Mainers march for science, because facts don’t always speak for themselves

Mainers march for science, because facts don’t always speak for themselves

Mainers held six marches on Saturday in support of public policy based on science and as a general celebration of the scientific method and empirical thought. More than a thousand demonstrators marched in Portland, despite the rainy weather, with 350 marching in Orono at the University of Maine and smaller marches in towns across the state, from Sanford to Machias.

“In these divisive times it is it is important to celebrate those things which we can all agree on,” said Brian Toner, a UMaine graduate student and one of the organizers for the Orono march. “Science is one of those banners of unification. Science makes the impossible possible through innovation, perseverance, and cooperation.”

The Earth Day marches are part of an international effort to promote “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity” and represent the launch of what organizers hope will be a week of action, culminating in marches for action on climate change next Saturday, April 29th.

In Maine and across the country, a hallmark of the demonstrations were cleverly-worded signs, often referencing scientific concepts. “There Is No Planet B” was also a favorite.

Speakers at the Maine marches included scientists in a variety of fields and public advocates for science-based public policy. Rep. Chellie Pingree spoke in Portland and a letter from Sen. Angus King was read in Orono.

Speaking from the steps of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine staff scientist Nick Bennett urged march participants to stay involved in politics and public life. He described working for an engineering firm and being asked to doctor his research findings to help a corporation avoid responsibility for cleaning up a toxic waste site.

“It was an incredibly valuable experience to learn how science is sometimes used by corporations to do… not such good things,” said Bennett. “Facts don’t speak for themselves. Facts need defenders. They need people to speak for them.”

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