The idea for the rally, planned for Washington DC and some 20 European cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, Edinburgh, London and Paris, was sparked on January 20 in response to news that all references to climate change had been deleted from the White House website, hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US president. It is a response to what the organisers view as the anti-scientific attitude of the new US administration under President Trump, who has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” – although he said more recently that he would keep an “open mind” about it.
A science movement quickly spawned on a Reddit forum, inspired by the huge turnout for the Women’s March in Washington, DC the day after Trump’s inauguration. It quickly grew online, with over 300,000 people interested or saying they will take part on the event’s Facebook page. The march is now expected to be the biggest public assembly of scientists to date.
Valorie Aquino, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico and one of the original organisers of the event said, “The march is an idea that went viral because so many people are alarmed about the increasing trend to discredit scientific expertise, and recent actions [that] threaten many members in the science community.”
Even EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas is considering taking part in the march. “I think it is great that scientists and researchers will show up and tell the people how important science is, at a time where there are doubts about the [quality and source] of evidence. It is being driven by civil society and not politicians and I think that is right,” he said. Maintaining strong science ties with the US remains a number one issue for the Commissioner. “We have to stay united and maintain our alliance with the US. We recently signed an agreement to do more research together – I want to continue that,” he said.