Home & Garden: Science Marches On

By Annie Spiegelman, the Dirt Diva

Out of the swamp and smack into a cesspool. It seems every day is alt-day with the new, wildcard administration in the White House. Policymakers and an assortment of fake, farcical and fanatical news organizations keep spewing alternative facts on a plethora of important issues but they’re hitting especially hard on science. You know, that class in high school you never showed up for? Seems like evidence seekers, critical thinkers and fact-checkers are so yesterday!

When scientists continue to be doubted, disregarded, insulted and silenced, it’s impossible to remain silent or apolitical any longer. Vital scientific research is under attack by wealthy extremists who have made their fortunes in industries that continue to poison humanity, pollute our environment and squander our natural resources. Pick your poison: Oil, coal, fracking, chemical pesticides, factory farming. It’s all fine with Trump. Funding for basic scientific research, environmental protections and public health are all in jeopardy while the EPA’s authority is deteriorating as fast as the Arctic ice cap.

Am I freaking out? Well, yes. Where are my people!? The ones that conclude, by scientific method, that my hypothesis “we’re all doomed,” is true or not.

This Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017, the scientific community will march in Washington, D.C. and around the globe. There will be upward of 400 sister marches across the earth, including in San Francisco, where citizens from all walks of life, along with formal scientists, will march in support of science. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, will serve as honorary co-chair along with official partner The Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization with more than 50,000 members that promotes the exploration of space through education, advocacy and innovative projects.

“We march to celebrate science,” Nye says. “We 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.”

Why is this march so essential? Scientific data shows 2016 as being the warmest year on record since modern record-keeping began in 1880. In 2012, Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Last month, the president invited a group of coal miners and coal industry executives to be present at the signing of a sweeping executive order to curb climate regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He said that this order will be “putting American jobs above addressing climate change,” and “putting an end to the war on coal.” He also said, “We are going to put our coal miners back to work.” Due to the growth of natural gas, renewable power, outside suppliers and mine mechanization, coal mining jobs have gone from 250,000 in 1980 to 53,000 today.

Could it get any worse? Why, yes it can. Last month Trump’s “terrific” new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, reversed the Obama administration’s effort to ban a pesticide linked to nervous system damage in kids. Chlorpyrifos, manufactured by Dow Chemical (trade name Lorsban) has been banned from consumer products and residential use nationwide but is still widely used on farms. A recent UC Berkeley study showed that 7-year-old children in the Salinas Valley who were exposed to high levels of the pesticide, while still in the womb, had slightly lower IQ scores than their classmates.

“EPA turned a blind-eye to extensive scientific evidence and peer reviews documenting serious harm to children and their developing brains, including increased risk of learning disabilities, reductions in IQ, developmental delay, autism, and ADHD,” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council in a Pesticide Action Network news release.

“Today’s decision means children across the country will continue to be exposed to unsafe pesticide residues in their food and drinking water.”

Tom Steyer, president of the Bay Area’s NexGen Climate, believes that these latest environmental actions are an assault on American values and “endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American.”

“Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense,” Steyer said in a statement.

This is why we all need to stop playing mind-numbing games on the internet and become informed citizens of science. If we want clean air, water and food, we have to fight powerful biotech, pesticide companies and now—the head of the EPA, who has sued the EPA 14 times in the past. Yes, it’s disgraceful and shameful, but it’s just the way it is. This is why we need to march.

March for Science, Saturday, April 22; marchforsciencesf.com.