As President Trump's administration continues to cut communication, funding, and support for science-related government agencies, more and more scientists are banding together to protest. Initially, many took to Reddit to discuss their political ideas and concerns, but that conversation quickly grew into much more. The scientists are now a group known as Scientists March on Washington, and on April 22, 2017, they and those in support of scientific progress will, in fact, march on Washington.
Now, this march is explicitly not a partisan move. The motives for the event are rooted in valuing science and research, something that has been questioned in the first days of this new administration. According to the Scientists March on Washington website, "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."
— March for Science (@ScienceMarchDC) February 1, 2017
What Needs to Be Done
The reasons behind this march are important not only to scientists, but to us all. The continuation of scientific research and communication between scientists and the general public is crucial to the overall progress of our country.
Empirical research is necessary for us to do everything from determining whether or not the food and medications we ingest are safe to figuring out how we can explore deep space. Our continued survival as a species hinges on our ability to perform accurate empirical research. It is imperative that scientists are able to do the work that determines how our climate is changing, how diseases progress and can be treated, and so much more.
Aside from research itself, the ability of scientists to communicate openly with the public about their findings is an essential part of science. If a study, funded through taxes, furthers our understanding of human health, our environment, etc., it is the obligation of that study to inform the American public about its findings. To censor and limit empirical evidence and scientific findings is to blind people to information that they have a right to access.
In addition to the necessity of empirical research and the right that people have to information, the limitations imposed by the current administration and its lack of support for the scientific community would also make it nearly impossible for scientists to collaborate with one another. From recent immigration legislation to the inability of scientists to openly share research findings or secure funding, scientific collaborations will become more and more difficult if we continue down this path.
Eliminating the possibility of collaboration between scientists inside or outside of this country hinders scientific progress, and that progress could be anything from the formulation of an innovative cancer treatment to a groundbreaking discovery in physics.
Whatever political or partisan affiliations a person may have, it cannot be argued that science is not important. Though it's easy to forget, nearly every aspect of our daily lives is the result of scientific research. From the food we eat to the cars we drive to the air we breathe, everything that we do is affected by science, and we can't turn our backs on it now.