The March for Science Continues

Earth Observatory Blog

The March for Science Continues

The March for Science continues on into its second year (Source: Joseph Gruber/Alamy)

One year ago, scientists and science advocates from across the globe were moved to march in the streets. It was a reactionary move, spurred by administration changes in the United States and the growing threat of reversals in global environment policies, funding, and education relating to climate change.

Global support from influential organisations like Friends of CSIRO, Jane Goodall Institute Australia and Cornell Alliance for Science (Source: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images)

What has happened since then? Well, quite a bit actually. The United States withdrew from the Paris accord and in response, state leaders came together and formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue advancing the objectives of the Paris agreement, despite the administration’s withdrawal. During this time, China announced plans to create the world’s largest carbon market, incentivising its power companies to operate more cleanly. Similarly, India reaffirmed its commitment to clean energy with aggressive targets by 2022.

Meenakshi Dewan is one of four women in her village in Orissa, India, trained in solar power engineering (Source: Department for International Development/Flickr)

These are just a few new commitments and reaffirmations from world leaders, since the 2017 March for Science. The policy of inaction and denial from the United States seems to have spurred on the rest of the world. Even Syria joined the Paris accord in late 2017, leaving the United States as the only country not onboard.

Where do we go from here? It’s hard to say. The challenges are getting exponentially bigger every year, making the goals and targets harder to reach. Despite strong leadership, Germany is in danger of not meeting its lower emissions targets by 2020 or 2030 and many other countries are in the same boat. Saying we’re going to curtail greenhouse gases and actually doing it are very different things. Leaving this in the hands of leaders is not enough – scientists need to keep talking and we, the human race, need to elevate their voices and follow their lead. The time for marching is not over; it’s more important than ever.

Scientists and science supporters gathered once again (Source: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Direct effects of climate change are impacting all of us more and more through increased weather instability. What better incentive is there when the hazards are knocking at our door, flooding our homes, polluting our air and costing us money? 

Climate change – two heavily loaded words that most of us understand but a few still want to reject. Much of the world sees human-made climate change (anthropogenic) as the greatest hazard facing human-kind today. So much so that even with the United States officially withdrawing from the Paris accord, many states continue to work with its global partners toward the goals of the agreement. So, why do these words “climate change” still cause confusion and spark such debate.

This year's march was widely viewed as more urgent because of the many anti-science policies passed in the United States (Source: Katcy Stephan/BuzzFeed News)

Language is a powerful tool and terms like global warming, natural versus human-made disasters, climate change, are bandied around, adding confusion to the global message. They also add leverage to those who want to believe that human actions have no impact on the climate despite the changes taking place around us. I think we missed a critical moment, years ago, to properly brand, if you will, what is going on. What are the road blocks making the communication of this urgent message so challenging?

Never too young to march for science (Source: Arne Dedert/AFP/Getty Images)

As a communicator, I wonder if I’m just not explaining the situation well enough. Maybe it’s just that simple. If we had told the story more clearly from the get-go, would we be further along in our goals to slow sea level or temperature rises? Somehow, I don’t think it’s this simple. Or, do most of us believe that the problem is so huge that there is no way to tackle it and, basically, we’re doomed so why even try. Or is it all about money? How in the world are we going to untangle all of the money being made from fossil fuels and other human-made contributors in order to see, believe and do what needs to be done? Will the global economic engine ever be able to adapt or replace the industries that thrive off human-made pollutants, which speed up our trajectories of rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, and toxic air? At the rate we’re going, we probably don’t have a choice – the Earth will make this decision for us. 

So, we march. We march to remind leaders and policy-makers to keep fighting for our future. We march to remind one another that we must do more. We march to keep this, the greatest hazard facing human kind today, top of mind. See you in the streets!

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