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expert reaction to the march for science

A March for Science is taking place on Saturday 22nd April in London and other cities across the world.

 

Prof. Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, said:

“Should we March for Science? On the one hand, science is a force for good. At its best it is open minded collaborative problem solving. This, as a way of thinking, is empowering- individually, socially, culturally and economically. Science has a central role to play in building an inclusive society where no one is left behind and everyone has agency. If we are marching to promote this message, that’s great.

“On the other hand, to realise this goal and to understand how best we can contribute, we have to listen to others. We haven’t done enough of that. Marching does not involve much listening and could easily give the impression that we are an angry mob defending the liberal intellectual elite. That would be spectacularly counterproductive.”

 

Prof. Roger Morris, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology, Acting Head of Department of Chemistry, King’s College London:

“These Marches are brilliant – a spontaneous, global response led by young scientists empowered by social media, keenly aware of the global challenges that need to be addressed if their world is to have a civilised, sustainable future. Insular populist politics, which have temporarily triumphed in the US and UK, need to be balanced by the broader vision of youth.”

 

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive, Nuclear Industry Association, former MP and shadow minister, said:

“I’m not a scientist, but I used to be a politician. So I’m more used to being on marches and demos than in a lab or on a research project. Yet when prominent political figures say they have had enough of experts, talk about alternative facts and assert their prejudices in defiance of scientific reality, then it is time to stand up and walk tall for science. Effective public policy should be informed by science and should not be undermined by distortion and cowed by noisy statements of the simplistic from either extreme. Denying climate change or dismissing the benefits of scientific advance are two sides of the same coin, and wilful ignorance will limit the possibilities of progress science can inform.”

 

Prof. Stephen Curry, Vice-chair of Science is Vital and Professor of structural biology at Imperial College, London, said:

“I will be marching in London on Saturday not so much to fly the flag for science (though I believe it is something worth celebrating), but because I think that in these fractious political times, when we are facing challenges that are truly global, it has never been more important for scientists to go public. For me, the march isn’t only about scientists speaking out; it’s about scientists making themselves visible and available for questioning by a public that is fascinated but also sometimes concerned by what we are doing.”

 

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said:

“I’m always excited to see big groups of people talking about how science works, and the March for Science is no exception. Protecting the Government’s investment in science, particularly when that includes funding for public engagement, is incredibly important. However, I would also want to caution scientists against being seen as being overly self-interested. If only scientists attend these marches, I worry that that would only push a larger wedge between scientists and everyone else.

“Science is not just for scientists and I believe that all of us, whether we work in a lab or not, should have a voice on its future.

“I hope that the marches on 22 April will be a catalyst for encouraging more people to think about the role of science in their life, and its capacity to change the world every day; but also an opportunity for scientists to reflect on their role in bridging the gap between science and society, in demonstrating the public benefit of their work, and in exploring ways for us all to work together to give people the confidence and opportunities to strengthen their influence over science’s direction and place in society.”

 

Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, said:

“I’m marching because I love science. Science works. With Science our life is much more comfortable. With Science our choices are far better informed. It is Science that supports our peaceful human lives in this complex Earth, and that’s good.”

 

Mark Lynas, Environment and science writer and visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science, Cornell University, said:

“The rise of anti-science movements, from climate deniers to vaccine opponents to anti-GMO activists, threatens all our futures. While there are legitimate debates about our social choices and values, denial of overwhelming objective evidence benefits nobody. I will be marching on Saturday with my kids in London – because their future is at stake if we reject science and slip back into a new post-truth dark age.”

 

Bob Ward, Policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“I will be travelling to Washington to show solidarity with American climate scientists who are under particular attack from politicians, companies, lobbyists and parts of the media. Climate scientists perform a vital public service in analysing and documenting the risks to families and businesses from climate change impacts in the United States and across the world. The intensity of attacks on climate scientists and their work has increased since January as the Trump administration has targeted them for cuts in federal spending. President Trump’s budget blueprint, for instance, proposes to stop funding for those instruments on a satellite already in orbit which are monitoring the Earth’s climate, while maintaining support for those that point out into space. The ideological war against climate scientists by President Trump’s administration and their allies in Congress will expose millions of Americans to increased risks from sea level rise, shifts in extreme weather and other climate change impacts. It will also deprive policy-makers around the world of the results of research by world class climate scientists in the United States. That is why I will be joining climate scientists marching in Washington.”

 

Dr Sile Lane, Director of Campaigns, Sense about Science, said:

“I’m marching because science is international. We’re living in a world that is only getting more complicated and we’re facing great challenges. When science isn’t international, we don’t all have access to the best research and the best ideas, and we suffer. The march isn’t just about science and what science needs, it’s about us as citizens. It’s about what we need. We need science to be global.”

 

Prof Nigel Brown, Former President of Microbiology Society and Emeritus Profesor of Microbiology, University of Edinburgh, said:

“I will be marching in a personal capacity as I want to make the case for evidence-based policy and not “Britain has had enough of experts” as one of our politicians has stated.  There is the added dimension here of Brexit potentially jeopardising international collaborations.”

 

Prof David Reay, Professor of Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh, said:

“Scientists are not famous for their camaraderie. We are trained to question, criticise and, where needed, contest each other’s work. We compete for funding, vie for tenure and race to be first to a new discovery. That we are now marching together is testament to just how threatened our disparate community feels. Science is the life-blood of our economies, the foundation of our health, and the engine of development. Scientists are used to conflicts and dissension, but when science itself comes under attack we are all in trouble.”

 

Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said:

“My wife and I will be marching to emphasise the importance of science and scientific evidence in our future well-being, and the crucial role of international collaboration in science.”

 

Declared interests

None declared

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