March for Science: Thousands Worldwide Rally on Earth Day


Bill Nye and other pro-science protestors lead the March for Science through the streets of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 22. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Bill Nye and other pro-science protestors lead the March for Science through the streets of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 22. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Protesters across the globe marched in support of science, the legitimacy of fact-based evidence, curiosity, access to education and public funding of research, among a variety of other related causes. The marches on Saturday, April 22, were timed to coincide with the 47th annual celebration of Earth Day. The streets of Washington, D.C., hosted the primary march on an afternoon that started gray and rainy and remained that way throughout hours of speakers, musicians, educational sessions and other events that culminated in a march from the Washington Monument to the Capitol building.

Scientists, feeling increasingly under pressure from a new administration that's perceived as varying between indifferent and outright hostile to science, aimed to send a clear message.

Crowds gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the March for Science.
Crowds gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the March for Science.
Jessica Kourkonis/Getty Images
Rain clouds dampened the Washington marchers' signs, but not spirits.
Rain clouds dampened the Washington marchers' signs, but not spirits.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most well-received speakers on the main stage was scientist and television personality Bill Nye. With storm clouds overhead and facing the White House in the distance, Nye said, "Scientifically literate citizens are needed to drive innovation and compete globally."

"Science serves every one of us," he said, and the audience rewarded his passion with sustained cheers and chants of "Bill! Bill! Bill!"

The artist, architect and sculptor Maya Lin spoke from the event's main stage, saying she hopes that these marches, along with her work, will act as "a wake up call to action for losing species, and for learning to balance our needs with those of nature."

Following hours of events on the National Mall, the crowd of tens of thousands marched east along Capitol Avenue.
Following hours of events on the National Mall, the crowd of tens of thousands marched east along Capitol Avenue.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters got creative with signage all along the parade route.
Protesters got creative with signage all along the parade route.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Christy Goldfuss, formerly of the Council on Environmental Quality and former deputy director of the National Park Service, spoke passionately about accompanying President Obama to the middle of the Pacific Ocean before he created the largest section of protected ocean in history. "The most powerful nation in the world can not turn its back on science," Goldfuss said.

Though the majority of the speakers and signs in the audience on Saturday aimed to place above political influence, a clear majority of people in attendance spoke out against the policies of President Trump.

"The White House reeks of greed, sleaze and mendacity," scientist Denis Hayes shouted from the main stage in a particularly pointed speech. Hayes was an early supporter of solar energy and whose Bullitt Foundation recently built its Seattle headquarters in what's being touted as the greenest commercial building in the world

He was also the principal national organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970. "It's 47 years later, and to my astonishment," he said, "we're back in the same position."

The Washington March for Science also incorporated a number of teaching events, performances from musicians. Thomas Dolby took to the main stage to blast out his New Wave hit "She Blinded Me With Science," while John Batiste gave a hushed rendition of "What a Wonderful World." The event was largely inspired by the Women's March on Washington in January, and grew from a small social media campaign to something significantly larger and more organized, with affiliated satellite events taking place on all seven continents. 

William Sanford, aka "Bill Nye the Science Guy," rallies with activists on Capitol Hill during the March for Science in Washington, DC. Thousands joined a global March for Science with Washington the epicenter of a movement to fight back against what m...
William Sanford, aka "Bill Nye the Science Guy," rallies with activists on Capitol Hill during the March for Science in Washington, DC. Thousands joined a global March for Science with Washington the epicenter of a movement to fight back against what m...
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
The rally in Boston brought thousands to Boston Commons.
The rally in Boston brought thousands to Boston Commons.
Ryan McBride/AFP/Getty Images
The Earth Day event was global; these marchers took to the streets of London.
The Earth Day event was global; these marchers took to the streets of London.
Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto/Getty Images