I was (and remain) appalled that a march for science is needed. I suppose it speaks more to my optimism than my intelligence that I am dumbfounded anew every time a politician suggests I am part of a highly paid brain-washing organization or an incoming students tells me that she loves science and plans on becoming a veterinarian (or doctor or dentist) but no, she didn't have any chemistry or physics at her small town high school and really, biology was taught by the coach who let them watch the NFL draft in class. It still surprises me when a reporter asks gubernatorial hopefuls, "science or religion?" in the same "get to know the candidates" article where they are asked "beer or wine?" or "movie or theater?" as if they are mutually exclusive (and yes, I am rational enough to be bothered the premise for all three of these questions).
Anyway, as of Friday morning, my t-shirt had arrived but my good idea hadn't. Then I read the headlines of the paper and showed my students the sentence in The Oklahoman that reads something like this concerning cancelling investigation into agricultural chemicals produced by DOW (this sentence from a similar article in the The Denver Post by Michael Biesecker April 20, 2017):
The industry's request comes after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last month he was reversing an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains.The article summed up many reasons I marched. I was marching because I don't think exposed children have a great chance of funding their own research (see, Flint, Michigan), and somehow see real problems with a system that 1) places the burden of proof on the "people" (consumers, passers-by, or government) to demonstrate that a product designed to harm organisms adversely affects humans, 2) doesn't listen to "the people" in the unusual situation where they have demonstrated adverse affects to humans and 3) intends to de-fund any way in which studies by "the people" could be done in the future.*
Also on Friday a colleague suggested we could carry his earth flag and his green flag. I sneaked into his office after a long wet (last) field trip on Friday and grabbed the earth flag. Found the great flagpole my in-laws gave us for Christmas and hoisted up the earth,
No words. The earth: the big blue marble, our planet, home; flapping in the Oklahoma wind.
Perhaps cheesy, perhaps simplistic, but that is it. That's my message.
I march for the home of my kids, my cat, some 250,000 named flowering plant species, myriad insects, a plethera of nematodes, and the 7,386,298,636 others of my kind, and science, an extremely valuable tool in understanding and caring for our home.
I didn't take any pictures at the event, but thought I could just direct you to various pictures of the event because even among the 2,000 or so science supporters, my giant earth flag stood out.
This morning, in his sermon, my pastor thanked me for going (he, too, does not see "religion or science?" as a dichotomous choice). A few images of Oklahoma City made the coverage in the New York Times. The Business Section of today's Oklahoman is a giant spread about wheat streak mosaic virus (science! and not just any science, evolutionary biology science affected by weather and climate with obvious economic implications for the people of Oklahoma) and the Living Section headline is "Science Show" (about Alton Brown) coming to town and there is not one word in any section about the march. Meanwhile, someone on social media asked about the purpose of the march and in the midst of a long and thoughtful conversation from the marchers, concluded, "Oh, so you are for teaching evolution in the classroom. I knew there had to be a hidden agenda."
Our work here is not done.
|March for Science OKC from a drone by Toni Klem|
*I am not writing about the merits of this case, not being well-read in any of the relevant fields. I am writing about the apparent process.