Science geeks turn out in droves at Montreal's March for Science
Published Saturday, April 22, 2017 2:45PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 22, 2017 6:55PM EDT
Hundreds of scientists and science lovers marched through downtown Montreal on Saturday afternoon with a specific message for the world: we’re geeks and we want you to be, too.
It was one of many such Marches for Science being held across the world, protesting against proposed American government cuts to funding as well as general attacks on science in general and on climate change science in particular.
“We want to remind people that science is very important to society,” said Jeremy Bouchez, a co-organizer of the march and editor of a Universite de Montreal science blog. “In the past months, we’ve seen the Trump administration attack science in different ways. This is a way to remind people that science is a cornerstone of democracies.”
With the United States a world leader in scientific research and innovation, Bouchez what happens there can affect the entire world. He pointed to proposed cuts to the American Environmental Protection Agency and to restoration programs for the Great Lakes as being of specific concern to Canadians.
With many in the crowd sporting lab coats and waving signs saying science is not a liberal conspiracy, there was ample frustration with the direction of the conversation surrounding climate change.
McGill immunology PhD student Caitlin Schneider, who came to study in Montreal from Texas, said she brought her Canadian friends with her as a sign of solidarity against cuts to environmental protections in the United States as well as statements made by the Trump administration that were skeptical of climate change.
“It’s very upsetting to see every single climate change act basically repealed since Trump’s been in office and the budget’s been slashed,” she said.
Still, she believes the tone can change but the duty falls to scientists to better communicate that “science is for everyone.”
“I think part of the onus is definitely on scientists for not communicating very well,” she said. “I think that seeing the turnout today, that’s changing.”
Aimee Ryan, an associate professor in human genetics and pediatrics at McGill University, said that while putting pressure on the government to increase funding for scientific research is important, equally important is making the general public aware of its importance in their lives.
“We, as scientists, want more funding from the government but I think it’s also important that the stakeholders in the taxpayer base understand the importance of science in their lives,” she said. “I think we’re all hit with so many things in our lives, we forget that everything we eat, we wear, we watch, our devices we play with, everything we take advantage of every day has been brought to us by science and technology development.”