Baton Rouge student Zack Kopplin, growing famous in the science community for his political activism to repeal a law giving teachers the loophole to teach religious theory in science classrooms alongside evolution, has put out two petitions, one on Change.org and the other on the White House website, petitioning President Barack Obama for a "Second Giant Leap for Mankind" in the form of a new scientific revolution.
The petition requests Obama call for $1 trillion be put into science funding in his State of the Union address, as well as putting a "permanent end to legislation that promotes science denial," referring to bills such as the aforementioned stealth creationism bill, known as the "Louisiana Science Education Act," as well as denial of other popular scientific facts and consensuses, such as global climate change. As of Feb 6, shortly after the creation of the petition, it had already garnered around 1,000 signatures.
“Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy declared that we would put a man on the moon, in that decade. He called for a scientific revolution. We must have another scientific revolution,” the petition begins. “Our generation will face unprecedented challenges to our way of living and to our survival as a species. Our population continues to climb, but the amount of clean water and living space we have on Earth has been stretched thin. Our climate is growing increasingly extreme.”
The petition continues: “A disease like the Avian Flu, which (currently) has a 60 percent mortality rate, could become transmitted by humans and turn into a worldwide pandemic in our age of rapid travel. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and AIDS continue to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year. The Earth is experiencing a rapid decline of biodiversity, especially in our oceans. We could be faced with a killer asteroid in the near future. “
Kopplin's message seems to echo that of prominent astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who put out a viral video discussing the decline of the NASA's space program.
“Nobody’s dreaming about tomorrow anymore. After we stopped going to the moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming,” Tyson said in the video.
A recent report released by National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators that the American dominance in science has been on a continuous decline lately. The combined share of published articles in scholarly journals by Americans and Europeans declined from 69% in 1995 to 59% in 2008.
Tyson went before a U.S. Senate committee to testify about how little NASA received in comparison to other government spending.
“The 2008 bank bailout of $750 billion was greater than all the money NASA had received in its half-century history; two years’ U.S. military spending exceeds it as well. Right now, NASA’s annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that–a penny on a dollar–we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow.”
Clearly, Kopplin is dreaming of tomorrow. This is especially apparent in the closing of his petition:
“We have vision of the future where we overcome these challenges. We see a future where instead of denying climate science, we learn to harness wave energy and invest far more in revolutionary, sustainable technologies like algae fuel. We see a future where we learn how to turn off cancer cells. We believe in a world where cars will be automated and where Evacuated Tube Transportation will send passengers from New York to Beijing in two hours. We believe we can quickly create the tools to live elsewhere in the universe so we are not trapped where a single disaster on Earth could wipe out all of humanity. To do this we need a Second Giant Leap.”