BOSTON – Thousands of scientists, science advocates, and members of frontline communities gathered today in Boston’s Copley Square to fight back against the attacks on climate science and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mounted by elected officials and to stand up for the vital role science plays in society. The rally was held outside of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, one of the first major gatherings of scientists since the election.
Speakers at the rally called for scientists and the American public to mobilize and push back against politicians that threaten critical research that serves the common good – from protecting the health of American communities to promoting technology and innovation that supports a strong economy and creates jobs.
Quote list from participating scientists below.
“Scientists are heroes – they solve problems and protect the people and places we love,” said Beka Economopoulos, director of The Natural History Museum, an institution that co-organized the event. “Health care, climate science, and research on lead levels and water quality all protect people. The kinds of science and evidence-based policies that are most at risk are those that serve the public. The Trump administration’s attacks on science are attacks on our families, our communities, and our collective future.”
Since the election, the Trump administration has muzzled scientists and governmental agencies and threatened the future of funding for key programs and agencies. The administration has also vowed to dismantle key climate policies - including the Paris Climate Agreement and the Clean Power Plan - and reshape the EPA under newly-confirmed fossil fuel ally Scott Pruitt to remove regulations designed to safeguard America’s air, water, and health. What’s more, Trump’s immigration policies threaten to zap the United States’ talent pool and diminish the country’s leadership in research.
“Since its inception, ClimateTruth.org has been fighting the denial, distortion, and disinformation that block action on climate change,” said Amanda Mourant, campaign manager at ClimateTruth.org, an organization that co-organized the rally. “The onslaught of disinformation and brazen attacks on science we’ve seen from the Trump administration and its allies in Congress are unprecedented. Scientists have stepped out of the labs and into the streets to ensure public policy is based on facts – not conspiracy.”
The rally is part of a growing and historic movement of scientists who are demonstrating an increasing willingness to speak out and stand up for the value of scientific evidence in policy decisions. Since the election, hundreds of climate scientists rallied in San Francisco, thousands of scientists signed openletters,rogue Twitter accounts have sprung up on behalf of muzzled government science agencies, scientists are working furiously to preserve data they fear could disappear, and scientists are signing up to run for elected office. Sunday’s rally also includes researchers who are volunteering with the March for Science, which will take place in more than 200 cities around the world on April 22nd.
The rally was organized by ClimateTruth.org Action and The Natural History Museum, and endorsed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, 500 Women Scientists, 350 Mass for a Better Future, Greenpeace USA, Toxics Action Center, Alliance for Climate Education, Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter, 314 Action, Climate Justice Caucus (a student group at the Harvard Kennedy School), MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership (MITACAL), MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, Divest Harvard, BU Divest, Fossil Free MIT, Radius at MIT, and UA Sustainability at MIT.
The rally featured leading climate scientists and thought leaders, including Naomi Oreskes from Harvard University. The following are quotes from select participants prepared for the rally.
Jacquelyn Gill, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology, University of Maine, co-host “Warm Regards” podcast:
“Publicly funded science is one of America's best ideas: it's science of the people, by the people, and for the people. It's funded by taxpayers, and not special interests. It's done by scientists working as public servants or in institutions of higher learning, rather than by corporations looking out for their own bottom line. When science is for everyone, it's transparent and accessible and it has direct benefits to public health, our economy, and creating a culture of innovation and discovery. By standing up for science, we stand up for the citizens who stand to lose the most as our scientific institutions come under attack.”
Geoffrey Supran, Ph.D., Energy Modeling Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT; Science History Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University:
“I started doing renewable energy research when I was 16 years old. I've always believed in the power of science to make the world a better place, and that's never been more true than with climate change. But a climate denying administration is undermining our efforts to serve the common good by attacking science and catering to Big Oil – and we scientists will not stand for it. Policy without science is a recipe for disaster.”
Lucky Tran, Ph.D., Science Communicator, Organizer for March for Science:
“Scientists are energized because we want our research to transform society for the better, but now those goals have come under attack. We now realize that we have to step out of the lab and into the political arena to ensure that our work will benefit everyone - not just private interests.”
Quita Sullivan (Montaukett/Shinnecock), environmental justice lawyer, New England Foundation for the Arts:
“People fear that which challenges their worldview. When confronted with facts that challenge that view, the initial reaction is to blame and silence the messenger. That’s what we are seeing here. By silencing science and scientists, opponents hope to pretend that they are not damaging the earth, that they are not contributing to global climate change, that they are not putting lives and cultures of low income communities and communities of color in danger, and pretend that they can continue as they were before being confronted. Unfortunately for them, history has proven that this doesn’t work.”
Maryam Zaringhalam, Ph.D., Molecular Biologist at Rockefeller University, host of Science Soapbox Podcast:
"What affects scientists affects science. Of course I'm here to defend science. But I'm also here to stand up for the rights of my fellow scientists. The science that people love so much — cures for diseases, technology that powers their smartphones, efforts to keep food and water safe — is done by living, breathing human beings. So when the folks who have dedicated their lives to doing good in the world are threatened, intimidated, forced out of the country, I have no choice but to raise my voice — as a woman, as an Iranian-American, as a citizen, as a scientist."
Astrid Caldas, Ph.D., Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“The urgency of our times demands action. That’s why scientists are speaking out like they haven’t in a long time.”
Kelly Fleming, Ph.D., Advocacy and Policy Lead, 500 Women Scientists:
“Science is foundational; it fuels innovation and touches the lives of every person on this planet. Without it, we will not be able to solve our biggest challenges - from curing diseases to addressing climate change. Science is built on diversity of thought and collaboration - this means that the voices of women, people of color, minorities, LGBTQIA, and immigrants must be included and encouraged. The mission of 500 Women Scientists is to promote an inclusive scientific community and build the capacity to diversify the next generation science leaders in the U.S. and across the world, using the language of science to enhance global diplomacy.”
Chiamaka Obilo, student fellow, Alliance for Climate Education:
“The Declaration of Independence tells us that our government derives its power from the ‘consent of the governed.’ We, the governed, do not consent to being deceived. If the government chooses to promote ‘alternative facts’ about climate change, sacrificing my future, the scientific community and its future leaders must bring the truth to the masses.”
Katherine Anderson, Communications Coordinator, 350 Mass For A Better Future
"Today, and for as long as necessary, the Massachusetts climate movement will stand with scientists to defend our public health and the truth about the climate crisis."
ClimateTruth.org fights the denial, distortion, and disinformation that block bold action on climate change.
The Natural History Museum works with museums, scientists, and advocates to affirm the truth of science and champion climate change education and action.