Texans to march for sake of science
‘We want to show … that facts matter,’ says teacher going to D.C.
WASHINGTON — She packed her bags. She confirmed her airline reservation. But before Ylianova Modesto, a preschool teacher, could leave Fort Worth for Washington, D.C., she had to take one final step — printing out the periodic table of elements for her protest sign.
Modesto, 44, is one of many Texans traveling to the nation’s capital for the March for Science. The rally on Saturday is intended to support increased funding for scientific research and the use of scientific evidence in the development of public policy.
There will be sister marches across the country, including in Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton and 13 other Texas cities.
“We want to show people that facts matter,” Modesto said. “That truth matters. That science matters.”
Organizers of the Dallas march say they’re expecting a crowd of 2,000 on Saturday. The march will begin outside City Hall at 10 a.m. and go roughly 2 miles to Fair Park.
In Washington, several thousand people are expected at the Washington Monument, where speakers will include Bill Nye, a famous advocate for science education, as well as climate scientists, pediatricians and biologists.
The idea for the marches originated on the web forum Reddit a few days after the Women’s March on Washington in January. The Women’s March drew hundreds of thousands to D.C. and more crowds in cities across the globe.
Like the Women’s March organizers, the national organizers of the March for Science emphasize that the point is not to antagonize President Donald Trump.
“We’re not here to be a partisan group,” said Daniel Barros, one of the lead organizers of the Dallas march. “We’ve actually had to kick people out of the Facebook group who join because all they want to do is bash the president.”
At the same time, Barros said, Trump’s environmental policies — such as his determination to dismantle the Clean Power Plan and to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget — have clearly galvanized marchers.
“We don’t want to see society take giant steps backward, away from evidence-based policy,” Barros said.
In Dallas and in D.C., marchers hope to draw attention to a variety of causes. Robert Landolt, a retired chemistry professor from Arlington, says one of his chief concerns is Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement on combating global warming. “He’s of a mind to turn things in the wrong direction,” Landolt said.
Landolt, 78, will participate in the Dallas march with his son on Saturday. Next weekend, he’ll fly to D.C. for a separate event — the People’s Climate March — where he plans to wear a shirt that says, “There is no Planet B.”
Modesto, the preschool teacher, says her concerns are also long-term. “I work in pre-K, so I’m always involved in the lives of these little humans,” she said. “I really worry about what kind of environment we’re leaving for them.”
Even before Trump took office, anti-science attitudes were gaining traction, said Eugene O’Donnell, a Dallas engineer helping to organize the local march.
“All of this is happening within the context of reduced NASA funding, national labs having their budgets slashed, the rising acceptance of antivaccine sentiments,” O’Donnell said. “It’s all just sort of come to a boiling point now.”
“Without appreciation of the scientific method, all of the technology that makes this world work — none of it would be possible,” he said. “At the end of the day, facts are important. And facts come from the scientific method.”