Watch five hours of special live coverage from the March for Science. Scientists from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to defend the vital role science plays in the nation’s health, safety, economy and government.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. Welcome to our special 5-hour broadcast from the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of people are rallying for science around the world, already in Seoul, South Korea, in London, in Berlin, in Paris, in Australia. Here, it’s an overcast day, but the spirits are high. In a few moments, we’re going to be going to the stage of the march for Washington right next to the Washington Monument, but we’re going to start off by talking with one of the organizers of today’s event in D.C.
Beka Economopoulos is with us. She’s with the Natural History Museum. And, Beka, if you can talk about—if you can talk about what is happening right here and how this got organized?
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Sure. Today, tens of thousands of scientists and supporters are turning out in the Mall in D.C. to stand up for science, to champion the role that science plays in serving the common good. So, scientists are like real-life heroes who protect the people and places we love. And the attacks on science are really attacks on our families, our communities and our collective future.
AMY GOODMAN: What attacks?
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Right now, the government threatens to muzzle scientists, defund basic research, has removed mentions of climate change from websites and threatens to defund critical programs around environmental justice concerns, NIH. So it’s really health research, climate change, EPA science that are in the crosshairs.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, there is a major march organized by 350.org and others next Saturday, on April 29th. What’s the difference between the People’s Climate March and this week? Why did the scientists decide, the scientists and science enthusiasts, decide that they wanted to make this on Earth Day, a week before? We’re seeing a lot of white coats, as well, around here.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Well, the answer is really sort of boring and practical. So, Earth Day Network has been holding an event on this day every year for the last couple of decades and had the permit all day on the Mall for teach-ins, which is something that the science march is not just a march, but it’s actually the largest global day of teach-ins ever in human history. So, people are really wanting to champion science literacy and really communicate the value of science in society and the way it impacts our lives.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us some of the people who are going to be here. I know, performing, Questlove, and you’ve got Jon Batiste and Stay Human, the Colbert stage band. But the scientists, like "The Science Guy."
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Sure. Well, Bill Nye, "The Science Guy." There’s also Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha, who is the pediatrician in Flint who broke the Flint water crisis story. There’s—
AMY GOODMAN: And she has a fascinating story, because she’s an Iraqi-American scientist, and she says if she weren’t allowed into this country, she never would have been able to do what she did in Flint, so she’s also talking about immigration and science.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Absolutely. Science knows no borders. The natural world and rivers and the atmosphere and the air that we breathe is something that transcends boundaries and we have to protect. And scientists are the ones that are really gaining insights about how we can safeguard a safe collective future.
AMY GOODMAN: Rush Holt is one of the people, the former congressman. Why Rush Holt?
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Rush Holt is the president of AAAS, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. So, this is really unprecedented. Scientists and science institutions don’t generally do advocacy, right? There have been robust debates for decades about neutrality in science, and is science political or not. And it’s really refreshing to see this coming-out party for a new movement of scientists who are engaged in the public sphere, who are advocating on behalf of science and the communities who are going to be hit hardest by these attacks on science.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re the head of, the founder of the Natural History Museum. Explain what that started as and what that has become.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: The Natural History Museum is a mobile and pop-up museum that we founded in 2014. So we have a bus that takes the museum out into communities, and we partner with museums across the country. We started out with a bit of a provocation, teaming up with top scientists around the world and Nobel laureates, to urge science and natural history museums to cut ties to the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel companies have been spreading climate science disinformation for decades, and many continue to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: And supported science museums. So, tell us about some of your successes.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Well, in the last year and a half, we’ve gotten eight museums to cut ties to fossil fuels, either by divesting, dropping a board member from the industry or a sponsor, or implementing ethical funding policies.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain. Tell us some of the museums.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Sure. There’s the Field Museum in Chicago, Cal Academy in San Francisco, the London Science Museum, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, the American Museum of Natural History. I mean, this is really—
AMY GOODMAN: What happened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York?
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: David Koch of the Koch brothers and Koch Industries, one of the top funders of climate science disinformation campaigns, to the tune of $79 million over decades, was on the board of the American Museum of Natural History. So, the contradiction of having a science denier—
AMY GOODMAN: So he stepped down, after 23 years.
