15,000 MARCH FOR SCIENCE IN SAN DIEGO IN PLEA TO POLICY MAKERS

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Story and photos by Chris Stone

Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association.

April 23, 2017 (San Diego) - Ralph Keeling and Lynn Talley of Scripps Institution of Oceanography aren’t household names. But they lent their scientific weight Saturday to an event that attracted a reported 15,000 people downtown.

While Washington’s March for Science commanded most media attention, San Diego’s walk gave the area’s scientific community a more accessible public face as members called for stronger support from policy-makers.

At one point in the rally, the call went out to scientists to identify themselves. Many hands rose.

A typical chant: “What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!”

Signs reflected a wide range of issues, including global warming, medical research, vaccination and proposed budget cuts.

The San Diego March for Science was one of hundreds in the United States and worldwide marking Earth Day to raise awareness of the contributions of science to society, and the importance of supportive public policy, organizers said.

The event kicked off with remarks from area scientists at the Community Concourse in the Civic Center complex next to City Hall, followed by the march down Broadway to the Waterfront Park outside the County Administration Center.

Marchers carried signs saying “build science not walls,” “ice has no agenda it just melts,” “we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” “there is no planet B,” “no science? no beer,” “climate change is real,” “science rocks,” and “science makes America great,” among many others.

The march received support from both UC San Diego and Balboa Park’s Fleet Science Center.

In Los Angeles, the LAPD estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people made the trek from Pershing Square to City Hall starting at 11 a.m.

In pre-march remarks, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, criticized the Trump administration. “Policy should be guided by scientific consensus. Scientific facts not `alternative facts,”‘ he said. “Donald Trump can’t stop global warming just by emitting an unprecedented volume of hot air.”

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon brought up immigration during remarks at City Hall. “One-half of our scientists in California today are immigrants.”

The group also heard from Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility in Los Angeles. “Today the Cold War is over and the nuclear threat is not,” she said. “There is no meaningful medical response to a nuclear war” except disarmament.

— City News Service contributed to this report.