Thousands of people in cities across California took to the streets Saturday as part of the nationwide March for Science, decrying President Donald Trump's policies and urging him and the rest of the U.S. to put faith in evidence-based science.
Led by two massive electric Hummers, several thousand people marched in downtown Los Angeles. They chanted "Money for science and education, not for wars and climate alteration" and carried signs that read: "There is no Planet B" and "The Earth does not belong to man."
"We've gone through a time where we used to look up to intelligence and aspire to learn more and do more with that and intellectual curiosity ... And now we've got a government that is saying that climate change is a Chinese hoax," said Danny Leserman, 26, who was carrying a sign showing a sad polar bear wishing for more ice.
"It needs to be known throughout the world that America isn't just those people at the top saying climate change isn't real, that vaccines are going to cause autism," said Leserman, director of digital media at the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. "We need officials that are more representative of the fact that people are really for science."
At the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, hundreds of professors, researchers, engineers and ordinary citizens gathered on a lawn before marching across the city to a park.
Many carried homemade signs that included, "The oceans are rising and so are we" and "A woman's place is in the lab!!"
Before they set out under a glaring morning sun, they cheered recitations of scientific achievements and booed mentions of two Trump administration appointees who are climate change skeptics.
Michael Roukes, a physics and biological engineering professor at Caltech, spoke of immigration and travel by foreigners to the United States, citing the contributions of such "exceptional international minds" as Albert Einstein and mathematician/aerospace engineer Theodore Von Karman, among others.
"The ascension of the United States, a relatively young nation, to its stature as the major worldwide scientific force is due in no small part to the crucial contributions of these valued visitors and immigrants," he said.
Roukes spoke of fear in the U.S. in the 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space. Many worried about "being scientifically dominated by a foreign power," he said.
"This ushered in an era here in the U.S where science was revered and, of special note, trusted by the U.S. public at large," Roukes said. "But in the intervening decades this trust has profoundly decayed."
Roukes cited political turmoil, government missteps and corporate overreach based on greed.
Marches took place in Southern California cities Burbank, Fullerton and Riverside as well. Across the state, marches were held in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego and Palm Springs. More than 500 such marches are happening across the country, anchored in Washington.