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: He stepped down after 23 years because of the outcry from scientists and visitors to the museum. And the American Museum of Natural History also recently slashed their investments in the fossil fuel industry down to all but 2 percent. So this is really encouraging. Museums are recognizing, and science institutions, like AAAS, like the American Geophysical Union, are sponsors of this global march on science—or March for Science. That’s a new thing, that institutions are really stepping outside of their comfort zone to realize that they need to play a more active role.
AMY GOODMAN: And you’re now helping to organize exhibits at museums. Can you talk about the one you’re working on right now?
BEKA ECONOMOPOULOS: Sure, yeah. We’re developing an exhibit for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh in collaboration with the Lummi Nation, which is an indigenous community, nation, in Bellingham, Washington, that has been impacted by—threatened by fossil fuels. They really depend on salmon fisheries for their livelihood. And they successfully beat back the world’s largest coal export terminal. So they have been touring a totem pole for the last few years to communities across North American impacted by fossil fuels. And we’re doing an exhibition based on the totem pole journey.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re here at the Washington Monument here in Washington, D.C., bringing you five hours of programming. We will see what happens. The plans of the march organizers is that there’s a rally from now until 2:00, and then the march will begin. People are holding signs. People are coming in from all over. It is overcast. It’s going to be raining through the day. But I think that what is really happening is people are raining their views down on the importance of respecting science. Let’s go to the stage, to the speakers and to some of the programming that the March for Science has been offering throughout the day.
CARA SANTA MARIA: We, each and every one of us, are making a difference. Guys, it’s an honor and a privilege to be here with all of you today. Thank you.
QUESTLOVE: Good afternoon, D.C. Thank you! My name is Questlove, and, obviously, I’m no scientist. But I love science. And in my work as a musician, I use science all the time. Specifically, I use technology, from recording technology to communication technology.
But today, we’re here to talk about science more broadly. And we’re here to talk about what science is at its heart—the analytical approach, the respect for facts, research and the willingness to set aside outdated beliefs when new information appears. And the rational scientific thought gets us out of the highest corners into the most open, wide spaces. And it’s important to remember this, because many people—that guy over there—and, yeah, by the way, he’s actually over there. Hi. Anyway, you know, many people seem to be forgetting, you know, those facts. And it’s frustrating to watch as certain forces in our society try to squelch science, or their refusal to believe in it, or propose "alternative" realities and facts, alternative facts, whatever that bull [bleep] is. Anyway, all this works against science. And we need to work for science.
And more than that, we need to make sure that science belongs to the people. And science needs to be out in the open, out in the streets, and it shouldn’t be confined to the ivory towers and secret labs or, you know, to one side of the political spectrum or to one part of the world. We all need it. We need science to turn the present into the future. And that’s why I’m here today to be part of this march on science on Earth Day.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce back to the stage one of the greatest late-night band hosts. Yes, I’m pandering. Can I get a job? No, I’m playing. I’m playing. This is Jon Batiste and Stay Human. Let’s take this to the higher ground. Thank you. Thank you!
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform "Higher Ground"]
DEREK MULLER: Wasn’t that amazing? All right, now I want you to think about your first-ever memory of science. Maybe it was on a day like today, digging around in the mud for worms or skipping a rock across a pond or flying a kite. But for many of us, our passion for science started in the classroom, like the first time you ever looked through a microscope, or when you made a baking soda volcano. Who better to kick us off than a science teacher? But before we welcome to the stage our first speaker of the day, I’d like to check out what our science communicator Cara Santa Maria is up to over at the teach-in tents. Take it away, Cara.
CARA SANTA MARIA: OK. Now I’ll do it. Thanks so much, Derek. All right. I am here at the teach-in tents with David Pine, who coordinates all of this. David, these teach-ins have a long and rich history with Earth Day, don’t they?
DAVID PINE: They do, going back 47 years. Teach-ins were actually the beginning of Earth Day, having people learn all about what’s happening on the planet. And we have amazing sessions here today.
