In this polarized, politicized world where wars are waged over chocolate cake and skirmishes erupt daily on social media, there seem to be precious few truths we all find to be self-evident. The importance of science should be one of them. As a process for uncovering truth, as an ongoing endeavor that seeks to advance the understanding of our universe and improve the wellbeing of all of humanity, science is not a special interest. Science serves us all. Which is why I am honored to be able to return the favor on April 22nd by joining the March for Science.

Until recently, there would be no need to speak out in defense of science. As an institution, as a concept and a set of guidelines for uncovering useful new knowledge, science was once, and largely remains, a bastion of bipartisanship. The march, then, will be a nonpartisan affair.

But let’s be clear, by speaking truth to power, it will be political. And there are plenty of reasons this march is happening in the wake of Trump’s election. From starting out with alternative facts to filling his cabinet with conflicts of interest to a budget that decimates the EPA’s ability to enforce clean air and water rules on the books (not to mention those being repealed) there are no shortage of examples of this administration's disdain for science, economics, and simple facts.


For example, Trump has thrown his support behind the coal industry. While his support for the working people left behind in coal’s wake could be admirable, the reality is that some of coal’s biggest champions, like Senator Mitch McConnell and coal company CEO Bob Murray have made it clear that it’s economics, not regulations, that prevent coal from returning to its former glory. And as a perfect sign of the times, a coal museum in Kentucky recently installed solar panels on its roof. Coal communities need a new solution to shift laid off workers into gainful employment. This might involve skills training, but most likely mean that people will have to be relocated to where technology is creating new jobs.

Admittedly as the co-founder of Generate Capital and the former CEO of solar company SunEdison, I’m a little biased on this issue. But Trump, inconsistent as his statements may be, has been fairly consistent in his respect and admiration for successful businesspeople. So I’m hoping he hears my advice and takes a good long look at clean energy. And like so many of his positions lately, I’m hoping he changes course.

Extraordinarily, Trump is not having a negative impact on clean energy deployment because most of the pushing is happening in states, cities, and corporations. Last year, for example, we installed more renewable energy around the world than ever before—yet invested less to do so. That’s getting more bang for your buck, exactly the sort of winning deal a man like Trump should understand.

Where Trump’s policy will hurt us is in the future. The federal government is a massive institution which has been the source of great innovation that has improved the lives of Americans, and people across the world. But these efforts takes years, sometimes decades. It's important to keep consistently funding science to keep the innovations coming.


Support for clean technology lines up nicely with Trump’s populist message. After all, clear majorities of Americans want more clean energy and less asthma-causing and water-polluting dirty fuels. Instead of reducing support for clean energy, now is the time for the government to ramp up renewables. They deliver so many benefits, even beyond being the obvious solution to climate change. By replacing dirty fuels, they’ll lower asthma rates and prevent further fossil fuel-driven illnesses.

Perhaps even more important to Trump, they also provide a significant source of revenue to rural areas. Wind farms, for example, now pay landowners over a billion dollars a year—a solid stream of revenue for farmers. These wind turbines often pay so much while still allowing full use of cropland that farmers no longer have to worry about being forced to sell their farms. For example, in Iowa, which Trump won solidly, landowners already harvest an easy $10 million from wind turbines annually.

Clean energy also creates jobs; 12 times more quickly than the economy on average. Already there are more people employed in renewable energy jobs than there are in coal industry jobs. Renewables are a growth industry poised to explode, while coal is a centuries-old resource that is only hanging on now because of automation—a process started decades before any so-called war on coal, and which will continue even now that the “war” is over.

No one ever won a race by ignoring the finish line—or the starting gun. And we won’t win the fight against climate change by ignoring its causes.

So on the 22, I’ll be proudly marching, lending my feet and raising my voice for a safe environment, for smart solutions, and for the strongest possible support for science. Hope I’ll see you there.

Jigar Shah is a clean tech venture capitalist and founder of the solar developer SunEdison.


Jigar Shah is a clean tech venture capitalist and founder of the solar developer SunEdison.