Over the past few months, I have had reason to ponder this question: Can science save us?  To answer this question, I have drawn on COVID-19 and Climate Change as case studies. I have wondered why with all the scientific knowledge we have, the COVID-19 virus had to hit us so hard. Some more so than others, with close relatives and friends dying in such large numbers because of it. 

I have also questioned why with so much research and information available on climate change and its impact on the environment we are still experiencing such devastation from natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes and the consequential loss of human lives in many parts of the world.

Scientific Innovation and Human Thriving

Through science, our society has made tremendous strides in improving the quality of life for millions of people. Human ingenuity must be credited with much of the innovation as scientists have boldly built on earlier accomplishments.  It is most evident in recent years as scientists have sought ways of finding treatments to stave off the ravages of the pandemic and provide possible cures for COVID-19.  Human ingenuity is also at work as scientists from around the world work with the United Nations (UN), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other agencies to bring us up-to-date on the impact of human action on the environment, to provide alternatives to our heavy reliance on fossil fuels, and to suggest new strategies for easing the earth’s destruction.

Scientific Innovation and Human Thriving

Yet despite these findings, there have been deniers around COVID-19 and Climate change, people who contend that these conditions did not and do not exist, or who do not believe that vaccines and climate change measures should be used.

In light of this, can science really save us?  Consideration of these disasters and of different reactions to these has forced me to conclude that science alone cannot save us. It will take not only human ingenuity to give birth to scientific innovation and discovery, but also commonsense nurtured by emotional intelligence, and infused with human kindness and caring, to save us in the long run.

Human Ingenuity – The Case of COVID-19

In 2019, human ingenuity was called into action, as evident in the speedy announcement of protocols for more frequent handwashing, wearing of masks, and physical distancing. These were based on scientific findings from the last pandemic about a hundred years ago.  The development of vaccines to immunize against this virus has been more recent. Leveraging of existing technology to new purposes during the pandemic allowed for the use of wearables to reduce physical contact and the utilization of e-Commerce (V-Commerce) for promoting physical distancing as shoppers turned online for their varied supplies. The use of innovative telecommunications and technologies (telcos and technos) allowed for the spread of public health messages nationally and globally; and the use of x-rays made it possible to detect potential COVID outbreaks.

The Case of COVID-19

But while science had been making major breakthroughs in some areas, the effects were not immediately felt worldwide or even within the same communities where the protocols were being implemented.

Commonsense, Emotional Intelligence, Human Kindness and Caring – The Case of COVID-19

While many officials using science were able to come up with ways of preventing or reducing the spread of the virus, many individuals within some communities saw the protocols as too restrictive, especially the wearing of masks. Many people argued that they did not see the reason for doing so. Many of those opposing restrictions felt they had nothing to fear or lose from the virus as they were not old or immuno-compromised, did not have health issues, and were not among those considered high risk. Commonsense should have dictated that curbing the spread of the virus would benefit the community as a whole.

Emotional intelligence would have helped to inform all, especially those who refused to follow the rules to prevent the spread of the virus. Being self-aware would have gone a long way to helping the situation.  Emotional intelligence also involves empathy, handling emotions, managing feelings and seeing how one’s emotions and actions affect others.  During the pandemic, being able to empathize with those who were at high risk, being able to understand how older people with health issues could have been exposed to the virus and to their death, younger people with little risk of contracting the virus could have been kind and caring by following the rules. If this were the case, not so many people would have been infected and died from the virus.  Science could have saved more people, if commonsense was nurtured by emotional intelligence, suffused with human kindness and caring. Science alone could not save us.

Human Ingenuity – The Case of Climate Change

In terms of climate change, scientific findings of agencies like the IPCC and organizations like the UN show the relationship between human action, the use of fossil fuels and the devastation of the environment.  Many individuals and corporations use conspiracy theories to deny climate change, many because of economic considerations and their bottom line.

Yet, the findings of the IPCC and others reveal that without change in how we conduct our lives and our economies, natural disasters would become even more intense.  Yet, many of us are not paying attention to this existential threat. According to the UN News (2021), “Climate change and increasingly extreme weather events have caused a surge in natural disasters over the past 50 years disproportionately impacting poorer countries, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said on Wednesday.”  Reports today reveal that while poorer countries are experiencing severe natural disasters, the richer nations are not exempt.

Hawaii has recently experienced its worst wildfires ever, resulting in the complete burning of the Lahaina community.  Canada is experiencing destructive wildfires in British Columbia and other provinces. Greece and other parts of Europe are also feeling the devastating effects of wildfires. Floods have been destroying large parts of Asia, with Pakistan feeling the brunt of the disaster only a few months ago. Africa has been feeling the effects of severe droughts that have been threatening hunger and famine.  Only a few days ago, parts of California had been stunned with the worst flooding in the state’s history, while neighbouring Arizona had been parched for weeks without relief.  Other parts of the world are reeling from various natural disasters. 

