Marking Earth Day, thousands of people will march in cities ranging from Washington, DC, to Rio de Janeiro and Accra in support of science. This “March for Science” movement has emerged over concerns that the freedom of scientists to conduct and communicate their research is under threat in the United States and across the globe. These sentiments are amplified by concerns that the world has entered a “post-truth” era in which some politicians and other leaders regularly undercut accepted evidence – especially around politically controversial issues like climate change and environmental pollution.
We do not live in a post-truth world. Evidence still matters. Science still matters.
But in an era that has seen a rise in national populism, Future Earth, which brings together thousands of scientists from across the globe from all disciplines to promote sustainable development, believes that it is critical for the research community to push back against misinformation in politics and the media – in ways that are evidence-based and non-partisan. As the March for Science draws international attention to the role of science in society, we reiterate our commitment to several core principles:
- That natural and social scientists play a crucial role in society by providing the evidence that people need to make informed decisions about issues that have profound effects on their lives;
- That scientists must be able to conduct and communicate their research free of political interference;
- That the free movement of scientists and flow of data and information are critical to the success of scientific research.
These principles are not just important to the research community. They are cornerstones of economic and social development. Scientific data, for example, was central to the Montreal Protocol that nations agreed on in 1987. This decision led to the phasing out of compounds that had caused a potentially catastrophic hole to form in the ozone above Antarctica. New research shows that this hole may finally be stabilising and may fully recover.
In these decisive times, however, Future Earth also recognises that scientists and their work need to be more connected to the needs of the seven billion people who live on this planet. That is why we support engaged scientific research. This research brings together scientists with diverse voices from society, from community leaders to businesses and artists, so that they can collaboratively solve the greatest challenges facing the globe. And we need your help.
Future Earth will post an Earth Day 2017 resource page this week to highlight how you can get involved in our work and join the discussion around how scientists can advocate for evidence-based thinking. Stay tuned for updates.
About Future Earth
Future Earth is an international science programme that seeks to generate the knowledge needed to build transformations to a sustainable world. We design and produce research across a range of fields and in collaboration with the people, groups and institutions who can best put the results to use. To learn more about Future Earth and our work, visit our website at www.futureearth.org.
For more information about this statement, contact Alistair Scrutton, Director of Communications.