Second Annual March for Science: Another Year of Funding Fights

A man silently protests at the March for Science Saturday afternoon. April 14, 2018. Photo by Chloe Grinberg / BU News Service

By Sabrina Schnur
BU News Service

BOSTON – More than 400 people carried signs, sang and marched at the March for Science in Christopher Columbus Park in the North End Saturday in solidarity with nationwide marches for the second year in a row.

Craig Altemose, executive director at the Better Future Project, an organizer of the March for Science, said beforehand he is hoping the march inspires some immediate results at the legislative level.

“Unfortunately, the need to have science-based policy has not decreased,” Altemose said. “We haven’t seen a broad uptake in respect for science or a dramatic increase in funding for science. Particularly for climate change, which is, in my mind, the biggest threat facing humanity right now.”

Altemose said he hopes to see a greater respect for fact-based conclusions and more encouragement for research to find conclusions.

“We’ve seen a very worrisome trend in recent years that when facts lead to a conclusion folks don’t like, their solution is to then deny the facts as opposed to just come to terms that we might need a different policy outcome than they would like,” Altemose said.

Altemose said Governor Baker is both helping and hurting in the fight to slow climate change with his recent funding and propositions.

“He is simultaneously looking to fund all this allocation money to help communities adapt to climate impact, which is wonderful,” Altemose said. “But he’s also looking to fund new fossil fuel pipeline construction, which is just going to mean we’re going to need to spend that much more money adapting to climate change because it will be worse.”

Dr. Graciela Mohamedi, a Boston native and former U.S. Marine, said during the March for Science last year she stood in the crowd fighting for funding education, accepting the truth of climate change and achieving equity.

“We stood in the cold and in the rain, and we promised that we would be back every year until our demands were meant,” Mohamedi said. “So here we are again — standing in the cold to remind our representatives that science matters.”

Mohamedi is a physics and engineering professor and lecturer at Boston University and said she speaks on behalf of a job that should spark intellectual development.

“As a person, I believe that every child has the right to a quality education,” Mohamedi said. “As a science educator, it is my job to ensure that the inherent scientific curiosity of all of my students is nurtured.”

Mohamedi spoke about bill S2325 which would better allocate funding equally to schools throughout Massachusetts and therefore limit the disparity that comes with property tax funding. The current law allows areas with higher property taxes to better fund their schools disproportionately.

“You don’t need a PhD to see that segregation within our elementary and secondary education leads to a segregated workforce, a segregated scientific community,” Mohamedi said. “Education is a right not just for the rich and the white.”

Dr. Christopher Barsotti, an emergency medicine physician, spoke on the need for more research funding, specifically pertaining to gun violence, which he often sees first hand.

Barsotti used examples such an opioid prevention, car crashes and HIV to show how research and funding helped alleviate these national issues.

“We, as a society, have not invested in research,” Barsotti said. “You will never figure out how to solve a public health crisis without investing in the process.”

Residents throughout New England came to show support for a second year in a row and advocate for more funding and better recognition of scientific contributions.

Dan Cooper, a 35-year-old Somerville resident, said he and his brother Doug, a 40-year-old living in Nashua, New Hampshire, have come to both marches. Dan Cooper said science isn’t respected and he’d like to see that change.

“It’s not given the credence it deserves, and the fact that fact isn’t something that’s universally respected is kind of a sad state of affairs,” Dan Cooper said.

Boston College freshmen Carmen Hamm, an environmental science major, and Chloe Zensky, a political science major, came to fight for better policy.

“I’m really interested in sustainable agriculture,” Zensky said. “I’d like to see better farming and agriculture policies in the United States because I think they have a really big impact on everything else.”

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