Science should not be political

 by Sam Smith

The March for Science, held on Saturday, April 22nd in 610 cities across the world was intended to show support for scientific progress and sustainability. One month later, there is no question that the march was successful, with distinguished speakers and hundreds of thousands of participants and a new, continuing movement for science among the population. In Cincinnati, thousands met at fountain square and marched through the city. But despite attempts at a nonpartisan event, it seems to have proven a political divide over something that isn’t political at all. Science should not be political. Yet, it seems to be source of increasing division– and only on the basis of stubborn contrarianism and what seems to be an insatiable need for polarization.

Activists created a community before the march to knit their own scienc-y apparel

In Cincinnati, one thing that organizer Jim Helton made clear at the beginning of the event was that the March for Science was not political. According to the March for Science website[1], the goal of the march was to “unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.” The city of Cincinnati even made it an official nonpartisan March for Science day. And yet, the March for Science was in no way nonpartisan. With signs jabbing at Donald Trump, speakers mentioning “a certain individual” and an event formed around the Trump administration’s ignoring of science, there was no way it could have been.

Activists leave Fountain Square

 

An activist holds a sign stating “I can’t hear your politics over all of this sicence”.

 

The Cincinnati Zoo was in full representation and publically commended the march, with a speaker and a group of protestors

The original idea for the march sparked from president Trump’s actions to reduce funding for science-based governmental institution and ignore science. Trump’s unpredictable stance on climate change with claims varying from a Chinese Hoax,[2] claiming humans play a role, denying human’s role to denying its existence entirely. Basically, he’s taken all the stances. However, it seems clear he has no intentions of working to combat global warming.

Recently, though, Donald Trump removed Obama’s clean energy bill, and it seems likely that he will remove America from the Paris climate change agreement[3]. Perhaps even more disturbing are federal budget plans to eliminate climate change research[4]Of all areas that the Trump Administration could cut budgets, taking it away from the pursuit of new and highly applicable information is, quite frankly, cowardly.  It’s hard to see this as anything more than a fear of knowledge. 

President Trump plans to reduce EPA funding by 30%[5]. Why America would take cuts from the organization in charge of making sure your air, water and soil is clean, along with a long list of other objectively positive functions would seem baffling– if not for a completely baseless partisan divide over science. Among other proposed budget slash victims are coastal pollution research, alternative energy research, energy-efficient homeowner’s grants, sustainable energy source technology grants, the Wildlife Refuge fund, the Global Climate Change Initiative (one of the biggest cuts at $1.3 billion), geographic watershed programs, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and a $115 million cut in NASA’s budget[6]. It’s clear Donald Trump’s budget-cut blueprints target science.

Why the clear focus on science programs? After all, environmental numbers and statistics don’t vary depending on where one stands politically. Science doesn’t care if you’re a republican or democrat. It would seem that when something such as the fact that air and water pollution are harmful to the human body and the environment as a whole have been proven empirically beyond a doubt, and removing $1.17 billion dedicated to water and air quality would seem like a mistake. It would almost seem more valuable than a $2.6 billion wall (that’s just in 2018– the real cost is undoubtedly many billions higher)[7] or a $54 billion hike in federal defense spending.

Marchers at Fountain Square

Mount St. Joseph professor, Gene Kirtsky Ph.D speaks at the event. Kritsky has written publications on a wide variety of subjects ranging for etymology to beekeeping in ancient Egypt. At the march, Kristky spoke on Cincinnatian contributions to research on the theory of evolution. 

 

O.N. Ray Bignall, MD speaks about compassion and science through community outreach. Bignall is a doctor at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital.

 

Thirteen year old activist, Kelly A. Helton gives the speech “I want to get my science for scientists”

The science march was in no way bipartisan, despite attempts to label it as such. I think that makes sense, since there seems to be a clear antithesis to scientific progress and sustainability in our government right now. Activists and speakers were no question there to decry the regressive actions and stances of the Trump administration, even if the event wasn’t allowed to call him out by name. 

I really just cannot understand why hard truths, proven by numbers and charts and experiments need a party affiliation.

One could argue that those affiliated with oil companies like the Koch Brothers and Exonmobil are giving money to republican politicians, and that’s caused a sway in opinions, but I think there’s more than that. I think it comes down to a fear of agreeing.

But here’s the truth– what it really all boils down to:

Science is not some liberal conspiracy.

There is no reason why conservatism and science cannot be compatible.

This divide over something that belongs to no party comes down to contrarianism and polarization. We aren’t allowed to agree because that’s giving into the other side.

It’s a divide solely for the sake of division.

Let me say it again: there is nothing partisan about science. The laws of nature don’t care who you voted for.

This is a divide for the sake of division. Clearly, no timeline or projected graphs is enough of a wakeup call. The only way there is going to be change is an ideological shift among the people. And maybe the Science March was a first step.

 

Sources:

[1] March for Science website

[2] Chinese hoax tweet

[3] PBS Newshour– removing Obama’s climate regulations

[4] NPR– Trump’s Budget Slashes Climate Change Funding

[5] New York Times– Donald Trump Budget Slashes Funds for E.P.A. and State Department

[6] NPR– Trump’s Budget Would Eliminate A Key Funder Of Research On Coastal Pollution

[7] Washington Post– Trump’s DHS budget includes billions to build his border wall

 





 

Sam Smith works at Loveland Magazine as a writer, photographer, and videographer. He is a filmmaker, cinematographer and photographer at studying in Film/TV New York University Tisch School of The Arts. Smith graduated Loveland High School in 2018.

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