Scientists Take To The Streets
The March for Science started as a spark of an idea from the bonfire that was the Women’s March, immediately following Trump’s shocking victory. According to Vox,
Who started the March for Science, and why?
On the day of the Women’s March on Washington, Jonathan Berman, a biology postdoc at the University of Texas Health Science Center, was reading a Reddit thread about an article headlined “All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website.” One comment caught his eye: “There needs to be a Scientists’ March on Washington.”
“The only way to make things happen is to do them,” Berman told me in February. So he purchased the web domain MarchForScience.com, and set up a Facebook and Twitter account. The march will “send the message that we need to have decisions being made based on a thoughtful evaluation of evidence,” he says. And all of a sudden, he had a movement. (Some 521,000 had “liked” the march on Facebook as of Tuesday.)
And with that it went viral. A post-doc lit the match that created this map of satellite marches across the US alone and 600 events across the world on Six Continents!
Most media covered the event as a response to Donald Trump’s threatened budget cuts to science agencies and especially to climate change programs and that scientists felt threatened by the repudiation of science by policymakers altogether in the Trump administration.
While that is all true, I believe it goes much deeper. It’s been brewing for a couple decades as climate scientists have had to come to terms with the political implications of their research findings that the climate is warming, and we humans are responsible. Unlike the Ozone problem, and the Montreal Protocol, where Ronald Reagan cited “the global scientific consensus” and praised international cooperation at his signing of the agreement, the oil industry congealed fast and ferociously to fight them. It was no match.
The largest and most powerful industry in the world set out to change, challenge and confuse the facts long enough, while funding the politicians, think tanks, and forcing (somehow) the media to cover the issue of climate as two equally opposing views (in the name of balance) for far too long, instead of objectivity, that would rely on the vast consensus of scientists to guide its reporting.
All scientists watched as Climate Scientists were on the front lines of the “war on science”, being attacked professionally and personally, watching on as the bogus “Climate E-Mail Gate” was taken up as a genuine controversy in most outlets, and in outlets like Fox News, called “a purge and deletion of all climate data” as I experienced personally as a guest in this segment. I was forced to do something very uncomfortable and unusual in my many years on national TV, call them “liars” on the air. It was just too much. I had debated deniers for years on TV and Radio and presented facts and logic in debates against pundits whose talking points came straight from the every-changing alt-fact set of think tanks like Heritage and Heartland Institutes and the American Petroleum Institute. I was just mad as hell and couldn’t take it anymore as they say.
It was no surprise to see Michael Mann, Director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center (ESSC), (and Climate Talk Radio Contributor) leading the march as he reluctantly became the poster scientist for abuse, lawsuits and personal attacks after releasing the iconic “Hockey-Stick Graph”, but what did surprise me was to see the sheer diversity of the scientific community that came out on Earth Day, from every discipline in a non-partisan almost primordial scream at the establishments of government and media that should hold them accountable, to defend the underpinning of American progress: evidence-based peer-reviewed science.
Nerdy signs and slogans abound, “What do we want? Evidence-Based Science! When do we want it? After Peer-Review!”
But make no mistake, scientists are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore!