Scientist Says the Time for (Re)Action is Now

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Courtesy / Facebook

The March for Science logo.

When President Donald Trump’s administration silenced federal scientists and instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze its grants Tuesday, a San Antonio scientist decided to take a cue from last weekend’s Women’s March and take a stand.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Berman began organizing that very evening, creating a Facebook page for a March For Science in Washington, D.C. By Wednesday afternoon, the group had more than 315,000 followers.

Since then, Berman and fellow scientist Caroline Weinberg have established an active Twitter handlewebsite and Google form where followers can sign up to help. Overwhelmed with inquiries, Berman declined an interview on Wednesday.

Sister marches in other parts of the world are popping up as well, including this one in London.

It’s unclear whether the March for Science in Washington will approach the scale of other protests resisting Trump and his policies. Currently, the Facebook group discussion is very active, with the “white coats” sharing their opinions and inspiring one another to get involved.

One wrote: “I’m so thankful for this group … as a scientist in Texas it can feel a bit lonely.”

Such activism is uncommon for the scientific community, which tends to remain politically neutral. But Trump’s policy promises have sparked concern for health and environmental protections.

“These actions don’t just threaten scientists — they threaten everyone in the country who breathes air, drinks water and eats food,” Andrew Rosenberg, Center for Science and Democracy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, stated in a news release unrelated to the march organization. “These agency scientists carry out research in support of policies that protect our health and safety and help farmers, and it makes no sense to put up walls between them and the public, or unilaterally halt the work they do.”

During his campaign, Trump promised to significantly reduce EPA regulations, claiming they place unnecessary burdens on U.S. businesses.

“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it’s out of control,” Trump said in a meeting with automakers Tuesday.

In addition to restricting government employees in several agencies from communicating with the public, Trump is requiring EPA’s research to undergo review by his administration, placing future projects on “temporary hold.” He also ordered the agency to delete its climate data from its website, though recent reports indicate his administration is backtracking that mandate.

Many EPA employees say this degree of control is unprecedented for the agency, which Republican President Richard Nixon created in 1970 with strong bipartisan support.

As of Friday, no March for Science events have been publicly organized in San Antonio or Austin, but at least one is expected after former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent comments to the committee overseeing his confirmation as U.S. Energy Secretary. He believes that climate change is occurring, but “the question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth.”

Like several of Trump’s cabinet appointees, Perry has been predominantly pro-oil as governor of Texas, at one point proposing to abolish the very department he will now oversee. He has also played a substantial role in making Texas the largest wind energy producer in the U.S.

Trump’s selection to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his career fighting the agency and has vowed to limit “unnecessary regulation” that he said drains billions of dollars from the U.S. economy.

Environmentalists argue that regulations force companies to internalize some of the costs otherwise absorbed by citizens through health expenses, lost work days, and a wide range of externalities. Some point to recent polls that show the majority of Americans – Republicans included – believe EPA regulations should be left as is or strengthened.

6 thoughts on “Scientist Says the Time for (Re)Action is Now

  1. I am with you. I think the scientists should broaden their march to include a march for climate change recognition. Let me know how I can help from Canada. I am not a scientist. This is why I think u need to expand your focus. So that we are able to bring out every person who believes we are facing climate catastrophe based on the science.

    Pat Smith
    jandpsmith@sympatico.ca

  2. When I joined up with this org, I was told it was secret…24 hours later, it has exploded. People who support science are welcome, you do not have to be an actual scientist yourself.

  3. I think it’s time for a “Clean Power March” through out the country to remind people we still have climate issues and need alternative energy sources
    to continue life on this planet.

  4. I am not a scientist but am outraged at the gag orders being placed on our scientific community. We must support you in keeping the truth before the public. I watched an oil rig being flared 24/7 for 3 months just 1/2 mile from m home. There were more appropriate methods for burning off the glasses but it was more expensive. This situation was not unique to the area. So, since we live in rural Colorado, there weren’t enough voices to stop the practices. And, of course these practices were supported by our local government representatives because it brought dollars to the county.

  5. I am not a scientist per se, but a retired science teacher (43 years) . I have been advocating science and wise stewardship of our material and energy resources since 1968. I am appalled at this new administration’s blatant disregard for our planet and its future. I would be happy to help organise a march here in Boise, but have limited resources for traveling far.l

  6. The March for Science main group, the private one, is over three quarters of a million members now.

    We’ve already been discussing March for Arts next.

    It’s gonna take a lot of marches to cover all the ground he’s dug up.

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