This Saturday is Earth Day, and to celebrate, Environment America is supporting the March for Science in Washington, D.C., (and sister marches across the country).
As has always been our way, our policy positions are based on facts. And when it comes to most of the underpinnings of our environmental and public health work, that often means science.
Unfortunately, we’re living in a time where lies are presented as ‘alternative facts’ and science is pooh-poohed as theory. Thus, the essence of Saturday’s March is standing up for science, for truth, for facts and for basic integrity.
While we certainly don’t want to ‘politicize’ science or scientists, it’s hard to imagine anything more compelling for us to be doing if we want to protect our families’ health, keep our air and water clean; ensure our special places are conserved and our planet is livable for generations to come.
It is science that has helped us prove that burning of fossil fuels is leading to global warming and that global warming is leading to extreme weather events. It is science that was used to determine that no amount of lead exposure is safe for kids and that neonics are leading to the die-off of our bees. Science shows us that wetlands help prevent flooding while providing a buffer between pollution and our drinking water sources. And it’s science that’s enabled us to understand the connection between exposure to various pollutants and asthma rates, premature deaths, and birth defects.
We used to assume that scientific fact was sacrosanct -- basically above and beyond ‘politics’. But we are living in an age where up is down; black is white; and many things are not what they should be.
Reasonable people can agree to disagree on policy. But when people refuse to recognize facts as facts and accept what the scientific method has proven, our environment and our democracy both suffer.
Earth Day, starting with the first one on April 22,1970, has proven to be an annual celebration of our ecosystem and an opportunity to join forces and speak out against the threats facing our planet and our families.
At the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting often on their own against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage in their water, toxic dumps in their neighborhoods, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife realized they shared common values as they joined together to demand change.
Earth Day 1970 achieved what today feels like a rare political alignment, winning support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
While today’s politics make bi-partisanship hard to come by, the March for Science on Earth Day 2017 is our community’s joint commitment to combat efforts to silence science by creating and supporting knowledge sharing, community engagement, citizen science and stewardship.
And this year Earth Day is just the beginning of a week of focused attention on the health and future of our planet. A week later Earth Week will culminate with the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29th. The Environment America team will be represented at both events in D.C. and in other cities across the country. Let us know if you want to come join us!