Two planet-saving marches are happening over Earth Day and Trump's 100th day in office. Here's what you need to know:
Scheduled for Earth Day, April 22, the first ever March for Science is slated to be the largest gathering of scientists and science supporters in history. What began as a discussion on Reddit among disgruntled scientists, quickly sparked the interests of the science community around the world, rallying against the “anti-science agendas and policies” that have increasingly taken hold of 21st century politics. The March for Science’s goal is simple: to promote “science that upholds the common good” and to encourage “political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”
And while it might seem weird to have to have a pro-science march in 2017, we should remember a few things:
- Donald Trump, a man who has expressed on twitter that vaccines might cause autism and that global warming was a hoax created by the Chinese, is now the President of the U.S.
- The White House website has been purged of any mention of climate change
- Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, recently said that he didn’t believe that carbon dioxide is a major driver of climate change
- And “post-truth” was declared the 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries
The March for Science comes about a month after Trump released his first budget, which had huge cuts aimed at research programs at the Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. It makes you wonder how far we’ve come since the 1600s, when Galileo was imprisoned by the church for saying that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe.
“Scientific discovery and innovation are a critical part of our nation and our future—science extends our lives, protects our planet, puts food on our table, contributes to the economy, and allows us to communicate and collaborate with people around the world,” said Caroline Weinberg, National Co-Chair of the March for Science. “Despite this fact, science and scientists, and evidence based policies are under attack. Policymakers threaten our present and future by ignoring scientific evidence when crafting policy, threatening scientific advancement through budget cuts, and limiting the public’s knowledge by silencing scientists.”
While the March for Science has drawn hundreds of thousands of online support, it has also garnered criticism for endangering the delicate relationship between science and politics. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Robert S. Young, a professor of geology at Western Carolina University, wrote:
A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about, 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… 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.
The organizers of the march acknowledge that while politicizing science is a legitimate concern, not defending science poses an even bigger threat. In their mission statement, the March for Science explains: “In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?”
To find a march near you visit: marchforscience.com/rsvp/
In September of 2014, about 400,000 people marched in the streets of New York City, demanding action to curb global warming. This made the People’s Climate March the largest climate march in history. The effort paid off: the month after the march, China and the U.S. signed a "historic agreement" to combat climate change, and the following year, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, marking the first time in history that the international community united around fighting climate change.
Video of the 2014 People’s Climate March:
The celebrations were short lived. During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to “cancel” and “rip up” the Paris Agreement; and while Trump can’t unilaterally “cancel” the international climate agreement, as president he does have the ability to pull the U.S. out of the agreement. And even if Trump doesn’t completely pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord, he has made it very clear through his agency appointments and policy prescriptions that his priority isn’t the environment.
Given the current political landscape, the organizers of the People’s Climate March, which include the likes of the 350.org, Oceana, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, decided it was time to having another climate march, this time on Trump’s front door. “The motto of [the 2014] march was ‘To change everything, we need everyone,’” wrote Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org. “This spring, we’re renewing that vision—to show that our movement is just as ready to fight Trump’s racism and hatred as we are the fossil fuel industry that’s poisoning our future…The People’s Climate March in 2014 was the largest climate march ever, anywhere. If we want to push back on Trump’s vicious agenda and build the future we need, it will require us matching that kind of ambition, and then some.”
Just imagine the impact if the 2017 People’s Climate March attracts a bigger crowd bigger than Trump’s inauguration. For Trump, size matters. And with Trump considering pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement and gutting domestic environment policy, the time to march is now.
“Let’s make history again this year,” wrote Jamie.
The People’s Climate March is happening on April 29, marking President Trump’s 100th day in office. See sc.org/pcm to find a rally near you.