March for Science: mad scientists in action

People across the world expressed their support for science and facts at March of Science events on Saturday. The main march was in Washington D.C., but more than 600 satellite marches took place elsewhere.

The March was first thought up in the US as a response to President Donald Trump’s critical attitude toward science. He had previously said that he does not believe in man-made climate change and attempted to influence the public communication of science and environment authorities like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks Service.

Organizers of the original D.C. march state on their website that the event is the “first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.”

Critics have called out the movement for forcing scientists into the political sphere. But participants in Saturday’s D.C. march disagree.

The day of protest, which fittingly was also Earth Day, kicked off in Australia and New Zealand, where more than 10,000 people marched carrying signs with slogans like “Science, the best bullshit repellent we have.”

Many organizations have stressed that they wanted to protest in favor of the scientific methods and the reliance on facts, and not against a single politician or an administration. But even in Berlin, Germany, some protesters                                                                                                       referred to the US President.

Berlin saw a good turnout, with roughly 11,000 people coming together in the name of science, according to organizers. Protesters did not just march and chant, they even sang together – the old German folk song “Die Gedanken sind frei,” or “Thoughts are free.” That is also what Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller stressed.

“We won’t let anyone mess with the freedom of science,” Müller said at the march’s closing rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

An estimated 2,000 people gathered in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where the March For Science was really a stationary rally. Attendees listened to various speakers and could leave their own thank-you notes to science.

In Eastern Europe, the protests were much smaller, but science defenders were marching there, too. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, saw a crowd of around a hundred people, DW correspondent Rob Cameron reported. He originally wanted to cover the March for Science in Prague, but the Czech Republic’s capital did not end up hosting a march.

Participants in Bratislava said that science might be in a rough spot right now, but would eventually come out on top.

In D.C., the day started with a rally around the famous Washington Monument – and with lots and lots of rain. But protesters were determined to not let bad weather ruin the mood. Some had written messages on their ponchos with water-proof markers, others covered their heads using hats in the shape of brains or squids. But views of the crowd were – of course – dominated by lots and lots of umbrellas.

As with the Women’s March on the day after Trump’s inauguration, participants’ sign game was strong at all the protests. One person in Berlin carried a sign that read “Not even your mother denies climate change,” a sign in Amsterdam said “Got the Plague? Me neither. Thanks Science!” and a protester in Bonn, Germany, had a sign reading “Homeopathy is curable.”

Participants in D.C. had to wait quite a while for the marching part of the March for Science to get going. The pre-march rally saw various scientists and TV personalities like Bill Nye talk about why science mattered to them – and should matter to everyone.

Because of the rain, some people left before the actual march began. But there were still so many people that no real march was possible anyway – the roads got jammed by the crowds.

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