Earth Day. April 22. I remember the first one, way back in 1970, when I was working for an environmental regulatory authority (my one stint working for the government). Now the celebration is held around the world (some 193 countries and growing).
But, this year, the celebration is being greatly expanded. Because we have a temporary resident in DC who doesn’t beleive in science- and has surrounded the various federal agencies with know-nothings. A Secretary of Energy who could not remember the name of the agency when running for Presdient- but wanted to abolish it. A lawyer (note- NOT a scientist) who routinely sued the agency he now heads (the Environmental Protection Agency) and doesn’t “believe” in climate change or most environmental protections. (Contrary to the thoughts of this lawyer[and many others], science is not a faith- it’s based on facts and the facts are clearly evident.) A physician (Tom Price) whose medical affiliation is with a group that opposed Medicare, Medicaid, any governmental regulation of physicians; believes that immigrants cause epidemics, HIV is not the cause of AIDS, that abortion causes breast cancer; and is an offshoot of the John Birch Society, heads up the US Health and Human Services.
This scares not only me- but manifest numbers of other technical types. Which is why tomorrow has been set aside not only as Earth Day- but as the March for Science. Because we recognize that science is vital for our health, our safety, our economies- even our governments. (Despite the protestations of Bannon and his ilk.)
This is NOT a political march- in that it is a group of Democratic Party members; most scientists are Republicans. We, the techies, are marching because science saves lives. And, we now have a government that sees fit to slash the NIH budget for research by 20%. That terminates most climate research (not just at EPA; the weather satellite program at NASA, which provides some climate research is also denied funding). Among many other critical functions for our citizenry.
So, I will be attending this march, probably leaving my shul’s services a little early. To add my name, my voice, and my presence to this vital activity. (Yes, I consider this tikun olam, the saving of many lives, which means that the rules of the Sabbath are adjusted for such causes.)
The goal is to champion science and ensure that citizens are aware how critical science is for the world’s prosperity. And, scientists are among the least politically active of all groups- but that is changing now. They are threatened by policies that terminate their research and prohibit publishing the results of their studies.
The organizers hope that this march will help to humanize science, to allow folks to see that it is people out to advance human knowledge and better inform our society. The marchers hope this will affirm science as a vital part of democracy and therefore increase support for science and scientists.
Are you going, too? The marches are all over the US (and a few other countries). Just click on this link to find one near you.