As part of 500 marches worldwide, thousands of people braved rainy weather in the capitol of the United States on Saturday to both celebrate Earth Day and participate in a historic show of support for science. The flagship march in Washington D.C. was one of the largest, but demonstrations were held worldwide on every continent, even Antarctica.
The D.C. march had some of the more high profile speakers, many of whom came from educational, social or professional backgrounds. Topics covered ranged from astronomy to medicine to environmental science. One of the most inspiring speakers was Taylor Richardson, 13, who raised enough money for 1,000 young girls to go to see the film Hidden Figures. Richardson is an aspiring astronaut herself and was so inspired after seeing the film that she wanted to make sure many of her peers had to the chance to do so as well.
There were many astronauts from past and present who joined in on the march: for example, Leland Melvin, known for taking to space his official NASA portrait with his dogs, and Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer who became the first female “space tourist” in 2006. This made her the first Iranian astronaut.
Later in the day Dr. Jon Foley and Dr. Michael Mann spoke about one of the most urgent issues of our time: climate change and humanity’s impact on the environment. Politicians and science-deniers have been working hard not just to discredit the work of scientists, but have questioned the utility of scientists themselves.
Over the weekend, the world marched in order to show their support for these scientists and the important work they do.
There were also a number of guest speakers who spoke about the importance of science beyond the realm of research, highlighting its importance in relation to everyday people’s lives.
The artist, Maya Lin – best known for creating Washington’s Vietnam War Memorial when she was only 21 years old – spoke of her most recent memorial titled “What is Missing?” This installation used science-based artworks to show how close we are to mass extinction.
Of course, there was also the popular science communicator Bill Nye who spoke about the importance of scientific inquiry, discovery and persistence.
Even though the weather was terrible with a lot of rain, the marchers were happy to be there to march for what they believed was important for the world. As for whether they were well prepared for the weather, most people were. After all – science predicted it would rain.