The scientific community is organizing their march in Washington on April 22, the Earth day. They want to protest against the way Donald Trump’s administration is addressing climate change and science because scientists believe it is threatening their jobs.

After the Women’s March in Washington, a website for an anti-trump march was launched on Monday, and more than 400,000 people have registered to volunteer in the march or a satellite event. 325,000 people have also liked a Facebook page announcing the now called “March for Science.”

Boston women’s march.
Image Credit: Boston Magazine/ Madeline Bilis

“The election of President Trump and the Republican party, which has adopted more often than not an anti-science platform, has certainly inspired some of the viral explosion that we’ve seen come out of this movement for a march for science,” Ted Bordelon, acting spokesman for the march, said in a telephone interview.

Scientists will take the streets of Washington

Scientists are ready to leave their labs on 2017 Earth day, to take the streets of Washington. According to the organizers, the event will end in a rally at the National Mall – a park bordered by the Capitol and the White House – featuring speakers and teach-in tents where scientists will be able to share their research. More than 40,000 have already signed up to volunteer to pull out the event.

The organization of the march for science was somehow encouraged by the successful Women’s March on Washington that occurred just a few days ago. It took less than 2 weeks for the March to go from a simple thought to a whole movement. So far other satellite marches are being planned to occur in more than 100 cities in 11 countries.

Theoretical physicist Laurence Krauss confirmed his attendance at the event. So did Senator Bernie Sanders, who sent a message via Facebook to back the march up. The American Society has also endorsed the initiative for Cell Biology and the American Sociological Association.

What does this March mean for Science?

The march’s aim is to raise the scientists’ voice against the new administration since it denies climate change. Trump has called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese Government to cripple American industries. As well, they criticize the government for refusing the scientific evidence.

During Trump’s campaign, he said that if he turned out to be elected as president, he would denounce the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was ratified during Obama’s administration.

Though he recently said he has an open mind on the matter, he chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is another climate change denier, as the head of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

Scientists feel their jobs are threatened since they might not receive federal funds for research. As well, the new administration is prohibiting government scientists to communicate their research to the public.

They also protest against the recent executive order that forbids travelers from seven majority-Muslims countries to enter in the US, because that prevent scientists and students from working in the country.

According to Rush Holt, scientists have only spoken out against political interference in research, but this kind of activism is new.

“The marchers want this to be a gigantic endorsement of the idea of science, the idea of verifiable evidence,” Dr. Holt said. “That’s new”.

According to Caroline Weinberg, a public health researcher and science writer who is co-organizing the march, it doesn’t matter which party the politicians support, because all of them are guilty if they ignore the evidence of science, therefore she can’t ignore policy when it messes with the future of the scientific field.

It is important to remember that the new administration has already removed scientific data from government websites. In fact, as the new page of the White House was launched, there was no mention of climate change or environmental efforts in it.

The march of science could be outshined by the events of the Earth Day

Every year on the Earth Day, environmental groups and advocates organize their demonstrations. In this particular year, a big event is expected given the recent circumstances.

The environmental protection is so politically charged already that having the march of science on April 22 could be a problem for scientists to successfully deliver their message.

Some researchers are skeptical about their role in the march, and they don’t think it is the right way to approach the issue. Robert Young, a coastal ecologist, wrote an opinion piece saying that this march could trivialize and politicize science.

He said that instead of marching, his colleagues should contact civic groups, churches and elected officials to explain to them why scientific findings matter and why they should be trusted.

“Trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research, and findings for their own ends,” said Young. “We need storytellers, not marchers”

Source: The Washington Post