Hundreds of students, scientists, professors, community leaders and politicians joined Saturday’s March for Science from Caltech to Memorial Park in a show of solidarity towards affirming that scientific inquiry serves the common good and encouraging the country’s leaders and policy makers to apply science in their decision-making.
After an opening rally at the Beckman Lawn at Caltech, the demonstrators walked the 1.5-mile route towards Memorial Park carrying signs with the theme “Science, Not Silence” sounding a call to support and safeguard the scientific community in the face of recent policy changes that have caused heightened worry among scientists. Many of the signs also stressed the importance of people acting together to save Mother Earth.
Coinciding with Pasadena’s celebration of Earth Day, the rally and march were organized by Caltech postdoctoral students as part of a worldwide effort to counter a “mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue,” which the organizers say is a critical and urgent matter.
“We are advocating for science because science protects our water and air, extends our lives and improves our health, improves our technology and economy and brings our imagination to life. Without a public commitment to science, our future is at risk,” the organizers said.
Among the speakers at the rally were Caltech professors Mary Kennedy, Jonas Peters and Michael Roukes, board members Scott Phelps and Patrick Calahan from the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education, and PUSD STEM Coach Jodi Marchesso.
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), State Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), and State Sen. Anthony Portantino also spoke in support of the value of scientific study to modern society.
The March for Science Pasadena Facebook page encouraged people to continue support scientific research as one of society’s best investments.
“Revolutionary advances from publicly funded research have created new understanding of and better treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and unexpected health threats like Zika and Ebola,” the page said. “Basic research forms the building blocks of the exciting discoveries that shape our world and health – without it, all scientific progress is at risk.”
It also called for a serious investment in STEM education and a 21st century workforce, saying technology and engineering are driving new advancements and fueling economic growth.
“We must ensure that all people have access to a quality STEM education, and the pipeline of opportunities that creates the scientists, engineers and scientifically-educated public of tomorrow,” the page said.
Speakers at the rally were one in calling on people to defend scientists against silencing and scientific agencies against assaults on their critical work. The organizers said all policymakers should be held accountable for implementing policies based on sound science and should work closely with the scientific community.
The Pasadena march was one of hundreds of satellite marches held worldwide on Earth Day.