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Marches for Science and Climate beg question: Why march?

by Laurie-Ann Barbour, The Climate Center

I was proud to be part of the March for Science in Santa Rosa on Earth Day – one of over 600 marches around the world highlighting the importance of science for everyone.  The marches sent a message to the current administration about the value of scientific research and information. Over 2,000 people showed up in Santa Rosa and that’s quite a statement.

While I enjoy the signs, the costumes, and the chants – those pieces of a movement that keep us moving and feeling connected – why do it? Are we getting our message out to anyone who needs to hear it?

I’ve decided the reason for marching is for the marchers.

I march for the sense of community created with others who share my concerns.  It gives me the boost I need to continue our collective work. It goes hand-in-hand with my personal work (I carpooled with others in an electric car) and policy changing efforts (such as The Climate Center’s work to promote Community Choice energy solutions).

My colleague recently asked me how I came to care enough about the planet to be committed in the first place. I told her it’s so inherent to who I am, I could not recall an “aha” moment but I think it started with family car camping when I was a child stirring my love of nature and the CA drought of 1976-77 waking up an awareness of the need to be careful with our resources.  Since then, it’s been more the amalgamation of many beautiful and devastating moments all piled up that’s created a fierceness around protecting this fragile and amazing place….seeing the aurora borealis in Alaska, touching a whale in a Mexican lagoon, standing atop Mt. Kilamanjaro, but also plastic water bottles marring a beach in Thailand, deforestation in Nepal, glaciers receding in Alaska and pikas disappearing from the Sierra.

The first Earth Day I remember was in 1980 when I was in college – the 10th Anniversary of the first Earth Day (in 1970). I was so inspired to see all the booths and people who cared about the planet. I’ve tried to celebrate Earth Day in some fashion ever since.

The Santa Rosa march itself was bookended by a rally and an Earth Day fair. Both of those increase the capacity of the marchers to act.

I’m a big fan of facts, but stories inspire and motivate action. Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie spoke of his experience working at the EPA under Anne Gorsuch, who tried to run the EPA into the ground (much like Scott Pruitt today). Science and truth prevailed.

At the end of the March for Science, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins left us with the message of Dr. Suess’ The Lorax:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”