The science community is gearing up for its own mass demonstration, as calls on social media for a march in the name of science swell across the nation and on Long Island.
In two days, a private Facebook group called March for Science gained more than 650,000 members interested in a demonstration, as of Thursday evening. Public sister pages on Facebook saw similarly fast growth, as did a Twitter account that drew 243,000 followers in less than a week.
“It’s good to voice our concerns in terms of science,” said Betty Feng, a social sciences researcher from Hicksville. “We need to support scientific funding and the research.”
She and other Long Islanders are using social media to support the group’s efforts. Feng first heard about the march through a friend on Facebook. She liked the pages to stay updated on developments, and said she is interested in participating if a march comes to fruition.
The backlash comes as President Donald Trump has issued several orders that some members of the science community have deemed a threat to their work.
Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services said they have been told to limit their communication with the public, according to recent reports.
The Trump administration is also scrutinizing studies and data published by EPA scientists, while new work is under a “temporary hold” before it can be released, according to The Associated Press.
Trump had previously said climate change is a hoax and, during his campaign, he promised to roll back environmental protections.
A date for the proposed March for Science has not yet been set. Organizers said they will release information about the march when the group has a more detailed plan. The plans come days after the Women’s March on Washington and sister marches around the globe drew millions to support women’s rights and highlight reproductive rights, climate change and discrimination against immigrant, LGBT, black, Latino, Native American and other minority communities. Some local scientists and science enthusiasts said they are more than willing to support the effort for a march in support of science and hope to attend.
David Weingart, 55, said he grew up during the Space Age, which helped inspire him to get his bachelor’s degree in physics. He works as a technical analyst now, but still loves the science and was eager to learn more about the protests when he saw posts tagged with #sciencemarch on Twitter.
“It used to be that science tells you facts . . . and you may not like what it tells you, but that’s just the way it is,” Weingart, of Syosset, said. “What we’re seeing now — and we have for the last several years — is people disagree with the actual facts because the facts disagree with their politics.”
Weingart said he hasn’t participated in a march or demonstration in years, but is willing to join in. He’s especially worried that the EPA could face restrictions on climate change data.
Manny Gomez, a Stony Brook University political science student, said he shared those concerns about climate change.
“I’m your average person who is concerned about the fact that there’s a good chunk of Americans who don’t see the science on climate change,” Gomez, 24, said, adding he was a Women’s March volunteer. “It’s sad that we have to do the march, but it’s obviously necessarily.”