On Saturday, an estimated 500 people marched from Utah State University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Logan Tabernacle to the Historic Cache County Courthouse chanting phrases and holding signs encouraging belief in and support of science.
Several members of the USU Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources (SOSNR) attended the march to voice their support.
Logan Christian, the president of SOSNR, said he thinks it’s important for students to make their voices heard in support of the environment, but to do so in a peaceful manner.
“Our representatives in this state do not respond well to protests,” he said. “Fortunately, in this country, everyone has the right to lobby.”
Christian encouraged all attendees to frequently contact elected representatives and voice their concerns, while also making environmental issues a regular part of conversation.
“Your world is too important to not add civic engagement to your monthly agenda,” Christian said.
Molly Van Engelenhoven, a senior studying environmental studies and political science, also encouraged peaceful interactions.
“If you result to violent actions, you’re just going to alienate people and that’s not what we want to do,” she said.
Several participants said the march was sparked by political controversies such as President Donald Trump’s negative attitude toward climate change.
“Facts are facts, and to not act on them is negligent,” said Scott Zimmer, a graduate student studying ecology.
Zimmer said he thinks science has become “overly politicized,” and “it’s in everybody’s benefit to look at science subjectively.”
Nick Carpenter, the Caine College of the Arts sustainability fellow, also expressed concerns about how science is communicated and said he believes it is becoming “too politicized.”
“Science is often thrown under the bus when it’s easy for a political party,” he said.
Van Engelenhoven said while science is not an issue belonging to either party, she thinks it’s important that politicians support science.
“It’s the facts that create good policies,” she said, “it doesn’t matter what political affiliation you belong to, climate change is going to affect you.”
In addition to citizens speaking out, several scientific and political groups attended the event to promote their organizations and research.
Danny Bus, the chair of the Cache Democrats organization, gave a speech in which he described how his family has been affected by Utah’s air quality.
“My daughter is in first grade and there are days where she can’t go outside for recess because of our air quality,” Bus said.
Bus also encouraged attendees to vote for politicians who support bettering the environment.
“It’s essential that we elect people that are going to create policies that protect our environment and that acknowledge climate change,” he said.
Several research organizations presented their information at booths around the courthouse.
Jon Meyer, a professor in the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, presented informational pamphlets regarding climate science and climate change.
Meyer said he supported the march because he believes there’s a misconception of how many people believe in climate change and “we need to increase the visibility of climate support.”
Photo by Kyle Todecheene