Thousands of people turn out in cities across the U.S. for a collective 'March for Science', standing up to what organizers say is a growing disregard for evidence-based knowledge in Washington. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Thousands of people turned out in cities across the United States and beyond on Saturday (April 22) for Earth Day events billed as a "celebration of science" to counter what organizers say is a growing disregard for evidence-based knowledge in Washington. The "March for Science" festivities included scientific "teach-ins," speeches by researchers and environmentalists, and musical performances on Washington's National Mall under cloudy skies with occasional drizzle. Hundreds of cities and towns from Boston to Sydney, Australia hosted rallies and festive parades where marchers carried signs like "There is no Planet B" and "Make Science Great Again," making a play on U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign promise to "Make America Great Again." While the events were non-partisan according to organizers, many marchers were in effect protesting Trump's proposal to sharply cut federal science and research budgets and his administration's skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming. The marches put a new twist on the traditional Earth Day activities, the aim of which was to reaffirm "the vital role science plays in our democracy," according to the march's website. "It's important to show this administration that we care about facts," said Chris Taylor, 24, who was part of an early crowd of about 15,000 who gathered on Washington's Mall for teach-ins on topics like climate change, water quality and sustainable food. The event finished with a march from the Washington Monument to Union Square. "It just seems like they're not really concerned about economic growth or creating new technologies, just catering to massive corporations," said Taylor, who is earning a Ph.D. in robotics at George Mason University in Virginia. A fervent but good-natured anti-Trump tone was evident on San Francisco's waterfront, where thousands gathered near The Exploratorium science museum ahead of a march to city hall. Many carried signs emblazoned with slogans such as "Pruitt Plus Trump Equals Bad Chemistry," a reference to Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has questioned the scientific consensus on global warming. March for Science is the latest in a series of national demonstrations staged since Trump's inauguration nearly 100 days ago. Previous marches and protests have focused on a range of partisan issues, from abortion rights to immigration policy. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday's marches, but Trump released a statement on his approach to environmental issues. "My administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment," Trump said. "Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection," said the president, who passed dozens of protesters as his motorcade made its way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington. In the past, Trump has said climate change was a hoax that was stifling policies to foster economic growth. His administration is considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, a global accord aimed at reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Last year the United States, under President Barack Obama, joined more than 190 other countries in signing the pact. Trump's proposed 2018 budget calls for deep spending cuts by government science agencies, including a 31 percent reduction for the Environmental Protection Agency.