March for science matters


Grace Knotts, Editor-in-Chief

I distinctly remember the day when I fell head-over-heels in love with science. My ninth-grade biology class was in for a treat – a bus with a built-in laboratory had rolled up in the bus loop and was parked in the adjacent lot. Heart racing, I stepped in. Determining if someone had a chance of inheriting sickle-cell anemia excited me to no end. Sounds weird for a 14-year-old, I know, but the flames had been ignited.
From that point on, I realized that I would be happiest with a career in the sciences. I’ve zeroed-in on the forensic sciences, which will be my major when I go to college this fall.
Naturally, upon reading the headlines about the Trump administration’s financial plans concerning the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA, I was incensed. Enraged. How can they claim that such essential agencies aren’t worth as much federal spending?
But there’s hope. Scientists across the nation have organized a “March for Science” set for April 22 in Washington D.C. I plan on going. There are also satellite marches around the globe. A preliminary science march actually already took place in Boston Feb. 19.
Hundreds people rallied in Copley Square, demanding the Trump administration accept empirical reality on issues such as climate change and highlighting the centrality of objective information to making policy, the Washington Post reported.
Inspired by their actions, I’ve decided to lay out the main reasons why everyone should care about the research agencies affected by the Trump administration and should march in April. Hear me out: freezing the funding that goes toward the EPA and NASA will be ultimately destructive.
Trump’s administration plans to cut the EPA’s budget from $510 million to $290 million, according to preliminary directives from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Without a functioning and well-funded EPA, mercury testing of our water sources and particle testing of the atmosphere would not happen. That’s dangerous.
The EPA manages, protects and informs Americans about the environment we live in. It protects human lives from enemies that we can’t fight with a military — chiefly pollution and its effects. Why shouldn’t we prioritize it?
NASA does vital environmental research using its satellites, but Robert Walker, advisor to President Trump, is calling for the space agency to return to “deep-space exploration.” This would completely defund their Earth-research satellites. Conveniently for him, this would get rid of the “politically correct” data NASA provides, even though it’s world-renowned and gives us intimate insight of the effects humans have on this Earth.
This kind of thinking by the Trump team is far from logical, but unfortunately, it’s all too common. Science educator and activist Bill Nye called this unfortunate phenomenon “cognitive dissonance” in an interview with MSNBC.
“You have a worldview that disagrees with what you observe, so you might expect that you’d respect the data and change your mind,” he said. “But that’s not how people are on either side. You just get more entrenched into your worldview.”
Instead of ignoring what science and knowledge can show us, the White House should promote funding that would expedite research on trapping carbon emissions. It should help fund research into new, clean energy sources. Instead, it is slashing funds from agencies that had already launched in these important areas.
I’m pleased that the Boston science rally seems to foretell an even larger turnout for the Washington march. I can easily imagine throngs of people in the streets, holding signs and chanting about climate change and alternative facts.
So, I will attend the April march to protest this abuse of power – not only for my own good, but for the good of this country, the world and all our futures.
I simply cannot sit by during the Trump administration’s assault on the EPA and NASA. As the March for Science website states, “Science, not silence.”