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March for Science

Over 2,000 people participated in Birmingham's March for Science. Photo courtesy of Mark Linn


Mark Linn

Contributing Writer

Thousands of scientists and their supporters turned out Saturday, April 22, at Linn Park as part of the national March for Science.

Organizers say the march was intended to be both a celebration of science and a protest against what they see as threats to research and education brought about by funding cuts and political priorities. They say the goals of the march were to promote science, science education and science-based public policy.

Organizers estimate that the call to action brought out more than 2,000 demonstrators as well as more than a dozen science and advocacy organizations such as the McWane Science Center, 500 Women Scientists, AIDS Alabama and the Alabama Rivers Alliance, who all had tables set up in the park. The event was staged to coincide with the March for Science in Washington, D.C. along with more than 500 other satellite marches across the world, including three others across the state in Mobile, Huntsville and Montgomery.

“I think the march went very well today,” said Jeff Hirschy, one of Birmingham's March For Science organizers. “The speakers and the organizations that were represented showed everyone in attendance the importance of science in our everyday life. We hope that today’s events serve as a starting point on the path toward a stronger relationship between the public and science in Birmingham.”

The event also featured several speakers from the science and activist communities. Leslie Hendon, Ph.D., a professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Biology, spoke on what the public can do for science. Mitch Reid, of the Alabama River Alliance, spoke of clean water. Randall Haddock, Ph.D., field director of the Cahaba River Society talked about the importance of conservation.

"Everyone should feel invested in math and science — that’s the only way funding for science and protection from special interests can be assured,” said Robin Rains, a local activist and one of the speakers at the area's march. “Environmental conservation wasn’t always so divisive, public education wasn’t always divisive — even climate change and evolution weren’t divisive until special interests caused them to be. The only way to safeguard anything in our country is for everyone to feel invested in it. Science should be regarded as something of universal benefit."

The organizers hope that the march will be just a start for science advocacy in Alabama. Birmingham March for Science has several other events planned, including a panel on health care, advocacy for local science education and promoting local Birmingham and statewide groups such as the Cahaba River Society.

To find out more about the Birmingham March for Science visit marchforsciencebham.org

Mark Linn serves on the March for Science Communications Team and can be reached at mark@marchforsciencebhm.org.
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