On April 22, thousands of people marched across countless US cities in order to support and celebrate science, as well as raise awareness on its impact on society.
In New York City, demonstrators took up an estimated ten blocks along Central Park West. In the Boston Common, students from M.I.T. and Harvard marched over the bridge from Cambridge. And in Washington D.C., demonstrators packed the National Mall and rallied in lab coats. The message across all of these marches was stern and simple: this march is a response to President Trump’s hostile rhetoric on science regarding climate change.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump largely failed to address global warming, promising to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and instead focus on promoting fossil fuels and deregulations in order to promote economic growth. Over the past five years, Trump has also tweeted about global warming being a hoax and that vaccines do indeed cause autism. However, what is most alarming to these marchers is Trump’s appointments to his cabinet and his proposed budget cuts to scientific and environmental organizations. Trump’s first proposed budget as President includes a 31% cut in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and an 18% cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health. His appointee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has repeatedly rallied against Obama’s Clean Power Plan and even sued the EPA as Oklahoma’s Attorney General.
The marchers have repeatedly stated that they do not seek to make scientific support a partisan issue. For them, seeking a clean environment and a robust scientific investment in the future should not be a polarizing political issue. Indeed, one of the main topics for the march was reaching out to red-state America and gaining their support in the fight. Oddly, President Trump neglected to directly address the marchers in his Earth Day statement but did state that “my administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks…As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.” In due time, the President may have to alter his stance on science, or risk a severe political backlash from disgruntled voters.