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Politics, science mix in global Earth Day events

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Written by: Communicator StaffApril 22, 2017

Written by: Zachary D. Elick

Some of the rhetoric and policies of the Trump administration have many people in the scientific community worried about the president’s feelings toward science.

For example, the White House proposed significant cuts last month to federal agencies that fund scientific research, such as the National Institute of Health, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

While campaigning, President Trump expressed skepticism of the widely held idea in the science community that climate change is a man-made phenomenon. And after being inaugurated, the president has pushed back against former President Obama’s efforts to combat climate change, such as the Clean Power Plan.

Trump also referred to global warming as a “hoax” on several occasions prior to his presidency.

“The concern is when the value of science begins to be questioned by our leaders — whether they are political leaders or economic leaders — then there is a fear that possible distrust is going to filter down into the general population,” said Ronald Friedman, IPFW professor of chemistry.

Science supporters will gather at Northeast Indiana Celebrates Science!, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22 at Moser Park Nature Center, 601 W. Main St., New Haven.

Inspired by the global demonstration March for Science, NICS will include a nearly 1-mile long walk around downtown New Haven. NICS will also feature speakers from the surrounding community and information about how to get involved in various social issues, said Jerri Martin, one of the event’s organizers.

March for Science will be held on the same day as NICS in more than 500 cities around the world, according to its official website. The demonstration is a nonpartisan movement that “call(s) for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest,” as written on its website.

Martin said NICS is also a nonpartisan event.

“We’re hoping to be inclusive. We’re hoping that we get Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians,” she said. “(Science) is really something that is done by everybody, it’s not just relegated to one group alone.”

Martin is a member of the nonprofit organization People for the Common Good, which is co-hosting NICS with Save Maumee Grassroots Organization.

People for the Common Good is a grassroots coalition that advocates for different social issues in the Fort Wayne area. It was formed by Sarah Hyndman in November 2016 after she was upset by Trump’s election and wanted to get more politically involved.

“I thought, what if everyone who felt like me — who felt very disheartened and worried and angry and fearful — what if we all took those feelings and channeled them into something positive?,” Hyndman said via phone. “Maybe we can’t change what happens on a national level, but we can certainly make a difference at the local level, and I think that’s where some of the greatest impact can be had.”

Martin said she hopes attendees stay at Moser Park after their march for Save Maumee’s 12th annual Earth Day celebration. For this year’s three-day celebration, the organizers are attempting to plant more than 1,000 trees over the course of the weekend of April 21-23.