Out of the swamp and smack into a cesspool. It seems every day is alt-day with the new, wildcard administration in the White House. Policymakers and an assortment of fake, farcical and fanatical news organizations keep spewing alternative facts on a plethora of important issues but they’re hitting especially hard on science. You know, that class in high school you never showed up for? Seems like evidence seekers, critical thinkers and fact-checkers are so yesterday!
When scientists continue to be doubted, disregarded, insulted and suppressed, it’s impossible to remain silent or apolitical any longer. Vital scientific research is under attack by wealthy extremists who have made their fortunes in industries that continue to poison humanity, pollute our environment, and squander our natural resources. Pick your poison: oil, coal, fracking, chemical pesticides, factory farming to name a few. Funding for basic scientific research, climate research, environmental protections and public health are all in jeopardy while the EPA’s authority is deteriorating as fast as the Arctic icecap.
Am I freaking out? Well, yes. Where are my people!? The ones that conclude, by scientific method, that my hypothesis - “we’re all doomed ” - is true or not.
This Earth Day, Saturday, April 22nd, 2017, the scientific community will march in Washington, D.C., and around the globe. There will be upward of 400 sister marches across the earth where citizens from all walks of life, along with formal scientists, will march in support of science. Bill Nye, the Science Guy will serve as honorary Co-Chair along with the Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization, with over 50,000 members, which promotes the exploration of space through education, advocacy, and innovative projects, as an official partner.
“We march to celebrate science,” says Nye. “We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.”
Why is this march so essential? NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data show 2016 as being the warmest year on record since modern record keeping began in 1880. In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Last month, the president invited a group of coal miners and coal industry executives to be present at the signing of a sweeping executive order to curb climate regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency. He said this would “put American jobs above addressing climate change and put an end to the war on coal. We are going to put our coal miners back to work."
Due to the growth of natural gas, renewable power, outside suppliers and mine mechanization, coal mining jobs have gone from 250,000 in 1980 to 53,000 today. As Bill Maher quipped on a recent episode of Real Time, “Coal miners back to work? That’s like saying, ‘We gotta get those Blockbuster video clerks back in the stores.’ ”
Could it get any worse? Why, yes it can. Last month Trump's “terrific” new EPA administrator, Tom Pruitt, reversed an Obama administration’s effort to ban a pesticide linked to nervous system damage in kids. Chlorpyrifos, manufactured by Dow Chemical (trade name Lorsban) has been banned from consumer products and residential use nationwide but is still widely used on farms. A 2011 UC Berkeley study showed that 7-year old children in the Salinas Valley who were exposed to high levels of the pesticide, while still in the womb, had slightly lower IQ scores than their classmates. (http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/04/20/prenatal-pesticide-exposure-lower-iq/)
“EPA turned a blind-eye to extensive scientific evidence and peer reviews documenting serious harm to children and their developing brains, including increased risk of learning disabilities, reductions in IQ, developmental delay, autism, and ADHD,” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist at NRDC in a Pesticide Action Network news release. “This decision means children across the country will continue to be exposed to unsafe pesticide residues in their food and drinking water.”
Tom Steyer, president of NexGen Climate, believes these latest environmental actions are an assault on American values and “endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American." "Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense,” said Steyer in a statement.
This is why we need to march. This is why we all need to stop playing mind-numbing games on the internet (and stop inviting me to play Candy Crush, Facebook Friends!) and become informed citizens of SCIENCE.
If we want clean air, water and food, we have to fight powerful biotech and pesticide companies, and now . . . the new head of the EPA, who sued the EPA 14 times in the past. (Sigh. Deep breathing. Everyone.) Yes, it’s deplorable and depressing but it’s just the way it is. No one ever asked us if we wanted 90% of US grown corn seed to be injected with an herbicide-tolerant, genetically modified organism (GMO) so that farmers can spray even more glyphosate, a common weedkiller, on crops. After a yearlong legal battle, California’s environmental health agency just this month announced it will list glyphosate as a “known” carcinogen, leaving its old, dubious sticky tag as a “probable” carcinogen, in the dust. Glyphosate is the primary ingredient in the popular gardening product Roundup.
Fifty countries worldwide have either banned or labeled GMOs. “What are these food and agriculture companies so afraid of?” asks Stephen Andrews, soil scientist and UC Berkeley Earth Science professor. “If GMOs are so great and wonderful for us to eat, be upfront about it and declare your GMO greatness on the label. It's label up, or go crawl back into your plasmid!"
Join us on this historic Earth Day. Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
Go to www.marchforscience.com to find a march in your city.