The Guild Office Marches for Science
On 22 April The Guild office, alongside colleagues from Ghent University and University of Louvain (UCL), joined people across the world in speaking up for science. At Place de l’Albertine in Brussels we participated in a “static” march where Jean-Pascal van Ypersele from UCL raised the timely question of how we can “better link policy-makers to scientist?”
César Alejandro Urbina Blanco, a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University, stressed that climate change has had a severe impact on the economy, stating that: “… an estimated 87% of the damage caused from natural disasters is due to climate change. In 2014, this amounted for 110 billion USD! That amount alone could have funded the Horizon 2020 programme, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme for a whole decade!” We are spending enormous sums on the damages caused by climate change, but not nearly enough on targeted research funding addressing global societal challenges resulting from climate change.
The march was originally organised as a response to the rise of ‘alternative facts’ in public debate in the US, which is also connected to threatened cuts to publicly funded research programmes. Yet, the marchers’ message resonated with others across the world, as “fake news” and “alternative facts” have become a part of people’s everyday life. The marchers’ exasperation with the misuses of science could be clearly seen with signs that read “the truth is alternative facts are lies” and “Science! The ultimate fact-checker”.
The March for Science sent a strong signal to policy makers and leaders across the world that despite recent attempts at restricting academic freedom the global scientific community is united in its pursuit of truth and knowledge.