February 3, 2017
Get ready: March for Science scheduled on Earth Day, April 22
The date has been set for a previously-announced protest march in support of scientists, and it couldn’t have been more appropriate in light of the fact that the main target of the protests is a president who has claimed that “nobody knows” if climate change is real.
Yes, according to Salon.com and The Independent, the organizers of the nonpartisan March for Science have announced they plan to stage an event to “take a stand for science in politics” in Washington DC (and in several other major US cities) on Saturday, April 22.According to the group’s website, they will be holding a “teach-in” at the National Mall as part of their campaign, which they are calling “a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community” in light of “recent policy changes.”
“Mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter,” the organizers said. “It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted” in order to “support and safeguard the scientific community,” they added.
The March for Science movement, which started on Reddit just days after the Women’s March on Washington, follows the placing of a gag order on EPA and USDA researchers by the Trump administration and comes amid threats of funding cuts to NASA and the EPA, Salon.com said.
Is the march a good idea? Not all scientists think so.
Given the President’s stance on climate change, it seems fitting that the March is scheduled to take place on the day many credit with bringing environmental issues to the forefront. The first Earth Day was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, The Independent said, and was held just a few months before the EPA signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
As the organizers previously told the Huffington Post, “Scientists worldwide have been alarmed by the clear anti-science actions taken by the Trump administration,” noting that there had been “funding freezes and efforts to restrict scientists from communicating their findings” just a week into the Trump presidency – “absurd” actions that “cannot be allowed to stand as policy.”
Not all scientists are on board with the planned protests, however. In an editorial written for the Washington Post, Western Carolina University coastal geology professor Robert S. Young called the planned event “a terrible idea” that “will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research, and findings for their own ends.”
“A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about,” Young said, adding that it would “turn scientists into another group caught up in the culture wars and further drive the wedge between scientists and a certain segment of the American electorate.”
“The solution here is not mass spectacle, but an increased effort to communicate directly with those who do not understand the degree to which the changing climate is already affecting their lives. We need storytellers, not marchers,” he concluded. “Believe me, I understand the desire to impart to everyone how important science is to every sector of our economy, the health of our planet and the future of our families. But I don’t see how a march accomplishes any of that. If tens of thousands of us show up, it will simply increase the size of the echo chamber.”
Image credit: Mario Tama