Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017 will be remembered as the first ever March for Science. People came together for marches held in Washington D.C. and in over 600 cities across the globe. The March was held in defense of scientific truth and discovery during a time when "alternative facts" are ruling the discussion politically. Issues addressed at the March included climate change and environmental protection, the funding of scientific research, increasing diversity and awareness within scientific fields, and promoting the idea of questioning in a world filled with fake news.
Why is there a need for a march?
This was one of the burning questions that came to my mind during the march. Why do I need to be marching for science? What has gone wrong in society that makes a march intended to protect the integrity of the scientific field necessary? I grew up learning about cells and the ecosystem and famous scientists and their discoveries. I went through phases of topics I was obsessed with, such as archeology and all things related to outer space. I grew up with the validity of the scientific method instilled me. I was told to question everything and to believe nothing unless there was solid evidence to support a claim. Even today as a Psychology major who is currently taking a Research Methods class, I am still learning the intense process of experimentation and research studies, and it only makes me respect the field so much more. So why don't other people respect science?
Science is defined as "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation." The knowledge that builds science up comes from continuous study, and is constantly changing as we learn more about the world. However, it should only be changed with research and evidence that fully backs up new claims. Today, the legitimacy of the scientific method is brought into question because of how prominent opinions are in today's news stories. With fake news and "alternative facts," it's possible to believe any kind of statement if you don't put in the work to fact check it. Charismatic leaders who push their own agendas over the common good also put to test scientific data. When the legitimacy of science is questioned, so is everything we thought we knew about our planet.
Why I March...
I participated in this years march because I believe in the scientific process. I believe that funding for research is necessary and I believe that other people should recognize that too. I believe that climate change is a thing and occurs because of human kind's negative impact on the environment. I march because I love the outdoors and nature and I believe that the National Parks Service and other environmental protection organizations are a good thing and are extremely important. I march because I believe more women and minorities should be encouraged into STEM fields. I march because I believe all living creatures should be protected and respected. I march because I believe in scientific research and I believe that scientific discoveries change the world for the better.
How to Support
While the March has come and gone, there are still so many ways to support the sciences and scientific research. Finding community organizations that you can volunteer with or donate too will aid research going on within your own community. Currently, the U.S. government is working on the budget for the next year. Talking to representatives about organizations that should be supported and advocating for policy that aids science and research is another way to show support. Educating others about the importance of science is another way. Finally, one of the easiest ways to continue to support scientific research is to question everything. Don't fall for fake news and "alternative facts." Find the evidence and expose the opinion.
Remember, there's no Planet B.
For more information on the March for Science and ways to get involved, click here
(Photos taken at the Mobile March for Science courtesy of Marian Cook)