Andrew Revkin interviewed filmmaker James Cameron in the 1 February 2005 science section of the New York Times. Near the end of the article, after a variety of fascinating remarks Cameron responds to the question, "Do you think we've kind of lost track of the value of science in the modern world?" with:
I think there seems to be a disconnect on the part of the general public. They enjoy the technologies, which are the children of science. They certainly couldn't live life without their cellphones, which are based on semiconductors, which are based in quantum mechanics. They couldn't live life without their TV sets, which are based on electromagnetic field theory and every other thing. These things had to be figured out by people at a time when they didn't know what the applications were going to be. ...
I think there's actually a backswing against science. I think we're seeing a weird turn back to a faith-based view of the universe as opposed to empiricism. When you've got a country where 50 percent of the people believe in creation over evolution, I think you've got a big problem because we owe our ascendancy as a species to science and technology.
We're past the point of saying let's not do that technology thing any more. Even if we wanted to, we can't go back to the garden. It's not going to happen. We can't go back to an agrarian culture. There's too many of us, and we've trashed the earth and deforested it anyway. Right now we rely on the efficiencies made possible by simple things, like not having warehouses, where you have on-demand supply that's Internet based. Take that away and we die. So we're dependent on this stuff now.
We've got to think our way out of this. If you've got climate change, if you've got pollution, if you've got wars being fought over energy, which are only going to get worse, and wars being fought over resources, which are going to be the story of the 21st century, you're going to need technological solutions and those are going to come from basic research.
Without that, we're going to hit a wall as a civilization. Certainly the Maya did, not for the same reasons, but with equally devastating results.
I especially like the comment, "We've got to think our way out of this." Might make a good motto ...
(see also FeedOrFeedback (6 Sep 2004), ...)