The March for Science celebrated its anniversary today. And although the turnout around the world was significantly smaller than last year, supporters haven’t lost any of their energy.
The global grassroots movement has evolved from having a million people take to the streets in 2017 in more than 450 cities to year-round advocacy for science and for evidence-based policies by government officials. But 14 April is still the big event for many local groups.
Below are some of the highlights from events around the world, including the flagship rally in Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C., fewer marchers but still fired up by Trump policies
At today’s march and rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the flagship event of the day’s global series of rallies, the crowd that gathered under sunny skies was considerably smaller than at the inaugural March for Science a year ago, when attendees packed the same space, a wide expanse near the Washington Monument, in the rain.
“It’s disappointing to see so few people” at the rally, said John Cosgrove, a retired high school science teacher who traveled from Easton, Pennsylvania, to attend, as he did last year. “It’s waned a little bit, but the energy is still there.”
Science organizations that partnered with today’s March, among them AAAS (the publisher of Science), aimed to promote a nonpartisan message of support for science and its use in public policy. That message was echoed by today’s speakers, who included internet pioneer Vinton Cerf; public health expert Susan Sorenson of the University of Pennsylvania, who spoke about the need for research on gun violence; and David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University in College Park and former chief oceanographer of the U.S. Navy. Titley led a Navy review of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, and said that when it comes to climate, “Ultimately the facts on the ground and the evidence win.”
But national politics and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump were very much on the minds of many in the crowd.
“Since Trump got into office, Scott Pruitt [administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] has been rolling back environmental regulations,” said Dianne Holland, who lives in northern Virginia and whose husband works for a government science agency. She attended last year’s March for Science, and since then, “I think what’s been happening with the administration has gotten worse. But I think the activism for science has improved.”
For example, she said, attending last year’s rally helped encourage her to work in her state to support petitions to ban offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. “I am more aware of the details of what’s happening than a year ago.”