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Marching for science

10 Apr 2018

Jillian Sequeira on this weekend’s March for Science and the importance of funding scientific research and creating evidence based policy

The first March for Science took place on April 22, 2017 but the movement behind it was launched on the night of November 8, 2016 with the election of Donald Trump. Scientists across the world have historically tried to remain apolitical in the public space, prioritizing facts and evidence over political rhetoric. Yet with the arrival of the Trump administration, that which had always been above rebuke – fact – was suddenly under fire. An incredible network of organizers got to work in Washington, DC to create a day of action that asked the scientific community to defend the necessity of research and evidence. The DC March for Science inspired more than six hundred satellite marches in communities around the world, pulling together people from across society to protect science and knock down “alternative facts”. In 2017, an estimated 15,000 people marched in DC and 10,000 marched in London. In 2018, science marches on.

This year, the DC March for Science will be fighting a host of new battles. The U.S. is leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Gun violence research is unfunded, despite the deaths of young people across the United States at the hands of mass shooters and police officers.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been rolling back regulations, undoing decades of environmental protection work. There has been no meaningful action taken to stem the epidemic of opioid abuse across the country. While the DC March takes the Trump administration to task for its failure to protect American citizens, hundreds of satellite marches across the globe will be holding their own lawmakers accountable.

At this weekend’s London satellite March, we will hear from community organizers and research teams fighting to preserve our green spaces and protect our water and air. We will hear from the frontline of the battle to mitigate the brutal damage caused by climate change. We will hear from female scientists and technologists striving to make STEM fields more inclusive for women. We will hear from the tireless teams working to protect the NHS from damaging cuts. We will hear about how fuel poverty endangers Londoners of all ages.  We will listen to the political and apolitical, from multiple generations, from London-born activists and scientists who are visiting the city just for the day, just for a chance to remind their leaders that science serves us all and cannot be denied.

At the London March for Science, we want to remind Londoners that science isn’t just happening in laboratories. Scientific research, from the development of vaccines to ongoing work on air pollution, is critical to the health and welfare of this city.  Funding new research and protecting existing projects will improve the quality of life for all Londoners. As scientific education in primary and secondary schools is squeezed, we are losing the opportunity to create a new generation of scientific talent to lead us in the future. This weekend, we are looking to engage young people with science across disciplines, encouraging them to get involved in activism and education.

If you would like to join this year’s London March for Science, meet us at Richmond Terrace (across the street from Downing Street) at noon this Saturday, April 14th. We’ll be hearing from our speakers from noon to about 2:30pm. You do not have to be a scientist or even have an interest in science to join us—in fact, you might be surprised to hear how science touches your life, regardless of social class, race, religion and gender.  Bring your signs, your friends and your energy—we look forward to celebrating science with you.

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