Earth Day 2017 was a wet and wild affair in Washington DC.
Science lovers were drawn to the March for Science in the US capital, gathering in the tens of thousands to resist attacks on scientific consensus and progress, reaffirm trust in the scientific process, and show support for evidence-based public policies.
The march was birthed under duress, as government agencies were being muzzled and websites purged of references to climate change. Claiming ignorance as a virtue, The incoming president claimed climate change was a hoax.
A simple suggestion in a discussion thread on reddit launched the idea and within months concerned citizens at over 600 sites internationally came out in force.
The event started early with speeches and music rallying the assembled on the National Mall. Jon Batiste and Stay Human led the festivities and kept the damp and drizzled group grooving.
Young and old, man, woman, and child – every tribe and tongue, way and walk of life milled among the multitude. Scientists, teachers, artists, grandmothers — the mall in DC teemed with variety, a literal intersection of the national complexion.
You could read unity in the faces, hear the outcries on every sign proudly hoisted.
Marchers sought an end to harassment of scientists like Eugene Gu.
Since the inauguration, Gu is one of many researchers whose work has been halted. Gu works to help small children with congenital heart and kidney disease, and yet he is unable to protect these children in the current political climate.
Not the new normal
These new-found protesting besties gave voice to a disgust with the cronyism masquerading as cabinet appointments.
In the age of Citizens United, peddling influence is now normalized despite the corrosion to our society it invites. Yet in the most recent election cycle, it seemed as if blatant conflict of interest and a lack of fit for the post were the only two qualifications needed to get a cabinet appointment.
Marchers sought an EPA chief to implement a rational set of public policies, policies designed to direct the best available evidence to promote the general welfare instead of appointing someone who has made a career of opposing the EPA to head the department and who has since his confirmation started supplanting scientists with industry insiders.
Perhaps most of all, marchers gathered to grapple with the danger to posterity posed by all the shortsighted, self-serving, anti-scientific positions.
One day, we’ll all be gone, Donald Trump too – but our children will be here. And their children, as will the animals and plants with whom they will share the planet.
In the final analysis, the March for Science wasn't about a soggy spring day, nor was it about Donald Trump. It was about the future.
The marchers recognized the stakes, for when reason sleeps, monsters walk the streets.
To keep the monsters at bay, these wet Washington walkers took to the streets instead. In the rain, chanting, singing, shouting, and laughing as if their country and their lives depended on it.