Episode 18: The March for Science
The Women’s March on Washington in January was the biggest, most impressive protest I’ve ever seen. Watching the crowd, thousands of people, from all walks of life, stretched all around me in every direction. It was inspiring to see that many people come out to support women. That’s why I decided to head back to the National Mall on Saturday, April 22, on Earth Day where a group of scientists and researchers had organized the March for Science. Saturday’s protest was as nerdy as it was rainy, with participants like Earth Day founder Denis Hayes, Bill Nye The Science Guy, and protestors all advocating for science and the environment while cheering on those that pave the way for breakthroughs in technology and innovation. Anti-Trump protesters, science lovers, doctors, engineers, teachers, researchers, and environmentalists came out in droves to the Mall to draw attention to the importance of the scientific community.
The protest rivaled the size of the Women’s March, which turned out to be the largest in American history! The Women’s March saw hundreds of women doing knitted pink caps with cat’s ears, this time protestors wore pink caps knitted to like a brains.
Denis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, gave his take on the protest. “This is about last November’s election. Did America somehow vote to melt the polar ice caps and kill the coral reefs and acidify the oceans? Did we vote to reduce the EPA’s research budget by a whopping 42%?”
One of my favorite interviews was with was probably Navy Captain John Zimmerman (Ret.) an engineer who worked on nuclear submarines, his sign read, ’Je suis science’.
Zimmerman said of the importance of this event, “Science has been my life, I’ve been a submariner so I’ve been involved in nuclear engineering and principles of science for my entire life. I just feel really strongly that if we support science, if we’re not afraid to figure out what the truth actually is, we’ll be great. I always want to bring the data to the problem. I don’t want to hear stories, I don’t want to hear alternative facts. No, there’s only facts, and that’s why I believe so strongly in what we’re doing here today.”
As for his sign, he told me, “‘Je Suis Science’ refers to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. It was a sign of support for that organization meaning ‘I am Charlie’ or ‘I support Charlie’, so I’m saying ‘I am Science, I support Science’ and I just think it’s so important for all of us to have this message of unity around the truth which is what I think Science really brings to us.”
Bob Hirshon is the director for technology and learning for the leading science advocacy group American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Hirshon said of the event, “In both in policy and public opinion, we’re hoping this will make a difference. This is just the start of getting more, people more active. More of seeing how science touches their life, we have a science in my life programs so kids can see how science is all these really cool things that is all around me and that I like, and it’s video games and it’s medicine, food and it’s water and it’s not just someone in a lab coat. So, we’re going to move forward with that message after this, this is just the start.”
I was particularly impressed to see my former guest Megan Smith, President Obama’s Chief Technology Adviser, on the stage.
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