What’s happening at March for Science events around the world
On Earth Day, 22 April, tens of thousands of people will gather in Washington DC, and at least 600 other cities around the world, in what may be one of the largest-ever demonstrations in support of scientific research and evidence-based policymaking.
The March for Science was organized shortly after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, largely in response to widespread alarm about his administration’s attitude toward science. Trump has repeatedly called global warming a “hoax” and promised to roll back numerous environmental protection laws. And in March, the White House released a budget proposal that included double-digit cuts to agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health.
More than 100 scientific societies and advocacy organizations have endorsed the march, but it has also proved controversial. Critics charge that march organizers have diluted the event’s message by focusing on challenges that the scientific community faces, such as the inclusion of racial minorities, rather than advocating for science itself. Many are also concerned that the protest casts science as a partisan issue, which could create a backlash from Republican politicians who feel that they are its target. Event organizers and supporters have pushed back, insisting the marches aren’t political.
Nature is reporting from science marches around the world today.
- Sydney, Australia
- Munich, Germany
- Washington DC
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Mexico City
- Denver, Colorado
Cognitive scientist Robin Litt had been planning to attend Sydney’s March for Science. But when the visiting American postdoc heard US vice-president Mike Pence would also be in the city on 22 April, she was even more determined to march in solidarity with researchers in her home country. “Knowing Pence was going to be here, I wanted to feel like I was taking part in something,” says Litt, of Macquarie University in Sydney.
The city’s march was one of 10 events held in Australia on Saturday. Organizers estimate more than 10,000 people took part across the country.
Direct political interference in US science isn’t new, said public-health researcher Simon Chapman, speaking to a crowd of about 3,000 in Sydney’s central business district. But, President Trump’s plans to cut the budgets of major science programs is unprecedented, said the retired University of Sydney professor. “Many researchers here today have colleagues living in Trump’s America who fear for their careers and their future.”
“It’s important for scientists to get more involved in what’s going on in the world,” said Nadia Santini, a plant ecologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. She decided to march because she felt it was important for researchers to speak out against misinformation and to promote the vital role science plays in society.
Santini attended the march with her husband, Tim Mercer, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, and their young daughter, Estela. “It’s important for her to be here, and see that we want to have a voice,” she said. “She wants to be a scientist when she’s older,” said Mercer.
Fear for future generations compelled schoolteacher Peter Macinnis, and his wife, Christine, a retired schoolteacher to participate in Saturday’s event. “We decided to march today because we want a future for our grandchildren,” Macinnis said. He hopes the global events will convince politicians that the public values science. “Also, it’s my birthday today and I can think of no better way than to come out and riot on the streets,” he said.