Marching for science on Earth Day

Pictured: Peter Stuart, post doctorate fellow at Trinity College Dublin with his daughter Saoirse.
Photo by Jessica Ellis.

Hundreds of scientists, university students, researchers and members of the public marched on government buildings in support of evidence-based opinion and policies. On April 22nd, crowds gathered at Grand Canal Square to have their voices heard.

It is no coincidence that demonstrators chose Earth Day to march, a day that celebrates environmental conservation and spreading awareness of the unprecedented effects of climate change.

The march in Dublin was one of more than 400 marches that took place around the world, from Washington to London to Wellington, New Zealand.

The scientific community has been spurred into action by worries that government officials are not respecting or encouraging science-based policies. Donald Trump’s administration making big cuts to environmental agencies and scientific programmes in what some say is an ‘anti-science agenda’ has been a catalyst to the largest of the marches in Washington.

NewsFour joined the demonstrators as they prepared to march to ask them why they feel the need to attend. Geraldine Butler, professor of genetics at University College Dublin had this to say: “We’re getting really concerned about the rejection of facts. People not accepting climate change, people not worrying about vaccinations and opinions having the same weight as fact. We want to see evidence-based opinions. Danny Healy-Rae said climate change doesn’t exist, essentially, and that God alone controls the weather so we have our own politicians who don’t understand science.”

She was joined by fellow professor of genetics Ken Wolfe, who added: “We want to promote scientific thinking as a way of thinking about the world and informing politicians.”

Teegan Reinert from Philadelphia also gave her reasons for attending: “I go to school at National University of Ireland, Galway so I moved here permanently. I wanted to go to the march in Washington, but obviously it was not really possible because I’m here. All of my friends are going to that one so I figured that I’d come to this one.”

Peter Stuart, a post-doctoral fellow in Trinity College Dublin studying disease ecology, was with his daughter Saoirse: “Me and Saoirse believe in science and we wish more people would pay attention to it. A lot of people are criticising Trump and so on, but if you look at when Enda Kenny came back from Paris, he said the climate change targets were unrealistic so we’re not so blameless in this country either. We just want to say that people should listen to scientists more and support scientists.”

In a fitting end to the rally, former president Mary Robinson read a poem written especially for the march in Washington by American poet, Jane Hirshfield, that warned of the dangers of silencing science.

By Jessica Ellis