March for Science Speech by Dr. Raj Pandya, April 14, 2018

My name is Raj Pandya, I am a Earth scientist who works for the AGU – a professional organization for scientists who study the Earth, atmosphere, oceans, and space and an organization for anyone who wants to work with those scientists.  At AGU, I help scientists and communities work together to leverage science in ways that advance community priorities. Right here in Denver, for example, we have a project that helps residents find and deal with Radon and other harmful chemicals in their homes.

Dr. Rajul Pandya
Dr. Rajul Pandya, Director of the Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union

Thank you for marching today, for standing up for the importance of science.  It is an exciting and amazing day, and you are amazing people. Thank you!

What if we made this more than a day?   What if we took the energy and excitement we feel and paid it forward? What would that look like?

For scientists, my message is really simple:  Use the gift of science for the greater good. Not just today, but every day.

For those of you who aren’t scientists, please welcome science and (scientists) into your lives and use the knowledge we bring into the decisions we need to make together. I know we scientists can be a little awkward, but together we can build a better future while we protect, and use, science.

For the scientists, like me, I have a special challenge.  

Use your science to make a difference in the places you live, work, and play.  Go home and look for ways to contribute what we know about science to something local – something in our neighborhood, in our town, in our county – in our great state of Colorado.  Sit down with our friends and neighbors, local leaders, community organizers, and learned about the things they care about, the things they worry about, and the things they want to make better.  Look for ways to apply your skills, your networks, your connections, your broad knowledge of science to help make decisions, advance priorities, address challenges, and build a better future, right here.

That might look like working with your city council to answer their questions about climate change and contribute to a climate action plan.  It might be working with neighborhood leaders to map the flood risk and prepare for future floods. It might be working with local health nonprofits to monitor pollution block by block and use that to improve healthcare delivery.  It might look like working with food providers – from large chains to small bodegas – to help make healthy food available for everyone, even in times of extreme need.

And when we do that, lets pay special attention to the least fortunate, the most marginalized.   Science, is knowledge, and knowledge is power, and we can share knowledge and enhance the power for all people.  Science, from asking questions to collecting data, to applying results, is a privilege of the powerful – we have to make a special effort to share that privilege with communities and people who haven’t been able to take full advantage of that that privilege. We can do science with humility and grace with (never for, always with) people who haven’t had the opportunity to do the science they want to do.

But this isn’t something scientists can do alone. Nor should we.

Building a future is something we need to do together, scientists and non-scientists.  And so, to those you who aren’t scientists, thank you for being here today. To you, I ask, please reach out and welcome science into your decisions. Don’t just march for science, use science to make a difference. Be part of setting the research agendas, participate in the analysis, help apply the results to make a difference in your world – in our shared world. And offer your gifts, your knowledge, your insight, your sharing of scientific values to use science to build that better world for everyone.

Imagine if we did all that, together.  We’d learn a tremendous amount about where we live.  We’d get new ideas and insights and new solutions to old problems.  We’d welcome new people and new communities to contribute to, benefit from, and be part scientific discovery.  Together, we could make science part of a better future. A future that is fair, a future that is sustainable, a future where everyone can thrive.

In that spirit, let his march be for you, the beginning of something bigger.  Not just demonstrating for science, but demonstrating – in real terms, in real communities – the value of science.

Thank you for what you do and what we can do together. Thank you.