Park City marchers criticize Trump White House’s science record (w/video)
April 16, 2018
A crowd marched down Main Street on Saturday supporting what the marchers see as the importance of science in government decision making, an event meant to press leaders on the local, state and federal levels to endorse the overarching ideal of leaving politics out of the equation.
But the numbers did not add up at the March for Science, the second consecutive year the event was held in Park City. The crowd appeared to number up to 70, far fewer than the several hundred who participated in 2017. The organizers this year had hoped to match the crowd of last year, but it was evident that would not happen as just a few dozen people gathered in the 30 minutes or so prior to the start. Others joined them as the march started to descend Main Street, but the crowd, though boisterous, never approached the numbers organizers desired.
The March for Science left the Brew Pub lot and turned downhill on Main Street, escorted by the Park City Police Department. Other police officers blocked intersections along the route with their vehicles to ensure the safety of the marchers.
Some carried signs and the group chanted "Defiance for science" at some points as they walked while they chanted "Science is real" at other points. One person carried a sign that read "S.T.E.M. the tide of ignorance," alluding to the popular acronym standing for science, technology, engineering and math. Someone else's sign read "Powered by science" and "Strengthened by Diversity." At least one sign also alluded to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The lead organizer of the March for Science events in Park City in 2017 and on Saturday, Josh Hobson, has expressed displeasure with the Trump administration, saying in the days prior to the event he is as "angry as I was last year." He criticized President Trump's environmental record and addressed the ethical questions centered on the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, shortly before the event.
In his brief remarks to the crowd on Saturday, Hobson said he has watched the administration since the march last year and indicated he is unimpressed with the environmental record of the Trump White House.
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"Now we've seen a year of their work, and I'm not any happier than I was a year ago. We are angry because there is good science being ignored. Science and data should drive our policy, especially at the top levels," Hobson said.
He compared Washington and the Statehouse in Utah to local-level governments, saying the environmental work of Park City and Summit County is superior.
"One of the reasons why we are so angry, is we look at our federal government and our state government and see bad examples. And then we look locally to our county and our city who do such good work," Hobson said, adding, "Thank you both to our City Council and our County Council for actually, first of all, acknowledging that science is real and should be the basis of public policy, and then actually acting upon it."
Lynn Ware Peek, a City Councilor, also addressed the crowd, describing the municipal government's environmental program as having "audacious, bold goals." She outlined City Hall's work toward reaching net-zero carbon emissions and noted the use of renewable energies.
"It's about pushing our community forward," Ware Peek said.
Park City leaders see issues like environmentalism and the wider ideal of sustainability as critical to the municipal work plan. They say a changing climate could someday threaten the ski industry that drives the local economy. City Hall continues to pursue a wide-ranging environmental program meant to reduce emissions and promote other green goals.
The crowd on Saturday included a mix of people from the Park City area, including current or former elected officials, and visitors. The Olmstead family from Santa Barbara, California — husband, wife and two young children — was on Main Street for the event. The father, Reed Olmstead, said in an interview he wanted to illustrate the importance of science to the children.
"It's a logic-based system that's really one of the only truths we can test," he said, adding, "Logic-backed policy would be a good thing."