On Earth Day this year — April 22 — the March for Science will take place in Washington, D.C., while numerous satellite marches occur around the country and the world. One such satellite march is set to take place in Des Moines.
The march, according to its website, is “a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.” The site goes on to say, “Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”
Despite the widespread support for the marches, there are some who
question if the march puts the reputation of science as a whole at risk by taking a role in partisan politics. The obvious argument against the March for Science is that given the timing and correlated events, it is nearly impossible for the event to truly remain unpartisan and, as such, it does not truly speak for science. The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes, however, that the March for Science has very little to do with partisan politics. In fact, if opponents would read the statements on the website for the march, they just might understand why the march is anything but political.
Science is about finding the truth, regardless of the political implication. It’s about approaching the world with skepticism and a constant desire to answer the question “Why?” Scientists don’t have the luxury of injecting their personal beliefs into their work. After all, it would be far more convenient for scientists if climate change were not caused by human beings. Or, better yet, if rapid climate change did not exist at all. Science does not search for the convenient or the pleasant. It searches for the truth and when something — whether that be a person, a country, or an organization — stands in its way, it is the duty of the scientific community to oppose that force.
The March for Science is, therefore, not a rebellion against President Trump, his administration, or even the Republican Party; rather, it is a rebellion against the destruction and the silencing of science. The march isn’t about tearing down Trump; it’s about tearing down the very idea that science, or even facts themselves, can be manipulated for political gains.
2017 has already seen its fair share of marches and protests against the Trump administration. The topics of the gatherings range from women’s rights to LGBTQ rights, and from immigrant rights to civil rights. Each of these events has brought a different size crowd, but some have had a truly incredible impact. The Women’s March in D.C., for example, was so large that the group was almost unable to physically march because the entire route was full of people, according to the Associated Press.
The March for Science is different from these other events for many reasons, but the most important is that such a march is unprecedented. In one way or another, science has always been under attack; whether by the church or climate-change deniers, “science” is in a constant state of defending itself. The March for Science is no different.