Commonsense, Emotional Intelligence,  Human Kindness and Caring– The Case of Climate Change

Commonsense therefore tells us that if the earth’s peoples are to survive the existential threat posed by climate change, we all have to use commonsense in our daily activities.  If our earth is to last intact for future generations, it requires our present generations to demand its protection.  We are presently being shown that the effects of climate change are becoming worse, and commonsense tells us that if this is to continue, it could reach a point of no return.  This is what science tells us as well. Even those who deny that there is climate change can attest to the increasing severity of natural disasters. Commonsense should dictate that in light of the increasingly more intense natural disasters, something should be done to mitigate conditions, even if the climate change theory were to be proven inaccurate. Commonsense dictates that even in these circumstances, the precautionary principle should be used.

What is Urgently Needed?

What is urgently needed is an embracing of emotional intelligence, infused with human kindness and caring.   Although we may reason that we have the right to make a good living, and that promoting the use of fossil fuels would lead to more profits and less costs in producing things, we have to realize that not everyone or every nation has the same experience.  Some parts of the world are more devastated by climate change than others.  Some parts of our communities are suffering, while others are flourishing.  Economic inequality is commonplace among our citizens.  Commonsense dictates that a more equitable society will be a happier one.

Emotional Intelligence Science Save us

However, with emotional intelligence, we would have greater empathy for different societies and for different people within communities.  We would realize that the measures we can use to abate climate change would eventually lead to less catastrophic natural disasters.   Through human kindness and caring, we would want to take measures that can contribute to an overall amelioration of our environment.  Each individual doing his or her part could contribute to taking measures that would ultimately diminish the impact of climate change.

Human kindness and caring require that we realize we have a responsibility to future generations to protect the environment and leave it intact for them.   While having the right to make a good living, we also have a responsibility to ensure that future generations also have the right to a good living.  By protecting our environment, we can start reducing the deleterious effects of climate change and in time improve the quality of our environment, Science can save us, if we use emotional intelligence, and display human kindness and caring for others.

Young People Helping Science to Save Us

At this point, the question that we may ask is how we can prepare to help science save us.  Many young people during the pandemic had been paying attention to the crises facing the world, and had been addressing these.  While many young people had recognized the severity of climate change and acknowledged that many governments, organizations and corporations were not taking a strong enough position to protect the environment, they had been protesting this, as well as racism and global inequality.  For example, one young climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, who encouraged protests against climate change, had also paid attention to preventing further crisis with COVID-19. 

As Pelter (April 14, 2020) explained, “#Climatestrike has become #climatestrikeonline following a call (from Greta Thunberg) … for climate strikers to take to the internet and not the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.”  This demonstrates the use of commonsense to address both the crises of the pandemic and climate change.

Are We Ready to Help Science to Save Us?

From the case studies above, we see how despite the scientific innovations and accomplishments that have been made to accommodate COVID-19 and climate change, many individuals in various societies had failed to use commonsense to guide their actions. Instead, they insisted on their selfishness, which led to millions of deaths, many of these preventable and to devastating destruction, respectively. In the meantime, many individuals feel comfortable living as they always have been, without regard for climate change. What is needed is more emotional intelligence, infused with human kindness and caring.

Science Can Help Us Only So Far

Science can save us if we use emotional intelligence, human kindness and caring as the bedrock for our being.  With human ingenuity leading us into greater innovations and discoveries, we are required to use commonsense to guide us in the choices that we make. By reasoning what is good for human living and survival, we can use commonsense to help us in our thinking.

A good bedrock of emotional intelligence, human kindness and caring would go a long way to making our human existence successful. Thinking of how our actions could affect others is one of the ways we can show concern or empathy for others.  This is based on having a good understanding of ourselves and our emotions, for it is our emotions that guide and determine our actions.  Human kindness and caring come from understanding ourselves, understanding others, and understanding how our emotions affect our behaviours and other people’s actions and behaviours.

In the case of COVID-19, understanding the fragility of other people’s conditions would very likely guide us to take every action to safeguard the health and safety of these individuals. Similarly, with respect to climate change, understanding the effects of climate change on others would help us take action to do whatever we can to prevent the situation from becoming worse.  By using commonsense to see what is happening around us in other parts of the world, and embracing emotional intelligence, infused with human kindness and caring, we could take action that would save the environment in these other parts of the world as well as in our own.

What Are We to Do?

Science can save us if we adopt the right attitude. DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE – 30 Ways for Older Teens and Young Adults to Develop Their Caring Capabilities provides a guideline for developing emotional intelligence, human kindness and caring and for making these the bedrock of successful living not only for older teens and young adults, but for everyone. By embracing human kindness and caring towards others, we can guide our decisions pertaining to our scientific innovations by using commonsense.

We have seen how scientific innovations helped save lives during the height of the COVID-19 epidemic and how commonsense can also guide us in dealing with climate change.  However, this is based on our embracing of human kindness and caring as the right attitude to deal with the many crises we will face in the future.

With COVID-19 making an imminent resurgence this Fall and with natural disasters occurring in unexpected places, what attitude are we going to take? Science can save us if we use commonsense guided by emotional intelligence, infused with human kindness and caring in our decision making.


Asian Development Bank (February 2017). Climate Change and Natural Disasters: Transforming Economies and Policies for a Sustainable Future. Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/publications/climate-change-natural-disasters-sustainable-future

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