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 WALL 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"]
DEREK MULLER: Wow! I love what I’m seeing! Is that on? Thank you to everyone here, braving the rain to celebrate this March for Science, Earth Day. You know what? Some people say that science shouldn’t be politicized. OK? But let me tell you something: Science is inherently political. Let me tell you why. Because when science uncovers toxins in drinking water, policy must be made to fix it. When science uncovers pollutants that destroy the ozone layer, policy must be made to fix it. And when science uncovers that slightly more of a colorless, odorless gas is causing us to trap slightly more heat from the sun and that is changing the climate, policy must be made to fix it. So that’ why I’m here, because when policymakers base their decisions on the best, most rigorously conducted scientific research, we all stand to benefit. Our next group of speakers is striving to become even more involved in that decision-making process all around the world. And these decisions will benefit everyone here today, and, most importantly, for future generations. And inspiring our youth to be more active and engaged in science at the earliest age possible will move our society forward. Now, Cara is with some of our future decision-makers right now. Cara?
CARA SANTA MARIA: Well, guys, I really have faith in the future, looking at all the inspirational kids that have come out today. And I want to start here with Matthew. I see that you brought an important sign. Why don’t you tell me about it?
MATTHEW: So, these are Yellowstone grizzlies. Because of climate change, they’re moving out of the Yellowstone National Park, and people are going to be shooting them. And I’m trying to devote my life to stop animals from being poached and climate change to be stopped.
CARA SANTA MARIA: That’s a really, really important cause. Wow. I’m just blown away. And we’ve got Diana here, who built her own robot. Diana, tell me about this.
DIANA: I made a robot for BattleBots. I’m going to enter at the Franklin Institute for a junior ampbot competition. And I can lift its hand up. This is its weapon. It flips the robot up. We’re still working on so if it goes upside down, it can go up and flip over. So, that’s my robot, and its name is Count Olaf, from A Series of Unfortunate Events.
CARA SANTA MARIA: Count Olaf. I am so impressed. Well, guys, I want to be like these kids when I grow up, because I’m blown away. And our next speaker will blow you away, as well. Here she is, Lydia Villa-Komaroff.
LYDIA VILLA-KOMAROFF: I am a curious person, and I am a scientist. Scientists seek to answer why by seeking facts, facts that can be tested and verified. We believe that evidence must be reproducible. We believe in the power of doubt. We are comfortable with uncertainty. Science touches all aspects of modern life. Fundamental basic science has made possible the cars we drive, the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, our smartphones, our entertainment, the weapons that keep us safe. Basic science underlies the medical advances that allow us to lead longer, healthier lives.
In the '70s, I was part of a diverse team that showed that insulin could be made in bacteria. Today, anyone who takes insulin takes an insulin made by the methods that we and our competitors developed. This work was made possible because in the ’50s and ’60s scientists sought to learn how certain bacteria resisted infection by certain viruses. That basic research was supported by the American Cancer Society and the federal government, despite the fact that there was little indication it had any relevance to human health. But that work led to the discovery of restriction enzymes. And that discovery made it possible to make insulin and other treatments in bacteria. And that made possible the birth of the biotechnology industry, better health, better jobs. And some of those jobs don't require a Ph.D. This is one of many stories that illustrate the importance of science.
Support for science has been declining for decades. Mr. President, members of the House and Senate, support our future. Invest in science!
DEREK MULLER: All right, next up, I am very, very excited to introduce you to a very important guest, a pioneering woman in science. Please join me in welcoming to the stage Dr. Nancy Roman. Dr. Roman was the chief of astronomy and solar physics at NASA in the 1960s. She was the first woman to hold an executive position at the space agency. And over her career, Dr. Roman was instrumental in launching three orbital solar observatories and three small astronomical satellites. She also played a central role in shaping the Hubble space telescope, earning her the nickname "Mother Hubble." Thank you, Dr. Nancy Roman! Thank you!
GEORGES BENJAMIN: Well, good morning, everyone. Women scientists rock, don’t they? I’m from the American Public Health Association, and we represent thousands of public health professionals who practice science every day to keep people healthy and safe in our communities. Public health science is the heart of so many successes that have prolonged our lives and improved our well-being. Thanks to public health science, we use seat belts to prevent millions of crash-related injuries and fatalities every year. Thanks to public health science, we vaccinate our kids to protect them from deadly diseases. And thanks to public health science, we reduced the threat of secondhand tobacco smoke.
A strong commitment to research is absolutely essential to crafting evidence-based solutions that protect us from serious health threats. You know, a nation that ignores science, that denies science, that underfunds science does so at its own peril. We cannot allow this to happen. We need to support public health science and discovery that can deliver the answers to the questions essential to improving our nation’s health. We need to ensure that data and evidence drive policymaking, not uninformed ideology. And we need to appoint and support health researchers and program leaders who are the highest quality to lead on national and local efforts. And we need to support global research efforts. You know, threats to human health do not recognize borders. Neither should our work to solve these problems. America is the innovation leader of the world, and we should continue to act like it. Thank you.
GLORIA TAVERA: Hi, everyone. My name is Gloria Tavera, and I’m an M.D.-Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University. I’m also a Latina and a first-generation scientist in my family. As a scientist, I know that a breakthrough in the lab can be a new way to help people. But too often, major institutions, including pharmaceutical companies, prioritize profits over lives. The prices that some companies charge for essential, life-saving medicine leave many people unaffordable—unable to live. So we, as scientists, need to recognize our unique responsibility and take power and take action.
And that’s why I helped establish an organization called Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, that pushes universities to ensure the cures that their scientists discover are available at prices that people can afford. So, at least 10 million people die globally every year because they do not have the access to the medicines they need. And the suffering is preventable. No one should be sick because they are poor or poor because they are sick. So, at Yale’s campus, at Yale University’s campus, we have secured a massive price reduction in an HIV medication, allowing humanitarian organizations to treat people living with HIV in South Africa for the first time. This year, UAEM students successfully campaigned at Johns Hopkins University to ensure that a new promising TB, tuberculosis, drug will be affordable for patients.
Universities are where at least 60 percent of the most novel, first-in-class discoveries in biomedical research are made. And they are funded by your taxpayer dollars. And that research doesn’t save lives if people can’t afford the results. Join us this weekend and at a follow-up action tomorrow. Go to UAEM.org or find UAEM on Twitter. We are urging the NIH to ensure affordable access to publicly funded medicines. Too often, scientists accept the results our medical system gives us. But that does—that system doesn’t exist without us. We have the power to make it better. It is up to us. Join us. If not us, then who? Thank you so much for your attention.
ERICH JARVIS: Hello. My name is Erich Jarvis, and I’m a neuroscientist. Go, brains! I’m glad to join with you today as we make history in the first-ever March for Science in our nation and in the world. It is science that has given us cures for disease, a better understanding of our planet, of our universe and ourselves. These scientific benefits to society would have not have occurred without government support. Yet we live in a time where the support and the fundamental principles of science are being challenged, where ideological opinions overrides evidence, where you know something is really wrong when people from around the world must form a protest March for Science—and even in the rain! Yes, science has always received bipartisan congressional support.
And I am such an example where such support has made a difference. I am a professor of brain research and genetics at the Rockefeller University, Hunter College, Duke University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. I have—yes, I have advised over 100 students and staff in my career. Many now run their own laboratories. Some have become politicians. Some have gone into the pharmaceutical industries to make the medicines that heal you. Others have become doctors and treat you and your loved ones in your hospitals. But I did not begin that way. I’m an African American raised in poor neighborhoods of New York City. It was the diversity programs of Congress to the National Institutes of Health that gave me the opportunity to become a scientist and give back to you. Congress gave me and the people I’ve trained the opportunity to contribute to this society and the very words of language that I am giving you here today.
So, to wrap it up, because they’re making me wrap it up, all right? If four or more years goes by without this funding, we will miss the critical period years to train students, and lose the scientists of tomorrow. You do not get a second chance. If four or more years goes by without such funding, it will end many people’s jobs and careers.
MANU PRAKASH: I am an immigrant. Growing up in India, as a kid, I couldn’t afford a microscope. So one day I tried to make one by stealing my brother’s eyeglasses. Not a good idea. Thirty years on, I’m still making microscopes. Now I make affordable scientific tools for everyone. Just last year alone, we shipped 50,000 microscopes to kids around the world. I share these with community workers, health workers, that are fighting diseases like malaria and schistosomiasis? with absolutely no resources. I share them with kids who are passionate and curious about science, curious about why pollen flies, how far does a mosquito fly.
We are all born curious. Science gives us the capacity to turn that curiosity into questions, questions anyone can ask, anyone can answer. As we celebrate and march today, I want us all to promise that we will make science accessible to everyone. Let’s make science and scientific literacy a human right. Let’s make it affordable to not just the people who can pay for it, but for a billion kids who can’t. The tingling feeling that you have when you make your first discovery, it’s worth passing on. It’s worth passing on to the kids, because all the problems that we face—climate change, biodiversity loss and healthcare access to a billion people that is missing—the answers to them might lie in the sparkle of the kids that are here today. Thank you.
GLINDA COOPER: Hello, Washington. You may have seen TV shows with police in lab coats who quickly and easily develop new techniques to solve crimes. Well, reality is a bit different from TV, and I’m here to talk to you about the importance of sound science in our criminal justice system. The Innocence Project works to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Since 1992, 349 men and women have been exonerated using DNA evidence that proves their innocence. That’s 349 people who collectively served 4,762 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. They’re finally free. That’s the power of science getting it right.
But these cases have also taught us that it’s problems in forensic science that contributed to 46 percent of these wrongful convictions, problems that include unreliable and invalid methods, exaggerated and misleading testimony, simple mistakes and outright fraud. That’s almost half of the cases in which something that passes itself off as science got it wrong.
We call upon our federal government to fund the scientific foundational validation research that’s needed to make sure that forensic science is sound science. We need everyone in our criminal justice system—our police, our prosecutors, our defense attorneys, our judges and juries—to be able to make decisions based on sound science. A system that is seeking truth and justice should demand nothing less. We are proud to join with you today in Washington, in New York, across the country and around the nation, as we all stand up for science.
QUESTLOVE: I love that walk-on music. It’s real foreboding. Anyway, thank you, everyone. You’re still here, even though it’s raining. Rain is beautiful. Give it up for Glinda, very interesting points, and for everyone that spoke earlier. Without science—without science, we are truly operating blindly.
It is my pleasure to welcome to the stage a very, very, very special artist who pioneered the new wave movement in the early '80s. For those millennials that don't know, that’s pop music that incorporates electronic instruments. His work covers a wide range of musical styles and moods. And he is also a technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. And he’s the musical director of the TED Conference and, unknown to most, is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. So, the bottom line is that he actually fits in with our lineup of talented musicians and accomplished scientists, in fact, so much that he’s been blinding us with his sounds for more than 20 years. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Mr. Thomas Science Dolby!
[Thomas Dolby performing "She Blinded Me with Science"]
CARA SANTA MARIA: Science! Thomas Dolby, everybody! All right, guys, I am really, really excited to be here today. And I think I want to do a little experiment with you for my own selfish reasons. I’m standing here in front of an incredible crowd of science lovers here on the National Mall in D.C. In the pouring rain, you came out to support this cause. I can see the White House right there in the background. I think what I want to do is I want to take like the biggest selfie ever. So do you think you guys could smile for me? All right. Now I want you to do the same thing. Everybody, take out your phones, the incredible technology that you have in your hand, these minicomputers built and based upon science, and take yourself a huge group selfie. Let’s do it. Yeah! All right, guys, now don’t forget to tag those photos March for Science and Earth Day 2017. And remember, guys, nothing is untouched by science. It is everywhere. And it pops up in places that you’d least expect. You know, art is at the root of much of our understanding about science. Yeah. It’s da Vinci’s illustrations of the human body. It’s Charles Darwin’s sketches of biodiversity in the Galapagos. And—yeah! And science has produced great art, as our next speaker, the poet Jane Hirshfield, can attest to.
JANE HIRSHFIELD: Hi. I’m Jane Hirshfield. On January 25th, when the federal scientists were told to be silent, this march was first conceived by that afternoon. And by that afternoon, I began writing the poem I’m about to read to you, "On the Fifth Day."
On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.
The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
and the ones who worked for the bees.
Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.
The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,
continued to move toward their fruit.
The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.
In gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.
Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.
They spoke, the fifth day,
DEE LAWRENCE: Hello, science lovers. I’m Dee Lawrence. I’m from Cool Effect, a nonprofit organization that my husband Richard and I founded in 2015 to help individuals reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Our story begins with Dr. James Hansen, my climate hero since 1988. And here we are today, and we’re hearing things like climate change is a hoax, global warming is not real. Do you believe this?
