Citizens march in honor of science

About 250 concerned citizens peacefully assemble and march in honor of science and critical thinking Saturday in Beaufort. Other marches were held across the United States. Saturday was also Earth Day. (Dylan Ray photo)

BEAUFORT —This Saturday, Earth Day, about 250 people gathered at Grayden Paul Park on Front Street to take part in the local March for Science.

A part of a national grassroots movement to support scientific research, participants in Beaufort joined with other, similar marches around the country in making a public demonstration of their support for scientific contributions to environmental protection and restoration, renewable energies and education.

The march began at the park, then proceeded through the street, with participants carrying signs and shouting chants, until they came to the county courthouse. There, they were addressed by several representatives from local scientific and educational institutes, and at 3 p.m., participants planted a tree at the courthouse in observance of Earth Day.

Among the signs being carried were ones reading “Love Your Mother” with a picture of the Earth, as well as signs opposing offshore oil and gas drilling. Others had such messages as “Rely on Science, not Stupidity,” “Science not Silence” and “Make America Think Again.” As they marched, participants chanted such phrases as “We’re the solution to plastic pollution” and “What do we want? Research. When do we want it? Now.”

The local march was organized by Carteret for Science, a local science advocacy group recently formed in the scientific community.

Martin Benavides, a member of Carteret for Science and a PhD student in shark ecology at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, said they organized the march due to many members of the local scientific research community becoming concerned with recent news, particularly on government budget cuts to scientific agencies and institutes, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We decided to hold it (the march) here to represent the local research community,” Mr. Benavides said. “We also wanted to educate the local community on research going on in their area.”

Among those at the march was Peg Gjertsen of Pine Knoll Shores. Ms. Gjertsen is a retired chemist, formerly with the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) company WebAssign.

“It’s beyond my understanding why anyone wouldn’t use evidence-based science to make decisions,” she said. “It seems like now, scientific evidence has become a partisan issue.”

Also taking part in the march was 11-year-old Kate Buhrmaster of New Bern and her grandmother, Marcia Baranowski. Kate said her love of the environment, the ocean and animals brought her out that day, while Ms. Baranowski said it was “the youth, Mother Earth and her children” that brought her out.

Larry Baldwin, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper, was also taking part in the march. He said he thought the march was “awesome” and was pleased to see “people of all ages” taking part.

“Without science, we don’t know anything,” Mr. Baldwin said. “There are people out there now, trying to downplay or ignore science. We need to get out there and let people know our scientists are doing this (research) for the right reasons.”

After reaching the courthouse, participants were addressed by Karen Rossingol, research specialist with UNC-IMS and a member of Carteret for Science.

“We march today to support science and celebrate Earth Day,” she said. “There are more than 10 scientific institutes in Carteret County, and we bring in $50 million every year. We like to reach out to the community with events like this and to schools and students.”

Dr. Pete Peterson, UNC-IMS alumni distinguished professor of coastal habitat valuation and restoration, talked about his experience helping evaluate the impact of several prominent oil spills: the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska and the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“One of the reasons oil is so deadly is it floats on the surface,” Dr. Peterson said. “It’s where seabirds feed and marine mammals, as well. The entire North Carolina coast has spoken in support of keeping oil (drilling) out. That risk of a spill is appreciable, it’s real and it can be avoided.”

Dr. Peterson said alternative energy sources are viable off the state coast, in particular offshore wind energy.

“We have it (offshore wind) where it counts and we should exploit it to set an example,” he said. “I urge you to look at the science. We could be in the lead (in offshore wind energy) and we should be, because we have the wind.”

Miriam Sutton, a science teacher with Morehead City Middle School, said when she looks for ways to make her curriculum meet state standards, she looks for ways to get students involved with the local environment. She talked about working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has a lab on Pivers Island in Beaufort, to arrange a tour of a research vessel for her class, as well as working with the N.C. State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City to allow her class to attend a dolphin necropsy.

