Support for Science Shows in Marches Nationwide, Including Michigan

Support for Science Shows in Marches Nationwide, Including Michigan

(Michelle Moon, April 24, 2017)

Ann Arbor, MI – While beginning like so many other gatherings in the Diag with people streaming in by the handful, quickly it became clear more people were showing up than what had been anticipated.  The roads were not preemptively shut down, the speaker system clearly set up for a much smaller reach than necessary, at times the event seemed to overwhelm its organizers.  Estimates range between 10,000 and 15,000 people attended the Ann Arbor Science March on April 22, 2017.

Unlike the Women’s Marches and Tax Day Marches, this march was unusually quiet.  It can be supposed that not many maintain the mental image of a scientist as a loud, raucous rabble-rouser, and this march did nothing to disturb that supposition.

“What do we want? Evidence based science!  When do we want it?  After peer review!” chanted pockets of marchers, while most simply marched and chatted with people nearby.

As a sister event to the Science March in Washington D.C., the purpose was the same: “to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”[1]  Thousands across the US participated in sister marches, begging the question: why?  As a nation, we’ve rarely been inspired to hold public rallies to support science – what’s changed?  .

Many feel a public show of support for science-based policy is necessary in the current political climate where the heads of agencies are seen to have either no experience, or opinions that appear to fly in the face of the agencies’ missions.  Scott Pruitt, as head of the EPA, has filled agency posts with climate change skeptics[2], expressed his own opinion publicly that carbon dioxide is not a primary factor in global warming[3] in opposition to the vast majority – 97% – of actively publishing climate scientists[4], and has called for the US to exit the Paris accord[5].  Called a “monster” by a protestor at Earth Day festivities in Dallas on Friday[6], Pruitt is seen as the perfect leader to halt and even roll back advances achieved in protecting the environment at the behest of a U.S. president who failed to even mention climate change in his Earth Day statement Friday.

With signs such as “Science. Because you can’t just make [poop] up” and “Defiance for Science”, a defensive attitude about the validity and necessity of science based policy was clear amongst marchers.  A sign reading “Scientist not lobbyist” hinted at the perception that leaders are betraying principles for money, while another went so far as to call President Trump a liar and hypocrite.  “Even magical unicorns believe in science” touted a person unknown in a balloon-based unicorn costume, appearing to mock political leaders’ skepticism of scientific consensus. “Denial is not a policy. The oceans are rising and so are we.” captured the sentiment – people will actively defend science. By the thousands.







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