Philadelphia's March for Science draws thousands


Analeigh Belisle of Fort Collins, Colo., holds a sign before a march for science Saturday, April 22, 2017, in DenverDavid Zalubowski/APScientists and their supporters are taking to the streets in more than 400 cities and towns around the world on April 22 - Earth Day - to voice their support for the value of scientific inquiry.

Thousands of people rallied in support of science in Europe and Australasia ahead of a march in Washington, triggered by rising concern over populism and so-called alternative facts.

But many involved in the March say its goal is less to tar the Trump administration than to highlight the overall importance of science funding and evidence-based policymaking, which they see as a nonpartisan agenda.

Tina Maguylo, a co-organizer for Charlotte's march, said the main focus was about educating people on how science impacts their daily lives. "There's a segment of our government that is all about profit and greed - cutting funding to science-based programs because they aren't perceived as being profitable". Organizers say the marches stem from science-related budget cuts, such as proposed 20 percent slice of the National Institute of Health. "In my opinion empirical science is the key to progress by the culture and civilisation we have developed", marcher Hagen Esterberg told Reuters TV.

Rally organizers are also anxious by what they see as growing skepticism from politicians and others on topics such as vaccinations, genetically modified organisms and evolution.

In Sydney, marchers carried banners, many homemade, with slogans such as "Science makes sense", "Science-based policy = stuff that works", and "Climate change is real, clean coal is not".

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The American Chemical Society's Mole mascot welcomes people to their teach-in tent.

Berlin saw several thousand people march from one of the city's universities to the Brandenburg Gate. She said she was participating because - in her words - "I think that politics need to listen to sciences".

The crowd was considerably smaller than that of the Women's March on January 21 but otherwise strikingly similar, with some protesters even wearing pink hats.

In London, the march route went past the city's most celebrated research institutions.

"We really need to show that we're putting money into [science] that the Canadian government and Canadians are interested in maintaining integrity in science".

"As scientists, as human beings, our mandate is clear - it's to stand up for what we know to be true", said Kellan Baker, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and one of the speakers on the National Mall.

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"My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks", President Trump said.

The protest puts scientists, whose work depends on objective experimentation, into a more public position.

In Washington, the keynote speakers include Bill Nye, the popular science educator; Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped expose risky levels of lead in the water in Flint, Mich.

In Manhattan, the March for Science began with a rally at 10:30 a.m. near Columbus Circle at Central Park West.

As they marched, they re-purposed time-honoured protest chants to give it a distinctly academic tinge, yelling: "What do we want?"

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