Protesters take to the streets in defense of science

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NEW YORK — Scientists, students and research advocates rallied from the Brandenburg Gate to the Washington Monument on Earth Day, conveying a global message of scientific freedom without political interference and spending necessary to make future breakthroughs possible.

The March for Science, coinciding with Earth Day, was set for more than 500 cities, anchored in Washington, D.C., and to be joined by dozens of nonpartisan scientific professional societies in a turnout intended to combine political and how-to science demonstrations.

“When the first time in recorded history scientists have to get together to form a march in support of science, something serious is going on,” Rockefeller University’s Erich Jarvis told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook, who is covering the march in Washington.

Organizers portrayed the march as political but not partisan, promoting the understanding of science as well as defending it from various attacks. They cited proposed federal cuts to the National Institutes of Health totaling $6 billion, or 18 percent of the institute’s budget.

The marches also come at a time when Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the planet. A CBS News poll found this week that just 12 percent of Americans believe the environment will improve for the next generation, while 57 percent said it will get worse.

Here are the highlights from marches and Earth Day events around the globe.

Washington, D.C.

Thousands of people stood outside the Washington Monument amid bouts of downpours, listening to a mix of speeches and music. Speakers noted that President Trump was in the White House nearby, having cancelled a weekend in New Jersey. 

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A crowd gathers for the March for Science in Washington, Saturday, April 22, 2017.

Sait Serkan Gurbuz, ASSOCIATED PRESS

This was the first protest for Jeannette Villabon and her son Nikko Chey of Stanhope, New Jersey. So Villabon went all out, donning a Tyrannosaurus rex costume and holding a sign that said: “Hey tiny hands fund EPA study. Quit being cretaceous.” 

Mr. Trump’s “archaic thinking is going to ruin us all,” Villabon said.

Other signs were only slightly less pointed, such as “edit genes not the truth,” ‘’data not dogma” and “global warming is real. Trump is the hoax.” Signs and banners readied for the Washington rally reflected anger, humor and obscure scientific references, such as a 7-year-old’s “No Taxation Without Taxonomy.” Taxonomy is the science of classifying animals, plants and other organisms. 

The sign that 9-year-old Sam Klimas held was red, handmade and personal: “Science saved my life.” He had a form of brain cancer and has been healthy for eight years now. His mother, grandmother and brother traveled with him from Parkersburg, West Virginia. “I have to do everything I can to oppose the policies of this administration,” said his grandmother, Susan Sharp.

New York City

In Manhattan, the March for Science began with a rally at 10:30 a.m. near Columbus Circle at Central Park West.

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Protesters line Central Park West during the Earth Day ‘March For Science NYC’ demonstration to coincide with similar marches globally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2017.

REUTERS

Thousands of participants walked down Broadway to midtown Manhattan. The march was set to end at West 52nd Street. A 1.6-mile stretch of Broadway was closed to cars for the march.

Marchers held signs with slogans such as, “The oceans are rising and so are we,” and, “Denial is not a policy,” CBS New York reports.

Some marchers also held signs with a silhouette of President Donald Trump and messages such as “absolute zero” and “black hole.”

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement honoring Earth Day and noting the challenges facing the environment.

“From combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions to safeguarding our coastal communities and strengthening resiliency in the face of extreme weather — New York must continue to lead the way forward,” Cuomo said.

Boston

Scientists from across Massachusetts are planning to gather on the Boston Common at 1 p.m. for a rally. 

Among those participating are scientists and researchers from Harvard University, MIT, Clark University, UMass-Lowell and Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Scheduled speakers at the rally include former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who has been sharply critical of Trump’s efforts to unravel former President Barack Obama’s plan to curb global warming.

Berlin

Several thousand people participated in a march from the one of the Berlin’s universities to the Brandenburg Gate landmark. 

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People hold a banner which reads “Science is borderless” as they take part in the March for Science in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on April 22, 2017.

JORG CARSTENSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Meike Weltin is a doctorate student at an environmental institute near Berlin. She said she was participating because – in her words – “I think that politics need to listen to sciences.”

Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has endorsed March for Science events across Germany. Gabriel says “free research and teaching are the supporting pillars of an open and modern society.”

London

Physicists, astronomers, biologists and celebrities gathered for a march past London’s most celebrated research institutions. Supporters carried signs showing images of a double helix and chemical symbols. 

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A protestor holds a placard as scientists and science enthusiasts participate in the ‘March for Science’ which celebrates the scientific method, in Westminster, central London on April 22, 2017, Earth Day.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The protest was putting scientists, who generally shy away from advocacy and whose work depends on objective experimentation, into a more public position.

Source: CBS News – United States

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