DEE LAWRENCE: OK, so what we do about it? We don’t believe it, so what do we do about it? Number one, we keep—three things—keep using advanced science to find innovative solutions. We’re doing what each one of us can, like riding a bike or putting solar in our houses. And, three, we’re supporting technologies that are scientifically proven to reduce CO2 emissions.
So that brings me to our story. Fifteen years ago in a little schoolroom medical clinic in rural Honduras, we saw lots of women and children suffering from respiratory illness and breathing on nebulizers. Why? Because they cooked their food over wood fires, and they were breathing toxic, poisonous smoke. We found a scientifically engineered cook stove that removes smoke from homes. And they burn less wood, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. This gave rise to our stove project called Proyecto Mirador. We built 141,000 stoves, which helped 500,000 people breathe less smoke. And we verifiably reduced over 1 million tons of CO2.
Wow! Science at work! Now it’s your turn! OK? OK, so, happy Earth Day. Remember Cool Effect. Celebrate this with action, not frustration. Thank you.
SHERIL KIRSHENBAUM: Hi. I’m Sheril Kirshenbaum with ScienceDebate. Late last year, I looked down at the brand-newness of my newborn son as he was placed in my arms, and I wondered what the world would be like when he was my age. Will he be protected from mercury to stay healthy into adulthood? Will he become increasingly accustomed to conflict in the face of climate change? Will we be so used to alternative facts that they’ll go unchallenged?
SHERIL KIRSHENBAUM: I truly hope not. But maybe we’ll invest in education, medicine, technology. We’ll cure diseases. We’ll curb deforestation. We’ll save species. We have so much potential if we invest in what matters most: our future. I’m so glad you’re here today. But what’s most important isn’t the march. It’s what happens next. Our real work starts now. Are you ready? We have so much to do over the coming years. So when you go back home, stay involved. That means visiting your local schools, community centers, libraries, telling your story, sharing why science is so crucial to who we are, how we live. And please take time to listen. I know a bright future is possible for my baby and his big brother and every child in America and around the world. Our kids are counting on us. They can’t wait for another time, a different administration. They’re counting on us. So get to work. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re tuned to Democracy Now!, our 5-hour broadcast covering the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: This is 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.
ROGER JOHNSON: America should be leading, not lagging in this space. Facts in science must inform public policy, not the other way around. Unfortunately, too often, that has now been the case. Research needs to inform public policy. Our food system, health, safety, economy and the government rely upon it. Thank you for standing up for science.
DR. TIMOTHY INGALSBEE: Hello. My name is Timothy Ingalsbee. I’m executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, & Ecology. And I want to—I want to talk about the critical importance of science in wildfire management. Fifty years ago, we created some of the first research labs to study fire and apply scientific research in fire management. Since then, we’ve made amazing discoveries about the vital ecological role of fire. And we’ve developed powerful technology to map, model and monitor wildfires, improving safety for firefighters.
But today we face a new challenge: climate change. It makes wildfires ignite more easily, burn much more rapidly and burn longer throughout the year. Firefighters are now increasingly caught between the unstoppable force of wildfire and the immovable objects of homes and communities. In this explosive matter-antimatter mix, predictable tragedies of firefighter fatalities and destroyed homes happen. Now more than ever, we need the best available climate science and fire ecology research, because we know that wildfire policies devoid of or in defiance of ecological science puts firefighters at greater risk and harms America’s wildlands. But instead, we have an administration and Congress that rejects scientific findings that conflict with their ideology or special interests, that wants to slash funding for research and tries—tries, but fails, to silence scientists. Science should need no defense, but it’s great to see so many science defenders willing to stand up, speak out and march for science. As Smokey Bear says, "Only you can prevent" science from being silent! Thank you very much!
BILL NYE: Greetings! Love that song! Greetings! Greetings! Greetings, fellow citizens! We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and prosperity. The process of science has enabled humankind to discover the laws of nature. This understanding has, in turn, enabled us to feed and care for the world’s billions, build great cities, establish effective governments, create global transportation systems, explore outer space and know the cosmos.
The framers of the Constitution of the United States, which has become a model for constitutional governments everywhere, included Article I, Section 8, which refers to promoting the progress of science and useful arts. Its intent is to motivate innovators and drive the economy by means of just laws. They knew that without the progress of science and useful arts of engineering, our economy would falter. Without scientifically literate citizens, the United States—any country, in fact—cannot compete on the world stage.
Yet, today, we have a great many lawmakers, not just here, but around the world, deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. Their inclination is misguided and in no one’s best interest. Our lives are in every way improved by having clean water, reliable electricity and access to electronic global information. Each is a product of scientific discoveries, diligent research and thoughtful engineering. These vital services are connected to policy issues, which can only be addressed competently by understanding the natural laws in play.
Some may consider science the purview of a special or separate type of citizen, one who pursues natural facts and generates numerical models for their own sakes. But our numbers here today show the world that science is for all. Our lawmakers must know and accept that science serves every one of us, every citizen of every nation in society. Science must shape policy. Science is universal. Science brings out the best in us. With an informed, optimistic view of the future together, we can, dare I say it, save the world! Thank you! Science!
QUESTLOVE: Yeah! Now, that’s what you call droppin’ science. Give it up for Bill Nye, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been told to keep it very brief; we’re running behind time a little bit. So, I just want to say, coming up next, an amazing, amazing, amazing singer, incomparable, one of the—one of the best. She has worked with so many of the greats—the late Prince Rogers Nelson and also chosen to sing with Michael Jackson during his This Is It run. I want you to give it up, ladies and gentlemen, for Judith—are you OK? I didn’t mean to blast you like that. And she signed it, too. That’s amazing. Anyway, give it up, ladies and gentleman—that’s not funny—for Judith Hill, ladies and gentlemen.
[Judith Hill performing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"]
DEREK MULLER: Wow! That was fantastic. Thank you, everyone. Happy Earth Day! Let me hear it! Happy Earth Day! Today, in fact, marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. It began back in 1970. And we’re about to hear from the man who has—who made it happen. That man is Denis Hayes. Not only did he lead the first Earth Day, he was an early supporter of solar way back when Jimmy Carter was president. In fact, he headed the federal energy—Solar Energy Research Institute. And now he’s the head of the Bullitt Foundation, and he’s just built what’s been called the greenest building in the world, in Seattle, Washington. He is considered one of the most influential people in America. And I’m really proud to introduce him, but first, we’re going to watch a short clip of his achievements. Let’s take a look.
DENIS HAYES: Mayor Lindsay had shut down Fifth Avenue, and we basically filled it all up.
FRANK BLAIR: Earth Day demonstrations began in practically every city and town in the United States this morning, the first massive, nationwide protest against the pollution of the environment.
DENIS HAYES: Nationally, Earth Day was the largest demonstration ever in American history, and we had an estimated 20 million across the country.
We are challenging the ethics of a society that, with only 6 percent of the world’s population, accounts for more than half of its utilization of resources.
PROTESTERS: Save our Earth! Save our Earth! Save our Earth!
DENIS HAYES: We are systematically destroying our land, our streams and our seas. We foul our air...
It was a huge, high-adrenaline effort that, in the end, genuinely changed things. Before, there were people that opposed freeways. There were people that opposed clearcutting, or people worried about pesticides. They didn’t think of themselves as having anything in common. After Earth Day, they were all part of an environmental movement.
DENIS HAYES: OK, this is—this is a science march, so I assume you all knew there was going to be a quiz? This is about last November’s election. Did America somehow vote to melt the polar ice caps and kill the coral reefs and acidify the oceans?
DENIS HAYES: Did we vote to reduce the EPA’s research budget by a whopping 42 percent?
DENIS HAYES: Did we vote to defund safe drinking water by one-third?
DENIS HAYES: Did we vote to eliminate environmental work in Chesapeake Bay and San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound and the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes?
DENIS HAYES: Well, that’s what we got.
DENIS HAYES: Forty-seven years ago, on the first Earth Day, 20 million regular, everyday Americans, including millions of angry students, rose up and stormed the political stage and demanded—demanded—a clean, healthy, just, resilient environment. Forty-seven years later, to my astonishment, we’re back in the same spot. We’ve got a president, a vice president, a Cabinet and the leadership of both houses of Congress who are all climate deniers.
DENIS HAYES: They are scrubbing climate change from federal websites and ordering federal employees not to use the words "global warming" in any communication.
DENIS HAYES: This—this is not conservative politics. This is the Inquisition gunning for Galileo. It’s now crystal clear that the man who lives right there did not come here to drain the swamp. He’s filling the swamp to overflowing with conflicts of interest, with a White House that reeks of greed and sleaze and mendacity. America has had 45 presidents, but we have never before had a president who was completely indifferent to the truth. Donald Trump makes Richard Nixon look like Diogenes.
We are racing now toward a climate cliff, and our coal-loving president is punching the accelerator, and so millions of us are marching across America and around the world. Our job is clear. Today is the first step in a long-term battle for scientific integrity, a battle for transparency, a battle for survival. So, don’t leave here thinking that you came out in the rain, all of you, this awesome crowd, standing in the rain, freezing, and thinking now you’ve done your part, because you haven’t. Not yet. Like that first Earth Day, this Earth Day is just the beginning. And in that battle, losing is not an option, because if we lose this fight, we will pass on a desolate, impoverished planet for the next 100 generations. I’m old enough that I can remember when people all over the Earth saw America as the world’s best hope. Today, right here, right now, all of you, let’s commit ourselves to becoming the world’s best hope again.
DEREK MULLER: Denis Hayes, everyone! Our next speaker is an artist, a sculptor, an architect, an educator. Her name is Maya Lin. And has designed all manner of art and structure, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Civil Rights Memorial and the Women’s Table at Yale. And her works have moved audiences around the world with her use of natural elements to spark intimate conversations. Her passion and dedication to the environment are highlighted in her exhibit, "What Is Missing?" It’s a multimedia, multilocation project that focuses on habitat loss, endangered species and extinction. That’s right. Everyone, please join me in welcoming Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Maya Lin!
MAYA LIN: Happy Earth Day. Hello. My name is Maya Lin. I’m an artist and environmentalist. In my work, I reveal aspects of the natural world that you may not be aware of. And in my memorials, I want the viewer to remember and learn from our past in order to help shape a better tomorrow.
This Earth Day, I want to tell you about what will be my last memorial. It is called "What Is Missing?" introduced in the video you just saw. It is a wake-up call and a call to action, to what scientists are labeling the sixth mass extinction of species now underway. It raises awareness of what we are losing, but also imagines plausible future scenarios that balance our needs with that of nature. Imagine, by protecting and restoring forests, wetlands and other habitats, we can both protect species and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And with science and technology, we can make huge strides in reducing emissions in countries, communities and companies around the globe and fulfill the promise of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
But we are at a dangerous moment in our nation’s history, when science and scientists are under attack, where the very words "climate change" are being censored, and where what should be our best defense against climate change, our incredible ability to use our minds and our incredible problem-solving abilities, are being thwarted and defunded. Let’s make sure that the answer to "What Is Missing?" is not science. Let’s demand this Earth Day that our country uses its vast scientific resources to create a future that is safe for us and the rest of the species sharing this wondrous planet. Thank you.
LAWRENCE BENENSON: How’s everybody doing today? My name is Lawrence Benenson. I’m from New York. I’m here to talk about knowledge sharing and community engagement.
A friend of mine loves plants. She noticed these little green things on the leaves of the plants, and she looked them up in a book. They’re called aphids, and they’re pests. And she had some ladybugs in her house. And she knew from previous research that the ladybugs eat aphids. So she put the ladybugs on the plants. That’s bad news for the aphids, but really good news for the plants and ladybugs. That’s knowledge in action.
Then she told me about it. She told her friends. When you read stuff and learn something, tell someone else. There is no clickbait in books. Community engagement. I’m preaching to the converted. You’re here. But when you go back to wherever you came from, go to city hall and make sure that your drinking water is healthy. Making the world a better place requires persistence. And speaking of making the world a better place, a lot of people want to change the world. I’m glad some of them didn’t, like Stalin, Napoleon. Making the world a better place is what matters. Communicate in your community.
What can you do about all the fossil fuels and the drought? You can do this. Turn off your computers before you go to sleep at night. Don’t put your computer to sleep. It’s not sleeping. It’s sucking the energy out of the world. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Recycle. And just say no to plastic bags. On their death beds, people don’t wish they had spent more time on Instagram. They’d wish they had done more stuff, like you all being here today is wonderful. But wait. March for Science? Shouldn’t it have been in March? It’s in April, because it’s later than you think. This is Earth Day, but every day is Earth Day, because that’s where we are every day. So I want you to share more, learn more and think more. Keep on marching, and keep on dancing.
