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News > World

Scientists Plan to March Against Trump in Throngs

  • A man wearing a Donald Trump mask protests during a demonstration against climate change outside of the U.S. Embassy in London.

    A man wearing a Donald Trump mask protests during a demonstration against climate change outside of the U.S. Embassy in London. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 January 2017
Opinion

Several federal scientists have already defied Trump's order by establishing a network of "rogue" Twitter feeds condemning the president's censorship.

The idea of scientists pouring in on the streets of Washington, D.C. to protest President Donald Trump’s recent attack on the science community is quickly gaining massive traction.

In less than a day, the Facebook page created last week for the upcoming event exploded from 200 followers to over 300,000 by Jan. 25. It’s Twitter handle also has close to 300,000 followers.

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The March for Science, which has a soon-to-be-announced date, was born out of a Reddit thread calling for one that a University of Texas Health Science Center postdoctoral fellow took seriously.

The idea comes after the Trump administration last week banned federal employees, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, from speaking to the press or writing on social media about their work.

“We were inspired (well, infuriated) by the current attacks on science from the new administration,” science writer and public health researcher Caroline Weinberg wrote in an email to the Washington Post, referring to Trump’s crackdown on those criticizing his anti-climate change policies.

“Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy.”

Weinberg is one of the two co-chairs of the ad-hoc March for Science group, joining Jonathan Berman, the University of Texas student who decided to run with the Reddit thread.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization focused on “solving pressing environmental and social problems,” according to its website, has also criticized Trump’s move.

“Demands to shut down informational websites and prevent the release of scientific findings are straight out of Orwell,” wrote UCS president Ken Kimmell in a statement. “President Trump and his representatives in the EPA and other agencies are accountable to the public interest, and the scientific community will continue to expose and resist abuses like these.”

Sen. and former democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also took to social media over the weekend to congratulate the scientists planning the action.

"A modern society cannot survive unless decisions are made on evidence-based research. Congratulations to those scientists and researchers who are fighting back,” he wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

The group’s Twitter page, which gives constant updates, said that a specific date for the march would be announced within the coming week. The website, still “under construction,” also announces that several satellite marches around the world are being planned.

“We hope to use this as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics,” reads the page. “This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.”

The event is also partly inspired by the success of the recent Women’s March, which occurred worldwide as well as a sign of massive discontent with Trump’s tumultuous presidency.

To avoid similar issues over the inclusion of minorities that occurred then, the Science March organizers want to establish a diversity committee to ensure all possible groups are included in the decision-making process.

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“Science has historically - and generally continues to support discrimination,” it reads. “In order to move forward as a scientific community, we must address and actively work to unlearn our problematic past and present, to make science available to everyone.”

Interested researchers and demonstrators can sign up for the march through a Google Form provided in the website.

Several federal scientists from the EPA, NASA and other bureaus have already defied Trump's order by establishing a network of "rogue" Twitter feeds condemning the president's censorship of science.

The Sierra Club has also organized a similar People’s Climate March for April 29 around the country – one day before Trump’s 100th day in office.

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