Loyola students marched with demonstrators in Chicago’s March for Science on April 22, one of hundreds of similar rallies held across the country to show support for the scientific community.
The Chicago march was one of hundreds being held throughout the world on Earth Day — an annual worldwide recognition of the modern environmental movement. Demonstrators also called on political leaders to acknowledge the importance of science and to encourage funding for scientific research and education.
Organizers said more than 40,000 demonstrators met for a rally in Grant Park, then marched down Columbus Drive to the Field Museum where a science expo was held in conjunction with demonstrations.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that in order to affect positive change, people from all walks of life need to come together,” said first-year environmental policy major Rachel Monsey, who attended the march. “There’s nothing that’s affecting people from all walks of life quite like climate change.”
Although climate change took center stage at the rally, organizers were clear the protest was intended to be a non-partisan event.
“A lot of people worried if the March for Science had too many parallels to the recent anti-Trump protests, it would make science out to be negotiable and not above politics,” said sophomore biochemistry and bioinformatics major Jasen Jackson, who helped organize Loyola students to attend the rally.
Despite attempts to focus on science, many of the demonstrations did involve politics. Some protesters carried signs that read “science doesn’t care what you believe,” and “make America think again” — a play on President Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan, “make America great again” — and chanting “Scott Pruitt must go,” referring to Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) administrator who has rejected scientific conclusions on climate change. Some demonstrators called on the Trump administration to accept the consensus of scientists who believe climate change is real and man-made.
Trump took to Twitter the day of the demonstrations to say he supports environmental protections, but the administration will prioritize job creation and economic growth.
In 2012, Trump said in a tweet that climate change was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” On March 28, he issued an executive order directing the EPA to undo many of former President Barack Obama’s policies designed to combat climate change.
“Science to me means saving the future for my children and my grandchildren,” said first-year business major Ben Piscopo, who marched in the rally.
Sophomore environmental science major Paul Campion, who also attended the march and helps research renewable energy alternatives at Loyola, said he wants to see the White House invest more in scientific research and programs to fight climate change.
“I think our government should be funding research instead of covering it up,” Campion, 20, said. “Many institutions like the EPA are cutting their funds, and then they are unable to do the important work in science and implementation of policy they are responsible for.”
Campion said science and climate change activists at Loyola will continue their efforts at another demonstration, called the People’s Climate March, on Saturday, April 29 downtown.