Hundreds of cities took part in a worldwide “March for Science” to coincide with Earth Day on Saturday. Grouping together local and international environmental issues, the demonstrations championed science, research and evidence in the face of political inaction toward the environment and climate change and increasing steps by taken by Donald Trump’s attacks on science and planet.
Marches took place in over 500 locations, including gatherings in the US, Mexico, Brazil, India, Australia and Germany. Citizens joined with scientists swapping white coats for placards and banners.
Organisers say the demonstrations were not a partisan event. Many scientists are increasingly concerned not only on political attacks against established science, but increased ideological scepticism.
Protestors in Washington DC held placards reading “alternative facts are not statistically significant,” while in Philadephia others held “make America Smart again” signs.
“It has dawned on some of them it is time to speak up," Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said ahead of the marches.
“I wouldn't say that it is fundamentaly because of Donald Trump, but there's no question that there's been concern in recent months about all sorts of things,” Holt continued.
Trump’s shocking win in last year’s US presidential election is proving to be a daunting prospect for the environment and science. Not only has Trump begun to rip apart key domestic and international environmental regulations and safeguards, has targeted science and research with budget cuts, filled his administration with climate change deniers and seems intent on reviving the U.S’s dirty industry in his plan for jobs.
While the US.was the catalyst for the march, demonstrations in other countries have also taken on local issues.
In Australia, large and colorful marches took off in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, where there has been increased debate around energy policy, climate change and the role of science in policy, including a sign reading “Science, the best bullshit repellent we have.”
“We need to stop and recognize the significance of science and the importance of funding it properly and using the evidence that it produces as the basis of good public policy,” Associate Professor Stuart Khan and organizer at the Sydney march told ABC Australia. Khan stressed that the march was not just coming from science, but the wider community.
In Berlin, marchers gathered at the Brandenburg Gate to sing together and listen to speakers, while other had banners reading “I can’t believe I'm protesting for reality.”
Faced with severe funding cuts to science amid harsh austerity measures and an ongoing economic recession, Brazilians also came out into the streets with pairs of scissors to form a “scissors orchestra” to symbolize the government cuts.
“Brazil had a cut in the science and technology budget of almost 50 percent this year,” Tatiana Rappoport, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro told Public Radio International. “We are marching to make the public aware of these cuts and the consequence for the development of the country.”
[Reposted from TeleSUR English.]