March for Science

Hundreds of Baton Rouge community members gathered for the March for Science at North Boulevard Town Square on Saturday, continuing their route to the Louisiana State Capitol.

The first ever March for Science was held on six continents on April 22 as scientists expressed their support from Antarctica to more than 600 cities including five in Louisiana. The idea for the march formed on Reddit after the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, and came to fruition when countless scientists and organizations supported the notion of a march for science, promising it would be a nonpartisan event.

“This is a historic event as scientists rise out of their laboratories,” Southeastern Louisiana University psychology professor Daniel Chadborn said during his speech, which advocated for a scientific literary society. “Stay consistent, don’t back down and use good information.”

The Baton Rouge march was a grassroots effort organized by local scientists, educators and science advocates who spoke on the steps of the Capitol next to informational booths, educational activities and face painting.

A University Ph.D. student and organizer Gil Ouellette said there is a need to humanize science and get scientists in contact with the public, because there’s a real disconnect between the general public and scientists.

Scientists have been a part of that problem by doing work in the “ivory tower” and then publishing it and talking mostly among themselves, Ouellette said. Scientists aren’t great at talking to the public at large, he added.

Marchers held signs that read, “There is no Planet B,” and “Democracy must be informed by science,” while others opted to adorn their heads with pink knitted brain hats or solar systems.

Front Yard Bikes, a community bike shop, used microengineering to turn a bicycle and trainer into a blender. For a refresher, marchers hopped on the bike with the attached blender and pedaled until an icy, creamy banana mixture created a smoothie.

Cupcake Allie presented the anatomy of the cupcake, reminding everyone that science is a part of the simple pleasures humans often take for granted.

New Orleans-based performer Cafe Au Lait performed a melodic redemption song after the list of speakers and before a “speed round of science,” during which high school and University students encouraged the audience to get involved with science.

“The dismissiveness of climate science, environmental regulation and policy and all hosts of research is disturbing because the data is there, and scientists do not need a politician to tell them if they are right or wrong because that is essentially what the peer review process is for,” march organizer and environmental engineer Rain Araneda said.

To honor Earth Day, March For Science Baton Rouge aimed to make the march and rally a zero waste event and encouraged attendees to bike and check in with Bike Baton Rouge’s free bicycle valet service.

“I think that the march is unbelievably important given the point we are in history,” Araneda said. “We’ve never been at a place, environmentally speaking, that we are now. Glaciers are melting from the inside, and the temperatures of our oceans are so warm that the Great Barrier Reef is almost declared officially dead.”

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