The Art Life: Marching For Science!

I contributed to an Altai argali capture project in Bayan-Olgii Aimag, western Mongolia in the summer of 2015 by acting as the “officlal” photographer. It was one part of my 4th WildArt Mongolia Expedition during which, as a Fellow of the Explorers Club I had the honor of carrying Flag 179. Here I am with Dr. Sukh Amgalanbaatar and Dr. Barry Rosenbaum, both wildlife biologists, flanked by our excellent drivers and assistants.  One does not have be a scientist to contribute to science.

An artist marching for “Science”? Why would  do I that? Well, I’m as dependent on science as almost everyone else on the planet. None of us can live what we would call a civilized life without it. For me as an artist, chemistry created the paints, mediums and solvents I use. A researcher invented the glue that holds my canvas-covered hardboard painting panels together. A number of different sciences create the materials and technology for the cameras I use when gathering my reference images. I store my 149,000 images on a hard drive connected to my iMac, neither of which would exist without research and development done by scientists and engineers.

To put it in simple terms “science” is how we humans discover verifiable facts. It has nothing to do with opinions, feelings or politics. or how one would like things to be. As Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “”The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” The fact that science, i,e. knowledge, is under attack these days is appalling, particularly when the people doing so benefit from it every day.

Ikh Nartiin Chuluu2005-04-23
Two Mongolian scientists entering and checking GPS data for botany transects in which every species is identified and location recorded. Then the biomass of the entire transect is calculated.  Done over time it creates a picture of the ebb and flow of the plants and their ecosystem, which helps the local herder community make grazing and land use decistions. Photo taken at the Ikh Denver Zoo research camp, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Dornogobi Aimag, Mongolia, April 2005 during my participation in an Earthwatch project there. This work is a good example of where “facts” come from.

So I will be marching tomorrow here in Humboldt County, California, where the organizers have planned a whole day of events, starting with a science expo, activities for kids, then a rally which will be followed by the march. It being Humboldt County, home to Humboldt State University in Arcata, I expect it to be quite a show of enthusiasm and creativity.

With fellow artist and Explorers Club member Alan Campbell at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center. After the field work is done, results analysed and made available through scientific publications, what is learned can be interpreted for the public through displays like this one. Years of research went into the content of that one board.

There are 600 Marches for Science happening not just in the US but around the world. It’s not too late to find the one nearest you…

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
Marshall McLuhan

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