Thousands participated in Miami’s “March for Science” on Earth Day and walked down Biscayne Boulevard wearing lab coats and holding up signs with rising seas, periodic table elements and vaccine shots.
They rallied in unison with the marches around the nation - fueled by threats coming from the White House to cut federal funding from agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
WLRN spoke with participants in Miami and also with Floridians who traveled to Washington D.C. to join one of the largest gatherings in the name of science. Here's what they had to say:
Caroline Lewis, Founder and Executive Director at The CLEO Institute
“Two of my heroes are Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. These men can explain the most complex science in the most beautiful accessible English. We must learn from them. We need to speak like these two men. I told you, everyone of us is a scientist and every scientist is an educator. Let me tell you who else is my hero, Jane Goodall. In 2002 I read an article in Time Magazine and her opening comment was ‘the greatest danger to our future is apathy,’ what I see today is us standing and saying no more apathy.
Another one of my heroes is William Butler Yeats. People ask we all the time, what’s the best definition of education and Butler Yeats got it right. He said, ‘education is not the filling of a pail, it’s the lighting of a fire,’ and I want everyone of us to be an arsonist. I want us to light fires in the hearts and minds of everyone in our circle of influence.”
Dr. Andrea Lucky, Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida
“So the reason I wanted to be here, in D.C., was to show my support for science, but I think also because I work in science and specifically in insect science, I have an understanding of the important role of science and how it touches everybody’s lives.
The government funding of science has allowed a lot of discoveries and benefits to happen. Think about the USDA Labs where so much research is done to help human health to prevent diseases. There are various agencies and institutions that are directly affected by the U.S. government that will allow us to have healthy food, access to foods, safe water, and clean air.
Specifically related to insects, there are so many reasons that we live enjoyable lives that are not affected by insects that most people don’t think about. One of the things I can tell you about insects, for example in Florida - Florida was populated on the heels of mosquito eradication and more importantly malaria eradication. There’s a reason Florida wasn’t densely populated even 100 years ago and part of it had to do with mosquito disease."
Delaney Reynolds, Founder of The Sink or Swim Project and Executive Outreach Coordinator of “March for Science” Miami.
“Especially here in Florida, one of the biggest issues we have to tackle is climate change and sea level rise. South Florida specifically is ground zero and we’re already seeing the effects. Three feet of sea level rise is 100 percent going to happen in my lifetime, so now it’s just a fact as to whether or not it’s going to rise upwards of ten feet, which is what we’re working on solving currently.
Another thing that we face is fracking, and fracking here is a really big deal because our porous limestone geology. All of those toxic chemicals will be released into our water supply, which is very high up in our geology and it will be cancerous and toxic to people. We cannot let that happen.”
Nicolle Brito, Chair of the Women's March Miami Environmental Group
“Science is not a partisan issue, science is a part of our everyday lives. We need science in every aspect, whether it be vaccines, or whether it be technology, we need science to grow to continue to cultivate our society. So, of course, we were going to join in, but then we took a stance asking ‘how about those women in science who are not recognized?’ you see that happening over and over again.
Our campaign was “Women March for Science.” We’re highlighting the many women in the scientific community who have not been recognized properly. Why is it that we put out a flyer of Albert Einstein, and he’s synonymous with science, but then we put a photo of Marie Curie a physicist and chemist who pioneered the study of radiation, and nobody makes the connection to who she is and her contributions. That’s why we’re here today, it was important for us to highlight these cases.”
Greg Hamra, Group Leader of Citizens' Climate Lobby, Miami Chapter
“Getting smart is important. Getting loud is sometimes fun, and can have an effect, but often times we’re preaching to the choir and to ourselves, and the most important people who need to be listening are not. So, getting active is the most important thing. I’m in education because it’s my passion, but I’m in advocacy because it’s my duty, and this is really what we need to do to bridge the partisan divide on climate.”
Jim Teas, Physics Teacher at South-Dade Senior High and Chair of Sierra Club Miami
“I would say as a science teacher, people are not talking enough about science and they need to talk more. They need to know the reality of science, they need to understand what a scientific theory is, and that science is not necessarily permanent, but is subject to change as new information is discovered. Science is always asking questions, but if you think you understand everything, the idea that someone might be looking for other answers might possibly be threatening.”
Jason James, Civil Engineer and Project Manager at CPH Incorporated
“I was telling my nephew, when you look around the Miami skyline, that is all thanks to engineering. You see everything progressing, because you start with an idea and a design - all by the oldest profession which is civil engineering. That’s where it starts, and that impacts society. Civil engineering lets us use the Metromover, it lets us interconnect to cities and expose ourselves to people and different cultures that we wouldn’t have otherwise. If it wasn’t for science and the practice of engineering we wouldn’t have all that.”