CARA SANTA MARIA: Tell me about some of those sessions.
DAVID PINE: Oh, we’ve got astrophysicists talking about climate—climate in the cosmos. We’ve got—we’ve got science moles. We’ve got—for kids, we’ve got all kinds of experiments, and just really brilliant people talking about what people can do in their own communities.
CARA SANTA MARIA: So, can I—can I go participate?
DAVID PINE: You can! You can. Did you register?
CARA SANTA MARIA: Uh, maybe.
DAVID PINE: OK, well, you can do that, too.
CARA SANTA MARIA: All right, great. Well, I’m really excited to hear from our very first speaker, Dr. Tyler DeWitt.
DR. TYLER DEWITT: Hello, March for Science! What an honor to be here! But let me be a buzzkill and tell you about one of the most heartbreaking things I ever saw as a scientist. It is science outreach day at a university, OK? And I see this little girl. She’s probably 6 or 7 years old. She is so excited. She even shows up wearing a tiny lab coat. Yeah, right? And she asks, "Do you study bacteria here? I think they’re awesome! They’re so tiny, but they’re alive." And a grad student looks at her and says, "Well, we do maintain some bacterial cultures in the lab, but we primarily use them as protein expression systems." And you should have seen the look on that girl’s face. In 10 seconds, she learned science is confusing, science isn’t friendly, and there might not be a place in science for someone who looks like her.
Times are tough for science, no doubt about that. As scientists, we need to communicate the tremendous value of what we do. But we can’t talk like that grad student, because that 6-year-old girl might grow up feeling alienated from science, and she might choose, as an adult, to reject it right back. If you care about science, if you do science, I beg you, explain what you do and why it’s important, but ditch the jargon. Make an effort. Make it understandable! Make people care! Talk to them, not at them, no matter what their age! Talk to them at the supermarket, at the dinner party. This stuff matters. We cannot complain about slashed funding if we can’t tell taxpayers why science matters. And we cannot criticize a public that refuses to accept scientific consensus if we can’t explain our work in a way that others can understand. Science depends on this. Thank you.
KAVYA KOPPARAPU: Hi, March for Science. How you doing today? And so, I want to ask you guys a few questions. Do you shop online at Amazon? Do you use Google at least 10 times a day? Do you share pictures on Instagram? Well, all of these technologies would not be possible without computer science. Computer science is the backbone of all the technology that we use today.
My name is Kavya Kopparapu. I’m 16 years old, and I’m a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. And I’m here today for the future of computer science.
Computer science is at the forefront of every field. So why don’t we have an emphasis on computer science education? Only 40 percent of our schools offer computer science, which means—you do the math—we’re missing 60 percent of our future Bill Gates, future Mark Zuckerbergs and future innovation. To compete as a country, we need to compute. Without computer science, our economy would come to a halt. Innovation in medicine would cease. Our space program would not exist. Like, hope for a greener future would be crushed. Computer science is the foundation for the future. It’s a future of robotic surgeries, driverless cars, artificial intelligence, virtual reality.
And women should be the driving force of this future innovation. Computer science is for all. That’s why I founded GirlsComputingLeague. It’s a nonprofit that empowers girls to pursue computer science in middle and high school. We need more girls in computer science. We need more diversity in computer science. In my future career, I don’t want to be known as a girl that happens to be a computer scientist; I want to be known as a computer scientist that happens to be a girl. Today, I am marching for computer science to be for all ages, all genders and all races. Today, I am marching for computer science for all. Thank you.
TAYLOR RICHARDSON: Hi, my name’s Taylor Richardson, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. I am 13 years old, and I’m not just a black girl who’s interested in STEM, but I’m a black girl who rocks STEM. I will be—I will be an engineer, a scientist and an astronaut and will eventually go to Mars.
I’m marching because I want all girls, especially girls of color, to know that they can be a part of STEM and even be leaders in STEM. But like Muhammad Ali said, you better get used to me. Yes, you better get used to us girls and women, because we’re not going anywhere. Science is not a boys’ game, it is not a girls’ game—it’s an everyone’s game. I want girls to know we can educate each other and advocate for legislation to support sciences—science and engage others in our community.
