The first Earth Day in 1970 was, in the language of the day, "a happening," drawing  20 million people to teach-ins and marches and a multitude of festivities.

The newbie event struck an emotional chord:  Americans were tired of choking on smog,  watching pulp mill pollution turn bays the color of tobacco spit, and seeing Cleveland's Cuyahoga River catch fire.

"It was a fascinating time of real activism ... That was the first real awakening to the environment and environmental issues," said former Washington Gov. Dan Evans, who months earlier forcefully pushed through the state's first package of environmental laws.

In 2017, the Earth Day message requires the mind as well as the eyes and nose. Its theme is defending embattled truth tellers, the scientists whose irrefutable findings point to a threatened planet.

Its "March for Science" theme is a direct challenge to the "alternative facts" coming out of the corridors of power, as well as the inexcusable glacial indifference to climate by the Washington, D.C., press.

In Seattle, a rally  will convene at 10 a.m.  in Cal Anderson Park to be followed by a march to the Pacific Science Center.  Other marches will be held in the "other" Washington, across America, in towns across this state.

Denis Hayes, organizer of the 1970 Earth Day and this year's, puts the message bluntly: "Marchers across the country need to deliver a message to all political leaders that facts matter, and that bald faced liars will pay a heavy price."

The Bullitt Foundation president identified the liar-in-chief, likely spending Saturday on the golf course.

"We have never before had a chief executive with absolutely zero credibility, at home and around the world, on any issue," Hayes added.  "We have never had a President who is absolutely indifferent to fact vs. fiction."

Bill Nye talks about his life, the environment, and why having basic scientific literacy is important for everyone.

Media: Fortune

"Marching for 'science' is a way of saying we demand an unblinking search for truth and support a scientific process in which everyone is relentlessly questioned."

America is used to bad decisions made at the top. Its recent wars have ended up quagmires. Education policies, e.g. No Child Left Behind, have been ill-advised and needed to be fixed for today's generation of students.

A bad climate policy, however, can be irreversibly catastrophic for generation upon generation.

Keenan Simpson, 18, a Garfield High School senior (and world class kayaker) will live with now-unfolding climate consequences. Simpson appreciates the marches on Saturday, but sees a deeper need for an attitude shift..

"The biggest problem with climate change is that people feel as though their livelihood depends on things remaining the way they are," Simpson said.  "That goes for business tycoons exploiting oil rich regions for their 5th and 6th vacation homes, to employees afraid for their jobs at the Tar Sands of Alberta.

"There is this connection people make between extraction and development with economic prosperity, coupled with a fear of change/risk, that's cause for a system built on environmental degradation."

The aging baby boomers who mobilized Earth Day 1970 won't be around as global warming's full impacts kick in. Simpson will be. So will  Zak Meyer, 21, a Western Washington University student and wheelchair athlete.

"Personally, climate change will have a major impact on my life because as the overall climate shifts, things I know as common and normal will no longer exist," Meyer said. 

Meyer is just back from a ski trip to Bend, Oregon, which left him "wondering what comes next if we not only continue on our path but take steps to actively drive further towards impending climate doom."

The proposed Trump budget is about slashing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent. The President has axed the Clean Power Plan aimed at cutting emissions from coal-burning plants. Senior officials are mulling whether to pull America out of the Paris Climate Accord.

"So far, the Trump administration has shown little, if any, regard for science:  I hope the coordinated marches for science will convey the following messages, said Dr. LeRoy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle.

"Public funding of science has very broad support in the U.S. and a huge positive impact on the U.S. economy.  Continued investments in science will drive innovation, invention and technical leadership."

What will be lost if research is cut and curtailed?

The University of Washington would be hit hard by proposed Trump cuts, from big reductions in the National Institutes of Health to elimination of the Sea Grant research program.

In a blog Monday, UW President Ana Mari Cauce detailed what society gains from public investments at Montlake:

"From developing a vaccine for HPV to building an earthquake warning system for the West Coast, the research and service the UW produces exemplify what it means to be a public research university."

Ex-Gov. Evans recently witness University of Washington climate scientists working on simpler, less costly solar panels.  "Something like this, if marketed, will have a huge impact," he said.

As well, science brings bad news, and tells truth to power, which is a big reason for the proposed slashing of research budgets.

U.S. government scientists have mapped the disappearance of the Arctic ice pack, year-by-year new records in the Earth's warmup, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere past 400 parts per million.

Or locally, where data tell us how climate in this and other American cities  is very much a social issue.

"Just in Seattle, the air quality is superior in the north versus the south, and if you analyze the demographics you notice equally, that air quality is a racial issue in our city," said Keenan Simpson.

"On a grander scale, top of the chain business people profit directly from environmental degradation while Inuit people suffer as a direct result of their gain.  It's all a cycle more vicious than capitalism, as eventually it won't just be the poorest people who feel the effects, but everyone on the planet."

So, there is plenty of reason to march, whatever your income level and wherever you live.

As well, nearby, resides an example to give hope.  The government of Canada's then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper trashed science, muzzling government researchers and shutting down research libraries. "Harper man" even interfered with Canada's 2011 census.

Canada's scientists found "a way to speak out and fight back," said Christianne Wilhelmson, executive director of the Georgia Strait Alliance.  They can "share support and learnings" with U.S. scientists who find themselves under the gun.

"Our hope for this weekend's march is that it accomplishes a few things:  One is that it brings awareness to the majority who support investments in science and research," said Wilhelmson, adding:

"As in Canada, this too shall pass, and we need our scientists to be standing strong when the fog lifts."