Do you remember what life was like 25 years ago?
Probably not—at least not if you work in medicine or have spent any time in hospital (in virtually any rôle) since 1989. The world of health care is an unrecognizably different place than it was a mere quarter-century ago.
In a good way.
Since then, medical science has given us the completed Human Genome Project, the first cancer-preventative vaccine (for HPV), HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors [‘statins’], an awareness of the therapeutic and prognostic significance of omega-3 fatty acid levels, stem-cell therapies for adrenoleukodystrophy and other conditions, functional MRI, self-expanding stents made of nitinol and next-generation materials, minimally-invasive robotic surgery, the bio-informatics revolution, lifesaving genetically-engineered drugs like tissue plasminogen activator, gene-targeted therapies like Herceptin and Gleevec (for breast cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia and GIST), the multi-lumen tubing which is now a mainstay on high-dependency wards, highly active anti-retroviral therapy [HAART] and the once-a-day HIV pill that can slow down and even arrest progression to AIDS, entire families of antidepressants and noötropics…
The list goes on. And remember, that’s just medical advances.
But it got me thinking about an even bigger question:
How has climate science improved our lives in the last 25 years?
Sure, the segue seems almost ridiculous at first. Climate science is so much broader—and at the same time more deeply key to human existence—than its nearest scientific rivals.
That’s why “the science” is now shorthand for climate science.
That’s why nobody even talks about 97% of climate scientists anymore.
“97% of scientists” is the same thing, for all intents and purposes!
That’s why primary- and high-school curricula are now committed to equipping our children with an understanding of climate change issues, even at the expense of more traditional (if less important) milestones like Reading, Riting, Social Studies and [A]rithmetic. Thus can your son or daughter rattle off climate trivia that would leave a Plato, a Plutarch or even a Petrarch gawping in edification. And your kid doesn’t even have to be smart enough for university—she could be taxi-driver material; he could be a would-be nurse. Notwithstanding how stupid your kids are (no offense), they can still recite climate-change facts and figures that would leave a Hubert Lamb, a Reid Bryson or a Roger Revelle slack-jawed in climazement.
Let’s face it: climate change changed everything.
So I won’t pretend it’s easy to come up with a “Top Ten” of how climate scientists have benefited humankind in the last 25 years!
I’ve even taken a preliminary stab at eliciting such a list elsewhere—but as you can see, it quickly grew out of control. (You can hardly blame the moderators for deleting the entire conversation, as if the question had never even been asked. It was that, or risk their servers crashing from all the answers flooding in.)
For one thing, there’s the problem of where to start.
And then, once we get going, how do we possibly limit ourselves to just 10 breakthroughs?
So this is our challenge to you, our readers:
Tell us, in the comments below, your favorite contribution(s) of climate science to human well-being in the past 25 years. Great or small, mundane or revolutionary, all suggestions are welcome. We’re sure you’ll think of many, many advances that have slipped our minds.
From the hundreds of examples you submit, we on the ClimateNuremberg editorial staff will then whittle the list down to just 10—the ten most impressive ways in which climate scientists have transformed our lives for the better. (Of course, this will mean leaving out countless discoveries.)
Have at it!