinions, I hate people thinking of science as magic. All I want is to write about how science—completely un-magical—can solve all our problems and shape the world we live in for the better.

A few months ago when President Trump was asked about climate change after the California wild-fires he stated comfortably: “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.” The corresponding officer responded, “I wish science would agree with you” to which Trump replied, “I don’t think science knows, actually.” The group of experts laughed, tittering nervously. What can you do when the President of the United States—one of the few people in the world who has the power to dramatically alleviate the world’s climate change problems—doesn’t trust science? The urgency of the situation has become crystal clear, even Pope Francis gave a TED talk, calling for action on climate change.

I’m not an environmental scientist, nor am I an expert in geology nor climate change research. However, by virtue of scientific training, I have seen firsthand the rigour of the scientific process and can trust in its findings. I can say that I’m a biochemist and biologist having studied biochemistry as an undergrad and in pursuing a master’s in biology. But you don’t need to believe in science to feel something about the dark auburn skies that collapsed over the west coast just a few months ago. Still—when I close my eyes—I can’t forget the images I saw as I scrolled down my Instagram feed, California choking in orange soot. And unless you blame the deceptive nature of photos on Instagram, you must be feeling similarly.

Amongst the disparities by which we are surrounded, there is one in particular that damages us all. That is scientific illiteracy. When science can be the solution to our contemporary problems, our lack of trust and misunderstanding of the subject makes us deficient in solving our most prominent concerns. We dismiss it because we don’t understand it. Or we belittle it, labeling it as ‘magic’ because we need to simplify the complexities of our reality.

In the era of technology, there are so many voices, loud and quiet. They echo, they leave victims behind in the form of scorched trees, species on the verge of extinction, and loved ones lost to coronavirus. Despite these costs, this loud and ringing noise of the world never grows silent. It’s hard to step back and separate what is right from what is wrong. And we find excitement—and surprisingly—comfort in believing in conspiracies. Coronavirus is a Chinese attack. No, it’s a hoax. Climate change is a lie. Teenagers play with fire all the time, they must be the reason for the California wild-fires. So what, who cares if Polar Bears go extinct? And so, during times of global crisis, science often becomes an afterthought, second to emotion and rhetoric.

According to Jon Miller, a professor of Investigative Studies at Michigan State University, 70 percent of Americans do not comprehend the science section of the New York Times, Science Times. Is this because we’ve made science look so difficult? Or is it because people are naturally disinterested? This is a problem that impacts our society and policy making. So, why do I write, when nobody seems to be listening? Because amongst all the opinions and the loud noises, there is always one constant that pushes ahead—science.

Science has been the explanation for everything since the beginning of time and it will be the explanation until the end of time. The apple will always hit whoever is sitting under the tree. And all of our “good” and “bad” behaviors will have psychological and psychiatric explanations. And despite their bad rap, vaccinations will continue to have the life-saving potential to prevent disease.

Tik. Tok. Tik. Tok. We’re running out of time.


They’ve repurposed the clock installed on a building looming over Union Square in New York City, to remind us of the time remaining to act on climate change before it becomes an irreversible burden. Sadly, that’s all it is. A reminder. And unfortunately, climate change will continue so long as we remain distracted by louder voices.

Despite being the natural reality of our existence, science will only have an impact if we extend the conversation to the general public and politicians. So, let’s write, read, and advocate for science!


Edited by Eliza Neidhart