THOMAS LOVEJOY: So, Happy Earth Day, everybody. And think rainforest, right? So, when I was pretty young, I was interested mostly in things like skunks and snakes. And before I was 15, I learned about the variety of life on Earth. And I’ve never been able to get enough of it ever since. That’s what we call biodiversity, the millions of species with whom we share this planet. And before the first Earth Day, I actually had a chance to go to the Amazon rainforest, one of the most biologically rich places on the planet. And I’m always on my way to the Amazon. And we now understand much more how important and fragile these forests are.
It’s been fabulous to work with scientists worldwide to increase our knowledge of biodiversity. And I’ve been delighted to work with scientists of every discipline to encourage effective action to protect our environment. It is clear that American leadership in science has made a real difference. And there are many other obviously important efforts going on worldwide. I know we can save the rainforests and a planet that can continue to nurture humans and other forms of life.
I am, of course, dismayed by the unprecedented level of disdain for science and the environment we’ve seen recently, but I am so encouraged by seeing all of you here today standing up for science. Science is essential for a great America and for our shared future. We need more science, not less. More science.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Hey! How’s everyone doing? Woo! I am Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha from Flint, Michigan. And it is great to be here. And I am here to tell you that the Flint water crisis is not over. We still cannot drink unfiltered water from our taps.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Boo. So, Flint is what happens when we dismiss science. Flint is what happens when we dismiss experts. Flint is what happens when we dismiss people. Flint is what happens when saving money is more important than public health.
I am a pediatrician, and every day I use science to protect and restore the health of my patients, my kids. And about a year ago, my research proved that our contaminated water in Flint was leaching lead into the bodies of our children.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Boo. And I took a risk. I walked out of my clinic to speak up publicly for my kids.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Thank you. And I was attacked. But when you are fighting for children, you fight back. And I was loud, and I was stubborn. And science spoke truth to power. Science is not an alternative fact. And it is time for all of us to fight back against those who deny science and those who degrade science. It is time for all of us to step out of our clinics, our classrooms and labs. We need to make ourselves known into the halls of government. We need to hear all of your voices.
Today, I march for science. And today, I march for our Flint kids. I am marching for our smart, our strong, our resilient, our beautiful Flint kids. They inspire me to continue to use science every day to make sure that their tomorrows are bright as ever. And I want you to meet one of our amazing Flint kids. And I hope that she and little girls just like her become scientists. But this little one has her eyes on that house, the White House, in 2044. So, I want you guys to give a warm welcome to Mari Copeny, also known to the world as Little Miss Flint. They’re cheering for you. Pretty awesome!
AMARIYANNA COPENY: Thank you, Dr. Mona. Thank you, Dr. Mona. My name is Mari. I am a Flint kid, and I believe in science, because Flint kids are smart, and we’re brave, and, most of all, we’re strong. We knew something was wrong with our water. It was brown. And it smelled weird and tasted gross. It was burning my skin and giving me and my family rashes. My family and my neighbors knew something was wrong, but our state didn’t want to believe in science. They didn’t want to listen to us. They said we were wrong. And finally, scientists proved that our water was bad and that kids just like me were getting hurt—over 8,000 kids under age 6 exposed to lead. Listen to me. When we don’t believe in science, and especially when our government doesn’t believe in science, kids get hurt. That’s what happened in Flint. For the sake of Flint kids and for all over this world, I march for science!
DAN ABRAMS: Hi, everyone. I’m Dan Abrams. I am the global director of Earth Day. I am also a 6-year veteran of EPA. And what’s happening out of that building and at EPA pisses me off. This is personal to me and to my 15,000 former colleagues, who I admire immensely. Earth Day is all about action. And it’s 2017. We need to move beyond changing our light bulbs and recycling our junk mail. Your participation in action, like these things today, is exactly what we need. We need more of these, and we need to stand strong. If there’s one man who understands the power of science and action, it’s our next speaker, Albert Yu-Min Lin. Dr. Yu-Min Lin is a pioneer in harnessing technology and citizen science to crowdsource new discoveries in our world. He has traveled to the most remote corners of the planet and developed incredible new ways to use science and technology to understand, preserve and protect our common home. Science marchers, please join me in welcoming Albert Yu-Min Lin.
ALBERT YU-MIN LIN: It’s raining science! I’m Albert Lin, and I am a scientist! What does that mean? To me, it means being en explorer, going into the unknown and then trying to make sense of things. Look, I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you today if it wasn’t for science.
Innovation is science. Why is that important? It’s important because our home, our oceans, our atmospheres, they’re on these tipping points. And how we innovate now, the decisions that we make now, they don’t just determine the near future, they will determine life on planet Earth for the next 10,000 years or more.
Yet around—some polls say around 50 percent of Americans don’t believe in climate change or that humans are responsible. We can do better! We are in a battle for science literacy. And that battle will be won or lost in our classrooms. We need to inspire the next generation of scientists to take on these challenges, to be the innovators. I mean, kids love science, right? Yet, somehow, we’ve seen that by middle school they start losing interest. We can do better. These days, I am honored because I work with video game designers, filmmakers, storytellers, educators, kids, scientists, to try to reinvent the way that we teach science, using current technologies to create virtual worlds that allow you to be at the frontier of discovery, solving real-world challenges like ocean health, climate change, energy production. We have an opportunity, maybe more of a responsibility, to make ours the greatest scientific generation that this planet has ever seen.
And it won’t be easy. It won’t be for the faint of heart. You know, from Galileo to Jane Goodall, scientists have put their lives on the line. They’ve been risk takers, rebels, adventurers. And explorer who discovered the Titanic, Bob Ballard, once said, "Science is a full-contact sport." And at this juncture in our history, the gloves must come off. I’m Albert Lin, and I stand with you, for science and for our planet.
CHRISTY GOLDFUSS: Hello, everyone! I’m Christy Goldfuss. And for the past several years, I had the most incredible honor to work with President Obama to protect more of the ocean than any president in history. I traveled with him to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to visit an enormous blue park called Papahanaumokuakea. And, yes, I can say that three times fast. Being there, I felt just like Moana, this incredible pull to the ocean. And as Moana says, "See that line where the sky meets the sea. It calls me. But no one knows how far it goes." Well, science tells us how far it goes. While the president was trying to decide whether or not to protect Papahanaumokuakea, scientists discovered the oldest marine organism, black coral, at 1,500 years old.
And with all the challenges that the oceans face right now, we need to support science. That is how we will answer the question of whether we can save the wild salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. That is how we will determine if we can stop bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and how we will find the keys to protect our oceans and all of us from the worst impacts of climate change. I’m a mother. I have a son, Charlie, and a daughter, Caroline. And for them and for all of our children, the most powerful nation in the world cannot turn its back on science. Today, we march to say that science holds the answers to our future, and we will not be ignored. Thank you for being here. And let’s make some noise!
LELAND MELVIN: Hello, everyone! Thank you for being here, Earth Day supporters and marchers for science. My name is Leland Melvin. And when I was in sixth grade, my mother gave me an age-inappropriate, non-OSHA-certified chemistry set. And I continued to mix chemicals and created the most incredible explosion in her living room, blowing up her living room. That’s what got me hooked on science. And I did not but dream of becoming an astronaut; I dreamt of becoming an athlete. And fortunately, I got to do both. I went to space two times, and I played for the—and I played for the Detroit Lions. They cut me, but, you know, that’s OK.
So, in February of 2008, I looked back at the planet from the vantage point of space, and I knew that data and science are important to ensure that we have a sustainable climate, a sustainable planet. But we can’t put our heads in the sand and act like it’s not there. I realize that what matters are not racial or geographical boundaries, not our money or power. What matters is taking care of our planet, of each other and of all life. And we need science to light our path and to guide our steps forward. That’s why I’m here today. Let’s work together as one team on this spaceship we call Earth. And now I want to turn it over to one of my sheroes, the incredible Jamie Rappaport Clark, who is the president of Defenders for Wildlife. Thank you, Jamie!
JAMIE RAPPAPORT CLARK: Hello, everybody! Thank you, Leland. Like Leland, I’m a scientist. And I’m fiercely committed to protecting our beautiful blue marble and the entire web of life. It’s so great to be here today. Speaking out, speaking up and marching for science has never in more important to saving endangered wildlife, because extinction is forever. The Endangered Species Act is an important law that’s been hugely effective at saving endangered wildlife—the bald eagle, the California condor and the Florida manatee. That’s why we say, "No science, no chance," because science is vital to saving wildlife and the habitats they depend on.
Today, the Endangered Species Act is endangered by a Congress and an administration more hostile to wildlife, more hostile to science, than any in our memory. Our government leaders want to substitute politics for science. That’s very dangerous for wildlife and for our future. Wildlife, the Endangered Species Act and strong science are worth standing up for. They’re worth fighting for. And they’re worth marching for. It’s time to tell our government, when it comes to extinction, science and facts are literally a matter of life and death. Help us—help us join in a call for action. I’m here today on behalf of 1.2 million members and activists. Defenders of Wildlife is proud to march for science today and to support science every day. Without science, there’s no polar bears, there’s no monarch butterflies, no red wolves. So goes nature, so goes us. Say it with me, everyone: No science, no chance! No science, no chance! No science, no chance! Thank you.
MUSTAFA ALI: Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon, everyone! So I’m about to take you to Jamaica real quick. I want everyone to say, "Get up!"
AUDIENCE: Get up!
MUSTAFA ALI: "Stand up!"
AUDIENCE: Stand up!
MUSTAFA ALI: "Stand up for your rights!"
AUDIENCE: Stand up for your rights!
MUSTAFA ALI: It’s time to stand up, like the legend Bob Marley said: "Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your rights!"
Thirty-five years ago in Warren County, North Carolina, a small but committed African-American community decided to stand up and say, "No more!" They decided to stand up against dangerous PCBs, a cancer-causing substance in their neighborhood. They decided to stand up to protect their lives, their neighbors and the lives of the next generation.
Today, we stand against an administration that places profits over people and tells us that science isn’t real, that rolls back regulations that for decades has protected and given people a fighting chance for clean air, clean water and clean land. Today we must stand for community-based programs that give marginalized communities traction to address the disinvestments that have limited their opportunities for positive change. Today we must support our most vulnerable communities on their journey from surviving to thriving. Today we stand up for Standing Rock, to protect and support—that’s right—cultures that honor Mother Earth and the lives of our people. Today we stand up for Flint. Today we stand up for Baltimore. Today we stand up for East Chicago, where the devastating effects of lead will have long-term health and economic impacts. Today we stand with 71 percent of African Americans who live in counties that violate federal air pollution standards, and the 68 percent of African Americans who live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Today we stand with Latinos, who are 165 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of power pollution. Today we stand with the 24 million Americans suffering from asthma and who are disproportionately at risk. Today we hold our public officials accountable. Today we stand for justice and make our collective voices heard. Today we stand up, and we march.
Everyone, join me. Everyone, say, "Get up!"
AUDIENCE: Get up!
MUSTAFA ALI: "Stand up!"
AUDIENCE: Stand up!
MUSTAFA ALI: "Stand up for your rights!"
AUDIENCE: Stand up for your rights!
SAM DROEGE: Hi, I’m Sam Droege, the bee guy. I just realized that if all the bees disappeared, there’s tons of unemployed scientists who will do the pollination. So, here’s how it works. These are all the flowering plants in the world, thousands and thousands of them. They have a relationship, sometimes one-on-one, with thousands and thousands of different bee species. There’s more than honey bees out there. You lose some of these plant species, you lose a whole chunk of bee species. The system works like this. They encapsulate the Earth, the bees and the plants. Without them, you have little to nothing to live for.
So, here’s what you need to do. You need to harbor all the natural areas that are the bank of plant biodiversity, with their bees, that keep it together. And, personally, this is what you need to do. You’re an activist. You probably have a lawn. You need to delawnify the world. Lawns’ contribution is zero to negative. I will do a paper on that later. But you can have—you can make a difference in just those small different ways. Remember, my favorite quote from Emerson is "The world laughs in flowers." Thank you.
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human performing "What a Wonderful World"]
AMY GOODMAN: You are tuned in to Democracy Now!, our 5-hour broadcast covering the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 3]
AMY GOODMAN: 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.
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human performing "On the Sunny Side of the Street"]
DEREK MULLER: When I say "science," you say "rocks." Science!
DEREK MULLER: Science!
DEREK MULLER: I want you all to give yourselves a big round of applause for staying with us through this rain. I can still see people streaming into the Mall. It’s incredible. And we are just about to march for science. This is our last speaker set coming up, so of course we’ve got to deal with the biggest issue right now, which is climate change. And to lead off the set, we have one of the pioneers, a pioneering climate scientist, Professor Michael Mann from Penn State University. Now, Professor Mann was the first researcher—amongst the first researchers to produce the hockey stick graph of global temperatures. And he has been a tireless advocate for communicating climate scientists to the public, and that has brought him under fire from doubters and deniers. So, please, give a big warm welcome for Professor Michael Mann!
