Why march for Science?

Sloganeering. Political. Protests. The ‘nerds’ of the world are not the ones with whom we associate these terms. Aprill 22, World Earth Day, showcased otherwise...

April 24, 2017 07:58 pm | Updated 08:52 pm IST

Demonstrators hold a banner as they participate in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday.

Demonstrators hold a banner as they participate in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday.

Protests are often volatile affairs, with motivated participants and on political or divisive themes, and could involve anything from mild sloganeering to large-scale violence.

The ‘nerds’ of the world are not the ones with whom we associate many of these terms. But they were out on the streets across the world in large numbers on April 22.

What was the March for Science about?

Thousands of scientists and science-enthusiasts around the world, on the occasion of World Earth Day observed on April 22 every year, gathered in over 500 cities to march for the scientific temper they strongly believe in. In the U.S., the flagship march took place in Washington D.C., saw protestors marching from the National Mall to the Capitol. From Hyderabad to Houston, people marched for a more “robustly funded and publicly communicated science”, one that functions as the “as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity”. It is a non-partisan movement aimed at influencing policies in the wake of serious impediments to scientific progress using the best scientific evidence as is available.

The group’s website describes the march as “…a celebration of science. It's not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.”

Why did it take place?

Climate change deniers and those who believe that science is a liberal conspiracy which ought not be funded or taken seriously have been seen taking up increasingly powerful roles, particularly in the U.S. The appointment of Scott Pruitt, who saw no real function for the Environmental Protection Agency, as the head of that organisation has been perceived as the denouncement of scientific truths and evidence-based policies.

Inspired by the highly successful Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science hopes to create public dialogue about the discipline which would encourage logical long-term decision-making.

Who participated in the March?

Several key figures in the field of science came out to spearhead the movement. Notable speakers in the Washington edition of the march were:

1. Bill Nye – popular science educator and public academician.

2. Christiana Figueres – Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) known for her leadership on the Paris Climate Agreement

3. Anousheh Ansari – Co-Founder and CEO of Prodea Systems, the first female civilian astronaut, international Space Ambassador, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist

Why is it important?

A field that is perceived as aloof reached out to the non-scientific public through the March for Science. The march has succeeded in generating public dialogue with an action week that has been initiated by over 100 March for Science partner organisations around the world.

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