This Earth Day, thousands of science lovers are uniting for the March for Science, a national gathering of people who love science. Although hundreds of satellite marches are planned, the biggest event will be held in Washington, D.C. There, the March for Science route is designed to catch the attention of the politicians who desperately need to hear its message.
Nowhere in its mission statement does the March for Science specifically mention President Trump, but it's clear that his administration has inspired increased urgency among the science community. The organizers acknowledge that the march has sparked increased conversation about the intersection of science and politics, and whether scientists should dive into the debate. Their answer? Absolutely. From the mission statement:
"In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?"
And speak out they will. The march will be preceded by teach-ins and a rally on the National Mall. It's no accident that the rally's main stage faces toward the White House.
Though the grounds opened at 8 a.m., the actual march doesn't begin until 2 p.m. From 15th and Constitution, near the Washington Monument, the march will proceed down east down Constitution, passing several of the Smithsonians (including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History!), then heading south on 3rd NW and into Union Square, where the route ends.
The route makes the science champions highly visible, right in the heart of D.C., which is exactly the point. As the organizers note on the event's site, the rally is "a call for politicians to implement science based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and our daily lives."
Hopefully, it's a point well taken. Rhea Suh, the president of the National Resources Defense Council, called Trump's nascent presidency "100 days of harm." In a recent column on the NRDC's website, Suh highlighted the threat to the environment and the scientists seeking to protect it.
Trump has acted again and again to undo half a century of bipartisan progress in protecting our rights to clean water, air, and lands. He’s moved to part ways with longstanding American values of conservation in the public interest. And he’s betrayed the covenant we’ve forged with our children to leave them a livable world.
And that is exactly why we need things like the March for Science, to highlight that the American people understand that we have critically needed resources that we must protect. Happy Earth Day, everyone.