Scientists Stand Up Against Trump In Boston

“They’re looking to dismantle the very process by which we use science to inform decision-making”

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Women’s Marches across the country mobilized an estimated 4.2 million Americans to the streets in protest. It’s believed they were the largest demonstrations in American history, even surpassing the anti-war protests of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Trump presidency has riled up so many Americans that even the science community is leaving the laboratory and picking up signs in protest.

On Sunday, hundreds of scientists and geeks alike assembled in Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts for the Stand Up for Science protest. The tone of the event was laid out the day before by Gretchen Goldman, Research Director at Union of Concerned Scientists, in a meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “They’re looking to dismantle the very process by which we use science to inform decision-making,” Ms. Goldman told the group. “If we walk this process back it’s going to do irreparable damage.”

America’s scientists have good reason to fear Trump’s presidency. Immediately after taking office, the departments of Agriculture and the Interior faced an information lockdown. Scientists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service were told to stop releasing “any public-facing documents... news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content... until further notice.” And tweets from Badlands National Park in South Dakota were deleted for referring to climate change.

Trump himself is a climate-change denier who once said that it’s a “hoax created by the Chinese.” He has also made some alarming appointments to prominent cabinet posts. His choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has long worked in opposition to its environmental regulations and is a climate-change denier as well. Plus, his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is a former oil executive and the new Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, once claimed he would eliminate the agency altogether.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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