Marching for science

Thousands around the country will rally on May 4

Wes Samms is a nonprofit grant writer and a volunteer organizer for March for Science Sacramento.

Wes Samms is a nonprofit grant writer and a volunteer organizer for March for Science Sacramento.

When I left New Orleans and moved to Sacramento, I had no idea that I was leaving America’s most floodable city and moving to the city with the second highest flood risk.

Climate change is a mortal threat to the Big Easy, and it’s a mortal threat in Northern California, too. Ask any of the thousands who fled in 2017 when the Oroville Dam emergency spillway broke, or who lost their loved ones or their homes in the Camp Fire in November 2018.

The wildfire that destroyed Paradise was the most destructive in California’s history, sweeping across more than 150,000 acres, killing 85 people and causing an estimated $16.5 billion in damages. It was the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018—and experts are telling us that it’s going to get worse.

This year is likely to be the hottest on record, and 10 of the last 20 have broken the record. Science says if we don’t stop emitting greenhouse gases, we could be facing a global disaster on a scale that we have never seen.

While scientists are screaming, politicians are burying their heads in the sand. Although the science indicates impending doom if we don’t make better decisions, our federal government is rolling back environmental regulations and propping up fossil fuel energy including coal and fracked natural gas.

It is also cutting funding for education and scientific research; non-defense research spending is facing $10 billion, or 12%, in reductions if President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget passes. Meanwhile, China, India and Japan are placing big bets on research and science education, vying to be world leaders in new technologies.

I’m not a scientist, but I can see that wildfires, floods and air pollution are getting worse. And while our environment suffers, our leaders are undermining the science, education and human innovation that may be our only hope to save the planet. It’s time to take a stand for science, the environment and fact-based policy.

I march for science because I love New Orleans and I love California. I march because I don’t want to have to buy a N95 mask to breathe through the smoke this summer. What we do as a society should be based on facts not lies, and not based on what’s politically expedient or funded by an industry-backed super PAC. Whether it’s by water or by fire, our changing climate is threatening all of us, and it’s up to us to change things, not just to save our planet, but to save ourselves.

Join me in raising your voice at the third annual March for Science Sacramento on May 4. At River Walk Park, we will rally with inspiring speakers, live music and more. Then at 1 p.m., thousands of science supporters will march over the iconic Tower Bridge to Old Sacramento. If marching makes you thirsty, we’re doing a charity pub crawl for science at 2:30 in Old Sacramento.