The March for Science, a nationwide push for scientific research funding and awareness, will be held Saturday – Earth Day – with area events in Modesto, Sonora, Yosemite National Park and Merced.
Modesto’s march is set for 10 a.m. to noon, beginning at Coldwell and College avenues at the Modesto Junior College East Campus and ending at Graceada Park, where the Earth Day in the Park celebration will be held.
“Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world,” organizers posted in an online announcement of the Modesto event. “The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.”
One of the organizers, Ceres resident Juan Vazquez, told KQED he expects about 300 people to participate. Students and teachers from California State University, Stanislaus, are scheduled to speak before the rally moves southeast toward Graceada Park.
Vazquez studied agriculture at CSU Stanislaus and worked in the dairy and agricultural industry before getting into green technology, he told KQED. In a few weeks he’ll start work on the production line at Tesla’s Fremont factory. “With all the cuts that are being proposed from NASA to the Department of Energy,” he told KQED, “I feel like I need to be a part of this and make a difference.”
In Yosemite National Park, the events begin at 11 a.m. in front of the visitors center in Yosemite Village. The march itself is set for 1 p.m. from the visitors center to Sentinel Bridge Parking Lot and back.
At 1:45, there will be teach-in presentations from local scientists at the Yosemite Museum Fire Circle in front of the Indian Museum at Yosemite Village. For example, Professor LeRoy Westerling of UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute is to cover climate change in Yosemite, and analyst Liz van Wagtendonk is to speak on “Our Sierra Nevada Forests, a View From Above.”
UC Merced Professor Valerie Leppert, whose research includes air pollution, said a previous commitment will have her in Phoenix, where she will march. Leppert said she is motivated to march by President Donald Trump’s effort to roll back regulations and cut funding for environmental efforts, among other reasons. “California has six of the worst polluted cities in the country,” she said Tuesday. “I find the effort to repeal the Clean Air (and) Clean Water Act just unbelievable.”
The Sonora March for Science is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning in Courthouse Park, 41 W. Yaney Ave., and proceeding to the Opera Hall. “As people who live close to nature, in the Sierra Nevada, it is essential we speak up for science,” organizers posted on the event’s Facebook page. “Please keep it positive, we’re marching FOR science and evidence-based knowledge, not AGAINST a particular regime.”
At the Opera Hall, 250 S. Washington St., marchers will join the Earth Day celebration, where there will be speakers, workshops, teach-ins and live music. For details on the event, see www.facebook.com/events/1816635948662644.
And March for Science Merced will run from 10 to noon, beginning at Court House Square Park, West 21st Street between M and O streets. Merced Art Hop will host themed activities event to showcase the city’s scientists and their work, organizers said.
To learn more about March for Science, go to www.marchforscience.com.
Merced Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.