January 26, 2017
Researchers organizing a ‘Scientists’ March on Washington’
Days after the inauguration of a President who has previously said that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real and who reportedly placed a gag order on researchers at the USDA and the EPA, a group of scientists have announced plans to organize a march on Washington.
The new, nonpartisan effort is designed to “to take a stand for science in politics,” the organizers explained on their website. “Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public...cannot be allowed to stand as policy,” they added, calling it an issue that “reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields.”According to LiveScience, the seeds for the initiative were planted on January 22 (two days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration and one day after the Women’s March on Washington, a protest which reportedly drew more than three million people to the nation’s capital) on Reddit.
During a discussion regarding changes to the White House website, including the removed of a subsection on climate change, one Reddit user suggested that there should be a Scientists’ March on Washington. Others quickly chimed in with their support for the idea, and while there has not been an official date set for the gathering as of yet, the movement seems to be growing.
Movement still in its beginning stages, organizers admit
In addition to the website, the organizers have launched a Twitter handle (@ScienceMarchDC) that already has tens of thousands of followers, as well as a now-private Facebook group which has attracted more than 200,000 users, according to LiveScience and CNN.com reports.
The organizers told the Huffington Post that interest in the proposed march grew “far faster” than expected and admitted that they were still in the early stages of organizing the event. They added that concerns over the new President’s views on research served as the catalyst for the march.
“Scientists worldwide have been alarmed by the clear anti-science actions taken by the Trump administration,” they told the website via email. “It has been less than a week and there have already been funding freezes and efforts to restrict scientists from communicating their findings with the public... These actions are absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy.”
Public health scientist Caroline Weinberg, co-organizer of the march, told CNN.com that the group was currently “crafting a mission statement collaborating with a diverse group of scientists to ensure that our movement is all inclusive,” and that the movement would address issues such as federal funding for scientists, transparency, and US climate change policy.
In separate but related news, The Atlantic reported earlier this week that a new group known as 314 Action plans to encourage scientists to run for public office. As founder Shaughnessy Naughton explained, “A lot of scientists traditionally feel that science is above politics, but we're seeing that politics is not above getting involved in science. We're losing, and the only way to stop that is to get more people with scientific backgrounds at the table.”
Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images