What Science, Environmentalism and the GOP Have in Common

By Keith Kloor | January 2, 2013 11:38 am

In the aftermath of President Obama’s reelection, there was much media discussion of the GOP’s ever-shrinking demographic base. As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza pointed out, with the aid of an astonishing chart:

That only 11 percent of Republicans’ total vote came from non-whites tells you everything you need to know about the large-scale demographic challenges that Republicans must confront. (The fact that 44 percent of all Democratic votes came from non-whites paints the Republican challenge in even starker terms.)

How and why this has come to be I’ll leave to the political pundits. Suffice to say, if Republicans don’t find a way to connect with (or not scare off) Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, they are doomed to irrelevance.

The same might be said for the environmental movement, argues a recent story in Politico titled, “Greens confront own need for diversity.” The whiteness of environmentalism (along with the perception that it serves mostly a white, upper middle class constituency) has long been a nagging issue that the big national green groups have been unable to fix–beyond cosmetics.

This is a major concern that broadly extends to science, as well. One neuroscientist bluntly reminded his colleagues in the Fall:

It seems unnecessary to restate the problem, and yet it really cannot go without acknowledgement. The lack of racial and ethnic diversity at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematic or STEM fields including neuroscience remains a problem.

Those who regularly attend annual science meetings can attest to the sea of white faces in conference rooms and hallways. (The press room at these meetings is also filled with predominantly white faces, which tells us about science journalism’s own lack of diversity.)  How to make science more appealing to non-whites and more representative of the general population is taken up here and here. To complicate matters, the problem is also partly cultural, one scientist recently asserted.

I’m not sure what the best formula is for diversifying the sciences, the environmental movement, and the Republican party. Obviously, it’s going to be different for each. But whatever they’re doing at the moment doesn’t appear to be working so well.

File:LawrenceComptonBushConantComptonLoomis.jpg

(Scientists gathered at University of California, Berkley, in 1940. Source/Wikimedia Commons.)

  • dovhenis

    It takes a change of culture, of the mode of reactions to
    circumstances, to effect a change of habit. Genetics is the progeny of culture, not vice versa. This applies in ALL fields of human activities, including economy, to ALL personal and social behavioral aspects.

    Since the early 1900’s ALL “science” has been taken over by the Technology Culture of the religious Americans, represented by the trade-union-church AAAS. Plain and simple. There has not been any science in the world since then except “religious-American-science”.

    On the blissful religious science ignorance…:
    USA-World Science Hegemony Is Science Blind

    Since the early 2000s I have been posting many articles on science items surveyed and analyzed by me, without religious background-concepts. I have been doing this because I was deeply disturbed by the religiosity of the 1848-founded AAAS trade-union and by the consequent
    religious background-tint of its extensive “scientific” publications and activities.

    On my next birthday I’ll be 88-yrs old. I know that I’m
    deeply engaged in a Don Quixotic mission-war to extricate-free the USA and world Science from the clutches and consequences of the religious-trade-union-church AAAS, adopted strangely by the majority of
    scientifically ignorant religious god-trusting Americans and by their most other humanity following flocks…

    But I am sincerely confident that only thus it is feasible
    and possible to embark on a new, rational, Human culture (Scientism) and on new more beneficial and effective technology courses for humanity…

    Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)
    http://universe-life.com/
    Energy-Mass Poles Of The Universe
    http://universe-life.com/2012/11/14/701/

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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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