Why tens of thousands could turn out Saturday for Seattle’s March for Science

Some want more diversity in science, some want to humanize the research enterprise, some are alarmed by President Trump — and others want to advocate for the value of research and evidence-based decisions.

John Macklin was never the marching sort.

Throughout his long career as a chemist at the University of Washington, Macklin admits he lived up to some of the stereotypes of an academic. “The idea is that you’re in your ivory tower,” he said. “Aloof. Uninvolved.”

Now, at the age of 77, the emeritus professor plans to take to the streets for the first time Saturday as part of Seattle’s March for Science — one of more than 400 such Earth Day events in U.S. cities and around the world.

Information about March for Science

Seattle’s March for Science will begin with a rally and speeches at 10 a.m. Saturday at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. The march will start moving around noon and end about an hour later at the International Fountain at Seattle Center. Speakers include Mayor Ed Murray, EPA official Michael Cox and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.

“I would never have imagined such a thing,” Macklin said. “Because I would never have imagined such a need or such a desire on the part of scientists to get out and take a stand.”

Inspired by the Women’s March in January, the idea of a science march on Washington, D.C., grew out of concerns about the Trump administration’s “seeming disdain for, and attacks on, science,” Macklin said.

What started as a conversation between scientists on Reddit rapidly ballooned. This week, the main Facebook page had more than half a million “likes.” Several of the world’s largest scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, are supporting the rallies.

Seattle’s march has attracted a social-media following second only to the main event in Washington, D.C. Another dozen marches are planned around the state, from Kennewick to Coupeville.

Since its conception, the march’s mission has expanded and broadened beyond simple opposition to the new administration’s policies. Organizers describe the Seattle event as nonpartisan — though they acknowledge it has political aims.

“We want to advocate for evidence-based decision-making,” said 29-year-old Miles Greb, a comic-book artist and computer engineer who’s part of the small cadre of mostly young science lovers leading the local effort. “We are against the proposed cuts to science budgets.”

Various reasons

Motivations for marching — or for sitting it out — are almost as varied as the fields of science that will be represented.

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Some participants simply want to put a human face on the scientific endeavor. Others plan to emphasize the tangible benefits of scientific research. Many see the march as an opportunity to showcase diversity and encourage kids of all…

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