April 22 (UPI) -- Protesters across the globe gathered for the March for Science in support of science and evidence-based research on Earth Day.
The website for the main march in Washington, D.C., described the March for Science as "the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments."
An additional 600 "satellite" marches were scheduled to take place around the world, according to organizers.
"I think there has been a declining sense of what science means to progress. I think we take so much for granted," March for Science honorary co-chair, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, said.
The event was described as "political, but nonpartisan" although some organizers said they were motivated by U.S. President Donald Trump who referred to climate change as a hoax during his presidential campaign and proposed a budget that cut funding for research throughout the federal government.
"It might have been ignited by Trump, but it's not about Trump," Villa-Komaroff said. "It's about the importance of science in society and continuing the support for the science community in keeping our edge."
Early protests in Australia and New Zealand saw demonstrators carrying signs and participating in chants such as "What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review!"
As the main rally began in Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning, thousands gathered in the rain on the National Mall wearing white lab coats and carrying signs.
A live stream of the Washington March is on YouTube and several speakers including astronaut Leland Melvin, Chief of NASA's Astronomy and Relativity Programs Dr. Nancy Roman, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Bill Nye, host of Netflix's Bill Nye Saves the World are expected to appear.
March organizer and co-founder of the pop-up Natural History Museum, Beka Economopoulos, said she hoped the March will encourage lawmakers to adopt the scientific consensus on issues such as climate change and vaccines.
"This has been a living laboratory as scientists and science institutions are willing to take a step outside their comfort zone, outside of the labs and into the public spheres," Economopoulos said. "This represents an escalation of a global movement that you're just beginning to hear from."