Thousands gather in SF to peacefully protest neglect of science-based decisions

Published in the May 24 – June 6, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Photo by Matthew Marcotullio
People from throughout the Bay Area gathered in San Francisco — and many other places across the globe — to march in support of science.

By Jeb Goldman

Nancy Frizzell joined an estimated 50,000 people crowding into Justin Herman Plaza April 22 – Earth Day. At age 70, the former science teacher from Gilroy’s South Valley Middle School decided that the March for Science was too vital to our nation’s future that she just couldn’t stay home.

Frizzell made the journey by BART to San Francisco to listen to invited dignitaries talk about the importance of fact-based evidence and scientific knowledge.

The speakers emphasized that science is still relevant in our lives. They also pointed out to the crowd that climate change and global warming are such grave threats to humanity’s existence that citizens need to take political action to protect our planet.

What brought many of the activists together was the developing policy of President Donald Trump’s administration regarding funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the Department of Education and other agencies.

Coinciding with Earth Day to show the connection between the environment and science, the inaugural March for Science events took place in countries around world and attracted hundreds of thousands of people. It originated when demonstrators called for attention to be placed on the recent neglect of the sciences by the United States government, especially in regards to global warming and climate change.

“We need to support science,” Frizzell said. “Science is very, very important and I have noticed our current government in Washington, D.C., they don’t seem to care that much for the sciences. They don’t embrace science.”
Just a week after the March for Science events, Trump instructed the EPA to remove all language about climate change from its website.

The San Francisco demonstration attracted people of all ages from seniors to toddlers in strollers.

When she was a Gilroy teacher, Frizzell said she saw lots of promise in her students. She was pleased to see so many young people and families with children making their voices heard in defense of science.

Congressman Jerry McNerney joined the invited speakers at Justin Herman Plaza and remarked on the importance of young Americans moving forward into the future with scientific and political pursuits.

For McNerney, science holds special meaning. He is one of 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have a Ph.D., the only one with one in mathematics. He was first elected to Congress in 2008, representing a district that included Morgan Hill. Prior to politics, he worked as an engineer developing wind energy.

“You want to get young people excited for science,” he said shortly before the speeches started. “You know it’s hard, it’s hard work, but it’s rewarding. You can actually change the world in a way that you can’t with hardly anything else.”

McNerney pointed out the large number of people in the plaza. “You can just see how much excitement there is,” he said. “People love science, they love to depend on what science has accomplished for our nation and the world.”

The marchers gathered from all over the Bay Area. They included three seniors from San Ramon Valley High School who are members of the Environmental and Engineering Club — the school’s E2 Club. Recognizing her power of influence as a young person who can effect change, Shivani Kumar, president of the E2 Club, expressed her displeasure with today’s politics.

“A lot of politicians don’t believe in climate change even though there’s, like, clear facts that prove that they’re not doing anything about it,” she said. “We’re trying to say that the science is proving that it’s real and that you can’t ignore that.”

Fellow student Ellen Vila, a senior and also an E2 club member, said they have attended other demonstrations such as the Women’s March in January. They described the March for Science as peaceful and the atmosphere filled with “just kind of like chill vibes.”

After the march began at Justin Herman Plaza at 12:30 p.m., participants progressed three miles up Market Street to a science fair at the San Francisco Civic Center.

Marchers remained peaceful and positive as bystanders on the sidewalk cheered them on.

Many of the demonstrators carried humorous and creative home-made signs and posters commenting on the importance of science. One read, “What do we want? Evidence-based science. When do we want it? After peer review.”

Gilroy resident Jeb Goldman is a sophomore at Oakwood High School.