Monday, April 24, 2017

My March for Science speech

Atlanta, GA
Credit:  Colin Potts
April 22, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this incredible event. And let us all give the organizers a big round of applause for bringing us together today, in celebration of science, and in defense of science. Today I marched as a woman, as a mother to four little people, and most importantly, today I marched as a climate scientist.

These days, people ask me how I get out of bed in the morning. And I’ll be honest with you – there were some dark days last year when I didn’t. How could I? Temperatures around the globe soared to a staggering new record, in the process killing 85% of the corals at my long-time, beloved research site. Words cannot describe the shock and sadness of diving on these reefs, digesting the fact that a climate future I thought was decades away is here, today, threatening not just coral reefs around the world, but human health, prosperity, and well-being.

The good news is that science can tell us how to tackle climate change. The bad news is that many powerful forces are aligned against science, robbing every single American of their right to a sustainable and prosperous future.

The long arc of human history is inseparable from the cumulative benefits of science, yet we find ourselves at a pivotal point:  are we going to unleash the full power of the scientific enterprise to safeguard our future, or are we going to turn our backs on science, its many lessons, and its infinite promise? And guess what? Like it or not, this showdown is happening on our watch.

As a scientist, I can no longer pretend that sitting in my office, plotting new data and publishing papers, is enough. I can no longer pretend that clicking Paypal buttons every 4yrs is enough. So I woke up on January 1st, on my twin’s birthday, and I turned the page. I became a daily bike commuter. [shout out to bikers] I started walking my kids to school. I’ve signed on to help half a dozen organizations [shout out to 500womenscientists], delivered a petition to my Councilmember at City Hall, signed an open letter to EPA head Scott Pruitt denouncing his false statements about the causes of climate change, and shared my message of climate action, and climate hope, at a dozen public appearances.

But, if we are going to fight for facts, and data, and truth, and justice, then we’re going to need ALL hands on deck.  And I mean ALL hands. We’re going to need all the black people and the brown people and the gay people and the trans people and the native people and the Muslim people and the immigrant people and the disabled people. Your cause is our cause. We’re going to need the PhDs and the GEDs, the atheists and the evangelicals, the rich and the poor, the lifetime activists and the newbies. And yes, we need the women. We need EVERYONE.

And our goal can’t just be change in Washington DC. It has to be about change in our homes, in our neighborhoods, our city, and our state. And it’s not just about election day. It’s about every day. Engagement is a powerful anti-depressant. Trust me. But science tells us that it’s most effective if you take it every day.
My sign from the March.

Today, the powerful forces that are fighting against science, against a sustainable, just future for this great country are scared. Because they are counting on us to remain silent, and afraid, and most of all, they are counting on us to remain divided. So I ask you to join hands with your neighbor, whether they are part of your family or a perfect stranger, and raise all your arms into the air. Are you ready to turn the page? Are you ready to fight for science, and facts, and truth? Are you ready to rise up, together, to translate hope into action? Then let's do this. Thank you for being here.

5 comments:

  1. This is a rousing call to action, one that invites, cajoles, and demands engagement. And I love this "call" as it is reminiscent of the "call and respond" in churches and public meetings where people do not go to be told what to think, but they go to "be there," to add their voice. So I am adding mine. Indeed there are so many ways to engage, starting in our own lives, walking kids to school, becoming politically active in our communities, and keeping ourselves informed about the issues, and the related science. Thanks for the call!

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  2. Kim, you have a beautiful and powerful voice! What a great speech! I'll share it with my Science Communication class tomorrow. So many great lines!

    "Engagement is a powerful anti-depressant.... it’s most effective if you take it every day."
    This encapsulates what I tell my students in Climatology because environmental classes tend to feel fairly depressing.
    Given the state of student mental and emotional health on campuses across the country, this is a powerful idea that should be central to advising across the board in higher education. I'll share with our Dean of Students and Academic Advising offices, too.

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