I stand here on the shoulders of giants: mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped us go to the moon; rocket scientist Annie Easley; Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space—and won’t be the last. Thank you.
ANDREA BEATY: Hello, kids, and grown-up kids, too. I’m Andrea Beaty, and I’m the author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist. Thank you.
So, I just want to say hurray for every kid out here today! But there’s a job you need to do, and I hope adults will try this, too. To start, you read. Read everything, whatever you can find. You’ll get smarter and much kinder as you expand your mind. Then question. Question everything. We must all get in the act of seeking truth by learning how to sort fiction from fact. Then think. Think, think, think, think, think, think. Then do them all again. Read, question, think. Read, question, think. That’s your job, my friend. It’s how you’ll find your superpower and your most amazing you, and how you’ll help other kids find their superpowers, too. Read, question, think. Read, question, think.
Imagine what you might be—a scientist or engineer, a climatology pioneer, a teacher, a librarian, an—yeah, an anthropologist—big anthropology crowd here today—a filmmaker, a judge, a chef, an ichthyologist. Perhaps you’ll be a poet, writing songs about the stars. Perhaps you’ll be an astronaut, dancing off to Mars. But you will be a better citizen, and perhaps a leader, too. And who knows? You might live in that White House by the time that you are through. Thank you!
JEANE WONG: March for Science, March for Science, my name is Jeane Wong. I’m with the League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers. You know what that is? We bring science into classrooms. We’re here today because we are passionate for pushing science forward. We are passionate for pushing science and what science is. We are passionate about what science means to the future of everything. Everything. We are passionate about facts. We are passionate about a data-driven society to deliver the best possible future.
I am here today to give you a call to action. To make this happen, we are all needed. And we all have a role to play. For instance, I’m basically the bus driver for much bigger brains than my own. That’s my job. In San Diego, California, I bring local scientists and engineers right into the front of local classrooms to teach their passion for their kind of science. We at LXS know that sciencing—can you say "sciencing"?
JEANE WONG: That is the ultimate verb to get kids to be creative and innovative, and deliver us into the best future possible. The solution is not external from us here today. The solution is all of us—all of us here in D.C., all of us around the country. Shout out to San Diego, California, March for Science! Woo! Wake up, guys! Get off this Earth! Get into the march! We are the change we’ve been waiting for. It’s up to us here today, passionate enough to march for science, to keep marching next week and every week, into the classrooms, into the classrooms, and inspire the future. Stay curious, and keep on sciencing!
DR. JONATHAN FOLEY: I’m Jonathan Foley. I’m a scientist, and I’ve devoted my entire life to big environmental issues, like climate change or feeding the world without destroying it. But lately, I work at the California Academy of Sciences, where we are working on sharing the power and wonder of science and sustainability with people throughout the world.
DR. JONATHAN FOLEY: Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people are marching today to show their support for science and to oppose the attacks on scientists, scientists who work every single day to keep us safe, healthy and secure. Some people are going to say we’re politicizing science. But we’re not. We’re defending it. We’re defending science, because scientists work every day to defend us. And what’s at stake here today is bigger than science. It’s about safeguarding our nation. It’s about ensuring the health of our children. It’s about building a better future. And for a lot of us, it’s personal. It’s about our friends, our neighbors, the people we love.
Now take a look at the science that’s under attack. They’re specifically targeting science that protects our health, our safety and the environment, science that protects the most vulnerable among us. And make no mistake: These attacks are serious. Some people will suffer. Some could even die. So when those politicians try to take away the science that protects people from harm, that’s not ordinary politics. That’s oppression. And when they muzzle scientists, censoring their work and trying to keep us all in the dark, that’s not politics. That’s oppression. And when the programs that keep our air clean, our waters safe, our children and our planet secure are targeted for elimination, that’s not politics. That’s oppression.
