Carly Ebben Eaton is Development Director for the Labor Network for Sustainability. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, focused on the chemistry of nitrogen oxides, ozone, and aerosol particle production, and the impacts of this chemistry on air quality and climate. She was an organizer with United Autombile Workers 5810 and a member of the Executive Committee of the Alameda Labor Council. In a recent article “Science and Crisis,” she describes how years ago work was started on a vaccine for the virus SARS that might have been at least partially effective against COVID-19. But for failure to invest $3 million the research was dropped.
A $3 million investment in basic science could have helped save trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, and hundreds of thousands of lives.
And this is just one example of the consistent, systemic, horrifyingly short-sighted undervaluing of basic research on the part of policymakers.
It boggles my mind and makes me furious that facts and evidence have become so politicized that our government is blatantly ignoring the tremendous value of investment in research. Robust public investment in science is, and has always been, good for the economy. It should be common sense. And yet, here we are.
Eaton points out the relevance of this story to climate change. “We’re going to need new and innovative solutions if we have any hope of addressing the climate crisis in a way that is equitable and just, and as scientists have been saying for what feels like forever, we’re running out of time.”