The Long March for our Future — from Earth Day to the People’s Climate March

This weekend is Earth Day. Saturday is also the March for Science in Washington, D.C. and in cities across the country.

The two are inextricably linked. As has always been the case, good policy is based on facts. And when it comes to most of the underpinnings of our environmental and public health work, that often means science.

Unfortunately, we’re living in a time where lies are presented as ‘alternative facts’ and science is pooh-poohed as theory. Thus, the essence of Saturday’s March and this year’s Earth Day is standing up for science, for truth, for facts and for basic integrity.

While we certainly don’t want to ‘politicize’ science or scientists, it’s hard to imagine anything more compelling than standing up for science if we want to protect our families’ health, keep our air and water clean and ensure our special places are conserved and our planet is livable for generations to come.

It is science that has helped us prove that the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming and that global warming is leading to extreme weather events. It is science that was used to determine that no amount of lead exposure is safe for kids and that neonics are leading to the die-off of our bees. Science shows us that wetlands help prevent flooding while providing a buffer between pollution and our drinking water sources. And it’s science that’s enabled us to understand the connection between exposure to various pollutants and asthma rates, premature deaths, and birth defects.

Not long ago we used to assume that scientific fact was sacrosanct — basically above and beyond ‘politics’. But as we celebrate Earth Day 2017 many things are not what they have been or what they should be.

Reasonable people can agree to disagree on policy. But a refusal to recognize facts as facts and accept what the scientific method has proven means our environment, our families, and our democracy all suffer.

Earth Day, starting with the first one on April 22,1970 provides an annual celebration of our ecosystem and an opportunity to join forces and speak out against the threats facing our planet and our families.

Over the 40+ years that we’ve been celebrating Earth Day, tens of millions of people have attended marches and rallies, teach-ins and speeches looking for ways to stand up for the planet and the core environmental values so many of us share. These Earth Day events have also provided opportunities for us to build a movement and the political power we need to save the environment.

Back in the early years, Earth Day activism built bi-partisan support for winning everything from the Clean Air Act to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and our families’ health and the environment have benefited greatly. Unfortunately today’s politics make bi-partisanship hard to come by. But the March for Science on Earth Day 2017 is our opportunity to commit to working together to combat efforts to silence science. It is also our chance to mobilize the vast majority of Americans from both political parties and every state in the nation who support clean air and clean water and who love the public landscapes that make this country so spectacular.

And this year Earth Day is just the beginning of a week of focused attention on the health and future of our planet. A week later Earth Week will culminate on April 29th with the People’s Climate March — another excellent opportunity for us to join together and build the political power it will take to help solve the biggest environmental problem facing our planet. I’ll be at both events along with a team from Environment America. Please, come join us!

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