Now, I know this seems like a dark time, with science under attack and our health, safety and security being compromised every day. But I believe that we will prevail, and this will be our finest hour. Yeah. And I believe that because of you, because right here, today, hundreds of thousands of people are standing up for science—in the rain—and standing up for the people you love. Thanks to you, science will become stronger than ever and will become the light that guides us to a better world, a world where everybody is going to thrive. And thanks to you, we can build that better world, a world where hope, freedom and science will win out over fear and oppression. Thank you!
DR. CAROLINE SOLOMON: [interpreted] Hello, everybody. My name is Dr. Caroline Solomon, and I am a biologist. I got spinal meningitis when I was 15 months old. I am lucky to be alive today, and I have science to thank for that. The vaccine for that disease was developed after I had the disease. The only impact on my life was that I got deaf.
I am thrilled to be here today in honor of science. We are celebrating science, and we are celebrating the fact that everyone brings their own unique perspective to how we do science. Deaf people are visual learners. There are studies being done right now by deaf scientists on bird songs. They’re not listening to the songs. They’re looking at visual readouts on computer screens and studying the songs through visual technology. That’s the kind of impact that deaf scientists can have on our world.
The person who is the father of the internet was a deaf person. The person who developed the Harvard classification system for stars was a deaf person. There are research scientists from all kinds of backgrounds. We are studying all kinds of things, including the Gallaudet 11, who were men who were deaf, and therefore could not get motion sickness, and were studied by NASA and figured out how we could send people to space safely. These are the kinds of contributions that diverse people can make.
Deaf scientists are studying basic science in all kinds of fields—environmental science, the impacts of humans on our climate, including my research on the river system here in Washington, D.C., looking at how to reduce pollution and make our water systems safe. We want to make global changes, and we can do that through diverse perspectives in science, no matter who we are, no matter where we are. Science benefits from our entire community. Science benefits from diverse perspectives and diverse beings. Thank you.
MARCH FOR SCIENCE STUDENT OUTREACH TEAM: As members of the March for Science’s student outreach team, we’re sending an open letter to the school board members and administrators who run our education system.
Here’s what we’re telling them. We recognize the importance of schools in fostering a place for students to build a strong background in science. As high school students, we appreciate the role of schools in encouraging our growth as future scientists and people who appreciate scientific thinking. In today’s world, it is of paramount importance that the value of science and fact-based education is not up for debate. Policy decisions based on suspicion and prejudice and a refusal to see the world cannot be allowed in any domain of modern society, whether in the classroom or in Congress.
Encouraging these ideas is the responsibility of every school. Several significant educational organizations have already stepped up and partnered with us. We now look to you, the heads of the schools that we attend, to join us.
As we march, we ask for only three things from you: that you talk to your student bodies, staff and organizations about the march; and that you reach out to your students, faculty and community members to encourage them to engage in scientific learning and advocacy; that you allow and encourage discussion about how science affects all of our lives, including through policy.
We hope that you use your position to inform students and to motivate them to exercise their rights. This is an exceptional opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they learn in their science classes and their civics classes to take an active role in democracy. We cannot vote, not yet.
But we will be heard!
QUESTLOVE: Y’all still with us? How are y’all doing? Give it up for those—the march on science teens, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s keep this energy going. The vibe positive, and we’re feeling good. To help us along with that, please put your hands together for some more music from Jon Batiste and Stay Human!
So, am I still speaking? Yeah. So, we’re going to bring this back now, way back, to a time that was so ahead of its time musically that many still have not caught up and are sampling this band from every form of music, from hip-hop to even country music. OK. The next artist joining Jon Batiste and Stay Human is personally one of my all-time favorite horn players. He’s definitely one of the great bandleaders of all time. He is the forefather of funk. Say "funk," y’all. Funk.1
QUESTLOVE: He’s still setting standards for us all. He’s an American and jazz icon of funk trombonists, best known for his work with James Brown in the ’60s and ’70s, as well as Parliament-Funkadelic in the second half of the ’70s. In 2015, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Everyone, please welcome to the stage—the three greatest words in soul music: Hit me, Fred! Welcome to the stage funky Fred Wesley!
