This weekend, researchers and the scientifically-minded will converge on Washington DC and more than 450 locations around the world to show their support for the important work done by those in fields such as biology, ecology, astrophysics, epidemiology and nanotechnology.
They will be part of the March for Science, an event first announced in January in the wake of the election of current US President Donald Trump – a man who, prior to his election, claimed that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real and who in his short time in office already had ordered cuts to and placed a gag order on USDA and EPA scientists.
In February, the event was officially scheduled to take place on Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), and is being described as “a celebration of science… the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.”
“The march… was triggered by the Trump administration’s frontal assault on everything from actual facts to funding for climate, health and energy research,” Mashable explained. “But more broadly, there is a sense… that science’s central role in society is in jeopardy. Actual facts are giving way to, well, ‘alternative facts,’ and scientists are not going to stand for this any longer.”
‘Truly an important moment for all people’
According to the March for Science’s official website, the event has stirred up controversy, as some individuals believe that scientists should steer clear of becoming too heavily involved in politics. However, the organizers believe that researchers must speak up in the wake of policies that “ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world.”
Applying science to policy is not inherently a partisan issue, they explained, but increasingly politicians in both parties have been advancing potentially harmful anti-science agendas. The March, they noted, is necessary because scientists can no longer afford to stay silent on such matters.
“Scientific discovery and innovation are a critical part of our nation and our future – science extends our lives, protects our planet, puts food on our table, contributes to the economy, and allows us to communicate and collaborate with people around the world,” Caroline Weinberg, National Co-Chair for the March for Science, said in a statement.
“Despite this fact, science and scientists, and evidence-based policies are under attack,” she continued. “Policymakers threaten our present and future by ignoring scientific evidence when crafting policy, threatening scientific advancement through budget cuts, and limiting the public’s knowledge by silencing scientists. On April 22, scientists and science supporters will unite worldwide to protest these actions. Thousands of people in almost 500 cities around the world will march together in support of science’s role in society and policy and to ensure our future.”
“The March for Science is an unprecedented call to action for everyone who knows that science is essential to public health, global and economic security, and the livelihood of communities around the world,” added Christine McEntee of the American Geophysical Union. “This moment is bigger than the scientific community. It is truly an important moment for all people… to make a strong statement in support of policy that is informed by evidence-based science.”
Image credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press