President Trump Defends Environmental Record on Earth Day

Tens of thousands hit the streets of San Francisco Saturday to march for science.

"We can and must protect our environment without harming America's working families", Trump said.

A protestor at the Los Angeles March For Science rally.

Scientists and science enthusiasts gather prior to the start of the March for Science outside the Science Museum in central London, April 22, 2017.

In Paris, a banner in French read: "We are the resistance against the orange menace in Washington!".

"Many people seem to be forgetting those facts and it's been frustrating to watch as certain forces in our society try to squelch science or their refusal to believe in it or propose alternative realities and facts", said musician Questlove, a co-host for the march in Washington, D.C.

This series of marches, on Earth Day, puts scientists - who generally shy away from advocacy and whose work depends on objective experimentation - into a more public position.

Demonstrators said they are concerned about climate change, and are demanding the Trump administration invest in environmental efforts like cleaner air and water, and not defund them.

"We need to invest in people and the environment", he said.

Shant Stepanian, a software developer, said science had become politicised and that Republicans pushing for smaller government in general, were looking to cut funding for science programmes. "We want science to be the forefront in our policy-making so that we can stop wasting so much of our resources", said Womboldt.

Trump's proposed 2018 budget calls for deep spending cuts by government science agencies, including a 31 percent reduction for the Environmental Protection Agency. She said "climate change is happening" and scientists are needed to help understand how shifting weather patterns are affecting the world.

Marcher Jeanne Walton an eighth-grade science teacher at Central York Middle School in York, Pa., said she anxious about the effect of some current political rhetoric on her young students.

The organisers of Earth Day have framed the march as a "celebration" of science to counter a growing disregard for evidence-based knowledge.

The people attending the march included children passionate about science and their parents, including Derek Womboldt from Lansing, Michigan, who attended with his two sons, Connor and Dylan, and his wife, Becky. In Berlin, several thousand people participated in a march from one of the city's universities to the landmark Brandenburg Gate.

But as many signs at the March for Science offered a chilling reminder that "There is no Planet B" - that should be food for thought regardless of what side of the aisle you're on.

Nye reminded the crowd that science has provided the USA and the global community the infrastructure and standard of living that we have today.

Organisers said they hoped the day's demonstrations result in sustained, coordinated action aimed at persuading elected officials to adopt policies consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change, vaccines and other issues.

  • Essie Rivera