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My March for Science

  • By Dr. Maurice Crawford

    Monday, May 1, 2017
    Dr. Maurice Crawford, right, and his wife, Stefani Sese

    “Science serves our nation” was among the many signs displayed during the March for Science on Earth Day 2017.  Even though it was damp and cold on the National Mall in Washington D.C., thousands of scientists turned out in a very spirited mood. 

    Like others march participants, I would describe myself as politically aware but not very politically active. The current political atmosphere, however, spurred me to leave my office and venture out onto the Mall. 

    Every administration has an agenda to fulfill, but I would hope that each would try to craft its policies based upon evidence. That was the essence of the 2017 March for Science; no matter your political persuasion, it is vital that scientific evidence be used to enact policies. 

    To forego this approach is not in the public's best interest, may waste taxpayer dollars and, at the very worst, lead to harmful policies. 

    Taking inspiration from the many signs carried in other marches, I played around with different phrases that I would write on my sign. One of my first thoughts was “If you're not using evidence then you must be following the money.”

    I eventually settled on two phrases, one for each side of the sign. The first was a quote by Yoda, the Star Wars character: “Fear leads to the dark side,” which somewhat aligned with the American Association for Advancement of Sciences slogan: “I am a force for science.” The second was inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru's - the first Prime Minister of India - concept of “Scientific Temper.”  It read: “Compassion, logic, creativity, open mind”. 

    The March for Science also drove home to me the low number of minorities in scientific fields.  Although I was in a crowd of tens of thousands, I saw too few African Americans, Latinos and other minorities marching down Constitution Avenue. I believe it is imperative that our nation harness the brain power of all its citizens to meet the political and environmental challenges of the 21st century. 

    While the March for Science was an important first step in sending a message to the political leaders of the world, it is just the beginning.  More crucial will be the follow-up to transform the energy embodied by the March for Science participants into more effective and longer lasting civic engagement. 

    For me, this means taking the time to contact my federal and state legislators and to encourage them to integrate scientific evidence into their decision-making.

    Dr. Maurice Crawford is an associate professor of marine science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore