Decrying attacks on evidence-based research and funding cuts proposed by President Donald Trump that could endanger a legacy of advances in health care, technology and environmental conservation, hundreds rallied in Santa Rosa on Saturday as part of a series of worldwide demonstrations meant to put Trump and his fledging administration on notice.
More than 2,000 people turned out for the local March for Science, one of at least 500 such events held in cities across the globe. Participants in Santa Rosa carried signs, chanted slogans and listened to speeches before walking in a long procession from Juilliard Park to City Hall.
The demonstration coincided with the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, and many on hand said they were most worried about Trump’s unwillingness to acknowledge climate change and his pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, long a critic of the agency he now oversees.
Lisa Micheli, president and CEO of Pepperwood Preserve in Santa Rosa, told the crowd at Juilliard that environmental degradation tied to climate change will continue regardless of whether those in power ignore it.
“Keep in mind, Mother Nature will bat last,” Micheli warned.
Other speakers condemned political attacks on scientists who speak up and get involved in shaping public policy.
Adrienne Alvord, the Union of Concerned Scientists western states director, rejected an assertion by Trump administration officials that major researchers should stick to their laboratories.
“But I ask you, who is more qualified to talk about science than scientists?” Alvord said. “We must stop saying scientists are politicized when the research disagrees with what we believe.”
And Daniel Soto, a Sonoma State University professor of environmental studies, urged voters to be skeptical, ask questions and insist on quality science education for their children.
“The attacks on science are nothing new,” Soto said. “Just ask Galileo.”
People in the crowd nodded in approval. They carried signs that read “Make America Think Again,” and “Science is Real. Denial is Deadly.” Some dressed in white lab coats.
Many said they worried about the rise of pseudoscience under Trump.
“If you confuse that with real science, it’s really hard for the public to discern what’s good and what is not,” said retired medical device engineer David Snyder of Seattle, who took a break from a vacation to join the rally.
Dawn Laru, a retired nurse from Sebastopol, echoed the same concern. She worried about how misdirected policies would affect future generations.
“Because some of these things we can’t reverse,” said Laru, who held two signs lamenting reliance on fossil fuels and Trump’s support of them.
Marty LaPlante of Glen Ellen held her beagle, Odie, on a leash. The dog, a former research animal, had a sign saying “I Love Science” strapped to his back.
LaPlante said she objects to any tampering with research done by the Food and Drug Administration and wants more transparency and results posted online for the public to see.
“Odie is grateful for the fact that he has good food, good medication and good labeling,” LaPlante said. “He wants that to continue.”