March for Science pins were selling three for $10 as activists gathered in support of ‘fact-based governance’ by the edge of Boston Harbor on Saturday.
“We said we’d be back every year until our demands were met,” shouted Graciela Mohamedi, a physics teacher at Rockland High School, who spoke before the crowd of a few hundred people whose demands, they agreed, had not yet been met.
Nearly a year since thousands rallied in the city on Earth Day, the group took to Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in support of local climate initiatives. Dubbed “Science Strikes Back,” the rally was one of 175 worldwide, according to organizers.
Craig Altemose, executive director of the Better Future Project, said this year’s rally, ahead of next Sunday’s Earth Day, was intended to be more locally focused, instead of the Trump-opposition that charged last year’s gathering.
“This is very much about engaging volunteers” and supporting legislation, including a bill currently moving through the state Senate, he said in a phone interview.
State Senator Marc Pacheco took the stage to stump for the bill he said would help the Bay State meet its sustainability goals.
The Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future, which Pacheco said has advanced to the Ways and Means Committee, will put Massachusetts on par with other states including New York, New Jersey, and California in limiting dependence on fossil fuels.
“Red Sox Nation, let’s stand up and lead again,” he said from the podium.
But for other attendees, the legislative specifics were less important than getting scientists and other researchers involved to drive policy.
“We’re seeing more and more scientists stepping out of the lab,” said Shreya Durvasula, an outreach coordinator with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which was founded at MIT.
“I think they’ve always had the responsibility” to be advocates, she said, “but now they are seeing the consequences of staying on the sidelines.”
That hits home for Jim Mulloy, a rally organizer who was working full time as a leukemia researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital when he decided to become a climate activist on the North Shore.
Years ago, he watched Al Gore’s film and bought a Prius, he said in a phone interview. But looking at climate data in 2012 changed his life, he said.
“We are taught that fear is not a motivating factor, but, you know, it’s what motivated me that the future is in trouble.”
He cut back on his research, taking an adjunct position to be able to spend most of his time as an advocate for climate change issues.
“I’m not thrilled to have to be giving up everything I’ve been working for my whole life to wake people up.”
But, he said, “we need to defend science.”
Lucas Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.