Tomorrow is Earth Day and, around the globe, supporters of science — including scientists, politicians, and average citizens — will take to the streets in order to defend the planet they rest on.
The March for Science will take shape in the form of more than 500 demonstrations in every corner of the world, from Hawaii to Finland, from Alaska to Uganda to, of course, New York City. The main event will be held in Washington, D.C., where organizers hope to blanket the nation’s capital with demands that the government fund, support, and rely on scientific research to make important policy decisions that impact not just Americans but people worldwide.
This latest iteration of what has become a season of large-scale political protest comes as the Trump administration continues to lean into its disregard for demonstrable, widely accepted research. But organizers say characterizations of the march as partisan and left-leaning are inaccurate.
“The reason we advocate for research to inform policy is because the scientific method exists to try to reduce biased interpretations of the world,” said Caroline Weinberg, one of the march’s organizers, in an interview with Scientific American. The march has been criticized by some for its overt entrance into what some consider a politically charged debate. “Science works to give you answers that transcend partisanship — and so everyone should be behind it. Painting science as specific to one party is how we ended up in this situation,” she said.
Despite the agnosticism of the scientific method, the field has long been necessarily partisan, even more so as the Trump administration has demonstrated its dangerous indifference to research, beginning with the president’s sordid love affair with the coal industry (which will kill us all) and the miners to whom he’s promised jobs that aren’t coming back. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency who spent much of his career suing the agency he now leads, continues to question humans’ role in climate change and has characterized a cleanup of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay as “federal overreach.” And he has staffed his office with like-minded folks such as Steven Milloy, who called the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are hazardous to human health “the original climate sin.”
Early in his tenure, Pruitt rejected the findings of his own agency that had, in 2016, led to the recommendation that the EPA ban a commonly used pesticide that causes neurological damage to children who are exposed to it in utero. Dow Chemical, a primary manufacturer of the pesticide, gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee, and its CEO leads a presidential advisory committee. Trump has proposed major cuts to the EPA’s budget, signed an executive order eliminating former president Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. And while Trump makes frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago, 70 or so miles north of Miami Beach, which is literally drowning, his associates in Congress are providing handy assists.
Trump’s attacks on science often begin with the environment, but they don’t end there: He has suggested that data scientists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t to be trusted, rejects data that shows the wide array of health services other than abortion that make up the majority of Planned Parenthood’s offerings, and undermined the Congressional Budget Office’s findings that the Republican health care bill would spell disaster for Americans.
The New York rally will begin at Central Park West at 62nd Street at 10:30 on Saturday morning. The march, which starts at 11:30, will encompass Central Park West from 72nd Street through Columbus Circle, from where it will head onto Broadway and finish at 52nd Street. Dress for the weather, attach your signs to soft handles (no metal or wood — these are considered weapons by the NYPD), and think green: Bring reusable mugs and water bottles for breaks and take mass transit, carry your trash with you, and don’t ditch your signs in the street, recycle them.