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March for Science

Chance for researchers to apply science to policy

Madison Thompson, Opinion Co-Editor

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On April 22 protests around the world will be held in over 100 cities to show support of evidence based science and the importance of its place in policymaking. Nearly 100 groups have shown support for the march, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), American Psychological Association, Girls Who Code, National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), American Public Health Association, and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.

The idea for a march came to Jonathan Berman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio while browsing a reddit discussion about the Trump administration effectively removing all mention of the words “climate change” from the White House website. The march is a movement targeted against the chilling and likely signal that the Trump administration intends to suppress communication about science and environmental policy and possibly scientific data.

The March for Science mission statement says “it’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.”

While some are thrilled to exercise their first amendment right to protest, some believe it will cause more harm than good, including William Happer, a physicist from Princeton University. Happer is not convinced that the average American will see what the big deal is. There is, understandably, a fear growing amongst scientists that their data and findings will be silenced, but skeptical conservatives may only become more polarized by seeing this protest for scientific interest groups who politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends.

While there are probably some scientists with ill intentions, there are plenty more businessmen and politicians who have more to gain from silencing them. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) went to great lengths such as bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor as a counter to the 97 percent of scientists who agree that climate change is real and caused by humans. Unless scientists are pulling a huge sham to get rich, there is  no reason they would have incentive to step forward about issues they care about besides to inform the general public and try to make the world a better place.

Scientists are being called on because while their research can cause us to approach the world in a different way and is practically useless without institutional implementation. Some are probably scared scientists could use power like this to sway things in their favor, but industries like oil and gas absolutely have more to gain by suppressing accurate science than scientists have to gain by being allowed to have their research taken into consideration when drafting or re-writing laws that affect the American people.

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