What's A Scientist To Do? March!

It’s hard to believe that 92 years after the Scopes Monkey Trial (which debated teaching evolution in public schools), the integrity of the science community is in politically charged territory.

The reality of climate change, possibly the greatest concern of the 21st century, is challenged by those who refuse to accept findings which indicate that the world is warming.

There is an ongoing effort to refute that human activity has been a key driver in the “greenhouse effect.”

For stakeholders in the fossil fuel industry, facts pointing to human-produced climate change is an impediment to their agenda.

With greater fossil fuel carbon in the air, more heat is returning to earth. Arctic sea ice is decreasing, oceans are rising, extreme weather is frequent, birds and other species are changing their behavioral patterns.

The new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has maintained that the science of climate change is “far from settled.”

What’s a scientist to do, beyond present the facts?

March! Scientists and supporters of science will do just that at the March for Science on April 22, Earth Day.

Science needs a higher profile in our country. Currently, studies show that America lags woefully behind in graduating science majors. Stats underscore that America ranked number 38 out of 40 countries. In 2012, President Obama set the goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022.

Unfortunately, science isn’t considered “sexy.” When featured in news stories it too often doesn’t get the eyeballs (except glazed).

That’s about to change — the tagline for the march is, “Science, Not Silence.” The organizers state:

“The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.”

There are several core principles featured, with the purpose of bringing key positions to the forefront:

  • Science serves the common good and should be “free from manipulation by special interests.”
  • Science education is essential. (That includes encouraging girls and people of color to go into the STEM fields!)
  • Communication of scientific facts to the public should be freely accessible. (The recent gag orders on government scientists, web page deletions, and disappearing of data are of utmost concern.)
  • National policy should result from evidence-based findings, and regulations should serve the public interest.
  • The federal budget should “reflect the powerful and vital role that science plays in supporting our democracy.”

The march is also looking to place the important work of scientists within the context of daily life. They want to contribute to a vibrant dialogue of ideas without retribution.

Ironically, people throughout the country are not as disconnected from the scientific facts as might be believed. A Quinnipiac Poll from February 8 found that American voters are aware of the crucial environmental issues facing the country — and the world.

  • By a margin of 2–1, they said that Trump should not cut regulations to combat climate change.
  • 50 percent don’t believe that the Keystone or Dakota Access pipelines should be resumed.
  • 72 percent are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about climate change.
  • 59 percent believes that “more needs to be done to address climate change.”
  • 61 percent oppose removing special regulations intended to combat climate change.

Hundreds of thousands of science supporters have signed up to volunteer or participate in the Science March in DC and satellite marches are planned for other cities in America from Alaska to Arkansas, and globally from Paris to New Zealand.

The best way for parents and their kids to ensure science will influence policy is to show up to support not only unfettered truth, but also to mobilize for the necessity of cutting-edge science education in their schools. Already, many in the education field have expressed concern about the belief system of the new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — on evolution and creationism.

In this moment in America, families marching in resistance to President Trump’s morally repugnant anti-science, anti-environmental actions is what democracy looks like to protect our health and our planet.

This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force