This Earth Day There Will Be a Science March on Washington

With the recent shifting winds in politics, the notion of activism has begun to spread into more generalized territory; the Women’s March, a Day Without Immigrants, a Day Without a Woman, and other widespread events have already played their parts. On April 22nd, 2017—Earth Day—scientists and science supporters from all regions of the political spectrum will raise their own voices in a march on Washington.

A Nonpartisan Event Born Online and Spread Through Social Media

The initial idea of holding a science-based march on the nation’s capital was first floated on discussion site Reddit. The idea gathered momentum quickly, eventually leading to the creation of an official website, Facebook group, and Twitter account. From there, support for the march has continued to grow into a proper, organized event.

The march is intended to be a completely nonpartisan event, with scientists, educators, parents, and other science-supporting Americans hailing from all sides of politics. Though there are certainly some aspects of science that have been embraced by certain groups and parties more than others, the march and its tenets are not aimed at any particular political leaning. Science, of course, belongs to everyone (and, by the same token, can face attacks from anyone).

Why a Science March?

Recent concerns about the fate of the EPA, the nation’s energy policies, plans to address climate change, etc. have culminated in a very real desire for science to play a larger role in informing U.S. policy. “Publicly funded and publicly communicated science,” the group’s website holds, is a “pillar of human freedom and democracy.”

Perhaps the simplest, most all-encompassing concern of the science march is that of creating an understanding of empirical evidence, statistical significance, reproducibility, peer review, the scientific method, and other basic concepts that make proper research reliable and repeatable.

Detractors of the march have argued that the event is an overreach, as science is apolitical. However, it is because science is inherently apolitical that others support the march; by supporting the basis of empirical evidence-based policy, say supporters, the U.S. can avoid the manipulation of science concepts for the benefit of a particular political bent.

The planned science march is expected to make an impact on both the science community and the global community at large, in that it’s one of few public outcries the U.S. science community has made in modern history. The mere organization of this event has signified to the world that Americans are not deaf to science, and that thousands of science professionals and private citizens feel strongly about its value as a public good.

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