April 22, 2017 6:37 pm
Updated: April 22, 2017 8:55 pm

‘Everything we enjoy, it’s all from science:’ Calgarians join worldwide March for Science

WATCH ABOVE: The marches for science took place in more than 500 cities around the world, including Calgary. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the dean of science at the U of C is calling on more researchers to come forward to protect our future.

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Around 400 people showed up at Olympic Plaza in Calgary for the March for Science Saturday.

People carried signs that read “Don’t bring opinions to a fact fight” and “Thank you science for vaccines and clean water.” They marched in support of scientists around the world.

The March for Science is being called the first step of the global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety and economy.

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“I just feel like all the defunding that’s going on for medical research and things like that, is the wrong way that we should be going as a society. I think we should be increasing funding for that kind of thing,” SAIT student Amanda Johnson said.

Many of the people at the rally were concerned about proposed funding cuts in the U.S. to departments like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Health.

Scientists at the rally call the cuts short-sighted, saying public funding has always been essential for long-term projects.

“It’s driven by what we can do in the next quarter and what we can do in the next year. That’s how capitalism runs and that’s how businesses are run and I understand that. But I think you do need organizations that can take a longer-term view and I think that’s where government plays a role,” Stephan Doyle said. “We have to invest in these things now. Primary research has to be funded by the government, no companies will do it.”

Organizers call the march a chance for scientists to get the message out about how valuable their research is. They call it a time to re-think how they communicate with the masses so that governments will ultimately be influenced.

“They tend to sit in their offices and write papers that are very informative and just let those papers do the talking for them. I think now is the time for them to be out there pushing for good policy,” Dr. Joel Vipond, a Foothills Medical Centre emergency physician, said.

Dr. Vipond said having children is his motivation for joining the rally.

“This is about them. We’re starting to see the impacts of climate change on our lives right now but their futures are at risk,” Dr. Vipond said.

The Dean of Science at the University of Calgary, Lesley Rigg, was also at the rally with many of her colleagues.

“This is a great turn out. I’m excited, I’m really inspired,” said Lesley Rigg.

Rigg said there’s been a turning point in the last few years where more scientists are coming forward. Rigg said the onus is on scientists to be more vocal to really express what it is they are doing to the public.

“It’s essential [to have] these kinds of events, which are focused on fact and not on alternate facts. The more we can have people understand what we do and the value of what we do – the better,” Rigg said.

“These kinds of events are really crucial. I will tell you there are a number of really key scientist from the University of Calgary in the crowd. I’m looking at them all right now holding signs and looking proud and wanted to get the word out,” Rigg said.

 

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