Scientists gather for Washington, D.C. march against "alternative facts"
There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of publick happiness. - George Washington, First State of the Union Address
Despite dreary weather, thousands of scientists and supporters of the scientific community partook in Saturday's March for Science, against officials setting aside evidence-based research in favor of playing politics.
With organizers initially estimating turnout at around 40,000, the March for Science was one of the largest marches in the nation's capital since mass demonstrations during President Trump's inauguration and the record-breaking Women's March the day after. The Washington, D.C. march was the flagship in a worldwide call to action involving over 600 independently-organized events everywhere from Alabama to Vietnam. Even the Arctic joined in.
Leading the Washington, D.C. event was science educator Bill Nye, greeted like a rock star when he took his place with dozens of others along a long blue "March for Science" banner at the head of the march. "Science is powerful, it's not partisan, science serves all of us," Nye told media. "Together we can, dare I say it, save the world!"
Though the March for Science wasn't explicitly against Trump, many marched with signs admonishing the president and the Republican Party for a perceived attack on decades of science-driven policy. The Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, and NASA's Earth research programs all face significant cuts under Trump's 2018 budget proposal. Several parodied Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" comment, whose revisionist undertone, coupled with the removal of climate change terminology from the White House, sparked the first calls online for scientists to start organizing.
The March for Science is the latest in a continuing trend of "marches on Washington," following in the footsteps of the Women's March, held by groups voicing concern over the Trump administration's interests and agenda. Within 100 days of his inauguration, Washington, D.C. has seen large-scale marches for Women's rights, indigenous rights, immigrant rights, and, most recently, calling on the president to release his tax returns.
While the March for Science hosted thousands of scientists from a wide variety of scientific fields, thousands are expected to attend a march specifically against Trump's climate stance next week, a sequel to a 2014 New York City march which attracted nearly 300,000 during a U.N. climate conference.