There are seven events planned in Missouri for the international March for Science. The march bills itself as a nonpartisan group calling for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies.
Organizer Eric Wells, who’s handling the event in Springfield, says it’s an effort to show widespread support for science and scientists.
“This is more of a reaction to the current administration, and the people that have been nominated and placed in key positions that go against what the scientific evidence says” said Wells.
He’s highly critical of President Donald Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency director, and of the administration’s call for a 31 percent reduction to the agency’s funding.
Pruitt is considered a perfect fit to execute to campaign promises of Trump, who repeatedly disparaged the agency and vowed to unravel Obama-era environmental regulations. Pruitt made an appearance Thursday in Clifton Hill, Missouri, with the coal burning Thomas Hill Energy Center as a backdrop. There, he reiterated his pledge to cut EPA jobs and regulations.
Pruitt rejected established science on climate change in a CNBC interview in early March. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” Pruitt said.
Wells contends the March for Science events are an effort to show widespread support for science and scientists.
“As a public we want to stand up for science, stand up for those scientists in a public way, to acknowledge what the scientific method has done for us, and how the United States as a whole is better off because of it. Where we are now as a society could not be (possible) unless we used science wisely and for the common good.”
Jennifer Conner with the Sierra Club of Missouri will speak at the March for Science rally in Springfield. She looks at the event as an effort to get the public involved with science in a non-political manner.
“A lot of the things that we’re dealing with, like climate change, climate change shouldn’t be political” said Conner. “It’s an issue that’s going to affect everyone. It’s going to affect our environment. It’s going to affect our health. And so this is a way for scientists and supporters of scientists to come together, to talk about these things, and to tell people that this is important.”
Conner a former employee of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who is highly critical of the agency for being overrun by politics.
“I was actually in their leadership ladder program, where they prime people to be future leaders at DNR, but I saw the direction that things were going. And I saw how I do in the Sierra Club, how politics consistently trumps science within DNR, and that’s a huge reason why I left.”
Speaking at the Springfield March for Science in addition to Conner will be Dr. Pamela Gay, Director of Technology and Citizen Science at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Democratic Missouri House member Crystal Quade (who represents central Springfield), Brandon Bond of the People’s Climate Movement, Robert Powers of the Professor Powers Science Symposium, Vicke Kepling of the Peace Network of the Ozarks, and Justin Thomas of NatureCITE.
Other March for Science events in Missouri are planned for St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Joplin, Rolla and St Joseph. All will take place on Earth Day, April 22nd.