This past Saturday, I marched with thousands of New Yorkers on the streets of downtown Manhattan, yelling at the top of my lungs for something I never thought I would care about: science.
I have been a self-proclaimed humanities student since the seventh grade and have since attempted to avoid interaction with any and all sciences — until now. It’s not that I didn’t like the subject. I simply never understood it, and, for that reason, the world of science terrified me. I remember being in my eighth grade science class and learning that my body is composed of more space than actual matter. This fact shook what I had believed to be true and challenged me to expand my view of thinking — a daunting task for anyone. Science is scary; it presents you with truths that you would rather ignore, and concepts that infringe upon your comfort. However, I have learned that we can’t allow fear to turn us away from science and discovery. In fact, if we continue to ignore science and attempt to lead our lives without it, the alternative is much scarier.
The March for Science aims to promote science as a source of direction for political leaders and policymakers. Speakers at the march advocated for evidence-based policy, increased funding for scientific organizations and research, equality within scientific professions and acknowledgement of climate change. While these goals may seem evident to everyone who shares my worldview, the sad reality is that with our current partisan political climate, it is necessary to spell them out — or shout them out — clearly from the streets of cities across the world.
Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency — the agency tasked with responding to disasters — expelled the term climate change from its strategic plan, even though studies show that the record rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, which cost around $125 billion to recover from, got a 15 percent boost due to climate change. Climate change is responsible for both severe weather events and the changes that we take note of daily, like when 50 degree weather flips to snowfall the next day. The last four years have been the hottest on record. Congruently, we are currently facing a species extinction rate that is over 1,000 times the natural species extinction rate. Yet somehow, this is not enough for people to believe that climate change is real and will undoubtedly have an impact on their lives.
Of course, a large part of this disbelief can be credited to our country’s environmental leader. Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, had major ties to the fossil fuel industry and no scientific background and refuses to acknowledge climate change. He has also attempted to push forward efforts against using essential scientific data in the EPA’s policy making. Now, with President Donald Trump looking to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement without proper environmental diplomats to renegotiate, the United States is clearly regarding the environment and science with a blind and ignorant eye.
I am not a scientist, and sadly, I don’t think I will ever be one. However, as a college student, I am constantly told to do research and cite my sources. I am taught to back my arguments up with evidence and evaluate all sides of the issue before I choose my own. And, when I don’t know the answer to something, I look to someone who does. This is why I stood among others to call for my political leaders to do the same, no matter how afraid they may be.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, April 16 print edition. Email Tyler Crews at [email protected].