When Science Strikes Back: March for Science Draws Many Thousands Worldwide

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Trump’s hostile posturing against environmental protections and promised budget cuts on scientific government agencies stoked the ire of the nation’s scientists and science supporters

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Story Transcript

MAN: What do we want?

CROWD: Science!

MAN: How do we want it?

CROWD: Near you!

KIM BROWN: Occasional downpours, and generally dreary conditions was not enough to deter the thousands who attended the March for Science in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

THERESE CORDERO: I’m studying neuroscience. I go to Johns Hopkins University. And I’m taking a sustainability class now that opened my eyes to many issues. So, that’s why I’m here.

KIM BROWN: Today’s action is taking place in what many say is an unprecedented assault on science’s role, in both policy and politics by the Trump administration, and the private sector, whose focus, critics argue, is to fight regulation and enrich corporations at the expense of human life, and the environment.

DENIS HAYES: If the Trump budget, the 42% reduction in EPA research, the banning of climate research, the 20% reduction in the National Institute’s of Health, on and on. If that goes through Congress, then that’s basically a decision that America is stepping away from global leadership in every sphere, and we are going to be less successful, less prosperous, less healthy in the future.

It’s hard to believe that this congress is our best hope. And the only way that we’re going to get that to happen, is at meetings with their constituents, where scientists and others stand up and demand change.

LELAND MELVIN: Well, what was so disheartening is when the new administration came in, and the data and the websites for EPA, and these organizations that have this repository of information that’s showing all these trends, were deleted. Were closed. And I think, once we start hiding things and once we start putting our head in the sand, acting like things aren’t happening, it will be the demise of our civilization.

And so, we must use our science, use our data; use our people, to help explain what’s going on, so we’ll have a better understanding, especially for our children’s, children’s, children.

BILL NYE: It’s not conservatives or progressives, it’s science. It’s political, but not partisan.

KIM BROWN: Today is also Earth Day, which is expected to be observed in dozens of countries around the world. And marks the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, in which President Trump has threatened to pull out of.

BILL NYE: Other countries will retaliate, and then it’s going to be like a tariff on us. It’s called international agreement, not international do-what-you-what-wantent.

BILL FOSTER: Well, I personally found it sort of heartbreaking, looking at President Trump’s recent press conference, where he had all these earnest young coalminers standing behind him saying, “Boys, you’re going back to work.” Even if the demand for coal recovers — which they don’t expect — but even if it does, they will buy next generation mining equipment, and not bring on more workers.

And then they had interviews with some people who were using the last of their life savings to get training for deep mine work in coalmines. And it just breaks your heart to see these people being lied to. Climate change aside, just about the economic reality of their lives.

KIM BROWN: We spoke to some of the thousands who took to the streets on Saturday.

SUMMER McCAFFERTY, DDS: I’m here for the Science March. I’m here for science education, for women in science, for scientific funding. Basically, you know, for a science stance. I’m against the general pervasive denial of science that is going on now.

MARY JO ONDRECHEN: My name is Mary Jo Ondrechen. I’m Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University in Boston. I’m here to stand up for science, to stand up for science diversity, and Native Americans in science. I’m here to talk about my own research, and that science creates jobs, creates new industries, and protects the planet, and also defends the country, national security. Defends our warriors in the military.

KIM BROWN: Many of those who work, or study in the science fields, were concerned by government de-funding science programs. Not just for themselves, but what it could mean for the country as a whole.

DIANA CORDERO: I go to research in the summers, and most of them are funded by NOAA, and I know that if I go to grad school, I’ll get funding from the government, which is getting cut. So, it’s very discouraging for my future, because I don’t know where I stand.

MICHAEL MOSKOWITZ: Modern chemistry can’t exist without the National Science Foundation, or the National Institutes of Health. And the both of those are on the chopping block. So, if we want to have basic research, and you cure disease, come up with alternative energy sources, then it’s imperative that those survive

MARY JO ONDRECHEN: I was standing on Pennsylvania Avenue for his inaugural address, and I heard it over the loudspeaker, it was the height of hypocrisy. American innovation has driven the economy for decades, and now he wants to cut the funding for the research that feeds American innovation. We will not continue to be leaders in technology and industry, without continued investment in scientific research.

MICHAEL MANN: To try to defund the satellite missions, simply because of the inconvenient data that they’re gathering about the reality of climate change, is just so wrong-headed, it’s hard to even describe.

It’s fundamentally a threat to all of civilization. It’s sort of like knowing that your child has a fever of 103 degrees, and then deciding to stop measuring the temperature anymore, because you don’t like the information that you’re getting. That’s affectively what the Trump administration is trying to do here.

KIM BROWN: The fight against climate change, is being framed as a public health issue by experts.

GEORGES BENJAMIN, M.D.: We’re going to see an enormous cost to our health, to our economics. Just think about what happens as these infectious diseases begin to go to warmer climates. We’ve already seen dengue, zika, there’s yellow fever now recurring in Brazil. So, these insect borne diseases are a serious public health threat.

JONATHAN FOLEY: Climate change is front and center a health issue, and a security issue, and an economic issue. But health, I mean, when you’ve got hotter, more humid days. Asthma cases, emergency room visits, cardiovascular incidents, all increase exponentially, costing a huge burden to our healthcare system, which is already stressed out.

So, this is terrible and expensive, and people suffer. People literally die. And that’s in America, let alone in other countries where infrastructure’s even worse, where changes in climate might bring in new diseases, increase terrible floods, or destroy food supplies and food security.

So, this is dangerous stuff. This isn’t theoretical. This isn’t about polar bears. This is about the people we love, the people around us, our own kids.

KIM BROWN: Drastic proposed budget cuts to government agencies such as the EPA, NASA, NOAA and the National Institutes of Health, is what drew many out onto the streets of Washington today, those within the scientific and medical communities, in addition to that of the general public.

But they say, “Don’t worry. If you didn’t get out here on Saturday, they’ll be back in force next Saturday for the People’s Climate March.

Reporting from Washington, D.C. for The Real News Network, I’m Kim Brown.

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