Local March on Science event brings great turnout

News Photos by Tyler Winowiecki ABOVE: Marchers make their way across the bridge on the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail during the Alpena March For Science Saturday. The route started at the NOAA center and headed to Chisholm Street before reaching Culligan Plaza. BELOW: Roughly 250 people gathered at Culligan Plaza to listen to two distinguished scientists speak on the importance of science and the need to promote more evidence based public policy.

ALPENA — Following the lead of other marches across the world, more than 200 concerned citizens from the region took part in the Alpena March for Science Saturday afternoon.

The march, with the aim of promoting evidence based public policy, started at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration center and meandered to Chisholm Street ultimately stopping at Culligan Plaza.

NOAA, which regulates the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is just one of the federal agencies which carries out scientific research and is targeted with draconian budget cuts through President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. NOAA in particular is facing a 17 percent budget cut.

Event Coordinator Jim Shaffer said the event hosted by People For Social Justice drew in a large cross section of the community including current and former scientists, doctors, nurses, academia leaders, professors and teachers along with many others.

“The purpose of the march was to build science awareness and make sure people were aware of the role science plays here in Alpena,” Shaffer said. “The NOAA station, the (Thunder Bay) National Marine Sanctuary and Thunder Bay which is protected by the (Environmental Protection Agency’s) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and even the Alpena Community College drone program are all benefactors of science.”

Shaffer also highlighted the fisheries management on Lake Huron and the various inland lakes as means in which scientific research was a benefit to Northeast Michigan.

The roughly 250 marchers — which stretched multiple blocks while on Chisholm St. — carried signs which among them read ‘There Is No Planet B’ and ‘Stand Up For Science.’ Chants declaring their purpose as ‘science, science, science’ could often be heard during the crowds’ procession.

One family collected garbage from the sidewalk as they marched — the march’s date also coincided with the celebration of Earth Day.

Participants made their way to Culligan Plaza where computer scientist Dr. Nathaniel Borenstein and University of Michigan research scientist Dr. Carlos Mora spoke to the crowd.

Borenstein referenced Galileo Galilei and his forced recant of his claim that the earth revolved around the sun after facing religious persecution. But he said not all science denial were of the same concern as climate change denial was compounding the problems already affecting the earth.

“Just as Galileo was vindicated by later generations, we can if necessary leave arguments about evolution to our grandchildrens’ grandchildren,” he said. “Those of us alive today must focus on the issue that threatens the entire world today.”

Mora used his speech to address how deeply humans are interconnected with the earth they inhabit. He said this was why it was important to be conscious when making decisions impacting the earth.

“Instead of being an isolated entity, we could see the human life as a riverbed through which the material of this earth flow,” he said.

Tyler Winowiecki can be reached via email at twinowiecki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Tyler on Twitter tw_alpenanews.