No president has ever entered the White House threatening to do as much damage to our environment as Donald Trump. The first weeks of his presidency have shown he is focused on swiftly turning his campaign promises into a bitter reality.
As a scientist and conservationist, I’ve watched Trump’s actions with profound alarm. Along with the Republican-controlled Congress, the new administration is working to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, gut the Endangered Species Act, raid our public lands and pollute our waterways. Using “alternative facts” to justify damaging and dangerous decisions, the Trump administration’s willingness to dispose of scientific integrity threatens our most vital environmental safeguards.
Yet a silver lining has emerged: Millions of people across the country are hitting the streets to mobilize against Trump’s damaging agenda. Inauguration Day protests, the women’s marches and Not My President Day rallies across the county highlight a growing movement of resistance.
The sadness I felt on Election Day was replaced with hope after I marched alongside nearly a hundred thousand people with shared core values at the Women’s March in St. Paul. When we act together, our power multiplies, helping inspire us to keep fighting for change.
The March for Science
The March for Science seeks to celebrate, support and safeguard the scientific community. As march organizers explain, “The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.”
This matters to me because science is the foundation of my work protecting rare wildlife as a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit focused on endangered species protection.
Because of the science-based standards of the Endangered Species Act, my center colleagues and I use facts and data to evaluate threats to wildlife and establish need for the act’s species-saving protections. As a lawyer and scientist, I work to ensure that wildlife management is based on science, and I use the law to challenge agency decisions that run counter to that science.
Much deeper than just a job, being a scientist is part of my self-identity. Although solidified during my undergraduate work in biology and my graduate work in wildlife conservation, my love and respect for science started in my childhood. Thirsty to learn about all things nature and wildlife, I participated in activities like science fair and Girl Scouts and spent most my childhood outdoors observing science in nature.
Speaking up for scientific integrity
Now I hope to instill a similar respect for the importance of science with my own school-aged children, who share my love for nature and wildlife. That’s why they’re joining me on the trip to D.C. for the March for Science. I want them to see people from all backgrounds, from all across the country, from laboratories and field stations, coming together to speak up for scientific integrity.
I hope participating in the March for Science is a formative experience for my children and helps me continue to stay inspired and hopeful amid the constant stream of bad news out of the Trump administration. And even after the march is over, I hope people continue to defend science at all levels – from our local schools to our federal agencies.
Scientific integrity is critical to the future of our planet. It’s time to stand up and defend it like never before.
Collette Adkins is a scientist and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
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