Far too often policy decisions are based on political or ideological interests instead of upon a solid scientific foundation. Ideological purity and loyalty tests are hallmarks of today’s two major parties. These are the enemies of science-based policy and should have no part in the legislative process that can affect affect our health and well-being. We owe it to our children to protect the natural environment for coming generations, and institute health policies based on the latest peer-reviewed findings.
A perfect example of this is the debate over climate science. While individual scientists can be extremely biased and/or mistaken, the consensus of a community of scientists should be trusted and used as the foundation for further debate. The discussion over climate change should not be whether it is happening, whether we are causing it, or whether it should be urgently addressed, because numerous major scientific organizations around the world are in agreement regarding these topics. The discussion should surround how best can we address this issue quickly using a good balance of economic incentives, reasonable regulations, and emerging technologies.
Health and Wellness
We are the guardians of the rising generation. We owe it to them to provide the best possible conditions for healthy flourishing. Modern medicine based on peer-reviewed science should be used as the foundation of public policy.
One easily remedied situation that is putting our children at high risk is the fact that Utah has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with the vast majority of those who opt out doing so for “personal reasons”, instead of legitimate religious or medical reasons. Vaccinations should be required except for these legitimate cases to protect everyone, especially those who cannot be vaccinated themselves. Utah will see increasingly frequent outbreaks of highly-contagious preventable diseases such as measles as we drop below levels required for “herd immunity”.
Another instance where we are harming the rising generation is in Utah’s poor sex education standards. Although they have improved in recent years, parents must still opt-in their middle and high-school students for the curriculum, and the focus is still primarily on abstinence. This is despite the fact that a large body of evidence shows abstinence-only sex education to be ineffective at best and even counter-productive at worst. The US has the highest levels of teen pregnancy in the developed world, with recent improvements due primarily to improved access to contraceptives and sex education. There’s no good reason why Utah shouldn’t implement the policies that science has shown to result in the best outcomes for our children.