DR. MICHAEL MANN: Thank you. Thank you. All right, thank you. Thank you very much. I am a climate scientist. I’m also an author. My most recent book, co-authored with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, is entitled The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.
Well, in 1984, I headed off to Berkeley, a hotbed of activism, not to demonstrate or protest, but to study applied math and physics among some of the world’s leading scientists. Ironically, that path was the one that led me to become a combatant in a fierce political fight. I went on to study physics in graduate school and then into climate research. My path of discovery led me to publish the now iconic hockey stick curve in the late-1990s. Thank you. The hockey stick curve tells a visual story that the current warming spike is unprecedented, as far back as we can go, and it’s our continued burning of fossil fuels that’s the culprit.
Fossil fuel interests, along with front groups and politicians doing their bidding, attacked it and me. Despite dozens of independent confirmations of my findings by the National Academy of Sciences and many others, the effort to discredit this research and to discredit me personally continued. I was initially reluctant to be at the center of a fractious—the fractious public debate over human-caused climate change. But I ultimately came to embrace that role. I’ve become convinced that there’s no more noble pursuit than seeking to ensure that policy is informed by an objective assessment of scientific evidence.
And so, here we are at a crossroads. Never before have we witnessed science under the kind of assault it is right now. Never before have we needed science more to deal with the changing climate. All of us who care about science and our planet must now make our voices heard. And indeed, today, the entire world is listening. Thank you.
JAMES BALOG: Good afternoon. I’m James Balog. I am a patriot. I fight for spacious skies. I fight for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains’ majesty. You all are patriots. But I do that by being a photographer, filmmaker and scientist.
We have met here today, where a great battle for the mind, body and soul of this country is being fought. Among other things, it is a battle between objective reality and ideological fiction. My team and I have collected visual evidence of the epic changes sweeping the Earth today. I’ve seen how burning coal, oil and gas cooks the air we breathe. I have seen how that altered air heats our forests until they explode in fireballs and homes burn down. I’ve seen, through more than a million frames of time-lapse photography, how trillions of tons of glacier ice are melting. I’ve seen that melt water enter the seas and flood the coastlines of America. Nature isn’t natural anymore. You and I and all seven-and-a-half billion of us are changing the climate. It’s what the real-world evidence says.
But, you know, there’s good news, too. Each one of us can use our voices and our choices to take us down the road to a better future. I submit to you that we, the people, have an inalienable right not just to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but to clean air, clean water and a stable climate. Our survival demands it, and our children deserve it. And so, empowered by evidence and real-world truth, we shall fight for spacious skies. We shall fight for amber waves of grain. We shall fight for majestic mountains. And we shall march on these streets. We shall never, ever surrender. Thank you.
MARK TERCEK: Hello, everybody. My name is Mark Tercek from The Nature Conservancy. Thank you for being here today. It’s great to be here with all of you celebrating and defending the role of science and making the world a better place. And it’s great to be here on Capitol Hill.
At The Nature Conservancy, we say, "Why should science be a partisan issue?" Science protects everyone. Science provides us the clean air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that grows our food, the coastlines that protects us from storms, and the tools to address the biggest challenge of all, climate change. This is no time to reduce investments in science.
And, by the way, there is reason for hope. Anybody who’s my age will remember the 1970s. We had a real air pollution issue. Today, the air is clean. You’ll remember, in the '70s, the air was so bad, the Clean Air Act was introduced. The auto industry said, "This will never work. It will cost billions of dollars. It will cost millions of jobs." But thanks to political pressure—that means you, and today, too—the Clean Air Act was passed. And then science and industry got to work. Unleaded gasoline was quickly developed. The catalytic converter was invented. Today's cars are 99 percent cleaner than they were in 1970. And we enjoy clean air.
We can do that again. We can do it now. But we need to do it here on Capitol Hill, and we need to ask all of you to engage in politics. Some people don’t like politics anymore. They say the government is dysfunctional. Get over that. I don’t like politics either, but I’ve learned our elected officials really will listen to you. So, please, speak up. Vote. Call your congressman. Speak up. We can do it. Thank you very much. Go, science!
HEIDI CULLEN: By show of hands, how many of you guys believe that global warming is actually real, that temperatures are increasing? There were scientists who kind of made this connection that carbon dioxide was this thermostat, right? You crank up carbon dioxide, you crank up temperature. You crank down carbon dioxide, you crank down the temperature.
HEIDI CULLEN: Hello. I’m Heidi Cullen, and I am marching in the rain today because I believe science is something that we need to defend. We need to defend science, because science protects us. I’m a scientist by training, but I got my start as a science educator at the Weather Channel, where we created the first TV show focused on climate. We wanted to help people understand why climate change is a problem, but we also wanted to look at how to solve it, because that’s what science is all about: elegantly solving problems.
Case in point, our country’s deadliest natural disaster hit Galveston, Texas. It was a hurricane in the year 1900. Back then, the problem was that we didn’t have the tools to see it coming. As a result, our country made a commitment to invest in science and technology, and build the best science structure in the world. And today, that science, that technology saves lives.
But there are many more problems to solve, urgent problems, like climate change. Climate change brings with it many threats. The most immediate and costly is extreme weather—floods, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires. We need to be able to predict those changing extremes. But we can’t predict what we don’t observe and study, and that’s why we must protect the agencies, the programs, the scientists and the engineers who are working to protect the air we breathe and the oceans that we fish in, that keep our natural beauty in check and that really keep our communities and our families safe, because strong science means a strong American economy. It makes our world more livable and more beautiful for our children, and it keeps all of us safe. So I am so proud to march with all of you today. Thank you.
DR. BROOKE BATEMAN: Hi. I’m Dr. Brooke Bateman from the National Audubon Society. And I love birds and science! I grew up visiting my grandparents in northern Wisconsin, and I will never forget seeing bald eagles. At the time, I wondered, "Why can’t I see bald eagles everywhere?" As the proverbial canary in the coal mine, birds like the eagle were telling us that our actions were taking a toll on our wildlife and our wild places. This is because birds are our messengers. They show us when our world is changing. At the time of the first Earth Day, toxic pesticides and the destruction of habitats took a toll on the bald eagle and other majestic birds. Scientists and concerned community members, working together, made our leaders pay attention to science. Our environment got healthier, and the eagle and the other birds came back.
So, what are the birds telling us today? The birds I study, like the eastern meadowlark, are telling us that our grasslands, our coastlines, our rivers, the Arctic, our other critical ecosystems are in danger. The common loon is telling us that environmental pollution is once again taking its toll. And birds like the wood thrush are telling us that our climate is changing. Birds’ ranges are already shifting and shrinking, and seasonal timings are unraveling.
Birds don’t have a political party. It’s time, once again, for scientists and community to come together and to listen to what the birds are telling us. We must embrace our values and demand that our government use science to protect birds, other wildlife and the places they live, as our legacy for our future generations. Although birds are our messengers, we need to be their voice, to keep science forefront in our policies, because we know when we protect the birds, we protect the Earth that we all share. Thank you.
JULIA OLSON: Good afternoon, everyone! I am Julia Olson with Our Children’s Trust, and I’m a lawyer who loves science. Did you know you have a constitutionally protected right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life? Well, you do, and it’s thanks to 21 young people from around the country who are suing the Trump administration and the entire fossil fuel industry.
What could be the trial of the century will start in federal court this year in Eugene, Oregon. And we are asking a judge to order the implementation of a national plan aimed at returning carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million. Climate science will get its day in court, where facts are facts, and where alternative facts are perjury. We need you all. Stand with us. Get your family and friends and your favorite scientists to stand with us. This case is Juliana v. the United States of America. Thank you.
RACHEL KYTE: Hello. You’re here because you value science. I’m here because I value science for everything it’s done to bring us to this moment and everything it’s going to do for us for the next 30 to 50 years so that we can live more fairly on this planet cleanly. I’m here because of my son Daniel and my daughter Nia, and I’m here because both of their grandfathers are engineers.
Science shows us the way forward. It provides us with the bedrock upon which we create the opportunities and so that we can understand the risks. Science has made it possible to provide renewable energy to people who live close to $2 a day across the world. Science has made it possible to capture emissions from steel and cement plants and to grow stone from that carbon dioxide. Science has made it possible to grow peanuts that can withstand heat and drought, and which can short crop, provide nutrition with added vitamins and minerals. Science has made it possible to travel in safe driverless electric cars in cities where buildings store energy. Science makes it possible to get a health consultation over your cellphone a thousand miles from a doctor. Science is going to make it possible to have decentralized, decarbonized, digitalized energy that provides energy access for everyone. Science makes it possible that we don’t leave anyone behind when we build the cleaner, fairer future for all. We should—we should derive confidence from science, confidence to make decisions now that will spare us forward. Sustainable energy for all is dignity for all. Science will provide a pathway for dignity. Thank you.
ELENA HIGHT: I’m Elena Hight, and I am an athlete for the Earth. I’ve been traveling as a professional snowboarder for 14 years. Growing up in the mountains, I’ve been blessed to have always been connected to the environment. What I’ve seen over the past decade is winters getting shorter, snowfall decreasing and strange weather patterns. We’re either seeing rain or droughts or very large amounts of snowfall. For me and other snowboarders, we rely on snow for our passion, our love of the sport, and also for our careers. So we are very connected to how the human footprint affects the Earth. It’s a huge discussion in my community.
My commitment to the environment comes out in the lifestyle choices I make, ultimately living my life mindfully. I do my best to use a refillable water bottle and always have one with me. Everything makes a big difference. All of the little things add up. We need the big things, too. We need our leaders to understand how important the Earth is and what they can do to help the crisis. I’m Elena Hight, and I am an athlete for the Earth. Join me.
DR. JOE ROMM: Welcome, fellow nerds to—to nerd heaven, nerd Asgard and home of the Department of Energy, where I worked for five years on clean energy, what I like to call nerd power. Nerd power is a solution to climate change. I’m Joe Romm, physicist and founder of ClimateProgress.org.
My motto is "Science is my passion, politics my duty." That quote is from one of the three nerd presidents remembered on the Mall. But it’s not from Lincoln, the only president nerdy enough to receive a patent. He even created the National Academy of Sciences to give him nerd advice. Nor is it from George Washington, a math and geometry nerd, what we would call today a STEM professional, who at age 17 became America’s first county surveyor. As president, he said jobs like surveyor general needed, quote, "scientific qualifications." He was so nerdy, in the first-ever State of the Union address, he told Congress there was nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. It’s Thomas Jefferson who said, "Science is my passion, politics my duty." He was president of America’s oldest scientific society for two decades during the entire time he was vice president and president. He was so nerdy he wrote a letter pointing out a math error in Newton’s Principia. And you can google it, and it is the nerdiest thing you’ve ever seen.
One historian calls the Declaration of Independence "a scientific paper whose open is Newtonian": "We hold these truths to be self-evident." They were evident because you could see them, and you could use your reason to figure them out.
So nerds were crucial to founding and building this country. Nerds can do anything if we work together. We can save the climate with nerd power, but only if we defend science from attack. After all, climate change is reality, not reality TV. So, the next time someone tells you science and politics don’t mix, tell them about Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. I’m here with my daughter Antonia, who was here with me on Earth Day seven years ago, when I could pick her up, and her friend Isabel. And I’ll just leave by saying: Live long and prosper, nerds. Thank you. Thank you very much. Nerd power.
ANOUSHEH ANSARI: Hi, everyone. Thank you for being here. It’s so good to be here. As you know, I was born a long, long time ago in a country far, far away—in Iran. And I love going to space. The night sky was my playground. I imagined myself flying through the galaxies on board Starship Enterprise as the science officer always, and I even wanted to meet all those aliens and prayed that one day they would come and abduct me. As you can see, I’m still here, so my prayers haven’t been answered yet.
When I came to U.S., I didn’t speak English. The only class, when I enrolled in high school, that I enjoyed was calculus, because they spoke the universal language of math. My education in science is what opened up a whole new world to me. It allowed me to be an engineer, an entrepreneur, and eventually to realize my biggest dream of all, to go to space and be an astronaut. The language of science knows no race, no gender, no religion. It doesn’t discriminate based on where you live or based on whether you’re poor or wealthy. The apple falls from the tree under the same laws and accelerates the same way, whether it’s in the U.S. or in Iran. That is why I love science. That is why I chose to be an engineer, to find solutions, to solve puzzles and find solutions for the greatest challenges that humanity faces.
I had the privilege of spending 11 glorious days on board International Space Station and to see our planet from up there. I can tell you, there is no word that can describe it. Our blue planet, it’s so beautiful in the background, in the dark background of the universe. And it allows you to really truly believe and see that there are no borders, that we have one home, a very fragile home, that we need to protect. And it takes all of us to protect it.
