By Lauren Frias and Kiran Kishor Galani
More than 5,000 scientists and supporters of the cause gathered at Copley Square to take part in the “Rally to Stand Up for Science” on Sunday to protest the anti-science rhetoric they feel the current administration promotes. With the crowd ranging from children to older intellectuals who had dedicated their life to scientific development, the diverse crowd displayed their support for the scientific community.
The rally featured 11 speakers who all spoke out against the lack of support for science in this political climate. Attendees of the event were encouraged to make their own posters in support of science as well as create their own chants to chant at the rally.
Amanda Mourant, one of the main organizers, opened the rally by highlighting the important role science plays in our lives.
“We’re here because science serves the common good,” Mourant said during the rally. “It protects the health of our communities, the safety of our families, our children’s education. It’s the foundation of our economy. It creates jobs and the future that we all want to live in and preserve for the coming generations. Scientists are real life superheroes.”
She said the rally for science was held on Sunday specifically to run in junction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, which was taking place in Boston at the same time. She said this annual conference was the largest gathering of scientists from all over the world since President Donald Trump had been elected, creating a larger, louder voice that begged to be heard.
“This seemed like the right time to take a stand for science considering there were so many scientists from different fields right here who knew exactly how much of an impact this anti-science rhetoric would create,” she said.
One of the rally attendees, Aliza Stone, 23, of Cambridge, said she went to the rally for the reason Mourant mentioned before. Though she said she believes the Boston rally, specifically, won’t create change on a larger scale, she said the rally allows for people with similar beliefs to connect and form bigger groups to protest for what they believe in.
“I think this is one of the most important, if not the most important, repercussion of what’s going on in the world right now,” Stone said. “It’s scary that we have to come support the fact that facts are important. I wanted to be a part of a group that was protesting it.”
Several scientists and local science professors spoke at the rally. One of the speakers, Jacquelyn Gill, a professor of paleoecology at the University of Maine and host of the Warm Regards Podcast, noted that the fight for science was one that reaped benefits for more than just scientists alone.
“Standing up for science means standing up for those who stand to lose the most when our scientific institutions come under attack,” Gill said. “Those people who have the most to lose are not the scientists … you are all the ones who stand to gain or lose the most when those institutions come under attack. Standing up for science is for everyone.”
Another speaker, Chiamaka Obilo, a high school senior at Boston Latin Academy and action fellow at the Alliance for Climate Education, agreed with Gill, also commenting on how it was up to her rising generation to deal with climate issues. However, she said those individuals will not be armed with knowledge if science education is continually shunned on this topic.
“The effects of climate change will transcend generations, and my generation must be equipped to confront this challenge,” Obilo said. “We must start allied campaigns with the youth, going from door to door spreading the truth. In this new era of activism, we must make our voices heard and make our presence along with the facts visible to the citizens of the world.”
Katherine Kerr, a lab technician at the Wentworth Institute of Technology who attended the rally, said she was concerned by the fact that some people, especially those in power, label scientific fact as fiction.
“I’m really, really alarmed by a population that seems to hold facts in contempt, that will try to argue things that are simply not true,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t recognize that there is a difference between things understood by the scientific process and opinion.”
Mourant expressed a similar sentiment, adding that she hopes to “get more people invested and interested in the cause by showing them what’s at stake, especially with the Trump administration and their allies in Congress who don’t believe in climate science.”
But her main thoughts and ultimate goals of the rally were targeted at elected government employees.
“More than anything else, we’re holding elected officials accountable by calling out the denial, distortion and disinformation that are blocking bold action on climate change.”