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March for Science: Worldwide protests begin to support ’evidence’

Saturday 22 April 2017, by siawi3


March for Science: Worldwide protests begin to support ’evidence’

Besides the main march in Washington, organizers said more than 600 ’satellite’ marches were due to take place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day
CNN | Updated: 7:27 AM EDT Apr 22, 2017

Laura Smith-Spark

Video here 1.37
Show Transcript

Crowds of people are marching Saturday in the United States and around the world in support of science and evidence-based research, in a protest fueled by opposition to US President Donald Trump’s environmental and energy policies.

Besides the main march in Washington, organizers said more than 600 “satellite” marches were due to take place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.

The march, whose beginnings reflect the viral birth of the Women’s March on Washington, has been billed by its organizers as political but non-partisan. The event’s website describes itself as “the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments.”

“I think there has been a declining sense of what science means to progress. I think we take so much for granted,” said march honorary co-chair Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff ahead of the event.

Demonstrators in New Zealand and Australia kicked off the day of protest.

In Sydney, marchers carried banners, many homemade, with slogans such as “Science makes sense,” “Science-based policy = stuff that works,” and “Climate change is real, clean coal is not.” Another placard displayed the message, “Governments: stop ignoring inconvenient science!”

Chant for evidence-based science

It wasn’t only major cities where scientists and their supporters came out in support of science.

Rebecca McElroy, an astrophysics doctoral student at the University of Sydney, tweeted video of a “mini march for science” around the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales.

Demonstrators also turned out in New Zealand cities including Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch.

New Zealand Green Party co-leader James Shaw tweeted a popular chant from the marchers: “What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review!”

’Broader vision’

Scientists and their supporters are also expected to turn out in force in London as well as other marches in France, Ireland, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands. Marches are also happening in Durban and Capetown, South Africa and Tokyo.

Roger Morris, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at King’s College London, said: “These marches are brilliant — a spontaneous, global response led by young scientists empowered by social media, keenly aware of the global challenges that need to be addressed if their world is to have a civilized, sustainable future.”Insular populist politics, which have temporarily triumphed in the US and UK, need to be balanced by the broader vision of youth.“Katherine Mathieson, chief executive of the British Science Association, said she hoped the marches would be a catalyst for people to think about the role science plays in their lives and a chance for scientists to demonstrate the public benefit of their work.”Protecting the government’s investment in science, particularly when that includes funding for public engagement, is incredibly important,“she said.”Science is not just for scientists and I believe that all of us, whether we work in a lab or not, should have a voice on its future."

Trump’s budget proposal, unveiled in March, outlined $54 billion in cuts across government programs to make way for an increase in defense spending.

US scientists fear this will have a major impact on research and science-based policy, as well as undermining the importance of science in society and limiting future innovation.

“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.”



Cristina Eisenberg,
Contributor Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, Ecologist, and Book author

Defend Science on Earth Day and Beyond

04/21/2017 07:15 pm ET

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day—a nation-wide demonstration to advocate for a healthier planet. This marked the start of the modern environmental movement and heralded the beginning of a coordinated American effort to live more sustainably and ethically with nature. Indeed, the first Earth Day led to the passage of a slew of environmental laws, including the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Photo: Earth Day 2010, Washington Mall

Since then, science has been an intrinsic part of saving nature. In the process we’ve learned that science serves everyone. It saves human lives, conserves the environment, protects water and air, and safeguards the future for life on Earth. Science is non-partisan. It’s not democratic or republican, it’s just the truth. And it’s under siege today in the US.

Forty-seven years later, on April 22, 2017, millions of people are taking to the streets again to celebrate Earth Day across North America and globally. But what’s different this year is that many will be scientists protesting the Trump administration’s massive challenges to science. These threats include environmental policies that affect the US and other nations, such as gutting NASA’s Earth Science Program, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency, and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement (a science-based treaty to address climate change).

Over the past two months, scientists have been engaged in soul-searching debates privately and in the social media about whether it’s appropriate for them to join Earth Day March for Science protests. We’re taught to be unbiased and impartial in our quest to find the truth using our research. But today even the most staid scientists have been pushed so far past the tipping point by Trump-era challenges to scientific freedom that they’re joining the march.

This Earth Day, I urge you to join the science march closest to where you live. Raise your voice and make it known that science provides the lifeblood of conservation, that the two are inseparable and essential in order for humans to live more sustainably and ethically on this planet.

Beyond marching, science is also taking action in the Trump Era by fighting to conduct research that examines the connections between humans, the environment, and what it takes to create resilient, healthy ecosystems. I’m one of those scientists who despite political obstacles, for years have worked hard for the freedom to do science that addresses controversial conservation problems such as wolf conservation.

Since 2006 I’ve been doing research in the Northern Rocky Mountains on how food-web relationships between wolves, elk, and the foods elk eat shape whole ecosystems. In this work, my colleagues and I have been collaborating with landowners who are mostly ranchers, and with federal, state, and provincial land managers, conservation organizations, and Indigenous communities. Over the years, our study has developed into an Earthwatch Institute-funded partnership with Waterton Lakes National Park and the Kainai First Nation that includes a third force of nature—bison. Citizen science, the trademark of all Earthwatch projects, is central to our project, Restoring Fire, Wolves, and Bison to the Canadian Rockies.

Tomorrow please remember that every day is Earth Day. Let the strength and inspiration you draw from each other infuse the rest of the year. One way to make it so is by participating in science. Please consider reaching out to scientists and offering to help them with their research. Please let them know how much you value their contribution to conservation and society.