This year, Earth Day will not be celebrated with a typical tree planting or with a platitude from a politician to recycle more.
Instead, thousands will be donning lab coats and hitting the streets in an international demonstration to celebrate the scientific community in the U.S. and defend its role in society.
The main march is taking place in Washington D.C. on Saturday, with over 400 sister marches planned around the globe. One such march is being held in St. Petersburg at Poynter Park.
Students and community members alike are planning to attend to show their solidarity with the scientific community and urge the government to defend organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency and to continue to fight against global warming.
“The march is an opportunity for all people who support science and scientific research to take a public stand and demand evidence-based policies at the local, state and national levels,” Ashley Souza, one of the march organizers, said. “We do not aim to push a single issue or data point. Rather, the broad message we are trying to convey is that a large majority of people supports scientific research, freedom of information, and evidence-based policies.
“Budget cuts, disappearing data sets, censorship of researchers, and threats to dismantle necessary governmental agencies harm us all, putting our climate, health, food, environment, and jobs at risk.”
The march is drawing more than just scientists.
Those who have concerns for the environment, doctors, teachers, activists, students and children have all pledged to stand up for the scientific community Saturday.
Jessica Thornton, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and advertising, is the communications manager for the Tampa/St. Petersburg march. She said she hopes the marches will help increase the conversation about the scientific community and lead to issues like global warming being taken seriously.
“I care about the environment,” Thornton said. “There are other lives here besides ourselves and we are the ones doing the most damage to it. I think a lot of us hope to continue being here and to have a healthy environment for future generations and what we’re doing now is going to impact that regardless so I hope that we make that impact a positive one.”
The idea for the March for Science originally began on Reddit, where scientists began to post about the budget cuts to critical funding streams. As federal science data websites began to disappear, many began to voice their concern over the fate of the scientific community in the U.S., according to the U.S. News and World Report.
A few suggested they should take to the streets, and soon an official march was planned.
“The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments,” organizers said on the march’s website.
The call for a march is quickly becoming routine after the booming success of the Women’s March on Jan. 21, which had between 3 and 4 million in attendance worldwide, according to Fortune.
For Thornton, USF is a great outlet for making change in the local area, which she said could impact the larger community over time.
“The number one thing, at least for me, is to stay aware of what’s going on,” Thornton said. “Be informed about things that are actually happening. We’re in the era of fake news so make sure you know what’s actually going on to our planet or whatever cause you care about for that matter.”
The march takes place Saturday at 10 a.m. in Poynter Park. The Facebook event page for the Tampa/St. Petersburg march has over 1,700 people pledged to attend, with another 2,800 saying they are interested in going.
Charlie Crist has announced he will be attending as well. Souza said the march aims to show “in the most public way possible” precisely how many people support science, not just in the U.S., but also across the world.
“We want our local march to give people the opportunity to celebrate the impact of science in our community, to meet local scientists and learn about their work, and to show our politicians exactly how much we care,” Souza said. “Science benefits every single person living on this plant, we cannot move forward as a civilization without it.”