Marching for science in Plumas County
The Plumas County March for Science may have been the smallest of those held in 600 cities around the world. What it lacked in numbers, however, was more than compensated for in enthusiasm, original signage and commitment.
Over 130 people from women in walkers to babies in backpacks showed up on the grassy plaza next to the county courthouse in Quincy to support independent research free of partican politics.
The festive mood and creative signs ("Got plague? Me neither! Thank science!") belied the seriousness of the moment in United States history: a time then the president doubts the reality of climate change and belittles scientists; a time when decades of data is being dismantled and hidden from public view; a time when the office of the U.S.Secretary of Energy went from a Nobel Prize winner in physics to a cowboy who couldn't remember the three federal departments he wanted to eliminate.
This is also a time when species and places have demonstrated that they retain the ability to recover from even the most horrific of tolls humans have inflicted upon them. Take the California Condor, back from the brink of extinction with more than half the birds flying free in the wild. If we can eliminate the lead bullets that continue to poison them, scientists believe their populations will rebound and expand around the West. Even Chernobyl forests are recovering from the nuclear disaster visited upon northern Ukraine and beyond. All it took was removing human populations from their midst.
"Science is telling us to act now," said Linda Cayot, science advisor for the Galapagos Conservancy who has worked for conservation on the Galapagos Islands for more than 30 years. "It escapes me why anyone would want to stop that search for knowledge.
The marchers paraded past the county courthouse and the historic Methodist Church nearly a half-mile to Safeway. Then they returned to their rural lives, where some work as full-time scientists, some as advocates for science, some dedicated to the schooling that will produce new scientific ideas for sustaining the planet. If only we buy them enough time.