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human with Fred Wesley performing "Doing It to Death" and "Peace Fugue"]
DEREK MULLER: How’s everyone feeling? You know what I love about science? It’s made the modern world what it is—satellites, the internet, a device in your pocket that can take a picture, connect you to all human knowledge and just maybe allow you to make a phone call. That’s right. And all of these technologies began with basic fundamental scientific research. And all basic fundamental scientific research begins with a question, a question like "How unique is our place in the universe?" That led us to build a telescope and launch it into space. That’s right. We needed science to know how to do that. Right? And then we discovered thousands of planets orbiting distant stars. You know it. Science literally allows us to discover new worlds, while simultaneously revolutionizing our own world. Our next group of speakers embodies that spirit, so please join me in welcoming each and every one of them, starting with the third-ever chief technology officer of the United States, Megan Smith!
MEGAN SMITH: Hello, people. It’s so awesome to be with all of you, my science people. It’s a team sport that we play. Let me see your signs. Awesome! You know, it’s people who do things, and we do science and technology. One of my things that I love to think about is history. And Churchill says the further back you can look, the farther forward you will see. And here in Washington, right next to the Washington Monument, I want to bring President Washington to us, because in his very first State of the Union address in 1790 to Congress, he said, "There is nothing which better deserves your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness." And so, President Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, on the very first coin of the United States of America, what did they write? They wrote, "Liberty (the) parent of science and industry." So the legacy of America is science and technology. And we are the inventors, and we are the makers of these things, together with our colleagues around the planet.
So, today we’re back on the Mall with a march. I brought my pink hat. But I also brought my pink lab glasses. And so, what are we doing? My call to you is, let’s lift the hidden figures of all of the bad-ass women, men, people of all ages. We’ve got our Mars Generation youth here. We’ve got our elders. We’ve got our indigenous teams. The Hokule’a will be home to Hawaii. And so I want us to all know—let’s fight cynicism. Let’s lift each other up. And let’s go solve the hardest problems in the world together. The universe doesn’t separate the subjects. It’s not like there’s technical people and not technical people. It’s just us. It’s just us, connected. So let’s use that internet to work together, collaborate, and let’s make sure that we get this government to lift up and support science technology funding, and all of you to solve the things that we will solve together. Thank you! Go, science!
DR. JESSICA WARE: Hello. My name is Dr. Jessica Ware, and I’m here representing Rutgers University, Newark, and I’m a member of the Anthropological Society of America. I’m an evolutionary biologist and an entomologist. Evolution—yeah! Evolution!
Evolutionary biology and entomology, which is the study of insects, are disciplines for everyone. I’m a single mom to two children. I’m a black female punk rocker with an LGBT family. My son and my identical twin are transgender. And I belong here. I belong in science. I’m part of a global community of entomologists and evolutionary biologists.
The study of insects is, by definition, international, global and collaborative. Insects don’t see borders, and they can cross walls. The Anthropological Society of America is the largest insect science organization in the world. And we seek to improve the lives of the world’s citizens by promoting biological diversity and developing safer food production. We’re working to save pollinators while limiting pests and vectors of disease. We need to fund integrated pest management, which is an aspect of entomology that ensures food safety for humanity. Entomology is a vital science. And we seek to unravel past and current patterns of biodiversity, and mediate threats to human health, like Zika, malaria, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. Evolutionary biologists seek to understand which species are found where and why. And we need to continue to fund evolutionary study through the maintenance and growth of natural history collections and museums, through funding field expeditions to go out and describe new species before they go extinct.
AMY GOODMAN: ... to Democracy Now!, our 5-hour broadcast covering the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 1]
DR. JESSICA WARE: ... truly fascinating forms of life. They are always interesting, sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, but never boring. Thank you.
DR. MEGHAN DUFFY: Hello. I’m Meghan Duffy from the University of Michigan.
One-point-five million people die from fungal infections each year, three times the number that die from breast cancer. At present, options for treating these infections are extremely limited. Surprisingly, by studying daphnia, tiny shrimp-like creatures that live in lakes, my lab might have discovered new drugs to treat fungal infections.
AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re broadcasting from the March for Science in Washington, D.C. I’m Amy Goodman. Our broadcast is five hours, started at 10:00 Eastern Standard Time, going until 3:00. We’re next to the Washington Monument. Tens of thousands of people are here or trying to get in, to say that facts matter, that science is important and must be respected. Let’s go back to the main stage.
DR. MEGHAN DUFFY: ... that prevented fungal infections in daphnia. We are now testing to see if they also work against fungi that cause devastating infections in humans. This is how basic research works. Working on a topic with seemingly no direct relevance to humans can lead to breakthroughs that have enormous unanticipated impacts.
This isn’t just a story about the value of basic research, though. It’s also a story about the importance of diversity in science. My student who led this research is in a federally supported program that aims to train a more diverse pool of scientists. She is addressing questions that no one thought to ask before, and getting incredibly exciting results. It’s too early to know if my student’s work will give us the next big drug to treat fungal infections in people, but it is already abundantly clear that science is stronger because of her ideas and her research. To paraphrase Dr. Mark Schlissel, the president of the University of Michigan, talent is evenly distributed in society, but, at present, opportunity is not. Science will progress further and faster if participation is broad, with people from all backgrounds able to contribute their ideas and talents to science. Thank you.
KELLAN BAKER: Hi, everybody. My name is Kellan, and I’m here representing public health. When I say "public," you say "health." Public!
KELLAN BAKER: Health! Public!
KELLAN BAKER: Health! Yes! Woo!
We all know that science is about data. But we need to remember that data tells stories. We all have a story. My story is that I’m a public health geek and a policy wonk. I’m also a queer transgender man. And science makes—helps make sure my community and I are counted and we count in decisions that affect our lives. Science is about all of us. It’s my friend Amy, a bench scientist who’s working to break new ground in the treatment of diabetes. Science is my mother, a citizen scientist who contributes the data from her backyard bird feeder, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And science is my fellow Ph.D. students at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health—woo!—who do research to inform policy decisions like the Affordable Care Act, to ensure we all have the right to good health.
But it’s not enough to collect data. We need to share it. "Advocacy" is not a dirty word. Science is objective, but science is not neutral. The poet Dante wrote that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis. We cannot pretend we are above the fray. Science is objective, but it’s not neutral. As scientists, as human beings, our mandate is clear. It’s for each of us to stand up for what we know to be true and to stand together when working to shape a future in which we can all thrive. Thank you! Public health!
DOROTHY JONES-DAVIS: Hi. I’m Dorothy Jones-Davis, and I’m the proud executive director of Nation of Makers. As humans, we are born curious. We are built to explore, to hack the world around us in an attempt to understand it. It is in our very DNA to try to use science to improve our lives, to help one another, to make each generation better than the one before it. From birth, a spark is born within us that calls us to be makers, doers, agents of change. And science, engineering and art, they are the medium by which we make sense of this amazing world we live in. They are the medium by which we elicit this change. They allow us to observe, record, analyze, ideate, innovate, iterate, improve our world and communicate the power of our creations. But without that medium, we are drained of our spark.
So how do we set fire to our spark? How do we create a true nation of makers, doers, agents of change? We start by prioritizing funding for hands-on STEM experiences for our youth, by supporting the arts and creative thinking as a key component to inventing our futures, and by prioritizing funding for research that will lead to the cures, the future technologies that will impact our world for years to come.
And the cautionary tale is this, that if you do not prioritize these things, if you believe that the road to a prosperous future for America and the human race is paved without a foundation of science, technology, engineering, arts and the math, you will not—you will find yourself with no road at all. If humanity runs out of its spark, if innovation is impossible, and if people are unable to conceive of solutions to sustain ourselves, our culture and our Earth will be lost. There will be no road to the future.
So let us stand today as members of the human race, a nation of scientists, innovators and makers, in solidarity, to prioritize our future. Let us say yes to science, technology, engineering, arts and math, yes to federal funding and innovation. On this Earth Day, yes to the Earth and yes to a brighter future! Thank you!
