Early last year, we had the chance to talk with legendary physicist Lawrence Krauss. On the looming US presidential election, he told us, “It’s really important in these times, where there are great challenges such as climate change, that we enter the 21st century with an open mind. But no one will address those issues if they’re afraid to recognise that they exist.”
This opinion reflects the impetus for the March for Science that took place in Washington DC and other major cities across the world yesterday, nicely coinciding with Earth Day. Thousands of people took to the streets to send a message to political leaders that, in a time where the importance of fact seems to be under threat, science must continue to be supported and encouraged by governments worldwide.
The initiative has faced widespread criticism on the place of scientists in the political forum. In response to these accusations, the organisers of the march, including American researchers Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman, responded by saying, “The march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defence?”
In the face of Trump’s numerous executive orders to repeal environmental regulations, there is no question of the necessity to promote the role of science in society right now. Almost every sector in the sciences is up for a budget cut, it is estimated The White House will clear out around $7bn in total.
Although the march was joined by those promoting messages such as LGBTQ rights and the rights of Native Americans, the overall purpose was clear and brought home by an impressive lineup of speakers including Bill Nye and Michael Mann.
Whether or not governments will take notice of this warning is yet to be seen but the science community have made it very clear that they won’t be staying quiet in the lab for this one.