The ‘March for Science’ is gaining mainstream momentum

The ‘March for Science’ is gaining mainstream momentum
By Joel Achenbach
Feb 9 2017

Many scientists are reluctant to leap into politically charged territory, but these are not normal times, and even the most mainstream science organizations say there may be no choice but to take to the streets. The much-discussed “March for Science,”organized via social media and scheduled for April 22 in Washington, has been gaining momentum.

Christine McEntee, executive director and chief executive of the American Geophysical Union, said Thursday that her organization has been talking in recent days with march organizers and looking for ways to support the effort.

“We are pleased to see the growing support for the value of science and scientific integrity. AGU has begun discussions with the organizers of the march and we are exploring how we can best support their efforts. Democracy is based on active participation. We fully support the efforts of scientists to speak out on these important issues,” she told The Washington Post.

Also on Thursday, Rush Holt, a physicist and the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, published an editorial in the journal Science that urged researchers to leave the comfort of their laboratories and institutions and get involved in the political fray.

Although Holt, a former Democratic congressman from New Jersey, did not explicitly endorse the march, his editorial — headlined “Act for science” — is the latest sign that even relatively stodgy organizations that make up the scientific establishment are lining up behind the April 22 effort, which in addition to the Washington march will include satellite marches around the country and the world.

“I think we have to be more forceful in our defense of science,” Holt told The Washington Post this week in an interview in the association’s downtown Washington headquarters. Asked whether he was giving scientists a green light to join protests, he said, “It’s not up to me to give the green light on anything. Scientists are and should be fiercely independent in their defense of science.”

Holt said that roughly a dozen individuals who had planned to go to Boston next week for the AAAS annual convention are not going now because of President Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven countries. A Sudanese scientist was supposed to attend to receive an award for her work helping women in the developing world, but she has canceled her trip, he said. Sudan is among the countries named in Trump’s executive order.



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