More marches are being planned to protest the Trump administration in the streets of Washington D.C. — one in the name of science and the other for climate change.
This Saturday, scientists and other protesters will gather on the National Mall for the March for Science, followed a week later by the People’s Climate March.
Since President Trump took office, Democrats, scientists, and climate activists have criticized his administration, saying its policies sideline science’s role in public policy — from recommending spending cuts at federal science agencies to dismantling a large portion of Obama-era climate change regulations and policies.
March organizers say Trump has brought them together. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a national co-chairwoman of the March for Science who will speak on Saturday, said, “I think it’s fair to say that this administration catalyzed the happening of this march. There’s no doubt about that.”
Science activists created the March for Science in the hopes of replicating the Jan. 21 Women’s March. They believe they can draw a large crowd to D.C., as well as inspire satellite protests throughout the country, all to show general support for science policy.
Activists are publicizing the general science march as non-partisan and say their message won’t demand specific policy outcomes — but that science should serve as a guide for public policy. Speakers will include Obama-era officials, musicians, and television science educator, Bill Nye.
The second march, the People’s Climate March, does have the specific goal of pressuring policymakers to focus on tackling climate change instead of backing the Trump administration’s energy proposals.
Lindsay Meiman, a spokeswoman for 350.org, a climate group that’s part of the steering committee of the climate protest, explains, “The March for Science is about recognizing this truth, and the People’s Climate March is about acting on it.”
Meiman added, “After Donald Trump was elected, we understood it was more important than ever to come together to take action around both pushing back against this administration … [and] putting forward a vision for transitioning off fossil fuels.”
The People’s Climate March was actually planned in 2016 for whoever took the White House, to make the case for a faster transition from fossil fuels. Organizers hope it will be a sequel to a 2014 climate march in New York, which was one of the largest single protests in U.S. history.
Trump’s first budget proposal called for large funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA Earth science budget, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In addition to activists, some Republicans have expressed concern regarding the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts, as well, saying the cuts could target federal science research.
Former President George W. Bush’s first EPA chief, Christine Whiteman, warned of “politicized” science within the government, stating, “We do not want to promulgate regulations, rules and laws based on anecdotal evidence. It’s not just NIH, it’s EPA, it’s NOAA. We’re seeing science becoming politicized across the board.”
Others state that scientists should face criticism, as well. Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, stated, “The problem we face now is that there are very large megaphones at the disposal of people who are promoting their own special interests in the guise of scientific facts.”
Ebell added, “Climate policy is not science, and saying, ‘I know what we have to have is the cap-and-trade system or the Clean Power Plan’ … I mean, give me a break.”
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