In Dallas and D.C., Texans Prepare to March for the Sake of Science

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.Modesto, 44, is one of many Texans traveling to the nation’s capitol for the March for Science. The rally on Saturday 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.”She’s never been to D.C. before -- but her main concern is making sure that the marchers remember to recycle. After all, Saturday is Earth Day.“If I need to, I’ll be the cleaning crew,” Modesto said. “We want to leave the streets cleaner than they were when we got there.”Dallas organizers say they're expecting a crowd of roughly 2,000 on Saturday. The march will begin outside Dallas City Hall at 10 a.m., and walk roughly two miles to Fair Park.Several thousand attendees are also expected at the Washington Monument in D.C., where speakers will include Bill Nye, a famous advocate for scientific education, as well as climate scientists, pediatricians and biologists.The idea for the March for Science originated on the web forum Reddit, a few days after the Women’s March on Washington. The women's march drew hundreds of thousands to D.C. and more record-breaking crowds to affiliate marches across the globe.Like the Women’s March organizers, the national organizers of the March for Science have tried to emphasize that their goals are nonpartisan. 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 his plan to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency -- have clearly galvanized marchers who weren’t previously active.“The election was sort of a wake-up call,” Barros said. “I think it shook people up who’d been happy with the status quo.”“We don’t want to see society take giant steps backward, away from evidence-based policy,” he added.The goals of the marchIn 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 Paris Agreement, a 2015 plan signed by almost 200 countries to reduce carbon pollution and combat global warming.“He’s of a mind to turn things in the wrong direction,” Landolt said. “By raising awareness of the importance of dealing with climate change, maybe we can influence decision-making down the road.”Landolt, 78, will participate in the Dallas March for Science 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.”He said he reflects on the goals of the March for Science every day.“Climate change is the greatest possible problem for our planet, in the long run, and in the short run, it has already had effects,” Landolt said. “ I’m not just talking to hear my teeth rattle.”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," Modesto said. "I really worry about what kind of environment we're leaving for them."And Diana Johnson, 52, said her list of specific worries gets longer by the day. She said before the 2016 election, she wasn't much of an activist. Her political involvement was limited to voting in presidential elections.“I’m not exactly excited about oil drilling,” Johnson, a telecommunications expert from The Colony, said. “Global warming, pollution, so much deregulation.“Never in my life have I been so engaged in government,” Johnson said. “But I just couldn’t imagine having a leader of the United States denying so much regarding science.”Trump’s environmental stanceJohnson’s long list of concerns only capture some of the conflicts that Trump has had with environmental activists since taking office.Trump drew criticism for putting Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, in charge of the EPA. Pruitt, who has hinted that he would be comfortable dismantling the agency entirely, has also said he does not believe that carbon dioxide emissions are a “primary contributor” to global warming, which contradicts decades of research by climate scientists.The Trump administration also approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which thousands of Native American activists had opposed, in large part for environmental reasons. The pipeline will transport hundreds of thousands of oil a day close to the source of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s drinking water.And on the issue of global warming overall, Trump has made statements all over the map. In 2012, Trump went so far as to assert that the entire concept of global warming was “created by and for the Chinese,” with the purpose of making U.S. manufacturing “non-competitive.”Trump’s views contradict a broad scientific consensus and decades of data showing that the planet’s climate is shifting. The last three years have been the hottest on the historical record, each consecutive year hotter than the last.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 anti-vaccine sentiments,” O’Donnell said. “It’s all just sort of come to a boiling point now.”O’Donnell, who will run a sign-making station at the Dallas rally, said he’s marching to defend the scientific process overall, instead of focusing on any one particular goal.“Without appreciation of the scientific method, all of the technology that makes this world work -- none of it would be possible,” O’Donnell said. “At the end of the day, facts are important. And facts come from the scientific method.”“If we can’t have an agreement about the facts, nothing productive can get done,” he added.If you goDallas March for Science9 a.m., rally at Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla; 10 a.m.; march to Fair Park Fort Worth March for Science12 p.m.-3 p.m. UNT Health Science Center 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas Denton March for Science1-3 p.m., University of North Texas Environmental Science Building, 1704 W Mulberry St.pinHide MapUNT Environmental Science Bldg 1704 W Mulberry St, Denton, Texas 76203  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us