Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist who admittedly has a “crush” on the scientific method.
“It is elegant and reliable and able to answer questions how the world around us works,” she said earlier this month at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “Science forms the foundation of policy decisions.” But she added emphatically: “Our government has been less committed to that principle.”
The adjunct professor at New York University is deep into science, yes, but she never thought she would be taking to the streets on its behalf. But she is.
After Donald Trump was elected President, Johnson’s scientific colleagues rushed to preserve their archive material, worried about the removal of data. Now she is one of the organizers of today’s March for Science, which is expected to coordinate about 428 marches in this country and around the world, with 100 partner organizations. Scientists are worried about governments – the U.S. and elsewhere – becoming increasingly hostile toward science. A teach-in also will be part of the event, co-coordinated by the Earth Day Network.
“I’d never thought I’d be helping to organize a March for Science because I never expected in my entire professional career to be threatened,” Johnson said. “But the silencing of scientists,” she added, “hit my core.” The prospect that the administration would “simply eliminate data” that sets the course of evidence-based policy was untenable, she added.
Johnson told the Observer she thinks her profession is “at risk” under President Donald Trump. She is the founder of the Ocean Collectiv consulting group, which “employs a social justice-oriented approach to the preservation and protection of the sea,” the Observer said..
Trump’s proposed budget is leaving scar tissue on health and science plans. For example, the administration’s proposed spending plan for the National Institute of Health includes a $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion.
“Science and evidence-based policy making is under attack,” Caroline Weinberg, national co-chair of the Science March, said during the Press Club forum, noting an array of issues, ranging from cutbacks to the EPA, and “aggressive silencing” of scientists.
There has been “heightened anxiety and distrust,” added Christine McEntee, executive director of the American Geophysical Union.
Johnson, co-director of partnerships for the Science March, said the team’s effort is only beginning in the continual fight for truthful science and policymaking that is “broad, diverse and inclusive.”
— By Joe Cantlupe-