Scientists in the United States are triggered. After the Donald Trump administration reportedly started to restrict scientific communication and freeze grants at certain governmental agencies, they are now planning to march in Washington and resist this anti-science actions.
This activism formed from a political conversation over Reddit on January 22 discussing the future of science with Trump as President. It was inspired by the Women’s March on Washington attended by about 3.3 million people held a day after Trump’s inauguration, but this time for scientists.
Called the Scientists March on Washington, the group went viral among scientists and researchers across America. It has about 26,600 followers on Twitter and more than 204,000 members on Facebook only four days after the anti anti-science league was brewed.
“Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy,” its website wrote. “This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science,” it further said.
Scientists March on Washington wants everyone to know that all people, no matter the profession or background, can join the revolution. And it’s also not exclusive to Washington, even suggesting to set up sister marches in other cities.
The uprising is somehow looming as Trump and his Cabinet picks are largely science deniers, claiming that climate change isn’t real and that vaccines are not safe. No one expected that scientists will revolt this soon.
What seems to be the last straw is the fact that the administration has already frozen grants and contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency and gagged researchers at the US Department of Agriculture. That’s other than the communication ban in the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation and National Park Service according to BuzzFeed.
Ken Kimmell, president of a science advocacy groupd called the Union of Concerned Scientists, says, “Demands to shut down informational websites and prevent the release of scientific findings are straight out of Orwell.
“We don’t live in a world of ‘alternative facts’ — you can’t delete climate change and you can’t overrule the laws of physics by preventing scientists from talking about them,” he shares in a statement.
It has been barely a month since Trump sat as President. American scientists are going to have a challenging next four years.
But when time comes for the next U.S. elections, we might just see scientists running for public office. At least that’s what a group called 314 Action wants.
An organization named after the first three digits of pi, 314 Action is a political action committee intended to encourage and support scientist who are aiming for government positions.
Its founder Shaughnessy Naughton tells The Atlantic, “A lot of scientists traditionally feel that science is above politics but we’re seeing that politics is not above getting involved in science. We’re losing, and the only way to stop that is to get more people with scientific backgrounds at the table.”
Naughton, with a background in chemistry and breast cancer research, had tried running for Congress in 2014 and 2016 but lost both times in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primaries. Her lack of political experience and her outsider status had disabled her to succeed in the endeavour.
This is what she wants to change with 314 Action, by providing other scientists with money and mentorship – something that she didn’t get when she ran for office.
It appears that many are interested in this advocacy, with more than 400 people signing up to the recruitment form provided in the organization’s website in just two weeks.
One of them is Michael Eisen, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of genetics, genomics and development at the University of California, Berkeley, who announced the interest through his Twitter account. He plans to run for senate in 2018 unseating Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is yet to say if she wants a reelection.
“It’s time for scientists and people who care about science — and about the environment and human rights — to step forward,” Eisen tells Live Science. “And so I am.”