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March for Science puts Earth Day focus on global opposition to Trump

The Guardian – By Oliver Milman in Washington DC – Saturday 22 April 2017

Crowds-March-for-Science-in-global-Earth-Day-protest
Photo: Crowds march for Science in global Earth Day Protest in Washington, D.C.

More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science ‘under attack’ from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change.

Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything.”

More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.

march-for-science-london
Photo: March for Science in London.

The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were however conceived by three US-based researchers – Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman – after Trump’s inauguration. Organizers have said science is “under attack” from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university .

Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the “awe-inspiring beauty” of America, while protecting jobs.

“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.

“As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.

“I’m encouraged by the marches I’ve seen already taking place around the world,” said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern.”

Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.

“There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration,” Mann told the Guardian. “That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice.”

Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump’s attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was “proud to stand behind our scientists”.

Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.

The White House’s recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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