March for Science
Marchers held signs with pro-science messages Saturday, April 22, 2017, at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Michael Duncan)

Like so many teachers, I had hoped to share April 22 with anonymous online scribe SomeDam Poet, and I wasn’t disappointed. The educator/poet had posted his verse, How I plan to celebrate earth day, on Diane Ravitch’s blog. The bard wrote:

For Earth Day Forty Seven
I plan to chop a tree
To honor Earthly Heaven
I’ll drill in Arctic sea

This year, Earth Day was celebrated in conjunction with the March for Science. Both were doubly important because we have a president who also implicitly promises, as SomeDam wrote:

I’ll bring back dirty coal
And with it, lung disease
The things enviros stole
Through hugging of the trees

I’ll shutter EPA
And end the Species Act
Polluters shouldn’t pay
And grizzlies should be sacked

Marches for Science were held on Earth Day in hundreds of cities around the world. The timing enhanced the turnout; the first 100 days of the Trump administration will conclude April 29. Not surprisingly, environmentalism was a key theme at March for Science events, because, as one sign said: There is no Planet B.

Perhaps the second-most common Earth Day/March for Science theme was frustration with the Alt Truth and the disregard of evidence. Marchers proclaimed: “I Can’t Believe I’m Marching for Facts,” “Make America Cool Again” and “Make America Think Again.” Another said: “I’m Not a Mad Scientist. I’m Absolutely Furious.”

The same type of humor that was on display on marchers’ signs across the nation was prominent Saturday at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Sometimes, the March for Science conveyed a humorous and explicitly anti-Trump message, such as: “Hey Trump, science made Twitter.” Other times, as a sign in Oklahoma City showed, the humor trumped politics: “Science made beer possible.”

Another local sign said: “Trump and atoms make up everything.”

The tone of the protest in Oklahoma City was far wonkier than any march I’ve attended. A scientist announced: “Grab him by the data,” while another said, “Alternative facts are NOT statistically significant.” A group of Oklahomans sang:

What do we want?
Evidenced-based science.
When do we want it?
After peer review!

The surprisingly large turnout on a cold, damp Oklahoma City spring day was a reminder of how we need to stop taking objective research for granted. It also reinforced the shame that politicians play so fast and loose with the facts. As one OKC sign said:

Have polio?
I don’t either, thanks to science

The Earth Day/March for Science crowds produced great news coverage, including interviews with Bill Nye the Science Guy. However, the last word on Earth Day 2017 should go to SomeDam Poet:

“The March of Science”

As science marches on
Deniers will be gone
Cuz scientists don’t care
What “alter facts” are there

And Nature can’t be fooled
Though some are bound to try
By Nature we are ruled
From birth until we die