Science teaches us how to test and find the truth. It gives us power to break all barriers, to reach beyond the stars. I’m here today and supporting this march, because I want to make sure our future generation even has better opportunities to reach their dreams, and that we have a beautiful planet and a great future for all of them. Thank you for being here.
RUSH HOLT: You look great. I’m Rush Holt, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general science organization. We march today to affirm to all the world that science is relevant, useful, exciting and beautiful, that science is too important to people’s lives to be denied or downgraded. As a professor of physics and, later, administrator of a national lab, I learned that science is the cleverest way ever invented to learn how things actually work—the stars, the Earth, biological systems and people. And I learned that science needs certain conditions to thrive: free exchange of ideas, freedom to travel and collaborate, diversity of people and perspectives and ample public funding. These conditions are threatened today, and we must defend them.
Twenty years ago, I did something my science colleagues called crazy: I ran for Congress. Over 16 years working down the Mall here, I saw that evidence should not be optional. Good policies start with an understanding of how things actually are. Today, thousands of people, from all walks of life, all over the world, are saying that evidence verified by science is the only reliable way to make public policy, policy that touches our lives in every way—health and economics and environment and transportation and security. Science doesn’t replace personal faith or humane studies or poetry, but in all public matters, decisions should be based on evidence, not wishful thinking or rigid ideology. Society is—science is society’s best friend. Science is our government’s best friend. Science is civilization’s best friend. Science belongs to all people. Going forward, let’s multiply the benefits that come from thinking like a scientist. When we engage with public leaders, let us all ask this question: What is the evidence? Thank you.
AMY PURDY: I’m Amy Purdy, and I’m an athlete for the Earth. Ever since I was little, I’ve been a huge advocate for the environment. It’s our home. I’m a snowboarder, so I’m always looking at the weather and notice it every day. I’m aware when there is no snow when there’s supposed to be, or when there’s suddenly a huge amount of snow. I have to be aware. I’m aware of the trash that we produce as humans, so I’m trying to be conscious, as I can, minimizing the amount of trash that I create. I live in the mountains, so if I see trash on the side of the road, I pick it up, and I recycle it. And it’s easy to be aware. It’s just about making smarter decisions. It’s up to us to take care of our environment. Like every person, I can leave a negative or a positive footprint. I try to make mine positive. It’s not that hard to think on a bigger scale and not just think of ourselves. We need to think of our planet. We need to think of our home. I’m Amy Purdy, and I’m an athlete for the Earth. Join me.
KATHLEEN ROGERS: Hey, are you almost ready to march?
KATHLEEN ROGERS: Are you sure?
KATHLEEN ROGERS: OK. We have one more speaker. Her name is Christiana Figueres. I want you to give her the most incredible round of applause. This is the mother of climate change. She ran the UNFCCC, the U.N. agency that created the climate agreement. She brought the whole world together. Today is the 1-year anniversary of the climate agreement, and here is the person who brought climate change and our future all together in one place. Christiana Figueres.
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: So, hi, guys. You’ve heard a lot this morning. I have three questions for you. Are you ready? Because—listen up, because these are not easy questions. OK? Not everybody can answer them. Question number one: Do you understand that the Earth is round and orbits around the sun?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: All right! Question number two: Do you understand that gravity actually is exerting its physical pull on all of us and on everything on the surface of the Earth?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: Question number three: Do you understand that climate change is already upon us, and that if we do not do something about it, it is only going to get worse for everyone?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: All right! Well, then we understand that we actually are at one of the most daunting crossroads in the evolution of human history. We are at the point where we must decide: Are we going to ignore science, or are we going to rise to the call of history and forge a new life-on-Earth paradigm? This life-on-Earth paradigm is where nature and humanity support each other. Can we do that?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: This is where energy is forever renewable and accessible to all. Can we do that?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: This is where transportation is clean and shared and smart. Can we do that?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: This is where the land is restored and is, again, producing the food that we need to provide food security for those that don’t have it today. Can we do that?
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES: All right. The good news is, you know that we can do that. But I have to tell you, we’re already doing it. It’s not a fairy tale. It is not a fairy tale. We already have—more than 50 percent of the energy that was installed in this fantastic country was renewable energy last year. Did you know that Kentucky just decided to put the largest solar farm in the whole state on top of a coal mine? Did you know that China just closed its last coal plant around Beijing? And did you know that India has already announced that it will be at 60 percent renewable energy within the next 10 years? So, we are getting there. We do have the technology. We do have the finance. All we need is the collective intentionality.
But, my friends, swallow the alarm clock, because we cannot be late. Science has established that we must bend the curve of emissions by 2020. That is the challenge of silence—of science, and we will rise to that challenge. We must bend the curve by 2020. And we will do that, because, frankly, we don’t have another option.
Now, my friends, for many years I had a recurrent dream. I had a dream of seven little pairs of eyes, black eyes always, that looked at me and asked me, "What did you do?" I want to tell you, that question, I have understood, after many years, is not a question to me. It’s a question to all of us, all of us alive today. What did you do? And the answer, my friends, must be that we work together to answer that question in just one way: not that we did everything that we thought was possible, but that we did everything that we knew was necessary, because in that difference lies the future of mankind. Thank you.
KATHLEEN ROGERS: Well, I was wrong. We have one last person who wanted to say something to us. Let me see if I can get it up there. Pope Francis just tweeted at us, so—tweeted at you. See if they’ll get it up there. There it is. So we’ll let him have the last word for now. Thanks.
POPE FRANCIS TWEET: "Lord, bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. -@Pontifex (Pope Francis)
QUESTLOVE: OK. It is almost time. March! March! March! March! March!
AUDIENCE: March! March! March!
QUESTLOVE: So, in wrapping up, I would like to thank all of you for coming out here, in the weather, to hear our amazing speakers. Derek Muller, Cara Santa Maria, I think—yes, my wonderful co-hosts, we’re going to start a band together after this is done. We’d like to thank the Earth Day Network, the March for Science and the National Park Service, especially them. We would like to thank the National Park Service for especially putting us right here in proximity of you know who. Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for, one more time, Jon Batiste and Stay Human. March! Actually, we’re going to wing something. I hear a great drummer is in the house, so I don’t know. We might do something.
[Jon Batiste and Stay Human with Questlove performing "This Land Is Your Land"]
AMY GOODMAN: You’re tuned to Democracy Now!, our 5-hour broadcast covering the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 4]
AMY GOODMAN: We’re here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Behind me, the Washington Monument. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, prepared a video for this march.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: How did America rise up from a backwoods country to be one of the greatest nations the world has ever known? We pioneered industries. And all of this required the greatest innovations in science and technology in the world. And so, science is a fundamental part of the country that we are.
But in this, the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not; what is reliable, what is not reliable; what should you believe, what should you not believe. And when you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.
REP. MIKE PENCE: Let us demand that educators around America teach evolution not as fact, but as theory.
REPORTER 1: An increasing number of parents showing skepticism about vaccinations.
REPORTER 2: Voters have approved a ban on GMOs.
REPORTER 3: Critics call climate change unproven science.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: That’s not the country I remember growing up in. Not that we didn’t have challenges. I’m old enough to remember the '60s and the ’70s. We had a hot war and a Cold War, civil rights movement. And all this was going on. But I don't remember any time where people were standing in denial of what science was.
One of the great things about science is that it is an entire exercise in finding what is true. An hypothesis, you test it. I get a result. A rival of mine double-checks it, because they think I might be wrong. They perform an even better experiment than I did, and they find out, "Hey, this experiment matches. Oh, my gosh, we’re onto something here." And out of this rises a new emergent truth. It does it better than anything else we have ever come up with as human beings.
This is science. It’s not something to toy with. It’s not something to say, "I choose not to believe E equals mc-square." You don’t have that option. When you have an established scientific emergent truth, it is true whether or not you believe in it. And the sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us.
So, once you understand that humans are warming the planet, you can then have a political conversation about that. You can say, "Well, should we—are there carbon credits? Do we do this? Do we put a tariff on it? Do we fund? Do we subsidize? Those have political answers. And every minute one is in denial, you are delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.
As a voter, as a citizen, scientific issues will come before you. And isn’t it worth it to say, "All right, let me at least become scientifically literate, so that I can think about these issues and act intelligently upon them"? Recognize what science is, and allow it to be what it can and should be, in the service of civilization. It’s in our hands.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. He the chief astrophysicist, head of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. He prepared that video for this March for Science in Washington, D.C.
There is a lot of music behind me. The main stage speakers are through. Thousands, tens of thousands of people are now beginning their march on this Earth Day, on this April 22nd, on this day that we also heard that the surgeon general has been fired by President Trump. That is Dr. Vivek Murthy.
We are joined right now by another doctor, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. She’s a doctor in Flint, Michigan, who blew the polluted water scandal right open with her scientific testing of the water and its effects on the children because of the lead contamination. Now, Dr. Mona spoke on the main stage, but we’re bringing her here to have a further conversation.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: It’s great to be here, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you come to Washington?
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: How could I not come to Washington? How could you not be part of a March for Science? In my every day as a pediatrician, I am moved by science. I am guided by science in my care of patients, in my protection of patients. The Flint story is a story of science. It took science to unravel this unbelievable tragedy. So we need to believe in science, and we need to invest in science. If not, we have the risk of seeing many more Flints to come.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you did, how you used science to uncover what took place.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Absolutely. So, I was very much doing my job as a pediatrician, as a researcher. When I heard about the possibility of lead in the water, I stopped sleeping. Lead is potent, irreversible neurotoxin. It is damning for children and for generations to come. When I heard that there was lead in the water, I put on my research hat to see if that lead was getting into the bodies of our children. And it was. And instead of waiting to publish these findings in peer-reviewed journals, we held a press conference, and we announced these findings, because our days did not—our kids did not have a day to spare. So I took a risk. I took a professional risk and stepped out of my box, out of my clinic, out of my lab, and advocated for my kids. And that’s what needs to happen now every day. Scientists need to come out of our classrooms, out of our clinics and, you know, out of our ivory towers to use our science to better our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: First, the governor of Michigan tried to discredit you. And then, explain what happened.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah. So, I was dismissed, in a long line of folks who were dismissed in the Flint story. Most importantly, the people of Flint were dismissed for 18 months. They were literally told to relax during this dire crisis. The moms, the pastors, the activists, the journalists, the water scientists—everybody was dismissed. And when I came out with the research that our children were being poisoned, I was also dismissed.
I was called an "unfortunate researcher," that I was causing near hysteria, which is a great sexist phrase, and that the state’s numbers didn’t add up to my numbers. So, after a few weeks, the state actually looked back at their numbers and said, "Oh, actually, you know, our numbers do match up with your numbers," and, you know, realized that we did have this massive crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: And what is happening today?
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: So, today, we are almost in our fourth year of this ongoing crisis. The people of Flint, to this day, must still use filters and bottled water. We have had a great new settlement that will guarantee a line replacement, the pipe replacement. That’s going to take years to happen. We’ve been able to do a lot of things for the children, which is how I spend my every day—investments in early education, literacy, healthcare, nutrition. But we have not yet garnered the resources for the long-term recovery of these kids. These kids need resources for years, if not decades, to mitigate this crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: And the men who made this decision, the unelected city managers, have been indicted.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah, there’s been about 18 criminal charges, including those emergency managers, including folks who worked in our water quality department, including folks who worked in our public health department. So, that accountability is incredibly important. And we need those ongoing investigations.
AMY GOODMAN: So you’re here in Washington, D.C. You’re a doctor. You’re an Iraqi-American doctor.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah, I’m a first-generation Iraqi American. My parents immigrated here when I was about 4. If Trump’s first immigration ban was in effect, I would not be here. So, it’s—you know, we have immigrants all over, in many of our most vulnerable communities, serving, doing our privilege to serve our communities here in the States. It is frightening what would happen if Trump’s immigration policies came into full effect, not only for the healthcare of our most vulnerable, but for the entire field of science, for the global partnerships that we have in science, and, you know, really for the future of our scientific discovery.
AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a piece in The New York Times, "Will We Lose the Doctor Who [Would] Stop the Next Flint?"
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah. So, you know, I’ve been given this incredible microphone this last year, and I once again felt it was my duty, my ethical and moral responsibility, to raise my voice in regards to the immigration ban. So, this precedent, these policies, in regards to immigrants are totally contrary to everything that our country was based on. And, you know, Flint is a perfect example. If those were in place, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t know what would have happened to Flint. I hope somebody else would have done the same thing I did. But there’s examples, day in and day out, of immigrants serving these communities.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I began by saying that, on this day, we just learned this on the grounds of the Mall, on this day, Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, has been fired. They’re saying resigned, but it’s pretty clear he was fired. You knew him.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah. He was a great physician. He was a great supporter of Flint. He actually came out to Flint twice during our water crisis, in support of our efforts, tried to advocate for more resources for us, spoke with the people, had town hall meetings at churches, met with our physicians. He’s been a great advocate of public health, in general, the need for broader support and investment in public health. So, it was heartbreaking to hear. I actually sent him a message on Twitter yesterday when I heard that he was asked to leave.
