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Hundreds rally for science across the isles


    Hundreds walked down University Avenue during today’s March for Science.

Hundreds gathered around the state today for demonstrations as part of the March for Science, an event held on seven continents and in all 50 states.

At the University of Hawaii-Manoa, between 850 and 1,300 people showed up for a march from Bachman Lawn to Moiliili Neighborhood Park and back, an event spokeswoman said. Organizers used a drone to help get an accurate tally of the turnout and were still compiling the total.

Demonstrations also were held on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii island.

Elisha Wood-Charlson, a member of the research staff at UH-Manoa and the Honolulu march’s spokeswoman, said the event was born out of the momentum from other marches, such as the Women’s March in February.

She said it was the first March for Science because it’s the first time one has been needed, mainly because the Trump administration appears to have left science by the wayside in policy-making decisions.

The goals of today’s march were to build a local community of advocates for the sciences, encourage an environment where scientists can share scientific discoveries without fear of retribution, and promote fact-based decisions in policy-making. The Honolulu event was hosted by UH-Manoa, but funded by donations and T-shirt sales online, about 800 of which were sold.

Jason Graham, a conservation biologist at UH Manoa, was manning one of several information booths set up on the lawn. The focus was the Hawaiian yellow-faced bee, which helps pollinate native flowers.

He said he was concerned about the loss of funding for several science agencies and for national parks under President Donald Trump.

“The dumbing-down of society is not going to help us very much in the future,” he said.

After speeches at Bachman Lawn, the marchers left the campus at about 4 p.m., chanting and carrying signs, such as “Only atoms can make stuff up,” as they made their way down University Avenue.

Stephanie Burckhardt, of Kapolei, walked with her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Emery, strapped to her back and her husband at her side. She carried a sign saying, in glittery letters, “Science makes America great.”

Her husband, David, a control room operator at the city’s H-POWER waste-to-energy incinerator, said he was concerned Trump’s proposal to cut funding for the EPA would allow power plants to release more chemicals into the environment.

Stephanie said she found it scary watching the direction the Trump administration was moving with the environment and wanted to raise her voice for her daughter’s future.

“We need to stop it now,” she said.

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