Downtown: March for Science is upcoming Saturday

  • The March for Science logo. March for Science—

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    A man at the Austin, Texas, women's march on Jan. 21 holds a sign stating: "Science is real." Steve Rainwater—Flickr

Monitor staff
Published: 4/17/2017 12:11:12 AM

Roger Stephenson was taken aback last week when he read a press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It said that the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, met with Pennsylvania coal miners to announce his “back-to-basics agenda” that would return the EPA to its “core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.”

Stephenson, a wildlife biologist from Stratham whose career took him to a position in the Department of Interior, said he had a different understanding of the EPA’s mission: establishing and enforcing standards, doing research, making policy recommendations – not economic growth.

“That’s a total rewrite of history,” he said. “Pruitt isn’t bringing us back to basics; he’s bringing us back to the Stone Age.”

Stephenson will be one of the featured speakers Saturday at the March for Science throughout downtown Concord, which could draw upward of 1,000 people taking to the streets to encourage policymakers to rely on evidence. The Concord event is one of more than 425 satellite marches to the main one in Washington, D.C.

Organizer Nicole Stratton said participants are worried that funding for scientific research will be cut from the federal budget and that the scientific community will be ignored – or worse, censored.

“There seems to be a mischaracterization of science that it’s a partisan issue, so we’re hoping with the March for Science that can be changed,” she said. “We hope that all policymakers will start looking at science and evidence-based policy and start voting with the facts.”

Stratton said the march will take off at 11 a.m. from the State House, down Park, Green, Warren and North State streets and back to the State House, about three-quarters of a mile. Those streets will be closed during the march. At noon, the speakers will begin.

Wendy Lull, the president emirita of the Seacoast Science Center, said she hopes her speech will convey the importance of a science education.

“It’s more than just facts,” she said. “Science education almost by definition means you begin to think critically, you gain an understanding of how complex systems work, whether they’re systems of the sea or society.”

As the representative of a science center, which spends its days helping people to understand the ocean and the impact humans have on it, she said it was an easy decision to get involved in the march.

She pointed to the Merrimack River, which at the time the Clean Water Act was enacted was one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Sewage, factory waste and other pollutants were dumped directly into rivers during the 1800s – before people knew the harm they were causing.

“If you remember the Merrimack River in the ’70s, it flowed red, and it wasn’t blood,” she said. “From an environmentalist’s perspective, I think it’s important that people remember what it takes to reverse the damage that we do.”

Lull said scientists have made an effort in recent years to learn how to ditch the jargon and communicate better with lay audiences. When policies are made “in a vacuum,” as if there were no evidence, that has redoubled that thinking, she said.

“When facts and decades of well-vetted, respected research are being ignored and discounted, that has certainly gotten the attention of the scientific community,” she said, noting climate change research among the discounted material.

Policymaking has a direct effect on her work protecting marine life, she said.

“What happens in Concord ends up in the ocean,” she said.

More than 1,000 people marked themselves as “interested” in the Concord March for Science on Facebook, and at least 360 committed online to attend.

Other happenings

Concord General Services will begin flushing hydrants today in a maintenance program that will last “several weeks,” according to a press release.

Customers may experience low pressure and discoloration when one of the three crews doing the work gets to customers’ neighborhoods.

“If discoloration occurs, run your tap water on cold until the water runs clear,” the press release said. “Residents should avoid doing laundry during their scheduled flushing time.”

A flushing schedule will be posted on the city’s website each week. More information is at concordnh.gov/springoperations.

Springtime leaf collection will begin next Monday.

Residents can place leaves and grass clippings by the curb by 7 a.m. on the days of their usual trash and recycling collection.

“Leaves must be in biodegradable yard waste bags or labeled rigid containers,” according to a press release. “Unacceptable items, including plastic bags, will not be collected.”

More information can be found at concordnh.gov/leafcollection.

Beaver Meadow Golf Course officially opened all 18 holes on Saturday. Information about memberships, greens fees and lessons can be found at beavermeadowgolfcourse.com.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)




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