Earth Day and the March for Science

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By Hannah Brandt

On Saturday, April 22 Earth Day 2017 was held at Radio Park in downtown Fresno. The theme was “Environmental & Climate Literacy”

The organizers described the focus of the event. “Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.

Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs.”

Booths about growing and eating healthy food, preserving the environment, leading energy efficient lifestyles, and displaying scientific innovations were set up by different organizations. Awards for innovations in science were given out, including one to a group of children for thinking outside the box.

Later that afternoon the March for Science went down Clinton Ave. 300-500 people participated in the Fresno march, which was part of a nationwide action to advocate for science education for all, employing the scientific method in policy, maintaining funding for research, supporting the evidence for climate change, and denouncing Trump administration policies that roll back advancements in science, making pollution and other environmental destruction easier and more profitable. There were also calls for more scientists to get involved in political action, including running for public office.

There was criticism during the planning stages of the March for Science that national organizers were being not inclusive of people of color and people with disabilities, failing to connect civil rights issues and science. Some scientists and other citizens boycotted the event for this reason. On April 1, the California Environmental Justice Coalition Central Valley Regional Conference was held at Community United Church of Christ in Fresno. Part of this organization’s mission is to address civil rights issues as they intersect with environmental issues. You can read more about their work at cejcoalition.org.

At the conference Fresno area activists, students, and other residents discussed their concerns and plans of action about air quality, water quality, pesticides, fracking and fossil fuels, and carbon sequestration. A guest speaker presented about local food issues and workshops were held on citizen-led monitoring/IVAN (Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods, https://ivanonline.org/) and green van programs. CEJC materials are published in Spanish, as well as English.

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Hannah Brandt is the editor of Community Alliance newspaper. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @HannahBP2. Follow the paper on Facebook at Community Alliance Newspaper and on Twitter and Instagram @fresnoalliance.