SanDiego350 Reports on the Science March

By Pat Masters, SanDiego350

Photo by P. Masters.

Last Saturday’s Science March drew fifteen thousand scientists and science enthusiasts, energized by attacks on science and the environment by the Trump administration. They turned out on Earth Day to march for science and evidence-based policy. The crowds jammed Civic Center Plaza and surrounding streets, their signs urging respect for science and support for research that finds cures, protects the environment, and underpins technology and innovation.

The March for Science started as a social media campaign and grew into rallies in over 600 cities around the world. Organizers spoke up for logic and reason and education. They emphasized the need for scientists to defend scientific discovery, the consensus on climate change, and fight for Planet Earth.

Reflecting intense concern over the administration’s dismissal of climate science, San Diego’s rally kicked off with Professor Ralph Keeling, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego – the climate scientist who is carrying on his father’s pioneering research on carbon dioxide measurements that track the rate of global warming. Keeling drew cheers from the crowd by declaring the debate on the reality of climate change “has been over for decades” and 97% of the published science calls climate change a “serious problem, … even that undersells it.”

Aspirations were even higher for this future astronaut! Photo by P. Masters.

Other speakers emphasized the role of knowledge and education in creating an informed population and educating the scientists of the future. Four of those future scientists, middle and high school students who earned First Place awards at the Science Fair, spoke about their career hopes and described their prize-winning medical and environmental projects.

Numerous marchers carried signs in support of the EPA, climate change research, and climate action. SanDiego350 banners led the march from Civic Center to Waterfront Park. Along the way, we spotted messages both humorous and politically pointed. “Don’t Believe in Science? SAD!”… ”Science – because he can’t make it up!”… “Make America Smart Again”

Many contingents in the march represented San Diego’s thriving medical science and biotech communities. Funding for NIH was a key concern for people carrying “#Science Cures” signs as well as family members of those who have benefited from biomedical research.

Biotech researcher. Photo by P. Masters

I spoke with one biotech researcher at Waterfront Park who wore a pink T-shirt proclaiming, “Science Is Not a Liberal Conspiracy.” I asked why she was marching.

“I’m here because of the administration’s defunding NIH, deconstruction of EPA, investments in the coal industry (sort of 1810), not investing in innovation.”

She also expressed deep concern about the “giant gap between the scientific community and Americans at large understanding science and understanding how it should impact policy…I hope that we can come together as a community and make science accessible to the general public so that we’re not in the situation where science-based facts are being denied.”

One young community activist offered a poignant perspective on what it means when funding for medical research is threatened. “Western Service Workers Association came out in solidarity today with those who are marching for science because a lot of what science does really has an effect on our members who are low-income service workers in San Diego. Defunding diabetes research really hurts our members.”

Young community activist. Photo by P. Masters.

She and her friends held a placard that read, “Dare to Struggle. Dare to Win.”

“That’s why we’re out here today”, she continued, “to create something bigger and tackle these problems and organize solutions.” There’s a sentiment all of us can share.

Photo by P. Masters.

Patricia Masters, a native of the wind-power state of Iowa, earned a doctorate in Biology from UC San Diego.  She has worked as a research scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a consultant in coastal science. Pat now volunteers with SanDiego350 and follows news on renewable energy.

Comments

  1. This march felt like a huge success. It sent an absolutely clear message about the need for science and that it is not a political issue. I’m sure most people felt really stoked from being there, as I did, and that we will all keep up the fight. We’ve done this before and we’ll keep doing it as long as it takes. Then we can go back to our work in science.

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