We have seven billion years before our beautiful sun engulfs us. With the clock ticking, marchers took on the world this April the 22nd, known as Earth Day. One million people marched in six hundred and ten locations across the world. ‘Treehuggers’, ‘nerds’, or whatever name you wish to give science enthusiasts and scientists themselves, they came together breaking barriers and flexing political power. Our country has been mainly focused on the culture divides between conservatives and liberals, the haves and have-nots, or the rural verse urban mentality. The March for Science is more than a culture war. Science for the longest time had been a universal importance. Once upon a time, we raced to space and a Republican President was honored to push through a National Environmental Policy Act which brought us both the clean air and water acts. Then the 90’s brought us the internet boom, making Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and others household names.
Science has been at risk for years before Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ led thousands in a March for Science. For years, the world leaders have been ignoring Climate Change. Fourteen countries have been rated as inadequate regarding climate change. We sit on the edge of our seats waiting to hear if the United States will pull out of the Paris Agreement. Will we, the United States, join the other fourteen countries? This Earth day many of us decided to get out of our seats to hit the streets. Let’s take a moment to honor those who got up and out in the name of science.
“We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, the significance of science.” – Bill Nye
There were some major stars speaking, joining, and praising the Global March for Science. These stars helped drive the social and mainstream media to pay attention to the March for Science. Pete Capaldi, ‘Doctor Who’, marched alongside advocates and scientist alike in London. In the United States, Bill Nye was the headline speaker at the March for Science in Washington DC. All the way on the other side of the United Sates, Adam Savage speaks to tens of thousands at the March for Science in San Francisco. Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler of the Big Bang Theory, was the main speaker at the march for science in Silicon Valley.
More important than the stars were the millions of people who hit the pavement marching behind them. Amy, not the character from Big Bang Theory, just a teenage DC marcher, hit the streets to stand in the rain with Bill Nye. One of her favorite memories was watching Bill Nye speak.
“I marched because we need to put our political differences aside and work together in the name of science.” – Amy
Amy could have easily been up there with the Teen Scientist who may not be able to vote but will be heard. Another marcher Emily Gaidowski, a young adult from Richmond Va, stood in the rain alongside the tens of thousands in Washington DC, just as our teen marcher Amy did on this year’s Earth Day. Emily shared the same sentiment as Bill Nye as to why she and her friend hit the National Mall in the rain.
“I marched because not only am I a fan of science but science needs to be taken into consideration when our government writes legislation.” – Emily
Emily especially enjoyed being there to hear the speakers at the March for Science as her favorite memories were not only watching Bill Nye, but all the speakers. The heart-wrenching Little Miss Flint stood with Doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Michigan pediatrician credited for being the hero to our Flint children. In 2014, she was attacked by Governor Snyder and others for publicly politicizing her lead poising study. In the following year, when her facts were validated, over nine thousand children under the age six had already experienced lead poisoning. These children face the harm of slowed growth and development. Other major concerns are lower IQs, behavior issues such as ADHD, delinquency, and criminal behavior. This is troubling for an area already hard hit by crime. It was identified in 2012 as a city with one of the highest murder rates in the nation.
“Today I march for our Flint kids. I am marching for our smart, our strong, our resilient, our beautiful kids.”- Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Other powerful speakers took to the stage. Christiana Figures, who championed the Paris Agreement Act of 2015, engaged the audience with a powerful push forward in cutting emission rates. Another passionate plea to stand up for science came from Mustafa Santiago Ali. He has been in a decade-long fight for both environmental and social justice. He reminded us that minorities are the ones most at risk to pollution. Loud and clear he stated facts for the world to hear: 71% of African Americans live in counties violating the federal air pollution standards, 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, and Latinos are 165% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of power pollution. Diversity in science was a main theme throughout the speakers. Astronaut Anousheh Ansari, an Iran-born engineer, described our blue planet by saying, “It is so beautiful in the dark background of the universe. It allows you to really truly believe and see that there are no borders, that we have one home, a very fragile home”. Amongst all the scientist speakers was a third generation farmer named Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union. He and his union truly believe science is needed by farmers to help with environmental issues like climate change and water regulation, to nutritional labeling, and genetic trait approval. Roger Johnson came to Washington DC and stood on our National Mall in front of our marchers to advocate for science as a foundation for federal and state policies.
2,814 miles away in San Francisco, Adam Savage spoke about our country as a whole having the goal to leave our children a better world. How do we get to that goal? Adam Savage declared science is the key. Jeff, both a father and marcher, stands among the crowd listening to Adam Savage. Jeff originally came to protest the 45th administration’s attacks on science. He recalled Adam Savage affirming science as a way to stop the ignorance. Adam Savage stopped the speech to ask the American Sign Language translator “What is the sign for ignorance?” As Adam Savage repeats the sign back, Jeff thinks of his son who has autism. His son uses sign language as his main form of communication.
“We hope science will bring better understanding of causes and possible treatments for autism to help our kiddos” – Jeff
There are more personal reasons to march in the name science than to resist the current administration. Many, especially in the United States, marched as part of the resistance to the Trump Administration. Jeff came to march as part of the resistance, except he found himself thinking of his son amidst the rally. This is just one example of how science touches our everyday life. There are many other marchers who hit the streets because of their personal connections to science.
Shonnessy, a former microbiologist and now an industrial hygienist, marched in Seattle, Washington, over two and a half miles. She is passionate about science as it intertwines her life both professionally and personally. The march was harder for as she marched through it with Hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disorder.
