Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated annually in more than 100 nations across the globe. The tradition includes various festivities to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
This year, on Saturday, April 22, the March for Science will coincide with Earth Day in a global effort to celebrate, defend and educate the public about “the very real role science plays in each of our lives,” according to the event’s website.
More than 500 satellite marches across the world will rally in support of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. A march will be held in Moab, departing to loop around from Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West, at 11:30 a.m. on April 22.
Moab resident and mother of four Katie Miller took on the task of coordinating the march in Moab.
“I became involved immediately… [after] observing how quickly the march was growing into an international effort,” Miller said. “At first I thought if there was one in Denver, I’d make the drive. Then when I saw the international support, I got excited and thought it would be worth it to hold one in our city, Moab, to represent southeastern Utah. I happened to be the first to rise to the call, so I decided to carry the torch.”
Other marches in the region now include Salt Lake City, Park City, Logan and St. George in Utah; and Aspen, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, Estes Park, Grand Junction, Avon, Carbondale, Denver, Fort Collins and Gunnison in Colorado.
The event in Moab will kick off at 10 a.m., prior to the march, with public speakers Rachel Nelson, Richard Schwartz, Walt Dabney, John Weisheit, Curtis Yanito, Bonnie Crysdale and two Grand County High students.
Information booths and activities for the whole family will operate at the park throughout the duration of the march. Marchers will return to Swanny Park around 1 p.m. to catch original music from local acoustic duo Meander Cat.
“Those that may not wish to march, or those who cannot march, may still participate (at the park),” Miller said. “(The speakers) will talk about the importance of research, what it is like to work in the scientific fields, insight from the perspective of the National Park Service, the impact science has on the indigenous community, and a little bit about what science means to some of our Grand County High School students.”
Grand County High School science teacher Laura Reed connected with the March for Science, and posed the question to her students, “What does science mean to you?” Two essays were selected to be presented by the students at Swanny City Park prior to the march.
Miller’s co-organizer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that she doesn’t think enough students are asked that simple question.
“The responses were across the board,” the person said. “Some said, ‘I just don’t get it… It’s not that I don’t believe in it or don’t like it … I just don’t get it.’”
According to Miller, this response exemplifies the need to make science more accessible to the public.
“That’s what science is … it is understanding how much we don’t know, and exploring further,” Miller said. “Science is everywhere … we participate in it without meaning to. It’s just a question of how far we are willing to put practice into it.”
Local Girl Scouts submitted drawings in response to the same question, “What does science mean to you?” Artwork will be displayed at Swanny City Park that day.
Dabney is the former superintendent of Arches and Canyonlands national parks who moved back to Moab after he retired as the director of the Texas State Parks system. As a speaker at this weekend’s march, he intends to talk about the importance of science in the designation and long-term management of national parks.
“Science is critical not only in the management of units of the National Park System, but even more importantly in figuring out what they should be when making the political decisions to establish them,” Dabney said.
American science educator, television presenter and mechanical engineer William Sanford “Bill” Nye, commonly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is occupying the honorary co-chair for the March for Science.
In a video broadcast on Facebook, Nye embodied the Uncle Sam archetype, urging participants to get involved in the March for Science.
“You can’t walk up to a complex machine, like an airplane, and start taking parts off and expect it to still work,” Nye said. “The Founding Fathers, and the women who must have been advising them, they were nerds. They were trying to create a system of government that would be self-correcting the same way that science is a process that we hope to be self-correcting.”
Nye, and the March for Science, challenge the notion that science should be kept out of politics.
“(When) science is not being incorporated in our policymaking … I remind us… in the U.S. Constitution, article one section eight, is the progress for science,” Nye said. “In other words, people who wrote that document in 1786 were aware of the importance of science in our laws… more importantly we want to have laws that are consistent with natural laws.”
The event’s website provides a pledge, uniting marchers across the world in one mission: “We, the peaceful, passionate, and diverse members of the March for Science, pledge to work together to share and highlight the contributions of science, to work to make the practice of science more inclusive, accessible and welcoming so it can serve all of our communities, and to ensure that scientific evidence plays a pivotal role in setting policy in the future,” it reads.
For more information, or to get involved, visit www.marchforscience.com/rsvp?state=UT and RSVP to the Moab March, or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/moabmarchforscience/ to contact local organizers directly.
“This event is only the beginning for this organization,” Miller said. “There will certainly be more to come.”
April 22 event coincides with Earth Day
This event is only the beginning for this organization … There will certainly be more to come.