By Doug Porter
First, the numbers: Early crowd estimates for the San Diego March for Science ranged as high as 25,000 participants. My gut says there were 15,000 or so. Initial estimates put the Washington D.C. march at roughly 40,000 and the New York march at around 20,000; Chicago crowds were also estimated at 40,000; Los Angeles, 50,000.
There were marches in roughly 600 cities worldwide. I’ve seen coverage from South Africa, Uganda, London, Switzerland, Rome, France, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, and the North Pole.
Speaking as a participant in San Diego’s march, this event had much in common with the Women’s March earlier this year, namely lots of people who rarely feel motivated to take to the streets. The signs were snappy and smart, the chanting not-so-much, though I loved the “What do we want? Science! – When do we want it? After peer review!” chant.
What motivated marchers was obvious: real misgivings about living in a world defined by the pronouncements of political leaders rather than the observations of an educated populace. There is angst about reality being designated as fake; about policy being made on the basis of profit over the health and welfare of the citizenry.
The Union-Tribune coverage quoted scientist Ralph Keeling, director of the Keeling curve program, which measures ongoing atmospheric factors such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. Last week measurements taken at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory showed atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide over 410 parts per million, a level not seen on the planet since the mid-Pliocene era, roughly three million years ago.
Ralph Keeling, a climatologist with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told a crowd of several thousand people in downtown San Diego Saturday morning that the question of whether humans are causing climate change is a “fake debate.”
“In 40 years of skepticism, there has not been a theory put forth that has traction, that has a school of thought associated with it,” said Keeling, who is carrying on his father’s groundbreaking research tying the rise of carbon-dioxide levels to global warming. “You have skeptics that individually have reasons for doubting, but they have not engaged in producing an alternate hypothesis. What that tells you is that the debate has been over for decades.
“Something like 97 percent of the papers on climate endorsed the view that this is a serious problem, and even that undersells it, at least in my opinion,” he added.
Like the Women’s March, the concept of the March for Science got its start on social media, as an article in Quartz explains:
The day US president Donald Trump was sworn into office, an article from Motherboard about the scrubbing of all references to climate change on the White House website made its way onto Reddit. The story, posted to the subreddit for US politics, swiftly garnered more than 76,000 points as the upvotes rolled in.
“I’m starting to think I should get together with some colleagues and see if we can get some letter written and signed,” commented a Reddit user with the handle retardcharzard, who said he worked in a lab where a colleague was studying global warming’s effect on frogs, and near others studying the effects on butterflies. “This isn’t just about jobs to us, if we cared about money we wouldn’t be in this field in the first place. This is about the future of every organism on earth, many that haven’t even been born yet. We have to fight.”
The first reply to that comment came from a user called beaverteeth92: “There needs to be a Scientists’ March on Washington.”
San Diego Photo Gallery One:
San Diego Photo Gallery Two:
National Photo Gallery
Almost all of these are from Twitter accounts…