WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Thousands of scientists, would-be scientists, students, and their supporters descended on Washington Saturday and hundreds of cities worldwide to declare science "under attack" and to protest what they see as a growing trend by government to ignore scientific evidence when making policy.
While billing itself as nonpartisan, the March for Science movement, including rallies and marches in more than 600 communities, clearly sees the Trump administration, which has expressed skepticism about man's role in climate change and has eased regulations on coal and oil production, as a threat to science.
Of particular concern to critics is the Trump administration's budget that calls for sizable cuts in funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
“We didn’t choose to be in this battle, but it has come to the point where we have to fight because the stakes are too great,” said outspoken climate scientist Michael Mann.
Satellite marches were held nationwide in cities big and small, including Auburn, Ala., Valdosta, Ga., Honolulu, Clearwater, Fla., Cleveland, Dallas, and Green Bay, Wis., and at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
Rallies were also being held worldwide, including Australia, Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
Organizers of the march encouraged scientists in their ranks to wear their lab coats, goggles, stethoscopes, field gear and other work clothes to make their presence known among a group that frequently shies away from public political displays.
Despite the rain, participants stood in lines 45 minutes long outside the two bag-check security checkpoints along the grounds of the Washington Monument.They carried an array of handmade and pre-a to printed signs representing every scientific discipline.
Michelle Smith's read, "Are Marches Effective? Ask a Sociologist.""Indeed they are, but there are a lot of variables," said Smith, a 53-year old community college teacher from outside Cleveland, Ohio. "The sustained effort is critical. And I think we have that. It's not only happening here, but throughout the world."
The mood was decidedly upbeat despite the drizzle and included plenty of nerdy humor. One marcher carried an erasable lab-room whiteboard for posting his signs, so he could erase them and update as warranted.Obscure scientific references abounded, such as a 7-year-old’s “No Taxation Without Taxonomy.” Taxonomy is the science of classifying animals, plants and other organisms.
One marcher said he planned to nerdify an old style anti-war chant:"What do we want?"
RIGOROUSLY TESTED HYPOTHESES!"When do we want them?
AFTER THEY'VE BEEN PEER REVIEWED!
Show me a Nation with a science-hostile government, and I'll show you a society with failing health, wealth, & security.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 22, 2017
In Asheville, N.C., several hundred people from various parts of Western North Carolina gathered for a local march.Two brothers from Hickory, N.C. said they drove back from spring break with their family a day early to participate in the march.
Brian Schoellner, 11, said he is here for the National Parks. "I love animals and want parks to stay around for years to come," he said.
In Geneva, marchers carried signs that said, “Science — A Candle in the Dark” and “Science is the Answer.” In Berlin, several thousand people participated in a march from the one of the city’s universities to the Brandenburg Gate landmark. “We need to make more of our decision based on facts again and less on emotions,” said Meike Weltin, a doctorate student at an environmental institute near the capital.
In London, physicists, astronomers, biologists and celebrities gathered for a march past the city’s most celebrated research institutions. Supporters carried signs showing images of a double helix and chemical symbols.
Speakers were to include Dr. Nancy Roman, chief of NASA's Astronomy and Relativity Programs, Jonathan Foley, executive director of the California Academy of Science; artist and environmentalist Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who drew public attention to the water crisis in Flint, Mich.; musician Questlove Gomez; and TV personality and science educator Bill Nye.