Best of the Cosmos

For Your Consideration

editorial@sierrastar.comApril 22, 2014 

As with the Carl Sagan's Cosmos, this one, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is an astonishing work of artistry, creativity, technological magic, and science. It is fitting that Dr. Tyson was selected. If you saw the Cosmos series premiere, you would have learned that Dr. Tyson yearned to be a scientist at a very young age and idolized Carl Sagan.

Dr. Sagan invited the young Tyson to tour his laboratory at Cornell when he learned Neil had applied to study there. The meeting was everything Neil expected and more. He not only learned of Sagan's scientific brilliance and communication skills but also of his humanity.

It is with the latter that Neil Degrasse Tyson most identifies, which makes him the perfect successor to Dr. Sagan, Dr. Tyson's impressive scientific credentials notwithstanding.

Having watched only the first three in the series, I have been humbled by the enormity of space, the miracle of life forms, and our insignificance in the space-time continuum.

By insignificance, I don't mean our planet and our lives are not significant. It is only meant to illustrate the time our existence is represented in the cosmic calendar. As Tyson describes it; if the universe's 13.8 billion year history is mapped onto our calendar year, we, meaning the first existence of primates to today, would only take up the very last day of the year, December 31.

There are over 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, Andromeda being the closest to our Milky Way. Through scientific extrapolation, there may even be multiple universes or a Multiverse. Hard to fathom isn't it?

Thankfully scientists are no longer persecuted for such statements, at least not in traditional medieval ways. Today we have civilized methods of persecution. Now they are marginalized and defamed. Then they were jailed, flogged, and killed or cast into the shadows. Where would we be if those courageous and dauntless scientists didn't prevail over anti-science faction of the Middle Age? Where will we be 50 years from now if 97% of climate scientists do not prevail over the Koch brothers and American Petroleum Institute funded scientists over global warming?

Today's most pressing challenge is global climate change aka global warming. Instead of Kings and religious clerics the oppressors are political leaders, billionaires and their oil and gas industry front groups.

If we take anything away from this Cosmos series it should, at the very least, be how precious this planet is and saving the best of the Cosmos should be the prime directive.

Part of that prime directive is carbon-free power. Wind and solar have become more than competitive with carbon-based fuels and nuclear as witnessed by rapid uptake of these power sources, so much so that front groups like Americans For Prosperity and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council – go to no longer rely solely on demagoguery to stop its progress. Through ALEC, the Koch brothers and utility companies are pushing legislation in 21 states to change laws so they can charge $50 to $100 per month to solar homes connected to the grid. What better way to kill solar.

Why are the Kochs, petroleum industries and utilities resorting to such draconian measures? This excerpt from "Throwing Shade" by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Edward Humes says it all.

"Last year, a new rooftop solar system was installed in the United States every four minutes, according to green market analyst GTM Research--20 times the growth rate in 2006. By 2016, GTM predicts, a new rooftop solar system will go up every 83 seconds. Solar still represents less than 1% of U.S. electrical generation, but its stratospheric growth could quickly change that."

The Pentagon, hardly a tree-hugging institution, is rapidly greening its operations – solar power for land-based operation, biofuels for jets and conversion of sea water to fuel for naval vessels – to cut costs and save the lives of its armed forces yet oil industry puppets like Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla) and Sen. Barasso (R-Wyo) have tried to stop these Defense Department initiatives. Being that the U.S. military is the largest consumer of energy in the world this would go a long way in reducing the debt.

For four years in a row, the fastest growing and well paid jobs have been in solar. Now global warming deniers don't have to compromise their ideological belief. They can push their representatives to support energy alternatives for the sake of saving money on your utility bills, creating jobs and reducing the debt.

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