Dr. Chuck Weirich, a marine aquaculture specialist with N.C. Sea Grant, stationed at CMAST, talked about the value of wild oysters to the state coast. He said oysters are a keystone species in North Carolina, with both environmental value with its water filtering and commercial value as seafood.

“When the first settlers came here, they said the water was so clear it was Caribbean-like,” Dr. Weirich said. “Now, oyster (population) levels are at 20 percent of their historic levels, due to overharvest and degraded water quality.”

Dr. Weirich said, however, that the creation of oyster sanctuaries and restoration efforts on the coast are helping wild oyster populations grow. Aquaculture is also a growing industry in the state, offering an alternative means of income for commercial fishermen.

“One oyster can filter 40 to 50 gallons of water a day,” he said. “A one-acre oyster farm will filter not only its acre, but 18 others around it.”

Dr. Christine Voss, a research associate at UNC-IMS, spoke about the scientific process. She said that science is “a way of knowing, to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

“Science is never 100 percent certain,” she said. “That’s a hard thing for people to accept. Science teaches us to keep our minds open. Science never says 100 percent, but we still look both ways before crossing the street, and 99 percent of the time, we make it across just fine.”


Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(21) comments



Just playing Devil's Advocate once again.

I wonder if they can tell me what 'photosynthesis' is, or even what time is high tide tomorrow? (not without a smartphone).

For the record, i love science , however not 100% ..........[wink]


Please move back where you come from dingbatters.We were fairing just fine till ya tried to take over the county.PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM DOWN EAST.

Core Sounder

I reckon with all the marine scientific professionals we have around here over the past 100 years or so that this area would be the fishing capitol of the world. Of course its not by any stretch cause scientist don't have the solutions to our problems either. They might know a little more about the life history of a species and come up with rules or regulation for fishermen but can do little if anything to actually manage a wild fish. Has anyone else noticed over the years that when we go to purchase something to get rid of stains, kill bugs, paint the house, or even a simple 5 gallon gas can that the stuff does not even work worth a darn anymore. We can pretty much all thank the EPA for that since they are only concerned about protecting some critter and could care less if a product actually works or not. I will not even mention the fact that everything I own in the way of gasoline engines are constantly giving me problems due to the ethanol disaster.

morehood city res

you don't have to be an environmentalist to like science. but you should probably like both anyway because you can't live without either, science or the environment.


The knowledge obtained, from those who study, research, analyze, collect, imagine, build, demonstrate, solve, experiment, observe, process, understand, cultivate, share, revere and love science, is immeasurable.

Thank you.

Taking the elevator to the next floor.


REALLY!!! This is what has happened to our little piece of heaven we call Carteret County? Trump haters marching through down town historic Beaufort. Carteret county was created in 1722 and has done just fine without you so PLEASE just go back to where ever you came from and leave us alone!


Here ya go Core Sounder.

This idea was forced on manufacturers way back when, but its been sped up, it goes with what your saying about items, etc today, vs older generations. There is actually an obsolete date on EVERY PATENT FILED that the manufacturer must adhere to. ie: product is designed to fail by, etc, its necessary to file a patent on your whopper chopper. Don't know if you like doc's , but there is a good one on this out there called PRODUCT OBSOLESCENCE , BOUT 45 MINS LONG.


Considering the concentration of scientific talent right here in our community, it's doubly.disturbing to read some of these comments and
reaiize how much stubborn, willful ignorance (not the least of which is spouted by the ciimate change and sea change denying publishers of this paper) persists.

The .most embittered xenophobe actually.blames our problems on dingbats! Mommucked a bit too long, it would seem. Tough noughie.

Is there no hope?


@Core Sounder
The EPA doesn't just regulate products to protect "critters". It regulates products to protect you, the consumer. They make sure those pesticides, paints, etc. won't hurt you, your children, or your grandchildren when you use them around the house. It used to be that companies could use whatever they wanted in these products, which usually included substances that could cause birth defects and cancer. Some products still do, but usually because they're regulated by the FDA, which doesn't have as strict rules. The reason that pesticides may not work as well is because when used for a long period of time, bugs can build up a resistance to them so they aren't killed as easily. This can happen with any chemical, no matter how powerful. It just so happens that the ones now have less of a likelihood of killing you.