“I marched because I feel science is the best medium to improve life around the world, combat global warming, and achieve any sort of equality.” – Shonnessy
As exhaustion started to set in from new medicine, a group of women in STEM cheered for her industrial hygiene sign. The support of the women urged her forward giving her the strength to finish the march. Women in STEM could be found supporting the March for Science across the globe. This is a global support group for women of all ages in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. 7,357 miles way from Shonnessy in Seattle was Kate Haggman marching for science in Brisbane, Australia.
“I marched because I believed in the power of STEM to better all our lives” – Kate
Kate, a media officer at a local university, marched with an estimated twelve thousand Australians, both young and old. As she marched, there sat an older couple grinning and tapping their feet to the beat of the marchers’ chants. The old couple was a sweet memory, but they symbolize so much more for the March for Science in Australia. Australia is home to amazing natural wonders from the Bungle Bungles, which are bouncing tiger eye colored domes covering over a hundred acres of the Purnululu National Park, to the Pinnacles, a desert with spiraling ancient limestone pillars is a result of a sea no longer. The pillars stand still in Australia while Australians make movement in hopes to make science a pillar of government, a pillar of education, and a pillar of every person. Australia’s great gifts to the world are in danger. Due to the change in climate, thirty-five percent of the Great Barrier Reef has died. There is no amount of marching that will bring those back to life. As amazing as the Great Barrier Reef is, it is more amazing Australia and the United States share having the highest levels of carbon emission proportionately to their population.
“I marched because I accept climate science. I am worried about the future we are leaving for our children. “– John Pratt
There is no one who knows this more than John Pratt, a marcher and climate change blogger. He marched in Cairns, Australia, a major city bordering the Great Barrier Reef. Five hundred others marched with John Pratt, not only for science but for the Great Barrier Reef. It is possible for the reef to re-grow but scientists are skeptical. The current rate of the warming ocean shows only more death for our infinite, neon colored beauty. Those in Cairns march for more than science, more than politics. They marched for their personal connection to one of the world’s greatest wonder.
“I am afraid that one of the wonders of the world the Great Barrier Reef will be destroyed unless we act quickly to reduce carbon emissions. “ – John Pratt
Australia seemingly has the most to lose; however, only about thirty-seven percent of Australians polled considered climate change a global threat. 9,443 miles away, The United Kingdom shares with Australia, the percentage of people who don’t consider climate change a global threat. There may not be a world wonder in danger from climate change in the United Kingdom, but the thousands upon thousands who march in the name of science share the belief with Australians that science should be a pillar of government, education and our everyday life. In Scotland, a girl known to her friends as Mandikat marched with two thousand others in Edinburgh, Scotland. On the brick laid roads, they marched from the US Embassy passed a musician playing bagpipes to the Scottish Parliament.
“I marched to help represent expatriate Americans who don’t believe that science and truth should be politically, socially, or financially de-prioritized.” – Mandikat
There were a million marchers for science on April the 22nd in all continents of the world. All fifty States of America held marches, both in big cities and small cities alike. In a small North California town, Sebastopol, three different local community groups joined the parade advocating for science. As the marching bands, dance groups, the volunteer fire department paraded through the town, marchers for science joined in carrying their signs. Gracie, a resident of Sebastopol, walked in the parade. Her journey through a day of science protest didn’t end there. She left the Apple Blossom Parade to join an even bigger march in Santa Rosa, California. Twenty minutes later, Gracie joined two thousand other marchers for science. Gracie along with her spouse dedicated their whole day to bring science to the forefront after the divisive election of President Trump. The possible cuts towards science with the 45th administration are perplexing to Gracie. The America First a Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again illustrates how the new administration wants to cut thirty-one percent of the Environmental Protection Agency, twenty percent of agriculture, and thirteen percent of the education budget. Almost immediately after the election of Trump, the United States has begun dismantling the EPA. A twenty-five year veteran of the EPA retires almost immediately based on the lack of value the newly appointed leaders gave to the department. Michael Cox writes to the new EPA administration appointee Scott Pruitt on his last day and says “I have worked under six Administrations with political appointees leading EPA from both parties. This is the first time I remember staff openly dismissing and mocking the environmental policies”
“We marched because we can’t believe it’s come to this. We can’t believe science and scientist are not honored for their work.” – Gracie
As serious as the subjects are related to the March for Science, the signs received most of
the attention. This is one of the things the three largest marches of 2017, Women’s March, March for Life, and March for Science had in common. Everywhere on social media were clever signs for us to admire. Saadia, a Lexington Kentucky marcher, enjoyed the idea of the signs so much, her and her friends were late to the march because they got caught up in making them.
“I marched because the current administration does not believe in climate change, which is one of the biggest threats to our way of life.” – Saadia
In Kentucky, some would argue the biggest threat to their life is the environmental regulations some say are suffocating the coal industry. There has been about a thirty percent drop in coal production in Kentucky, lowering it to fifth in the nation. Shortly after being elected in February, President Trump addressed America in Melbourne, Florida, “We’re going to put the miners back to work.” It is not that scientists don’t want to put Kentucky miners back to work. Scientists just believe there are new jobs in energy. The future is in solar power. East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Berkeley Energy, and EDF Renewable Energy are working to bring solar farms to some strip mines in Kentucky.
We look to the past to honor marchers of this year’s Earth Day. Let’s not forget to look to the future. The world of science is an essential resource. It is a renewable energy that continues to move in a forward direction. Let’s move with it.