AMY GOODMAN: He also spoke out against gun violence.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes, absolutely. So he very much recognized, as physicians do recognize, that gun violence is a public health crisis, it is a public health issue, and we need to treat it as such. And we need to increase regulations on gun violence to protect our most vulnerable populations. And I think, ultimately—I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s why he was asked to leave.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us about Little Miss Flint? Little Miss Flint was the little girl who came with you on the stage right here at the March for Science to speak.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Yeah. So, Mari Copeny also goes by Little Miss Flint, and she’s a gorgeous 9-year-old from Flint. And she is a perfect example of our Flint kids, who are strong, who are smart, who are brave, who are absolutely beautiful and who clearly symbolize the hope and the beauty and the recovery of Flint kids. So she has been a great ambassador of positivity, of optimism and advocacy. Her job, she’s actually running for president. She’s already announced that she’s running for—to take over that house in 2044.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Dr. Mona, I want to thank you very much for being with us and for all your work back in Flint. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who is the pediatrician who broke open the scandal, at least let people know that lead was contaminating the children of Flint, not to mention everyone else.
This is Democracy Now! We are broadcasting live from the March for Science. And the rain is starting to come down harder. In a moment, we’re going to hear some of the people in the march. We’ve been seeing people from all over the country, and I’m telling them we’re coming to town. Democracy Now! is beginning a many-city tour. We’ll be in Princeton, New Jersey, on Sunday, and then we’re going to Wesleyan College on Monday and then heading up to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and beyond. But right now, we’re going to turn to Renée Feltz and Andre Lewis, who talked to people in the march.
BRENDA CLOUGH: I’m Brenda Clough, and I’m a science-fiction writer. And my sign says "George Orwell, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood: They Warned Us!" And these, of course, are dystopian science-fiction writers. You all have heard of 1984 by George Orwell and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. They’re actually doing it on cable TV. So, they’re famous dystopian novels, and they’re best-sellers now, because we’re scared.
The flip side of my sign says "Look Down. Do you have Velcro, eyeglasses, a computer, a phone, nylon? And if you do, you should thank a scientist." There’s the number of—I’ve had people actually on Facebook say to me, "You can’t believe what scientists say." And I say, "Honey, are you typing this on a keyboard? You’re on the internet? Hello!" It’s like enough to drive you nuts. So, that’s why I made this sign, because I just can’t believe it sometimes.
RENÉE FELTZ: And, Brenda, are you a science-fiction writer? And what brought you out to the March for Science today?
BRENDA CLOUGH: I am a science-fiction writer, and I’ve been a finalist for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards in the industry, if you know that. And I’ve been a supporter of science for years, because that’s what I—I live and move in it. I write in it. We spend all of our time thinking the thoughts that eventually the real scientists bring to life. Before they went to the moon, someone wrote about it. We wrote about it. You know, before nanotechnology happened, before someone did it, we wrote about it. And that’s why we need it. We need it for us, for our life, for our art.
TREVOR WATSON: Yeah, my name is Trevor Watson. I’m from Knoxville. I’m here—I’m a nurse practitioner. And I believe in evidence-based practice. And—
RENÉE FELTZ: What does your sign say?
TREVOR WATSON: I’m sorry?
RENÉE FELTZ: What does your sign say?
TREVOR WATSON: It says, "Mr. President, don’t cut $6 billion a year from medical research. Cures depend on it!" So, I thought, you know, it’s just a direct statement to him about his ideas for our country. I don’t—I don’t necessarily agree with at all. So, yeah.
RENÉE FELTZ: And can you talk about why you’re here today?
TREVOR WATSON: I’m here to be the voice behind medical research. I’m just one person, but—I don’t do research myself, but I use research. So I fully support research in order to practice, you know, being a care provider for people. So...
RENÉE FELTZ: How do you use research, scientific research?
TREVOR WATSON: Well, I provide evidence-based care. I’m a nurse practitioner. So, you can’t just provide care based on a whim. You have to use evidence of what’s worked in the past. And, you know, cutting $6 billion from research a year is quite a bit of money. So, lots of research can be done with that.
ISAIAH: My name is Isaiah. And my sign says, "Trump calls it 'cyclohexatriene,'" with a picture of benzene on it. In the grand scheme of things, I would—I am quite frustrated with an administration that doesn’t really value science and the importance of—and the important role that it plays in society, I think.
RENÉE FELTZ: Are you a scientist?
ISAIAH: Yes, I am. I’m a chemist.
RENÉE FELTZ: Do you have a message for President Trump?
ISAIAH: Listen to the evidence. Go where the facts lead you. And don’t approach things with a—don’t approach things thinking that you already know where it’s going to go.
EMMA: My name is Emma, and I’m a water quality chemist for drinking water in West Virginia. My sign is a Rick and Morty sign, and it says, "Break the cycle, Morty. Rise above. Focus on science," which is a quote from Rick and Morty, so I thought it was applicable.
RENÉE FELTZ: And can you explain your sign a little bit more and talk about why you’re here today?
EMMA: Oh, sure. It’s just like—it’s a quote from Rick and Morty, which is a popular Adult Swim show that stars a scientist. And I thought it was just a funny way to maybe get people to like notice it. And I’m here today because I support science. And with all the funding cuts for science that are happening, I’m really scared for the future, especially with all the like climate change cuts, especially. So that’s why I’m here.
RENÉE FELTZ: Do you think that you would be impacted by cuts to science?
EMMA: Yes, I do. Like, well, mine is drinking water, so usually that should be protected, because drinking water is super important and impacts like all of us. But there is a chance that cuts to science could like cut back on some of my department.
MARILYN: My name is Marilyn, and I am a scientist, a professor at Penn State. I study virus ecology. And I’m here today because I think it’s really important for the public to be more aware of science and to realize how much—what a huge role it’s played in their lives and how we need to continue that role. And just because you don’t believe in something, if it’s a fact, it’s a fact. So science is about facts. It’s not about beliefs. My sign says, "The sky is not blue. The grass is not green. There is no global warming."
RENÉE FELTZ: You’ve got a sign here that references both science and global warming. And we’re here marching for science on Earth Day. Briefly, can you talk about the connection that you make there?
MARILYN: Well, there’s a lot of scientific data that says global warming is real, that it’s happening. And I think one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that if the—the temperature of the oceans have already risen one degree. One degree per milliliter of water is one calorie. So try to imagine how much water is in the ocean. And each milliliter, that means like a thousand of those in a quart, is a calorie. So the amount of energy that that puts into the ocean, that’s why we’re already seeing tropical storms in April now, for the third year in a row. So, I think global warming is very much linked to science, because it’s science that’s telling us it’s happening. And it’s going to get worse if we don’t do something to fix it. In fact, it may be too late.
RENÉE FELTZ: Do you have a message for President Donald Trump?
MARILYN: I think that he needs to get some science advisers, and then he needs to listen to them. But I’m not sure he can listen. Listening doesn’t seem to be his strong point.
BETSY HERING: My name is Betsy Hering, and I’m from Minnesota.
RENÉE FELTZ: And what hat are you wearing? It’s quite colorful and distinctive.
BETSY HERING: It’s a brain hat. Basically, it has the sulci and the gyruses, the things that look kind of curly and all squished together, to sort of represent the fact that this is science, and this is one of the organs we need to use if we’re going to have good science. It’s our brain. And it’s a wonderful, miraculous thing. I’m a nurse, and I’ve had lots of experiences with the human body. So it’s to represent who I am and what I think is important.
RENÉE FELTZ: Did you make your hat?
BETSY HERING: Yeah, I did. Basically learned how to knit little noodles, and went and got lots of different colors to represent the different parts of the brain, and then stuck them with double-sided carpet tape. So, it’s all together, and it’s wonderful to be here. There’s some more brain hats, too. You have to go hunt them out.
RENÉE FELTZ: Do you have a message for President Trump, as we are here at the March for Science on Earth Day?
BETSY HERING: It’s important to listen to everybody and especially important to listen to people who are experts in their field. There’s nothing—nothing that can be accomplished if we—nothing that can’t be accomplished if we all work together and are basically aware of each other’s contribution.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I have to say, we’re here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. The rain is coming down, but the spirits are not dampened. I’m Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! Thanks for joining us for this 5-hour broadcast, from 10:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon Eastern Standard Time. Thousands of people are not only on the grounds next to the Washington Monument, but the lines are around the block to get in. They’re checking backpacks. But we have just bumped into a very interesting group of young people, joined by—well, why don’t you introduce yourself, about why you’re with this group of youngsters right up into their teens and beyond?
JULIA OLSON: I’m Julia Olson. I’m the executive director of Our Children’s Trust. And I’m a lawyer representing 21 young people who filed a lawsuit against the government. They’re now suing the Trump administration and the whole fossil fuel industry for violating their fundamental constitutional rights to a climate system that will protect them and their future.
AMY GOODMAN: So, but this—I remember, when we broadcast from Stanford University, you were suing the Obama administration.
JULIA OLSON: That’s right. And now we have a new president and a new administration that is denying the facts of climate change. And so, it’s a very interesting situation, where Obama admitted that these kids are facing a crisis, and now we have an administration working hand in hand with the industry to fight them.
AMY GOODMAN: And on what grounds are you suing?
JULIA OLSON: It’s a case under the U.S. Constitution. This is about the Fifth Amendment and these young people’s rights to life, liberty and property. It’s also their right to have their public trust resources, like their atmosphere and their oceans, protected for them and for their kids and grandkids.
AMY GOODMAN: So, why don’t you introduce us to some of the plaintiffs right here?
JULIA OLSON: Sure. I’d love to. So, over here—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re passing a sign that says, "President Trump & Fossil Fuel Industry... #YouthvGov See you in court."
JULIA OLSON: So, this is Hazel. She’s one of our younger plaintiffs. And Hazel’s from Eugene, Oregon.
AMY GOODMAN: Hazel, can you talk about why you’re here today in your T-shirt in the pouring rain?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: Well, I’m from Oregon. And in Oregon, all it does is rain. And it’s extremely important for us young people to stand up to our government, where the adults are doing nothing to prevent climate change and to stop the harmful effects of ocean acidification and sea level rising.
AMY GOODMAN: How old are you?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: I’m 12 years old.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you get involved with this lawsuit?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: Well, I went to a camp with Julia Olson. I met Kelsey Juliana, and I became very inspired by her and many of the other plaintiffs that are now on this case. And I believed in this cause. We have hope, and we have the power to change.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is getting in the way?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: I think our president, currently, who I feel is one of the biggest climate deniers, with a pretty substantial control of power, and he does not believe that science is real. He thinks it’s a hoax made up by the Chinese, but we have science to prove him wrong. We will see him in court, and we will win.
AMY GOODMAN: OK. Let me talk to the person next to you. What’s your name?
AVERY McRAE: I’m Avery.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Avery, what’s your last name?
AVERY McRAE: McRae.
AMY GOODMAN: And how old are you?
AVERY McRAE: I’m 11.
AMY GOODMAN: And where are you from?
AVERY McRAE: I’m from Eugene, Oregon.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you guys related?
AVERY McRAE: No, no.
AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us why you’re here holding this sign.
AVERY McRAE: I’m here because I believe, like Hazel said, that we need to stand up against our government. And we can’t vote. And one of our only shots to make a difference is through the courts. And so, that sort of has an effect on our sign. And yeah, I feel like it’s very important for us to be here. And it’s not about the government’s inactions that—why we are here. It’s about their actions they have done. They have allowed fracking and drilling, and that has caused so many impacts that are around the world today.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, let’s walk across. Tell me what your name is.
NATHAN BARING: Hi. I’m Nathan Baring. I’m 17, and I’m from Fairbanks, Alaska.
AMY GOODMAN: Why are you here in Washington, D.C.?
NATHAN BARING: So, I have lived in Alaska, in Fairbanks, my entire life. And I am completely a winter person. I grew up on snow. I grew up with consecutive weeks of 40 below. I grew up Nordic skiing, and I could pretty much Nordic ski by the time I was able to walk. And I’m here because I’m protecting that—those memories that I cherish, that I want to offer my children in their future and my grandchildren. And I feel like right now those—that ability is threatened.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
NATHAN BARING: Climate change is having really adverse effects on Alaska right now, just in my backyard, I mean, in my—I mean, just around Fairbanks. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the United States. And, I mean, our winters are getting shorter. The wildfire season is getting longer. It’s ravaging forests, coastal erosion. And I’m afraid that the effects that we are seeing now are only going to be amplified by the current administration and by the actions that our government is taking right now.
