Earth Day Shared - Science Rocks

April 22, 2017- Earth Day was celebrated in many ways around the world. Locally and across the country, people celebrated the day differently.


Ellen Beth Gill in Chicago

Science Rocks! That was the consensus among the over 40,000 attendees of the Chicago March for Science held on Saturday, April 22, 2017 joining approximately 600 other marches in cities around the world commemorating Earth Day, and calling for more commitment to science, and respect for scientific theory, process and data. The over one mile march began with a rally on Columbus Drive near Grant Park, and ended at the Field Museum where marchers enjoyed a wide variety of exhibits displayed by ecological, research, medical, and otherwise scientific groups at the March for Science Chicago Expo.


Science Rocks

One of the event’s organizers, Adam Arcus, began the rally, and drew cheers when he said that “Science is the beating heart of Chicago’s broad shoulders,” and told the crowd that the combined marches that day created the largest science event in history.



The Keynote Speaker at the rally was Emily Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Correspondent at the Field Museum, and writer of “The Brain Scoop,” a You Tube channel about natural history museums and the culture of animal preservation and natural history. Graslie, originally an art student, began her science communication career as an activist working to save decaying century old animal specimens in a university natural history museum. She told the crowd that she envisioned the March for Science as a graduation of sorts, “the preface of a new book, in spite of what I read in the news and online every day that our world is doomed and the planet is turning into a dumpster fire, I can’t help but be hopeful for the future if we put in the work, energy, and time needed to face the challenges ahead.” Graslie’s data for her hopefulness included that “our common ancestors survived five mass extinction events on this planet already.” Her final message to marchers was to “participate… engage in citizen science projects, elevate the voice of scientists… and above all, commit yourself to curiosity… the first step to empathy.”


Emily Selfie

Karen Weigert, the first Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago, now Senior Fellow for The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, spoke about working to achieve the City’s over 180 year old motto: “City in a Garden,” and making the city cleaner and more efficient by taking coal out of the energy supply, making buildings more energy efficient, building green rooftops and rebuilding playgrounds.


Gary Cooper, the CEO of Rheaply, Inc. a platform to increase collaboration among scientists and reduce waste of scientific resources, remarked that “science is in trouble.” He called for marchers to rally to it’s defense because: “Science is for everyone and science is done for everyone.” Another speaker, Dr. Lee Bitsoi, of Rush University, talked about the need for diversity in biomedical and social science research. A proud member of the Navajo Nation, Bitsoi called for inclusion of all people because their input could help solve problems in a way that helps everyone referring to the standoff at Standing Rock regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Resistence is not Futile

The March for Science Chicago, was an event for members of the scientific community, but also for children. During her speech, Karen Weigert mentioned her daughter’s comments about science, it’s fun, you can do things, and others can build on them. Fredy Lopez, an eighth grader at Simmons Middle School, and winner of the statewide essay contest for the March for Science Chicago read his essay. Fredy asked marchers to have no racism, but curiosity. He said that he likes science because “anyone’s idea can make a difference.” Many of the best signs at the rally were made by children with crayons, markers and their creativity.


Traveling Dino

Among the creative signage, and displays were two large fossil T-Rexes by Jabberwocky Marionettes, an international puppet theater and artist group that often works with the Field Museum. Amber Marsh, artist and puppeteer, revealed that T-Rexes were originally created for a Halloween Parade, and she was glad to be able to use them again for the march. Other signs cleverly used word play with science and science fiction references.


Field Museum

The March for Science Chicago was a refreshing event about serious matters that affect life and death on a large scale, and in very personal ways, but done in a way that was accessible to all, scientists, non-scientists, communicators, introverts, parents, grandparents, and children.


Photos by Ellen Beth Gill




Beth Drucker with Go Green Wilmette in Chicago


There were about 20 people who boarded the train in Wilmette to go to the March last Saturday. Go Green Wilmette prepared 35 signs that we shared with others on the train. We will also be marching in the peoples climate March this on Saturday, April 29th and encourage our neighbors to meet at the Metra train station for the 1054 train. We will meet marchers from northern suburbs in the first car of the train and march again.


Go Green Wilmette

 Photo: Courtesy of Go Green Wilmette


Barbara Keer in Glencoe, IL


Science was alive and well at the Botanic Garden where Congressman Brad Schneider of the10th District of Illinois hosted a panel discussion on climate change in celebration of Earth Day. The panel included WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling, Donald J Wuebbles, Ph.D, Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmoshpheric Science from University of Illinois, Liz Moyer, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Chicago, and Gregory M. Mueller, Ph.D. who serves as Vice President of Science at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Brad Schneider, Donald Wuebbles, Greggory M. Mueller, Liz Moyer and Tom Skilling

On an exquisite day, in a place where nature abounds, just under 400 people came to learn more about how climate change might impact their lives. As Brad Schneider welcomed the audience and introduced the panel, he pointed out that President Nixon instituted Earth Day in 1970, making this the 47 Earth Day.


Some facts really caught my attention.  China is the country with the most investment in renewables, Sweden has decarbonized 2/3 of its economy, there are 5 jobs related to renewables to every one related to fossil fuel.


Botanic Garden

And in a place where growing things are so prominent, it was interesting and terrifying to learn that corn may not be growing in our midst but rather in Canada as climate change progresses.  An 8-inch rise in sea level since 1990 is also a fact to be noted.


Tom Skilling concluded the afternoon by thanking Brad Schneider for hosting this event, which he thought was very important.


Photos: B. Keer


Patricia Munro in Livermore, Ca



Livermore sits at the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area. Home to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, over 50 wineries, and a long-standing ranching community, its citizens came out in force for the March for Science. Vintners, scientists, and community leaders all spoke about the importance of science for preserving the world, developing new and better products, and understanding the basic foundations of the universe. Well over 1,000 people of all ages congregated to show support for science and the importance of the scientific approach to inquiry.


Livermore Science March

I marched with three generations of my family. We represented hard science (physics), social science (sociology), engineering (robotics), and urban farming (biology and agriculture), Our signs were adult: “Question Assumptions! How do you know? Compared to what?” and “What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review!” The most important marchers were my three grandchildren. My grand-daughter’s sign said it all: “When I grow up I want to be a paleontologist, astronaut, artist, storybook reader, princess fairy, and mother.” We marched so that she can accomplish all those goals (although the princess fairy may be tough).


Livermore Science Dalek


Photo: Carol Edson



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