Once upon a time, Arik Bjorn mused, South Carolina was on its way to an enviable knowledge-based economy.
A onetime legislative candidate, Bjorn stood Saturday on the S.C. State House steps, preaching to hundreds the “sad news” of political pressure that, he says, quashed investments in evidence-based research and industry.
He led the rallying cry – “Science matters!” – for Columbia’s edition of the worldwide March for Science. Participants said they stood for science-driven policies they fear are threatened by political forces. More than 500 events were planned globally.
“We find ourselves here in 2017 with a regime in charge that does not believe in the value of science,” said Christopher Hall, chairman of the S.C. Sierra Club, speaking to a crowd that at one point looked to number more than 1,000. “What they understand more are the dollars of industry.”
Spread across the State House steps and lawn, many at the rally held signs that trumpeted the importance of science and ridiculed President Donald Trump, whose administration has has made moves to cut funding for scientific research and roll back environmental regulations.
One sign read: “Hey Trump – Climate change is no joke ... you are!”
Science is important for everyone, regardless of politics, said Allison Bailey, a 20-year-old University of South Carolina student attending the rally.
“Everything we rely on today, we have science to thank for it,” Bailey said. “We have cellphones. We have clean water. We have air that we can breathe. And if we didn’t have science, we wouldn’t have any of that.”