March for Science to defend evidence-based policy — @CSUCollegian

Photo credit Dave Moskovitz.

From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Mq Borocz):

Participants in the March for Science plan to march in defense of science and evidence-based policy throughout hundreds of cities across the United States and the world – including Denver on April 22.

The March for Science formed in response to a trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery within the political sphere, according to the march’s website. While the march is intended to be bipartisan, many are concerned about this trend from the Trump administration.

There are 428 satellite marches to the March for Science in Washington D.C registered on the march’s website. The Denver March for Science will take place in Denver’s Civic Center Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Facebook, 6,300 people marked themselves as going, and 12,000 marked themselves as interested. There will be a march in Fort Collins, but the time and place is yet to be confirmed.

Several students and faculty members at CSU plan to attend the march in Denver. Michael Somers, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said he plans to go. He said that since science is currently being politicized, scientists need to stand up for their work.

“Scientists have often stayed out of politics,” Somers said. “However … we have to be able to stand up for science because it is for the betterment of the world. Scientists are not out there for money, but out there to learn things.”

Sommers cited the Trump administration’s proposed budget as an example of how scientific evidence is under attack, including evidence regarding climate change. The proposed budget cuts the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent and the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, by 12 percent. Both departments are responsible for research regarding the environment and climate change. It also cuts the Department of Health and Human Services by 18 percent, which includes cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the primary agency responsible for biomedical and health-related research, by $6 to $25 billion.

Rod Lammers, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student, conducts research that is partly funded by the EPA and feels his livelihood is threatened. Lammers said scientists need to advocate for science, especially now.

“(Scientists do their) research, write a paper, and then publish it in a journal that is really geared towards other scientists in that field,” Lammers said. “We need to start working outside of that and write in an accessible way that people can understand.”

Somers thinks that since scientific information is often inaccessible, the public is sometimes unsure about trusting scientists. Both Somers and Lammers said that scientists need to advocate for their work by showing the public and policymakers why it is important.

With the purpose of communicating and advocating for science research, Lammers and his wife Lindsay formed the student organization, Science in Action. The organization is made up of CSU graduate students, including Somers. Several others from Science in Action will be attending the march in Denver.

Kenneth Wilson, head of the CSU Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, said that several faculty at CSU have mentioned they will try to take part in the March for Science. Jan Nerger, the dean of the CSU College of Natural Sciences said she will be participating in the March for Science in Minneapolis.

It is important to focus on science and keep the March for Science bipartisan, according to Lindsay Lammers and Somers.

“We don’t want to go to the march and lash out at groups, because that only polarizes the issue even more,” Somers said. “That’s not the message we need to be sending.”

More information about the March for Science and the Denver and Fort Collins marches can be found at http://marchforscience.com, the Denver March for Science Facebook page and http://sites.google.com/site/marchforsciencefortcollins.

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