This Earth Day, Scientists Will March For Funding And Understanding

Apr 20, 2017

This Earth Day, tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in a “March for Science” in Washington, D.C., and at hundreds of satellite marches across the country - including Columbus. 

Laura Sammons is a freelance science writer and one of the organizers of the Columbus branch of the event. She says, in a Thursday discussion on All Sides With Ann Fisher, that while in many ways the march was catalyzed by the election of President Trump, the issues it addresses are perennial.

“This is not a partisan issue, and it’s not an issue that is new with this administration, though certainly those cuts that we’re seeing in the budget have highlighted it," Sammon says.

Another Columbus organizer, Ohio State research graduate student Christian Buttner, says that he deals with scientific illiteracy - and the importance of education - in the classroom. His turn to activism, though, came from concerns with what he sees as "catastrophic" proposals by the Trump administration.

Included in the national march's agenda is opposition against proposed budget cuts to federal agencies and research funding, Scott Pruitt’s appointment to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and other policy decisions, as well as advocacy for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields and inclusive public outreach.

"I'm just really concerned with a disconnect I see between scientific evidence and actual government policies and priorities, and I think we need to draw attention to that disconnect," Sammon says.

Sammon also says there's a lack of understanding in the public with how scientific evidence even works, and a general misunderstanding of "how we know what we know."

"When decisions are made - whether it's budgets, or laws or regulations - we have to have science at the table," Sammon says.

Saturday's march will start at the west lawn of the Statehouse in downtown Columbus, go down High Street and end at Columbus Commons.