AMY GOODMAN: What grade are you in?
NATHAN BARING: I am a junior in high school.
AMY GOODMAN: And what kind of—where do your senators and congressmembers stand, whether they’re Republican or Democrat?
NATHAN BARING: So, I will actually say that Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is—I would say, is right now one of the most moderate Republicans in Congress, she has not taken a definite stand on this issue. But I will say that she is probably one of the most likely members of the congressional staff from Alaska to take this issue seriously. Senator—or Representative Don Young and Senator Dan Sullivan have both come out pretty openly against it. But I think there’s still very much some potential, and I’m looking forward to making bridges.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?
SAHARA VALENTINE: Sahara Valentine.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?
SAHARA VALENTINE: Eugene, Oregon.
AMY GOODMAN: And how old are you?
SAHARA VALENTINE: Twelve.
AMY GOODMAN: Why are you here?
SAHARA VALENTINE: I’m here because there are a lot of climate scientists out there that believe in climate science—well, climate change, that’s actually happening, but a lot of them are being ignored. And I am here to support their science. And, I don’t know, I’m really happy to be here.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your name?
NICK VENNER: My name is Nick Venner.
AMY GOODMAN: From?
NICK VENNER: Colorado.
AMY GOODMAN: And where in Colorado.
NICK VENNER: Denver metro area.
AMY GOODMAN: And how old are you?
NICK VENNER: I am 15 years old.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s happening in Denver? And why are you here in Washington?
NICK VENNER: I am here in Washington because we are out of time to fix this important issue of climate change. And the reason—I mean, and the stuff that’s happening in Denver is that we are trying to—we are trying to decarbonize our local electricity source so that we can become more green, more green. We’re trying to follow Boulder’s lead in terms of decarbonizing our electricity, going—breaking away from the bonds of XL.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you have hope, faith in your politicians that represent you, from Colorado to Washington?
NICK VENNER: Yes. Yes, I—yes, I do. I mean, I know—I know they will want to act slowly. I know it’ll be easier for them to act slowly. But we don’t have time to act slowly.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, you.
ALEX LOZNAK: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Your T-shirt—your sweatshirt says Columbia.
ALEX LOZNAK: Yes. Yeah, I go to Columbia in New York City. I’m a sophomore.
AMY GOODMAN: Columbia University.
ALEX LOZNAK: Yes. My name’s Alex Loznak. I grew—but I actually grew up in Oregon, where Our Children’s Trust is based. And in Oregon, we’re already facing devastating climate change impacts. We’re seeing—at my family’s farm, we had the three hottest summers ever recorded, were three years in a row. And so we lost crops. We lost some of our trees due to that. And we’re seeing massive forest fires, ocean acidification. These very delicate coastal ecosystems are already, you know, going to see these devastating impacts from climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think you can accomplish here?
ALEX LOZNAK: I think we can really bring our message to decision-makers here in Washington, D.C., and say our constitutional rights are on the line. And our leaders have an obligation. Legally, constitutionally, they have to start reducing carbon emissions to protect our rights.
AMY GOODMAN: Why a lawsuit?
ALEX LOZNAK: Well, you know, we have three branches of government in this country, we all learn in fifth grade civics. Congress isn’t taking this seriously. The president thinks it’s a hoax invented by China. But the courts can really look at the evidence, look at the science, and then make a decision to protect our fundamental rights.
AMY GOODMAN: But President Trump talks about "so-called judges." And I think the—
ALEX LOZNAK: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —attorney general, Jeff Sessions, just, in referring to a judge in Hawaii—
ALEX LOZNAK: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —said, "How can a person on an island in the Pacific stop the president from doing what he wants to do?"
ALEX LOZNAK: Well, thankfully, we live in a country of laws and not a government of individuals, not a government—the whims of President Trump or Attorney General Sessions, those are going to be subject to a court that looks at the science, looks at the Constitution and makes a legal decision to protect us. So, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you very much. And let me go back. Describe now where the court case stands.
JULIA OLSON: We’re preparing for trial. The court wants to see us at trial before the end of the year. So we’re in the discovery process. We’re building our case. We’re working with experts, some of whom are here today. And we’re going to be ready, and we’re going to win this case.
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks, all. Thanks you for joining us. Looks like you want to get to the main stage. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live from the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of people are gathering. There is long lines even to get here to the Washington Monument. This is a march that is happening a week before another march planned for Washington and all over the world, the People’s Climate March. These are two separate marches and rallies, but I think they very much have the same message. Let’s go back to the main stage.
This is Democracy Now! We’re at the March for Science in Washington. Your name is?
GLORIA TAVERA: I’m Gloria Tavera, and I’m with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.
AMY GOODMAN: And where is that?
GLORIA TAVERA: So, UAEM is based in D.C., but we’re a nonprofit that is led by students, and we originally started at Yale Law.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you a student?
GLORIA TAVERA: I am an M.D./Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your issue?
GLORIA TAVERA: Our issue is high drug prices. Our issue is an access-to-science issue. We are students at public research universities. We proudly do research with taxpayer-funded moneys. And we are really upset about how people in low- and middle-income countries for decades have had trouble accessing HIV medications, all types of medications. And now, the chicken is coming home to roost. Here in the United States, we’re facing really high drug prices.
And we have a solution. We really need to look at how we are licensing our university-funded research, because at least 60 percent of innovative, first-in-their-class biomedical drugs come out of universities, and they’re funded by taxpayer research. So, we’re here to remind our universities to stand up to their public mission and to make these drugs more affordable. How can they do that? They can do that by making sure when they license their drugs to pharmaceutical companies, to startup companies, that there are specific provisions that ensure that the final drug will be affordable at prices allowing for generic competition, allowing licensing non-exclusively to other companies so that we can lower drug prices. There are actually many different ways that we can make drugs more affordable. We just need to hold our universities and our government accountable to drive down the prices by allowing for generic competition and other mechanisms to drive down these high drug prices.
AMY GOODMAN: How does this fit into the whole public healthcare and insurance debate?
GLORIA TAVERA: There are so many ways that it fits in. Sometimes it’s helpful to pick an example. Hepatitis C is a really important one. And so, right now, we have a cure for hepatitis C. We have these direct-acting antivirals, very similar in many ways to HIV medications. We could eradicate hepatitis C tomorrow. Hepatitis C is mostly in prison communities in the United States. But even though the drug takes about $200 to make, the price is $84,000. That’s more than the cost of a gram of gold. These people are in prison. They can’t afford that cost. Their families can’t afford that. And neither can the government, who is paying for their care. And so, if we work together, we can actually remove a huge problem, which is hepatitis C as a public health issue, from this country and from the world.
AMY GOODMAN: Who’s stopping you from working together?
GLORIA TAVERA: So, we have to work together more with our university technology transfer officers. We have to work more with the NIH. So, the NIH funds an amazing—a huge amount of research, more than any other research organization in the world. And we need to have them realize that there’s—we can actually work together. We don’t need to just give handouts to pharmaceutical companies all of the time. We, as scientists, have power. And, yes, we need to work together to bring drugs to market. But we need to set limits. We need to say, "No, we’re going to work together with—we’re going to work with you, but we’re actually going to make sure that the final product is allowed for competition." And this is—it’s a competition issue. This is an issue where we need more competitors to drive down the prices. This is—we know, from our experience making HIV drugs affordable, generic competition drives down prices.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think President Trump poses a unique threat?
GLORIA TAVERA: I think President Trump offers a unique opportunity. I think what’s—I think he has come out and said one thing, and his actions have shown the other thus far. He has said that drug prices are high and that that is a problem, but then we see people in his Cabinet and in other meetings that he’s had that push the other way, that he thinks maybe businessmen and their priorities are more important than the people and the patients who can’t access these drugs. We think there’s still an opportunity for him to take action on these issues. But it’s a very all-American-as-apple-pie issue. Competition drives down prices, Donald Trump, and we need you to ensure that there is competition in the pharmaceutical market to drive down prices.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think this kind of resistance matters?
GLORIA TAVERA: Yes, I think it does. And I think one of the most important things that we’re doing as an organization is empowering students, because our organization started with Yale Law students telling their university to stand up to the pharmaceutical company they license their drug to. And students don’t have to wait until they win a Nobel Prize or they become a CEO of a company. They can stand up now, and they can say that "We’re holding you accountable, university."
AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall. Let’s go back to the main stage, if there are more people there, and the kind of programming that’s being presented today on this April 22nd, Earth Day. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.
We’re at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., just behind the main stage on the National Mall, next to the Washington Monument. I don’t know how many people are here—thousands, tens of thousands. But I do know that thousands of people have been demonstrating around the planet today for science. Among those who addressed the Washington crowd was Professor Erich Jarvis, who’s a professor of neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York. Welcome to Democracy Now!
ERICH JARVIS: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about why you’re here.
ERICH JARVIS: I’m here to support science, but also to inform everybody that what has driven prosperous science in the United States and around the world is government support of science. And that government support is being threatened. And also what’s being threatened is the fundamental principles of science that we practice today.
AMY GOODMAN: How?
ERICH JARVIS: Political leaders and others are telling scientists how we should be doing things and how we should think. They’re making opinion-based decisions that go against the evidence that science has come up with. That’s not good.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you give us an example?
ERICH JARVIS: Well, the classic example is climate change. I mean, practically all scientists know what’s going on there. But there are other things, like such as, you know, how we actually do research, understand evolution of species, or even cures for certain disease. People are just challenging the scientists’ method for doing any of these things.
AMY GOODMAN: You also talked about the importance of diversity.
ERICH JARVIS: Yes. So, government-supported science has helped me achieve what I have achieved today because I did not have the means to do so. So I’m an African American raised in the poor neighborhoods of New York City. No matter how much hard work I’ve—would have done, I did not have had the financial means to become a scientist. So it was Congress-funded support to the National Institutes of Health that made it possible for me to become a scientist. And that funding is being threatened.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, they’re talking about cutting, slashing the budget of the National Institutes of Health by how much? Thirty percent?
ERICH JARVIS: By—well, the number is between 18 and 30 percent. I’ve heard those numbers. And, you know, when that happens, many—the first things to go is programs that train students, whether they—of all backgrounds, including diverse backgrounds. And if you miss a generation of students being trained, four years or more, you don’t get a second chance, because that’s their critical period years to train the scientists of tomorrow.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I mean, they basically believe in slashing government and turning to the private sector for solutions.
ERICH JARVIS: Yes. And what they have to understand is that the private sector, although fund some science, they do not have the means to fund science at the level that governments have. It is at the level that governments have that have made a difference and made the United States prosperous and a healthier country. The private foundations are not going to be able to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you see, if President Trump went—continued on the track he is—has begun?
ERICH JARVIS: If Trump continues down the track that he’s going now, and with cuts—I mean, these huge cuts, I think that it’s actually going to decrease our scientific prosperity in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: And what difference does resistance make?
ERICH JARVIS: Resistance not only informs Trump—I’m less worried about Trump and more worried about the people that support him. Those people need to hear from the scientists, from those who support scientists, what are the fundamental science principles that have led to a prosperous nation we have today, because if they don’t listen to that and they support that, those views and those policies, they will be feeling the brunt of the cuts of the science.
AMY GOODMAN: Erich Jarvis, thanks for joining us. Erich Jarvis is a professor of neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York, just addressed the thousands of people here in Washington at the March for Science. This is Democracy Now!, our special 5-hour broadcast at the March for Science in Washington.
This is Democracy Now! We’re here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., just behind the stage. This media tent is packed. You don’t know who you’re going to bump into. What’s your name?
MEGAN SMITH: I’m Megan Smith. I was the third United States chief technology officer under President Obama.
AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean?
MEGAN SMITH: It means we’re helping the administration and the president accelerate data technology innovation with the administration on behalf of the American people.
AMY GOODMAN: You have a button that says—a pin that says?
MEGAN SMITH: "Science, not silence."
AMY GOODMAN: What does "Science, not silence" mean?
MEGAN SMITH: You know, I put it on because people have it, but it’s really thinking about how do you make sure that we’re playing the whole orchestra as a country, so all the different pieces, including science and technology, and the best we have as Americans, as citizens of the world. It’s interesting to be next to the Washington Monument here. You know, it’s very important that we help this administration, just like every single presidential leadership group all throughout our entire history, make sure we push science, tech and science and technical people, that we accelerate those Americans, just like any Americans. President Washington started the Army Corps of Engineers. You know, President Lincoln had a patent. FDR—right down here, you see the National Academies, that Lincoln and others accelerated. The National Science Foundation, founded with his science adviser, Jerry Wiesner, who worked with President Kennedy on the moon shot. And so, we were the team for President Obama as the CTO, and then his science adviser, Dr. Holdren, for these times, working on things like climate change and STEM education and the research budgets.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, what do you think of President Trump saying that climate change is a Chinese hoax?
