On Saturday, April 22nd, I marched in the Philadelphia science march. Thousands of people were reported to have marched in Philadelphia, and tens of thousands of people marched across the country. I heard a variety of scientists speak. These scientists talked about the importance of the public and our leaders understanding science.
Many people seem to believe that the march was only for scientists. While there were a lot of scientists there, this was certainly wrong. The march was for anyone who cares about science, for anyone who cares about our country’s future, for anyone who cares about empirical truth.
Why did I march in the science march?
I would like to point to a sign that I saw to help answer this question. I saw a sign that read “Gravity is a hoax.” I marched in the science march because our president has denied empirical truths as fundamental as gravity. Trump has literally said “I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.” With 97% of all climate scientists agreeing, climate change is an empirical fact, in the same manner in which gravity is an empirical fact. Trump has also said “You take this little beautiful baby and you pump . . . We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.” While there have been many studies attempting to determine whether vaccines cause autism or not, no reliable studies have provided evidence showing that vaccines cause autism. In fact, modern research suggests that autism may be largely or entirely genetic. Trump’s claim that vaccines cause autism is also blatantly wrong.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has said that “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” While I could point to asteroid impacts as an example of the danger of politicians ignoring science, there is a much more pressing threat: climate change. Here is a reliable NASA source explaining the effects of climate change, and I’ve also linked to two very helpful videos, one focusing on climate change effects and the other on misconceptions. Climate change will be catastrophic, causing droughts, mass extinction, rising sea levels, hurricanes, and other negative effects. If we limit our emissions now, we could probably be able to reverse the damage, albeit over several decades. If we don’t limit our emissions, we may reach a point of no return soon. Our climate may spin into a positive feedback loop, where increased temperatures melt ice, releasing methane and water vapor, both of which are potent greenhouse gasses, into the atmosphere, thus causing yet more warming. Denial of facts doesn’t alter said facts. If we deny the existence of climate change, climate change won’t go away. Science is the process of accepting and learning facts, and the science march advocated that process.
We are at a dangerous point. Not only does our president blatantly deny facts, scientific and otherwise, many of our citizens also deny facts. If you believe that climate change is a hoax, you are a threat to mankind. If you believe that vaccines cause autism, you are a threat to your children(or to the children you may someday have) and to mankind. If you think that the earth was created 6,000 years ago, you are a threat to yourself and to mankind. Without citizens who understand facts and science, any democracy is destined to fail. We may very well destroy ourselves. Science is incredibly important, and without science, mankind will destroy itself. That is a fact. That is why I marched in the science march. Science is a fact, no matter what political party, religion, or background you come from.