WASHINGTON, D.C. – The scenery for the world’s most watched March for Science may have featured the political icons of the nation’s capital, but the weather was pure Seattle.
Today’s rally brought thousands of people to the National Mall for hours’ worth of teach-ins and speeches, despite a Seattle-style drizzle.
Bill Nye the Science Guy, a co-chair for the national March for Science movement, struck on the theme of the day when he noted that many policymakers in Washington and around the world were “deliberately and actively suppressing science.”
He also noted the stereotypical view of scientists as detached nerds who dwell on topics with little relevance to society as a whole.
“But our numbers here today show the world that science is for all,” he told the crowd. “Our lawmakers must know and accept that science serves every one of us, every citizen of every nation and society. Science must shape policy. Science is universal. Science brings out the best of us. With an informed, optimistic view of the future, together we can – dare I say it? – save the world.”
Washington’s March for Science was the keystone event for a wave of Earth Day rallies that popped up today, starting in Australia and following the world’s rotation to Seattle and more than 600 other cities.
Although Nye didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name, the marchers’ signs and chants made clear that the Trump administration’s plans to weaken environmental policies, downplay scientific findings on climate change and cut funding for health research were high on their list of deplorable developments.
Another March for Science co-chair, public health advocate Mona Hanna-Attisha, said strong support for environmental science was needed in order to head off crises like the fouling of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, which she played a part in exposing in 2015.
“Flint is what happens when we dismiss science,” she told the D.C. crowd.
Trump’s reaction to the rallies took the form of a Earth Day statement issued by the White House, in which he said “rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”
Today’s marchers would probably agree that science doesn’t depend on ideology, but would also argue that science has to be defended from ideological attacks.
“It’s important that we’re explicit in our support,” said Liz Gardner, who works for a cancer research group in the Washington area. “People are used to standing up for causes, but science is not a traditional ’cause.’ Now we have to stand up and make it a cause.”
Here’s a selection of scenes from today’s rally in the nation’s capital: