Demonstrators Celebrate Facts and Fear Funding Cuts at Concord Science March

Apr 23, 2017

People gathered in Concord and Portsmouth on Saturday as part of the March for Science event, which took place in cities around the world. The event was organized in response to the Trump administration’s position towards climate change and proposed funding cuts.

  With American flags, painted lab coats, strollers and dogs, a couple thousand people filled city blocks. One was dressed as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, one played a flute, and many carried homemade signs as they walked.

“Fund Research - Not War,” “Climate Change – Not an Alternative Fact,” “Demand Evidence and Think Critically.”

Zach Jonas works with New Leaders Council, New Hampshire. He was at the march helping out at the free food table, and had been paying attention to signs too.  “I saw someone walking around with a sign that that was just 'The Scientific Process,'" he said. "Right, like research and review it and peer review and all that, like it was revolutionary, and it’s sad that you have to put that on a protest sign and I wish it wasn’t the case."

Ellen Townes-Anderson and her husband at the Concord March for Science.
Credit Cori Princell

Ellen Townes-Anderson drove up for the march from New Boston.  She’s a professor working on blindness, commuting to Rutgers University, and she sees good reason to be nervous.  Her research funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, one of the federal agencies set to lose funding under President Trump's budget plan.

“The current budget proposes almost a 20% cut in NIH funding. It will be devastating. I’ve already had to let one person go from my lab, and I’m just hoping that I won’t have to let more go,” she said.

After the march, there were speeches. Melody Burkins, a professor at Dartmouth, told the story of how she was inspired to enter science by watching the northern lights, and how science then led her think about the importance of bringing people together.

“I haven’t seen the numbers yet but at last count there were estimates of 10s of 1000s in 500 countries around the world from Greenland to Australia…” she said. “… and when these marches are done today, our work has only just begun, our voices local and global must continue to be heard, letting our elected officials know that we demand support for good independent science and honest governance....Thank you everyone for bringing your voices here today to this march, thank you for bringing your voices here for this march, thank you for standing up for science!"

And it was at around that point a cold rain began to fall on this New Hampshire Earth Day, and people began to head home.