This Saturday is the March for Science, with the main March in DC and 500 affiliated marches in every state of the union and worldwide. There will even be a March in the heart of coal country and you can find your local March here.) But just in case, here’s some more you need to know:
The March for Science is dedicated to improve our understanding of how science affects our lives and why scientists need a larger voice in public policy. No politicians will be speaking in DC and at most of the other marches: instead, there will be teach-ins to show us how science needs to be better understood and how it can play a bigger role in our policy debate.
In that spirit, we at Crooked Donald thought we could help by offering some facts of our own.
First, there is a myth that the largest share of our government’s funding for research and development goes to the military. This misunderstanding occurs because of a quirk in government accounting procedures, allowing only the military to use the term “R&D” in budget reports, but in fact, health and medical research takes the lion’s share of federal government R&D and that would still be true even if Trump’s proposed massive budget cuts to health research were passed.
Second, more public support for science means more jobs—we can cite many examples, but we like the one offered by Dennis Hayes, the man who lead America’s first public-private partnership for solar energy research during the Jimmy Carter administration. In Hayes’ short term, record advancements were achieved and America dominated the world in solar power. Then the Reagan administration gutted solar research programs and ended funding supporting researchers at 1,000 state universities. And the United States still hasn’t caught up, now importing most of it’s solar energy infrastructure (mostly from China) even though 260,000 Americans are now employed in solar energy or almost ten times the number of Americans now employed by coal companies.
Third, better science can improve how government works—take law enforcement, for example. Despite what you see on television crime shows, law enforcement employs very few people who know science or forensic technologies. The situation is so bad, both the Innocence Project and the National Academy of Sciences have documented how we need immediate improvement in our police forces or false convictions will increase. Sadly, the Trump administration is closing down the one program that will improve law enforcement science.
Finally, science is the ultimate bipartisan, unbiased source we need to balance the special interests, whether it is big tobacco, big oil or the chemical companies seeking regulatory changes to put our health at risk, we need science to have a larger role in in our national debate.
And that’s why scientists are marching on Saturday.