A couple thousand scientists took time out today from a national conference at the Hynes - or just their weekends at home or in the lab - to protest attacks on science in general and climate science in particular, in a rally in Copley Square.
The rally was something of a warmup for even larger science-based protests planned for April 22 in Boston and April 29 in Washington. Speakers also blasted Trump's immigration and visitor restrictions from seven countries, including Iran, for limiting the open door and dialogues that had long helped make the US the global science superpower.
"When science is under attack, what do we do?" an organizer asked. "Stand up and fight back!" the crowd replied.
Speakers pledged to organize and fight new EPA head Scott Pruitt, who left a career in Oklahoma of suing the EPA, new Secretary of State and, of course, Donald Trump, who once called climate change a Chinese hoax.
Among the speakers: Chiamaka Obilo, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and a fellow at the Alliance for Climate Education, who said she became interested in climate issues when she left the hospital following ten hours of surgery for scoliosis, took a deep breath - and promptly breathed in exhaust fumes.
Obilo said that growing up, half her classmates had asthma. "We can't ignore the fact that climate change is as much a social-justice issue as a science one," she said.
Naomi Oreskies, a professor of the history of science at Harvard, spoke of the difficulties many people had just showing up at the rally.
"We don't want to be here," she said. "We want to be doing science. We want to be in our labs. We want to be out in the field."
And some scientists just don't want to get sucked into a political battle, she continued.
But she compared what the Trump administration is doing and plans to do to a bunch of men who burst into a house and threaten to burn it down.
"Our science, our work, is under attack," she said. "We can no longer sit on the sidelines assuming someone else will protect us. ... It's not political to defend the integrity of facts. ... We did not politicize our science. We did not start this fight."
She quoted Benjamin Franklin: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."