Most likely 250 concerned DINGBATTERS.As in ones that have MOVED HERE and shoving their 'SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE'on us unenlightened poor backward peasants.You are not needed here AT ALL.


What's with all the hate? The March didn't hurt anyone here. It was a small, peaceful, demonstration from people concerned that science will be replaced by "alternative facts" and not be funded. We need science. Science is the reason you can get treated with antibiotics, the reason we still have fish in the sea, and the reason we have all sorts of amazing technology. I'm not calling anyone names or insulting anyone here, unlike some.

I may not have lived here for long, but I vote in Carteret County, live in Carteret County, pay taxes in Carteret County. I have just as much right to speak and voice my opinion as someone who's lived here for their whole life. Scientists have lived and studied in Beaufort and Morehead since before ALL OF US WERE BORN. The NOAA Lab in Beaufort was founded in 1899! Duke's been here since 1937! We're not "moving in" and "taking over the county". We've been here for a long time. Some of us "dingbatters" do actually care about eating local seafood, spending money at local businesses, and seeing the local community prosper.

Just be aware there's folks here who care about our future, and science can provide the tools and information needed to preserve many great things for future generations.

Core Sounder

I was once told many years ago by an old wise man that if it says "Enviromental friendly" on the label , you can count on it not getting the intended job done. We have saved a few wild birds and other critters thru out the world with the ban on DDT but can only imagine how many millions of people have died due to malaria since the ban on this chemical. Think its nothing but the enviro whackos trying to thin out the human population in order to give wild critters a better place to live. And No I am not anti scientist but far too many prefer to study the problems and never get around to publishing anything worth a toot much less make a discovery that actually benefits mankind

morehood city res

yeh, you all are free to do as you please and destroy whatever you want....on your own property which i am pretty sure does not include the waterways
i am willing to bet though, that there are some among your people that may even believe in science and care about the environment as well [smile]


@Core Sounder and those who express similar opinions.
Most things are invented/discovered by scientists or made out of a chain of earlier inventions. The computer/pad/phone you are posting from on this forum is an excellent example. It bases its existence on more than 350 years of inventions and research.

Once upon a time there was someone that developed DDT. That is the stuff for you. It killed all the bugs and critters. The downside was that it also killed everything else, including humans.

Once upon a time asbestos was widely used in construction of buildings and ships. It is one of the stupidest things we have ever done. There are plenty of scientists that warned against asbestos for more than a hundred years before the stuff finally became illegal.

We need scientists. They are in it to help us getting a better tomorrow.
"Thank you scientists, inventors and researchers who are motivated by the need to know, the thrill of discovery, and the desire to make a positive contribution to mankind as a whole."
Carol Jean

Did I mention that the dude behind DDT got a Nobel Prize in medicine?
"for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods".


I think its not directed at the practice of science, the anger voiced in this small fishing village is the fact that for the sake of science, ALOT of locals have been regulated and taxed at rates that do not match a blue collar community. These agency's your speaking of, make and enforce rules that otherwise stop almost every activity in our area for all but the highest paid players.

Here is an alternative fact Zak, 20 years ago we could swim in our waters without BACTERIA WARNINGS SURROUNDING US. This is more likely the overbuilding of residential sites for these new 500k homes , regardless of consideration . Runoff from this is simply killing the local sea as well as us.

Consequently, the fishermen are blamed, fined, or taxed out of business.

This village was always a fishing village, heck, 40 years ago we actually slept with our windows open, and knew who was walking through our yard, it would amaze you to have actually been here for that i'm sure. We used to have a Town Dock in Beaufort, and swim from front street to carrot island, walk around, camp out on Shackleford Banks at no cost, we didn't destroy it , its much the same as it was back then, except now people have to PAY a ferry for a lift over. Heck Zak, we used to pick up hitchers to ride over with us.

