Monday

28th Sep 2020

Thousands to march in defence of science

  • Demonstrators at the Boston Rally for Science, 19 February 2017. (Photo: AnubisAbyss)

Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.

The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • A Nasa picture of Gibraltar.

Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.

But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.

"We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public," MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.

They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.

Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day's theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.

Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics "out of frustration that politicians made so little with science".

"We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves," he added.

Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.

"They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don't think it's lobbying what you are doing, it's about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process," he said.

This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.

The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.

But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission's preferred scenario as the best option.

"If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don't blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them," Eickhout said.

Trump's actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn't so sure.

"If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump's election as an opportunity," the Dutch MEP said.

The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.

Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.

In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change", just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.

His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.

Interview

Sikorski: Let's give Trump time to be 'educated'

Former Polish foreign minister said he hoped new US president will learn how the world works and that EU leaders have "enough statesmanship" to steer Europe out of trouble.

EU warns tech giants 'time to go beyond self-reguation'

The European Commission has concluded that code of practice to fight disinformation fails to guarantee enough transparency and accountability from tech platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter - saying it is time to go beyond this self-regulatory mechanism.

Facebook cries foul on EU request for internal documents

Facebook, a US tech giant known for abusing its users' private data, has filed a complaint at the EU court in Luxembourg, saying the EU Commission's data request was too broad and would affect its employees' medical and financial information.

Column

Four tweets broke Facebook - good news for EU regulators

Facebook PR chief Nick Clegg tried to make us believe that it is comparable to a phone company. Nothing could be further from the truth. His company decides which messages users see. It literally "ranks" content.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Caucasus warfare prompts EU alarm
  2. Summit reloaded and last Brexit round This WEEK
  3. EU denies 'clandestine' mission on Venezuela election date
  4. Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds
  5. Now's the time to give QMV a chance in EU foreign policy
  6. European hiccups on the way to West Africa
  7. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  8. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us