Scientists Will March on Washington for Earth Day

This Earth Day, scientists plan to take Washington by storm with a march highlighting scientific contributions to society. Although the March for Science is ostensibly apolitical, with a positive focus on celebrating the sciences, others argue that it’s an inherently political response to the Trump administration. And some see that as a bad thing.

First, the basics: The March for Science includes both a march and a teach-in on the National Mall on April 22, 2017. Scientists plan to stand up and be counted in large numbers, with satellite marches across the country. While the details are still in the works, the core values of the march include the following statement:

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.

The concern that science may be pushed to the wayside by the current administration is valid. For example, many prominent politicians are climate change deniers, including the president.

Furthermore, Congress has pledged to push back on attempts to protect the environment and conserve natural resources, including efforts to curb climate change. The president has also nominated a number of anti-science figures to key cabinet positions, and several government agencies have been threatened with gag orders and directed to remove scientific data from their websites.

Scientists argue that this isn’t just about whether the government will welcome science itself. They maintain that diversity is critical for conducting research, and that a robust, lively scientific community includes people from a broad spectrum of cultural, social and national backgrounds. Collaboration as researchers is important for producing better science.

So is the march political?

Some organizers insist that it’s not. They claim that the initiative is about supporting science, not getting involved in partisan politics — though they do admit that the administration’s stance will affect the ability for scientists to do their work.

Others are more hesitant to state that the march is without political intent. Certainly the timing can’t be a coincidence — you don’t schedule a march on Earth Day without considering the implications.

But is that a bad thing?

Some say yes, arguing that the march will polarize science even further and jeopardize their work. But many scientists believe that it’s important to send a political message supporting science. And some think it’s not political enough.

The level of politicization may depend on which march you attend. While satellite marches share common values with the parent march, their organizers will also bring different experiences and values to the table.

Some scientists may feel uncomfortable at any march, for a variety of reasons, but others want to be involved on the local level in building a cause that better suits their political beliefs — whether that be a radically confrontational political march, or a strictly nonpartisan one.

Non-scientists, of course, are welcome as well. Everyone has a stake in the sciences and in maintaining the American reputation for scientific excellence, and there’s plenty of room at the march for people from all backgrounds — including many conservatives who are eager to protect and support the sciences.

Photo credit: Alisdare Hickson

95 comments

Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a month ago

I would LOVE to be a part of the March for Science! Unfortunately, I have an EMT refresher class going on that weekend, and if I don't get that done, I lose my certification (which will not only hurt me, but also the community I volunteer with). However, my mom will be taking my daughters to the march, as the sciences are VERY important in our family (Dad's a retired biochemist, Mom's a retired high school chemistry teacher). We need to fight back against this Rethuglican government that refuses to accept scientific facts and evidence, wants to obliterate the EPA and pollution standards that have helped to clean up our world, and demands that stating such facts be actually illegal! Like Jack Nicholson's character said in "A Few Good Men," "They can't handle the truth!" The alternative is to let Twitler and the RRR throw this country completely under the bus in their pursuit of money and Absolute Power! RESIST!

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Patricia H
Patricia H2 months ago

The time has come to finally stop abiding by rules that our corrupted governments made, and start abiding by our oath. I'm sorry, but I cannot allow you to go on waiting for the government to start acting on this issue, when it's perfectly clear to us that they have no interests in doing anything right. We the people, are NOT powerless as we think we are! We've been obeying someone else's rules for far too long, and it's time we've finally took back our freedom to do what we all know is right. I have been trying so hard to get you to seize the opportunity into doing what YOU know is right, but all I get in return is ''No thank you! I would much rather let everything I ever loved get destroyed by corruption, than to do something completely heroic.'' What I'm doing right now, is trying to get you people to stop letting your corrupted government control you and prevent you from saving your own future! It is YOUR future these clowns are playing with, and you shouldn't let them play with it like it's some kind of toy. It's your future, dammit!! Not theirs!!

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Patricia H
Patricia H2 months ago

I'm sorry, but we really do need to stop abiding by such stupid laws and just jump right into action! That's the real problem! There are rules which keep us from doing more for the planet, and we always try to abide by these rules. What we're failing to realize is, that these rules were not made by our father, our creator, our true master (God), these rules were made by our own inferior species that should never apply to those that care. God is telling us to stop abiding by rules that weren't even his to begin with. His telling us to defend the earth his way. Saving a child from drowning would be against the law in the eyes of greedy, but God approves of that deed regardless of what pathetic lawmakers say. We were chosen to be stewards, protectors, and shepherds of the earth, but we're not doing a good job because the majority either don't care, or they just don't want to break any laws made by lowly humans. We actually care, but we're still bound by the law of human ignorance. I'm asking you right now to stop listing to inferior law enforcement, and start going by your oath! I know some of you are atheists and therefore don't believe in God, but you should still go along with it anyway! Our justice system is corrupted, our government is corrupted, and our damn president is corrupted, so it looks like you'll have no other choice but to listen to me!!

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Patricia H
Patricia H2 months ago

Karen S, I'm not willing to go down that easily as the dinosaurs did! As long as these marches keep going, we still have a chance!

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Karen S.,
It makes a big difference. It determines how quickly or significantly we need to act.

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Karen S
Karen S2 months ago

Global warming is a FACT, so what difference does it make whether it is man made or other? If we can do something about some of the man made global warming isn't it in ALL of our interest to do it?? The stupidity is astounding.."It's man made--No it's not, yes it is, no it's not!" Meanwhile we are all drowning in our own ignorance and will, as many scientists say, go the way of the dinosaur--it is only a matter of time. A short matter of time...

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anne M
anne M2 months ago

I'm just glad that there is a world out that takes care of the environment regardless if the US is up to the task or not.

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

Marching is not only necessary but the need is urgent....

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Philippa Powers
Philippa P2 months ago

Thanks.

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natasha s
natasha s2 months ago

I'm all 4 marches--you don't get your voice heard just from signing petitions or sitting on your butt.

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