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Global march for science to fight ‘alternative facts’

WASHINGTON: Thousands of people joined a global March for Science on Saturday with Washington the epicentre of a movement to fight back against what many see as an “assault on facts” by populist politicians.

Hundreds streamed onto the Washington Mall for a festive day of music, speeches and teach-ins by scientists disturbed by the rise of so-called “alternative facts” around crucial issues like climate change following the election of Donald Trump.

“We have no Planet B,” read one of the signs carried by demonstrators, many of whom sported “Keep Our Science Great” caps as they arrived from around the country on Earth Day to remind fellow citizens of the importance of science to their daily lives.

Organisers stress their protest is non-partisan, but concerns about the challenges to the role of science in society have spiked under Trump’s presidency. He has proposed deep cuts in funding for scientific research, elevated opponents of climate pacts and environmental regulations to cabinet-level positions, and drawn support from conservative Christians who challenge the teaching of evolution in US schools.

In London, hundreds of people marched from the Science Museum to the Houses of Parliament, holding up signs with messages like “Science is Sexy” and “Less Invasions, More Equations.” The London rally was attended by actor Peter Capaldi, who plays TV’s time-travelling hero of science, Dr Who.

Vocal protesters in Sydney wearing white lab coats called on politicians to support the scientific community. “We need thinkers not deniers,” read one banner.

Demonstrators turned out across Australia, in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and other cities, as well as Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand.

“In this day and age, there’s so much fake news and alternate facts going around that it’s important to remember that science is what has built the society we know today,” said Parissa Zand, who was at the Sydney march with her molecular biologist mother.

“Seeing the assault on fact-based thinking, scientists are energised,” Paul Hanle, chief executive officer of Climate Central, an independent organisation of scientists and journalists, wrote in an op-ed this week.

Scientists “are not famous for their camaraderie”, said professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, David Reay. “We are trained to question, criticise and, where needed, contest each other’s work. That we are now marching together is testament to just how threatened our disparate community feels.”

Courtesy : Dawn News

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