On Saturday 14th April 2018, more than half a million people in five continents took to the streets for the March for Science. In Germany, the march in 20 cities brought people together who are for freedom of research and against populist oversimplification.
March for Science – what began on Earth Day a year ago in the US capital Washington DC, soon became a worldwide movement which, now in its second year, has firmly established itself and evolved.
In Münster and Cologne, the two participating cities in NRW, about 1,000 people in all turned out to protest. The Cologne March was organised from Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal und Cologne by a small group of volunteers. “We are twelve people who found each other via Twitter and Facebook – we didn’t know each other previously,” says the event organiser.
Ranga Yogeshwar: “Fight fear with facts!”
The speakers at the rally in Cologne – including NRW Minister of Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, criminologist Mark Benecke and the science slammer Reinhard Remfort – expressed their deep concerns about the fact that scientists in many countries are being persecuted and suppressed. Further topics of the addresses were the rising scepticism towards science among the general public, the increasing influence of conspiracy theories and the threat to democratic discourse posed by populist oversimplification or straightforward denial of evident facts. The scientific journalist and RWTH alumnus Ranga Yogeshwar made a plea for rationality: “Fight fear with facts!”
Another participant at the demo, Reinhold Ewald – former astronaut, today professor of astronautics – talked in an interview with the TV channel WDR about dangerous tendencies, for example in the USA, where President Trump is denying climate change and making political decisions based on his standpoint. “That is really dangerous,” said Ewald.
But, according to the organisers, the same danger is present in Germany, too, where attempts are being made by “anti-democratic forces to discredit solid evidence by presenting mere opinions as having equal validity.”
According to the organisers, over 1.3 million people around the world took part in the March for Science last year – in Germany alone more than 37,000.