Stepping Away from Microscopes, Thousands Protest War on Science

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Common Dreams | 19 February, 2017

From the muzzling of scientists and government agencies, to the immigration ban, the deletion of scientific data, and the de-funding of public science, the erosion of our institutions of science is a dangerous direction for our country. (Image: Veronica Carrillo via ScienceMarchDC)
From the muzzling of scientists and government agencies, to the immigration ban, the deletion of scientific data, and the de-funding of public science, the erosion of our institutions of science is a dangerous direction for our country. (Image: Veronica Carrillo via ScienceMarchDC)

Responding to the troubling suppression of science under the Trump administration, thousands of scientists, allies, and frontline communities are holding a rally in Boston’s Copley Square on Sunday.

“Science serves the common good,” reads the call to action. “It protects the health of our communities, the safety of our families, the education of our children, the foundation of our economy and jobs, and the future we all want to live in and preserve for coming generations.”

It continues:

But it’s under attack—both science itself, and the unalienable rights that scientists help uphold and protect.

From the muzzling of scientists and government agencies, to the immigration ban, the deletion of scientific data, and the de-funding of public science, the erosion of our institutions of science is a dangerous direction for our country. Real people and communities bear the brunt of these actions.

The rally was planned to coincide with the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference, which draws thousands of science professionals, and is a precursor to the March for Science in Washington, D.C. and in cities around the world on April 22.

Since Donald Trump became president, numerous climate change deniers have been confirmed to lead key scientific cabinets. What’s more, the administration has has cracked down on federal agencies’ use of social media and access to reporters, demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submit research for political vetting before publishing, and deleted or hidden what were once public records from government websites.

These efforts to discredit science have sparked a growing and historic resistance movement, from rogue Twitter accounts to scientists racing to archive climate change and other threatened data from government servers.

Scientists and coders have been racing to save climate change data from government servers before the administration deletes it.

“I have never seen my colleagues so galvanized than after this most recent election,” AAAS president Barbara Schaal said in a recent interview.

When asked about science becoming a political issue, as is currently the case with climate data, the group’s CEO Rush Holt observed that “scientists have to be reminded that the response to a challenge to science is not to retreat to the microscope, to the laboratory, to the ivory tower. This requires vigorous defense. We think science is so beneficial to society that it should be defended.”

Nearly two thousand people have said they will attend Sunday’s Rally to Stand Up for Science with as many as eight thousand more pledging interest. It begins at 12pm EDT with updates shared on social media under the hashtag #StandUpforScience.

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