What do we want? Evidence based policy! When do we want it? After peer review!
My personal high point of the London March for Science must have been when someone started chanting that. So witty. So good.
I attended the March for Science in London with ten thousand other citizens on 22nd April, which was also Earth Day, very fittingly. It was a truly global event, with marches taking place with hundreds of thousands of people all over the world – even at the North Pole.
In this post I’m going to tell you why I marched, what my experience on the day was like, and show you some of the best signs at the March for Science London edition.
So why did I go to the March for Science?
I never expected to feel compelled to march and rally for ‘science’. I always figured we were solidly in the post Enlightenment era and as such science would always hold its authoritative place in society. But then came the wave of right-wing populism that brought us Brexit and then Donald Trump.
The idea for the March for Science seems to have been sparked by Trump’s authoritarian treatment of climate scientists – attempting to not only defund them but monitor and silence them too. But it quickly evolved into a more positive message – for science, for reason, for evidence, for truth, for facts. The remit is pretty broad and everyone had their own motivations. I can just tell you why I marched.
I am taking part in the #MarchForScience tomorrow because climate science is real but politicians are attacking and…
Why I marched:
- For climate science and climate scientists to be taken seriously
- For evidence-based policy (after peer review, of course)
- For rational and honest debate in politics
- Against the dangerous anti-intellectualism of Donald Trump and Michael Gove
- For science to be politically independent, well-funded, openly communicated, diverse and done to benefit the public good
- For appreciation of the Earth through science
My thoughts on the March for Science in London
I’ve been to a few protests and marches in my time and this was by far the most chilled. For a start, the police presence was barely existent. The security set-up seemed to consist of about six cheerful bobbies and an icecream van. Another key sign that this march was different came when me and my friend were hanging around outside the Science Museum with the crowds at the time it was meant to start. Expecting at least half an hour of faffing around, we were surprised when everyone marched off promptly at 12pm. Of course, scientists are precise.
It seemed clear to me that the majority of people were not your usual activists. It was refreshing to see a diverse crowd with plenty of families with their kids. The organisers didn’t provide their own signs, leaving the unorganised me empty-handed, but others had plenty of fantastic ones – I’ll show you my favourites in a minute. Judging by the signs, climate change seemed to be the number one issue on people’s minds, which I found encouraging.
There was disappointingly little chanting. I certainly didn’t miss the distasteful “Tory scum” chants that usually break out at these things. But I did feel it lacked some passion and buzz. It was remarkably quiet (apart from that legend with the “peer review” chant) and I thought a bit of good old fashioned chanting and shouting could have raised the energy a bit. Still, not having to witness violent face-offs between the anarchists and fascists was a blessing, as was not having to worry about being kettled by the cops. None of this is surprising given it was organised by scientists and nerdy science enthusiasts. All in all it was a quietly determined show of defiance and a celebration of science and its role in society.
Some of the best signs at the March for Science
This is a high entropy list. In no apparent order, here are some of the best signs I snapped at the march. (If you see yours and you’d like to be credited, get in touch and I will do so!)
So those are my favourites from an inspiring day. Did you take part? If so, why did you march? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @TheClimateLemon using #marchforscience.
Another thing: I have posted some of these over on my new Instagram page for The Climate Lemon. I’ll be sharing more snaps that communicate the everday experience of climate change and climate action, so check it out!