An estimated 1,000 people gathered in Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte Saturday to recognize Earth Day and rally for funding for scientific research as a part of a global March for Science.
Fearing a changing climate, federal budget cuts and environmental policies from President Donald Trump, the marchers took to the streets and circled around a few blocks near the park. They demanded support for research funding and evidence-based environmental policies.
Tina Maguylo, a co-organizer for Charlotte’s march, said the main focus was about educating people on how science impacts their daily lives. There were tents set up before the march where participants learned about issues affecting science in fields including climate, health and technology.
Maguylo said she hopes people took what they learned Saturday and were inspired to tell government representatives to not make cuts to science programs.
The march attracted many people from the scientific community, but also people from all educational and job backgrounds showed up in support.
A police official estimated that about 1,000 people attended the rally. Many were weary about the direction of climate change.
Signs at the rally included “There’s no Planet B,” and “I’m with her,” with arrows pointing to Earth. Others made statements with science jokes, including a sign that said “don’t take geology for granite.”
Beth Tibbetts fought back tears as she marched and spoke about her feelings toward Trump’s stance on environmental science.
“Every policy that he does is just an assault,” Tibbetts, of Matthew, said. “Any policy he does regarding the environment is an assault on it.”
Tibbetts said the president’s self-stated view that climate change is a hoax has her worried about the future for her children. “Science is truth, and it’s the closest thing we have to truth,” she said.
Behrooz Bajestani, a civil engineer, held up an image of Earth with the words “protect us” covering the planet. Like most people on Saturday, he wanted scientific-based policies enacted to protect the planet.
“This is the one shot we have at one planet,” Bajestani said.
Charlotte’s march was just one of many rallies throughout the world Saturday, and was part of a larger March for Science effort.
In Raleigh marchers gathered at Shaw University in the morning and walked through downtown to Moore Square, where there was a science fair and rally.
In cities like Seattle, Chicago and New York, thousands gathered in support of the movement.
In Washington, D.C., the hub city for the march, thousands stood on the National Mall, many donning white lab coats in solidarity of the rally.
The effort drew comparisons to the Women’s March, the worldwide day of protest that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration.
Chris Weekley, who was at the rally in Charlotte, said he was pleased with the number of protests since Trump’s election. He hopes the rallies lead to change.
“I’m excited because it’s difficult to maintain a climate of outrage,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that it moved beyond just the day after the inauguration.”
Late in the day, Trump released a statement in recognition of Earth Day, saying he wants to protect the environment with a focus on also protecting workers and businesses.
“We should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate,” Trump said in his statement.
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS