On March 22, 2017, my family and I joined tens of thousands of scientists and supporters of science in over 600 cities on 6 continents in a nonpartisan March for Science.
At the Minnesota State Capitol, it was a beautiful Spring day. Here are some of the signs we spotted in the crowd of more than 10,000:
It felt good.
But there is still much to do to make sure we hold our federal, state, and local governments accountable for implementing rational policies informed by scientific knowledge, particularly with regard to global climate change. As Americans, we owe it to our Alaskan neighbors. As the #1 cumulative national emitter of fossil carbon, we owe it to the rest of humanity. We owe it to the other species with whom we share the Earth. As the potential beneficiaries of technologies that are available now and can limit the future economic havoc of hotter temperatures and rising oceans, while providing us complete energy independence and putting lots of people to work developing a global leadership position in sustainable energy, we owe it to our economy. As fathers and mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers, we owe it to the children to whom we will leave our planet.
The federal budget proposal on the table, if implemented, would cut the EPA’s budget by 31%, eliminating the jobs of 19% of its workforce and terminating the Clean Power plan which is the primary current policy vehicle for meeting our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. This is to be accomplished under the “leadership” of the newly appointed EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, who recently said he “would not agree that [carbon dioxide] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” (Um, it is. It definitely is.) The proposed budget would even terminate NASA’s missions designed to monitor the Earth’s climate.
In an official statement on the March for Science, President Trump said, “Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection.” He went on to say, “My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and environmental risks.”
These are very encouraging statements. If they are serious statements, that would suggest that the President will encourage his EPA Administrator to take the opportunity of talking with his own employees, who can explain to him the facts surrounding the known causal relationships between fossil fuel combustion, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and global warming. It would suggest that the President will begin championing infrastructure investments like this one, to create jobs, develop a leadership position in a sustainable energy economy, and protect the environment. I will be watching with excitement for signs of these developments.
But, just in case, let’s give our representatives in government some encouragement. The activities initiated with the March for Science continue. This week, we are encouraged to contact our representatives to motivate them on this issue. You can see the call to action on the March for Science website.
I’m providing my own letters (copy them if you want!) here, as well as some resources to help you write your own.