President Donald Trump’s administration has fulfilled his campaign rhetoric when it comes to waging war on science, from erasing WhiteHouse.gov references to climate change on the day of his inauguration, to banning the term “climate change” at the Department of Energy’s climate office, to proposing massive cuts to medical research to fund a new U.S.-Mexico border wall.
On April 22, a global March for Science will see 400 events in 37 countries, with a massive march in Washington, D.C. Organizers also announced Thursday that prominent scientists Bill Nye, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, and Mona Hanna-Attisha will be honorary co-chairs of the March for Science.
Political action on such a large scale is notable for scientists, who by and large refrain from engaging with politics.
“There’s been a building desire to speak out, especially among young scientists and [the March for Science] became a fulcrum to that shift,” said national co-chair for the march Dr. Jonathan Berman in a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) Friday.
Indeed, the more action the Trump administration takes against science, the more the popular resistance is galvanized to speak out.
Notable scientist and primatologist Jane Goodall this week strongly condemned Trump’s executive order repealing Obama-era climate rules, for example. “[B]eing not a scientist in [the climate] field, I tend to listen to scientists who do work in that field, like Nicholas Stern, and I would not dream of refuting the science that shows climate change is happening,” Goodall said.
“It’s happening everywhere. It’s already having devastating effects in many parts of the word and the droughts are getting worse, flooding’s getting worse, storms, hurricanes are getting more frequent and more violent,” Goodall continued.
Prominent climate scientist and managing director of the Arctic Institute Victoria Herrmann also spoke out this week in a Guardian op-ed that accused the Trump administration of steadily deleting online archives of her research. “Each defunct page is an effort by the Trump administration to deliberately undermine our ability to make good policy decisions by limiting access to scientific evidence,” Herrmann wrote.
“These back-to-back data deletions come at a time when the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average,” Herrmann added. “Just this week, it was reported that the Arctic’s winter sea ice dropped to its lowest level in recorded history. The impacts of a warming, ice-free Arctic are already clear: a decline in habitat for polar bears and other Arctic animals; increases in coastal erosion that force Alaskans to abandon their homes; and the opening up of shipping routes with unpredictable conditions and hazardous icebergs.”
“[W]hile these stories have become an almost monthly fixture, make no mistake,” wrote Climate Central‘s Brian Kahn. “It is extremely abnormal for the Arctic—or any other part of the world for that matter—to be repeatedly blitzed by temperatures this far above normal and the impacts are reshaping the region.”
As the urgency for resistance grows, Goodall told journalists that she is hopeful because so many scientists are heeding the call for action.
“If we allow this feeling of doom and gloom to continue then it will be very, very bad, but my job is to give people hope, and I think one of the main hopes is the fact that people have woken up: people who were apathetic before or didn’t seem to care,” Goodall said.
“Now suddenly it’s like they’ve heard a trumpet call: ‘What can we do? We have to do something,'” the primatologist added.
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