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Solidarity for science: Halifax rally planned to support Washington March for Science

This weekend's Earth Day science rally in Halifax is one of more than 500 planned worldwide.

Science student Orrin Young takes part in the Stand Up for Science rally in 2013.

Metro file

Science student Orrin Young takes part in the Stand Up for Science rally in 2013.

A group of local scientists are hoping for a large turnout this weekend when they rally in solidarity with the Washington March for Science.

More than 500 cities worldwide are planning to support the Washington marchers on Earth Day this Saturday. That includes a Halifax contingent that will gather at Grand Parade from 11 a.m. to noon.

“Whether we like it or not, we’re living in an era where science is under attack and science funding is under attack,” said Richard Zurawski, a scientist and HRM councillor.

“Scientists are having a lot of difficulty with government institutions and getting funding for research, and the only way we move ahead as a civilization and as a culture is with undirected scientific research. Nothing else works. We don’t know where the answers lie, and that is why this is important.”

Zurawski said they’re encouraging everyone to attend the support rally because the repercussions of limiting undirected science and not allowing scientists to be “unfettered and free” would impact us all.

“What most people don’t realize is that science is something that can disappear so quickly and get subsumed by organizations that have dogmatic approaches, that figure that they have the answers,” he said.

“It’s not just that we had the Harper government before or Trump (in the U.S.)... Look at what the federal government is doing now. We open up the Donkin coal mine in Nova Scotia, and at the same time say that we are going to do something about climate change. That’s pseudo science. You don’t get to have both.”

The backlash against science is widespread and has far reaching implications, Zurawski said. That’s why scientists and their supporters are standing together on Earth Day to call for science that upholds the common good.

“We’re building new medical facilities, we’re talking about doing new research for diseases, we’re looking at vaccinations for HIV, cures for diseases like the hemorrhagic diseases coming out of Africa,” he said.

“In addition to that we are progressing ahead to understanding what the universe looks like. Some of it is directed, some of it is undirected, but it’s all important to our civilization."

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