Supporters of science are marching on the streets of major cities around the world, Saturday, to send public officials a message that evidence-based policy decisions are important — and science cannot be ignored.
“We are a non-partisan movement, and we believe that science serves everybody and every candidate,” said Kristen Gunther, director for strategy of the March for Science. “We want candidates to see that this is something that is important to voters.”
The main U.S. rally is taking place in Washington, D.C., but marches are also being held in cities such as Houston, Philadelphia and Seattle, and as far as Kenya, Russia, Nigeria, Australia, Germany, Britain and India – literally most major cities in the world.
Saturday’s rally comes almost one year after the first March for Science. Last year, with inspiration from the Women’s March, more than 500 marches around the world were organized to protest what many see as a lack of concern for science, specifically by the Trump administration.
The 2017 march took place one month after President Trump, who has called global warming a hoax, signed an executive order aimed at rolling back Obama-era climate change and environmental policies. Trump said his priority in signing the order was America’s energy independence and job creation.
This year, March for Science coordinators created a survey for participants to discuss their top science policy concerns, which organizers plan to share with government officials.
Organizers of the 225 satellite marches are catering their rallies to match the needs and personality of each community, such as a science parade, a Pokémon Go-style nature challenge and a film festival. Gunther said each march will also emphasize voter registration and direct advocacy.
Lynn Scarlett, co-chief external affairs officer at the Nature Conservancy, said she hopes this march will help people focus on how the world works and the role of science and “not get distracted by, what are in many respects, side political debates.”
Scarlett wants more public-sector funding to study the effect of natural processes on everyday life, such as: how wetlands purify water; how tree canopies can help respiratory health; and how oyster reefs can protect coastal communities during high-intensity storms.
Scientists have typically let their research speak for itself, said John Fleming, a staff scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “People are twisting data for their own purpose, and now scientists have a voice to use to really bring about science-based decision-making,” said Fleming, who will be speaking at the march in Los Angeles.
In addition to Saturday’s marches, organizers are also sponsoring a March for Science Summit this summer to foster a community dedicated to continuing science advocacy work.