MEGAN SMITH: That’s not true. And so, it’s very important that we get the advisers around him that can really help him be the best leader he can be. It’s very important that science advising continues within the administration, as it always has for the whole history of the country, you know, and that especially today, that the science budgets and the technology budgets get funded. I brought a great quote from President Washington that I’ll share with you, that I read on the stage. It’s that—this is from the very first State of the Union, President Washington speaking to Congress in 1790. "There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness." And the very first penny that was ever created for the United States of America said, "Liberty (the) parent of science and industry." And so, we made this coin, you know, as a private thing for the USCTO, but "Liberty (the) parent of science and industry," that’s from Franklin. That’s from Jefferson. That’s from Washington. So the founding of our country includes that. And we’ve used science and tech both in times of great challenge, like during the war and the inventions of computers, to great times around celebrating science and the moon shot and what we did there. So, I brought my pink hat, but I also brought my pink lab glasses, because we want to make sure we’re using all the tools and get all the Americans doing that.
AMY GOODMAN: I think the president, President Trump, put his son-in-law in charge of innovation, Jared Kushner, the real estate developer in New York. Your thoughts on this?
MEGAN SMITH: You know, he has—he has a background in real estate development but also doing some kinds of innovative companies. So I’m hopeful that he’s beginning to staff those teams. It’s very important, and we’ve got to keep the pressure on to support and help and get the right kinds of Americans who have technical and scientific backgrounds into like the cybersecurity teams, into the teams. We coined a phrase called "TQ," like tech IQ. So we want to make sure that at the table we have not only our economists or great business people or lawyers, others, we want tech IQ, science IQ in the room, you know, when we’re doing cybersecurity, when we’re doing net neutrality. You know, if people—there’s this argument about net neutrality, thinking that somehow that’s a business argument. That’s the architecture of the way the internet works. So we don’t want to get rid of that. We want to keep that. And we have to make sure that our FCC chairman and other people have the right kind of true science and technology architects and inventors advising them, so they’re not hearing things that are incorrect.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much.
MEGAN SMITH: Yeah, sure.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell me your name again.
MEGAN SMITH: It’s Megan, M-E-G-A-N, Smith. I’m Megan Smith. I’m the third U.S. chief technology officer.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s Megan Smith here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now!'s special coverage on this Earth Day. Next week, we'll be here, as well, on April 29th, at the People’s Climate March.
This is Democracy Now! We’re here at the March for Science on the National Mall in a very crowded media center with some of the people who have spoken on the main stage. Why don’t you start off by talking about your name. These are indigenous scientists and professors from throughout the United States. Your name and your—
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER: My name is Robin Wall Kimmerer. I’m a member of the Potawatomi Nation and a professor of environmental biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where I also direct the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your concern? And what was your message on the stage?
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER: My message here is that I’m one of the co-authors of the Indigenous Science Statement, which was signed by more than 2,000 indigenous scientists, scholars, students, elders and our allies, that wanted to say, as the world was focusing on celebrating science, to remember that we have multiple ways of knowing that Western science isn’t the only way of knowing. There’s indigenous science, as well. And our goal here was to really elevate and illuminate indigenous science in the public attention.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think—why do you think this year this March for Science is so important? It’s really the first time anything like this has happened.
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER: Well, it’s also one of the first times that we have had such major challenges to evidence-based knowledge about the future of life on the planet, no? So I think it’s a pivotal moment, in which the threat is great, and so the response has to be great, as well, and especially to call attention to the fact that we need all of the best science. But if we’re to imagine a sustainable future, we need all the best minds, which means pluralism and cultural diversity in science, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: What about what’s happening in North Dakota, the Dakota Access pipeline, the enormous resistance against it, and yet, ultimately, while President Obama put a halt to it, President Trump gave it the go-ahead?
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER: It’s tragic. It’s shortsighted. But I think that—
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
ROBIN WALL KIMMERER: Why is it shortsighted? Because we know that we are at the end of the fossil fuel era. We cannot continue in this way. We cannot continue taking from Mother Earth in this way. Exploitative fossil fuel companies have had their day. It’s over. It’s the age of renewables. And it’s the age of a return to a relationship of reciprocity with the land. We can’t just keep taking. We have to again engage in a way of human beings being good and careful with sacred land and water.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to another speaker today. If you could introduce yourself and what your message was on the main stage, as tens of thousands of people gather around the world to talk about the importance of science, but you as an indigenous professor and a scientist?
DR. MARY JO ONDRECHEN: I’m Mary Jo Ondrechen, and I’m a chemistry professor at Northeastern University. I’m a member of Mohawk Nation. And my message was first a shout-out to everyone from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. I spoke a little bit about the work of my research group, where we do computational biology and genomics, and how that relates to health, to improving the environment, to national security, to job creation, how important science is—science is innovation; innovation breeds new industries, which breeds new jobs—and how we need to support science to train the next generation and create jobs and grow the economy.
AMY GOODMAN: Why this sense of alarm under the Trump administration? What are you most concerned about in this new era of President Trump?
DR. MARY JO ONDRECHEN: Well, what he says and what he does are almost diametric opposite. He says he’s going to create jobs, but then his funding priorities show that he doesn’t care. He is denying climate change, denying all kinds of scientific facts. He makes things up.
AMY GOODMAN: What if he says it’s just his political opinion, and you have yours, you’re entitled?
DR. MARY JO ONDRECHEN: No, because my opinions are based on scientific fact. And we need scientific fact to guide policy. Science is neutral. We learn from the data. We learn from facts. We learn from observation. We test those observations. Our conclusions are based on repeated tests and controls.
AMY GOODMAN: And let me ask you your—why you’ve come to the march today.
ROSALYN LA PIER: So, my name is Rosalyn La Pier, and I am an associate professor at the University of Montana in environmental studies. And I’m also a visiting professor this year at the Harvard Divinity School. But I’m actually on the national steering committee for the March for Science, so I’ve been involved since January, helping organize, along with dozens and dozens of people, this event. But I’m also one of the co-authors, along with Robin Kimmerer and Melissa Nelson and Kyle Whyte, of a Indigenous Science Statement, that Robin presented today as a speaker.
AMY GOODMAN: That more than 2,000 indigenous leaders signed off on.
ROSALYN LA PIER: Right, that more then 2,000 indigenous scientists, scholars, community members, elders and our allies have signed off on.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the philosophy behind this march. I mean, it’s one of a kind. Many people asked why it didn’t just converge with a climate—the People’s Climate March next week, on April 29th.
ROSALYN LA PIER: So, I think what is different about this march, it really is supposed to be a march—why it was called the March for Science was that we were advocating for science as part of a public policymaking process in the United States and worldwide. And so, it wasn’t some—one of the questions that we’re often asked is, you know, "Is this a protest?" And I would argue that it’s not a protest against something, but it’s an advocacy for something. And what we are for is for science as part of the decision-making process in the United States, science as a part of community decision-making process, so as part of our democracy here in the United States, so that people, especially in our Native American communities, have the information and have the knowledge so that they can help make decisions at a community level, before any kind of development happens or if there are issues related to environmental justice or environmental degradation.
AMY GOODMAN: What does a divinity school have to do with all of this?
ROSALYN LA PIER: So, at the Divinity School, they’re very—well, I should say, Harvard, in general, is very open-minded. So, at the Harvard—at the Divinity School, I’m actually working on a project that is both looking at the intersection of science and religion and looking at how indigenous people view science or indigenous science as, you know, having both of those parts of the academic world within indigenous science. So, indigenous people don’t pull apart or don’t separate science from religion. They keep those two things together. And so, at the Harvard Divinity School, I’m working on a project, working on a book that’s looking at that. But, of course, they’re very open-minded there, so they are interested in those intersections, as well, between science and religion.
AMY GOODMAN: And where does the Dakota Access pipeline, the Keystone XL, these pipelines that indigenous tribes, First Nations, have really spearheaded the resistance against—where does it fit into this picture?
ROSALYN LA PIER: So I think that one of the things that—with both of those pipelines and other pipelines, as well, both in the United States and Canada, on the one hand, indigenous communities are interested in information. Right? They want to know what types of potential environmental harm may be occurring in their communities or in their land and landscapes. And that’s something that scientists can help community provide. And one of the things that has happened, especially like with the Dakota Access pipeline, there has been the—we were never able to get an environmental impact statement, an EIS. And an EIS is something that does provide that information. And an EIS is something where scientists work on a project together to provide the information to both community and to the government itself. Those are the missing elements. I think that when we don’t have environmental assessment or environmental impact statements, we don’t have science working with community to provide the information they need to address some of these issues. And that’s one of the main reasons why the Dakota Access pipeline and some of these other protests around pipelines happen.
AMY GOODMAN: So, just some of the voices here at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall. This is Democracy Now!, our special 5-hour live coverage from Washington, D.C., with protests also happening and Marches for Science around the world, from Seoul, South Korea, to Paris, France, to Berlin, Germany, to Australia, to New Zealand and beyond.
This is Democracy Now! We are at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. We’re here with Mustafa Ali. He is now senior vice president of the Hip Hop Caucus. we last spoke to him when he quit as the head of an by division of the Environmental Protection Agency. Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Mustafa. It’s nice to see you in person.
MUSTAFA ALI: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of this march.
MUSTAFA ALI: Oh, this is extremely significant. You know, science is the foundation that policy is built on. It’s the foundation of our country also. So, making sure that we have strong science policy, making sure that we have scientists who are being supported in the work that they’re doing is critical for us to be able to move forward in our country.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you remind us why you left, why you quit? I mean, you were with the Environmental Protection Agency for decades.
MUSTAFA ALI: A different set of values and priorities. I work on environmental justice issues, so our most vulnerable communities. And those communities need to make sure that science is in place, to make sure that folks are able to explain the impacts that are happening inside of their communities. So when we begin to dismantle and deconstruct our science programs, we’re hurting our most vulnerable communities, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, we just got word, on this Earth Day weekend, that the Trump administration has used this weekend to fire—I think they’re saying forced the resignation of—Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States.
MUSTAFA ALI: It’s just another example of how they don’t value the expertise that exists. It also shows another example of how they don’t value those professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping to protect our country. And it’s just a shame.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what resistance means at this point and what it means to go from the EPA to the Hip Hop Caucus?
MUSTAFA ALI: Resistance means standing up. It means getting engaged. It means getting educated. It means getting motivated and making sure that your voice is heard.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you felt any repercussions for resigning from the EPA under the Trump administration?
MUSTAFA ALI: I’ve gotten a little bit, but I’ve also been surrounded with love and people who have been very, very supportive. So, I’ll take the latter.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you say you’ve been having some trouble at the airports?
MUSTAFA ALI: Well, you know, you go to the airport, and before, never had a problem getting on a flight. And, you know, there have been some challenges in that space. But as Reverend Yearwood says, can’t stop, won’t stop.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, though? What actually happens to you at the airport?
MUSTAFA ALI: Sometimes I have to spend hours before I can actually get onto a plane.
AMY GOODMAN: Because you’re being stopped by the people at the front when you first hand in your ticket?
MUSTAFA ALI: Yes, that’s correct.
AMY GOODMAN: Is this the first time this has ever happened to you?
MUSTAFA ALI: First time it’s ever happened.
AMY GOODMAN: Did it happen more than once?
MUSTAFA ALI: It’s happened twice, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you surprised by the turnout, even in this downpour?
MUSTAFA ALI: Oh, this is—this is marvelous, to see so many people who are committed, so many people who are engaged and so many people who are standing up and saying that our voices will be heard and that we are going to push to make sure that the right things are happening in our country.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you going to march today with the EPA staff? I think they’re gathering for the march to march together.
MUSTAFA ALI: Yes, I will be marching with the EPA family and all the other family who’s here, who are saying that science matters.
AMY GOODMAN: Mustafa Ali, saying science matters, here at the March for Science on this Earth Day. I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now!, live at the march.
AMY GOODMAN: That does it for our special 5-hour broadcast from the March for Science in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall. Special thanks to our whole team in New York and Washington here in the downpour: Denis Moynihan and John Hamilton, Andre Lewis and Ariel Boone, Laura Gottesdiener, as well as Renée Feltz, Julie Crosby, Charina Nadura, Becca Staley. Also thanks to Miguel Nogueira, Paul Huckeby and the whole team that made Democracy Now! happen in both cities, as well as all of you all over the world who are watching Democracy Now! today. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.
[End of Hour 5]