SHAWN OTTO: Go, objective reality! I’m Shawn Otto, author of The War on Science. Twelve score years ago, Thomas Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence to create a new form of government. Being a scientist, Jefferson turned for inspiration to Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and John Locke, and he synthesized their thinking into a powerful but simple idea: If any one of us can discover the truth of something for him or herself, then no king, no pope and no wealthy lord is more entitled to govern than we are ourselves.
We are gathered here today to defend this fundamental principle, to tell our elected leaders that attacking science is attacking democracy, denying science is denying democracy, and rejecting science is rejecting democracy. The greatest freedom and the greatest equality come not from the PR campaigns of wealthy corporations, nor from the demands of impassioned ideologues, but from public policies based on evidence. So we say to our elected leaders, the war on science must end. The evidence shows that global warming is real, that vaccines do not cause autism, that research drives prosperity, that there are no such things as alternative facts, and that if you want America to succeed, Donald Trump, you can’t lead it with your brain tied behind your back.
We ask you to heed the words of George Washington, that there is nothing, as Megan Smith said, which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. We march to challenge you to reclaim America’s role as the world leader of evidence-based public policy, and thereby rebend the arc of the moral universe back towards liberty and justice for all. Thank you.
DR. MARY JO ONDRECHEN: Hello, science lovers. And a special sekoh to all the members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, observers of nature, water protectors and defenders of Mother Earth. I’m Mary Jo Ondrechen, professor of chemistry at Northeastern University, a Mohawk and a scientist.
My research group and I work on interpreting the genome and on understanding how enzymes work. And where does this take us? To finding new ways to prevent and treat disease, to developing renewable energy systems, to designing new ways to make chemicals that are friendlier to the planet. We are also training our young people for the jobs of today and tomorrow. There is growing global demand for solutions in medical technology, clean energy, environmental protection, and biological and cyber threat detection. Innovations mean new industries and new jobs. The United States can and should be the world leader in these innovations. But this depends on investment today in scientific research and education, in the NSF and the NIH.
To all the students of science, maybe—maybe it’s discouraging to know that some of our national leaders today do not believe in what we, as scientists, are doing. But I promise you, we will prevail! The need for science innovation is critical. We will work to elect leaders who understand that scientific discovery is vital, vital to national security, health, job growth and the planet. We, like my Native ancestors, believe in science. And in science, the truth wins. Thank you.
ROBIN KIMMERER: Bonjour, anin, sekoh. In the original languages of this country, I bring you greetings. And I carry with me this morning the voices of nearly 2,000 indigenous scientists, allies, scholars, elders, from all over the globe, who have signed the Indigenous Science Declaration. Let us remember that long before Western science came to these shores, there were indigenous scientists here, Native astronomers, geneticists, botanists, engineers. And we are still here. Let us celebrate indigenous science that promotes the flourishing of both humans and the beings with whom we share the planet. Indigenous science provides not only a wealth of factual knowledge, but a powerful paradigm to understand the world and our relation to it. Embedded in cultures of respect, of reciprocity and reverence, indigenous science couples knowledge to responsibility. Indigenous science supports society aligned with ecological principles, not against it. It is ancient, and it is urgent. Western science is a powerful approach. It’s not the only one. Let’s march not just for science, but for sciences. Thank you.
QUESTLOVE: OK. Y’all still with me? What a—what a great group of speakers. Let’s give them all a round of applause, ladies and gentlemen. All right, so, you know, like most, I’m a fan of the sun and the sunshine—well, the rain and the snow, too—and all the beautiful people that enable us to live here on Earth. And one of those lovely creatures is the wonderfully talented, soulful, mezzo-soprano vocalist, Kam Franklin, ladies and gentlemen. Give it up for Kam Franklin. Also joining Jon Batiste and Stay Human to help the world a little bit, even though we’re under the weather right now, is the legendary singer and bassist from the legendary Meters, George Porter Jr. Let’s take it away, y’all.
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human with Kam Franklin and George Porter Jr. performing "The World is a Little Bit Under the Weather" and "They All Ask’d for You"]
[Partial transcript. Check back soon for more.]