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Thousands Celebrated Earth Day by Marching for Science in St. Pete

By SHELLY STECK REALE, Correspondent, TB Reporter

Scientists, politicians, activists and everyday people marched in St. Petersburg on Saturday to celebrate science, data and facts

ST. PETERSBURG – Between 2,000 and 5,000 of them flooded into Poynter Park.

Scientists, doctors, engineers, and professors, stood shoulder to shoulder with community residents, young and old.

They came to stand together; raise their voices, and pull strength from one another during Saturday’s (April 22) March for Science St. Petersburg, one of more than 600 “satellite” marches taking place globally on Earth Day Saturday (April 22) in solidarity with the National March for Science in Washington.

“It’s time scientists speak up and let the politician know that we’re important. Without science, our modern society would not be even close to what it is today. It’s time we were heard”, said Mark Hardies, 59, who had traveled from New Port Richey to participate in the march.

March for Science 13Hardies, who teaches mathematics and physics at St. Petersburg College, joined other SPC faculty members who had run across one another among the crowd. Shannon Ulrich, 34, Professor of microbiology at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater campus, carried her 16-month-old daughter, Jordon, in one arm and hoisted a sign that read in part: Science is the Wall to protect us! Fund that wall!

“I think that exclusion prevents progression. In science we have so many people who are from other counties, who have made huge, significant contributions to science. I think we need to focus on that. Instead of keeping people out, we need to be letting people in,” Ulrich said.

Steve Schultz, 56, of Safety Harbor, a professor of biological science at SPC, said, “Science is about fact. It’s about truth. It’s not about misinformation. Unfortunately, many in this current administration seem bent on disseminating alternative facts.”

March for ScienceMarch for Science 5TMarch for Science 9he event launched with a rally. Attendees gathered in a sea around the circular stage raising signs that read: Science is not a Liberal Conspiracy and Know Science, Know Health; No Science, No Health. Several read Facts Matter! and Planet Over Profits. Speakers covered a range of issues from climate change to health care advances, from clean energy to clean water. Despite the fact that it was billed as a nonpartisan event, nearly all of the speakers and many of the attendees spoke against the stance of President Donald Trump and the Republican party on climate change, energy policies, and the use of “alternative facts” rather than verifiable facts.

“Some say it’s dangerous to mix science with politics,” said St. Petersburg City Council member, Darden Rice. “But to say that is to naively ignore the role that bold, forward thinking leadership provides that make the support and creation of scientific institutions possible in the first place. It would be to ignore the importance and the responsibility of elected leaders to use evidence-based science and peer-reviewed publications as the basics for sound public policy.”

Rice called on audience members to hold elected officials responsible when it comes to supporting the sciences.

March for Science 3“We have an administration in Washington that doesn’t fully embrace what we are talking about here today; so we must talk. We must be heard,” U.S.Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, told the crowd. He encouraged attendees to be active and engaged; to make a difference with their voice and their vote.

“Be encouraged. Be inspired. Be optimistic because the future is coming, and it’s you,” Crist said.

Dr. David Hastings, Professor of Marine Science and Chemistry at Eckerd College reminded attendees that science is not partisan: “It’s not Republican. It’s not Democrat. It doesn’t vote red or blue or green. The data doesn’t care.”

But, he warned, “this is a frightening time. We are here today because, at all levels, sound science is being disregarded and honesty has little or no currency.”

Dr. Karyna Rosario, research associate at the Marine Genomics Laboratory, University of South Florida, said, “We cannot afford to jeopardize scientific endeavors, buy censoring information and facts just because they might be inconvenient. As scientists, we are in the business of searching for knowledge based on facts and evidence. And so should everyone. As a society, we cannot allow ourselves to think that it is okay to dismiss facts.”

March for Science 10March for Science 11March for Science 18When the speakers finished, the marchers took to the street. Some chanted, “This is what democracy looks like”; others shouted, “Science not silence.”

For information about the March for Science St. Petersburg, go to facebook.com.

For audios of the speeches, click on this tbreporter.com link.

Photos by Shelly Steck Reale, correspondent, TB Reporter. Aerial photos special to TB Reporter by Cyndie Natoli LaPlume.

March for Science | March for Science St. Petersburg | Science | Charlie Crist | Darden Rice | Politics | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

March for Science | March for Science St. Petersburg | Science | Charlie Crist | Darden Rice | Politics | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Thousands Celebrated Earth Day by Marching for Science in St. Pete
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Thousands Celebrated Earth Day by Marching for Science in St. Pete
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Scientists, politicians, activists and everyday people marched in St. Petersburg on Saturday to celebrate science, data and facts
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TB Reporter
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