Earth Day, Mother Nature and marching for science

Mother Nature seems angry. I am, too.

It’s Earth Day, and while today seems to be shaping up with lovely weather, I know we’re in trouble. Despite those who deny it, our planet is warming. It’s not good. Or perhaps I should say simply, it’s…


Across the United States today, in more than 600 locations, people who care about the planet and the need to conduct, respect and learn from scientific research are taking part in the March for Science. I have a gimpy leg today, so I’m at home writing, but my husband is representing me in Chicago’s Grant Park, and early estimates project he’ll be joined by some 45,000 of his closest friends. (I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the event will be even larger).

Why did I want to attend this rally? Both to state unequivocally that I believe the science that shows global warming is real and to declare my support for science and scientists in general. I feel myself at odds with the tenor of my own national government on both matters, and that both saddens and frightens me.

This photo from the Chicago march goes a long way toward summing it up for me:

As for Mother Nature…

I’m a gardener, and my garden also tells me the planet is warming. Yes, I’m smart enough to know that any one season or even couple of seasons doesn’t necessarily prove a pattern. But the flowers in my garden now bloom a full month ahead of when they did when I was a child or even a young adult. And while I’m no baby, I’m not quite ancient; we’re talking about a matter of a few decades.

Here’s an example: When I was young, there was always great anticipation in my house just before the beginning of April, as we wondered if the crocuses would bloom in time for an early April birthday. Sometimes they did; sometimes they didn’t. This year, they bloomed in time for a March 1 birthday. That’s unusually early and might be the result of a one-time seasonal abnormality. But last year and every other recent year for which I have pictures (dated, thanks to digital camera technology) there has been a consistent pattern: crocuses by mid-March at the latest.

It’s not just the crocuses. It’s all of the early Spring flowers. They’re all consistently blooming earlier than usual: daffodils, forsythia, tulips. This year I saw irises blooming in my neighborhood in February. That is so wrong.

Again, I understand the danger of making far-reaching assumptions based on single incidents, of projecting from a single piece of data to assume the truth of a much larger thesis. That’s why I support science and scientific research.

One of my favorite protest signs, which I first saw at the Women’s March in January but fully expect to see out in force for today’s March on Science:

What do we want? Evidence-based policy.

When do we want it? After peer review.



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