There were much more family oriented things in the county, and free spaces , much more in alot of cases then today.

Today, you pay to park on Front Street in Beaufort, as well as many other places in the county that were free in the past.

We, even back then i suspect , were some eco scientists to an extent, even though we didn't know it, simply by keeping our land vacant and a bit wild if i dare say.

Seafood was served 5 out of 7 days a week, (miss that one), and surprisingly enough, on kitchen tables, not restaurants. (now were down to tube steaks aka hot dogs).

So, i honestly wish you had grown up here as i did, only then would you be able to understand why this constant enabling of new development, on such a small place is lamented by most.

Don't take this wrong, but, i fail to see how starving myself today for someone who may or may not be here in 100 years helps the present day folks? (ALL OVER SOMETHING THATS NOT 100% , QUOTED BY SOMEONE WITH AN ADVANCED DEGREE IN THEIR FIELD OF STUDY IN THIS VERY ARTICLE.)

Mother nature tends to trump science, do you truly know how many global warming events this planet has endured in say the last 60 million years? Or, for that matter cooling events? Sure, we guesstimate through science, etc, but, and this is a fact, we have basically 2 ice cubes 1 north 1 south, sitting on our rock here, and best i can tell they break up, and have been doing so for millions of years, i'm sure some faster then others, etc. My best guess eventually they may melt , can we prove HUMANS ARE THE REASON?

If so, the scientists best think of eradicating their own species to make this a more serene environment, correct? But, i'll be darned, noone will be here to see it!


00rolf , i gotta tel ya , most things until very recent history were invented by craftsmen. Tradesmen create items out of a love for their work, by hand some , machines eventually. (i'll concede science plays a vital role today in alot of aspects of our life). However, several generations got by fine with survival. [wink]

John Bonney

You all look foolish debating the "benefits" of DDT. The debate right now is about allowing Malathion back into backyard use. We need scientist to determine this based on scientific observation. Not how many bugs fly around your back porch light.

And in regard to "scientist" managing fisheries. That's a whole different ball of wax. Politically manipulated scientific results are different than scientific results by themselves. You can blame the scientist. But how many under-reported catch cards have you ever made? How many times have you targeted something that was supposed to be "bycatch"?

Let scientist do their work. Blame yourselves for the abuse of the data.


I hate to bust anyone's bubble, but science plays a part in every movement made by everyone, every second of the day.

Not all science reveals what we want to hear, but if it is done correctly, and levied appropriately, science has everlasting benefits.

Before you take stance to trash science, consider how many of our, and our ancestors actions lead to the need to evaluate data, in search of a solution to a problem.

The answer to this leads to the realization that there is either a need to better understand, or a need to perform differently. Should it be the latter, then science isn't the issue. Should it be the former, then science is the best route available.



Power corrupts.........

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely .........

Core Sounder

I am not against good science at all. There is a big difference in good science and some of the scare tactics used to get funding for many of our environmental whackos . When I was growing up we were taught to find a need and fill it in order to succeed in business. For many years now these types go around creating needs in order to get funding to study the imaginary problems.


@core......... They do not care about your opinion, i do not know you, and you do not know me, but, i have lived this area for roughly 50 yrs.

My clan, which i consider real folks , took care of our coast , and had a decent approach,

The regulatory groups are governed by the same people who have ruined our village.

I guess its easy if your the cop/ jury and judge.

If you think for 1 second i'm typing to hear myself, please stop reading my posts.

Simply ignore my post, and keep telling yourself its ok.

I'd like our county given back, and our townships restored to their local populations, to be as diverse as possible.

As far as science is concerned, reference my last post.

Their means to harmony on earth is to eliminate our species. (this makes the planet safe, for whatever lives beyond us)

Since we are the cause for all of everything that has happened since creation. (according to alot of people who have advanced degree's in studies way above me and you),

Truthfully, they don't know the half of it, and its speculation at best, based on a calculation that was measured at a place in time, and a period that was simply a blink of an eye in your planet's existence.

Good luck.........[wink]

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