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  April 21, 2017

The March for Science Seeks to Put Science on Government's Agenda


Given the Trump administration's attacks on science, the April 22 March for Science hopes give science the attention it deserves in government, says Trina Coleman of the National Society of Black Physicists
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SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

On Saturday, April 22nd, that's this Saturday, the first ever March for Science will take place in Washington, D.C. We at The Real News will be covering the event. The march is being co-organized by the Earth Day Network. And 400 related coordinated events are taking place across the world, including London, Toronto, Vancouver, and so forth. We'll be covering those events as well.

The event has been organized as a part of a global movement to defend the vital role science has in the environment, climate change challenges, health, safety, economics and government decision-making, largely in response to Trump administration, and the congressional assault on science.

March for Science is being organized by a very large coalition of organizations, including the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, the American Public Health Association, The American Federation of Teachers, and the National Council for Science and the Environment.

With us to discuss why her organization has partnered with The March for Science, we are joined by Dr. Trina Coleman. She is the Technical Executive Officer of the National Society of Black Physicists. She has a background in theoretical nuclear physics, and over 20 years experience in stem education, research, and higher education administration.

Dr. Coleman is currently the CEO of her IT and educational consulting firm, Coleman Comprehensive e-solutions.

Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Coleman.

TRINA COLEMAN: Thank you for having us today, as the society in general, but especially thank you for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: And, it's our pleasure. Tell us about the National Society of Black Physicists, and why you're partnering on this effort called the March for Science?

TRINA COLEMAN: Well, the National Society for Black Physicists was founded in 1977. We are a very large coalition of African-American physicists, and other nationalities are free to join as well. But we arose out of the need, as most of these organizations have, because of the diversity issues in science, and things like that.

But our organization is committed to science in general. We are all professionals, we mentor, we have student members. And this march is special, not just for physicists, but for science in general. And as professional scientists we have to be involved.

SHARMINI PERIES: Give us a sense of how this March for Science evolved, in terms of scientists coming together and discussing how important this is, and hitting the streets. I mean, these aren't your normal activists.

TRINA COLEMAN: Absolutely. You know, we are not your normal activists, because we, in general, haven't really had to fight a large fight. Science is critical to every day life, to everything that we all do. Science would not be done a justice, if we allow the types of activities that are going on in Washington to persist. And I find it ironic that this march has to happen while people are saying that scientists are irrelevant, or not as important as other things. And they're walking around using all kind of technological devices that were created by scientists, so, yes.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now in the past there's been a lot of doubt shed on science, particularly in relation to climate change. And climate change denial has been a very popular effort, in places like Congress and Senate, and in previous administrations. President Obama made some headway in terms of trying to correct past errors and put us on track, but now there's been a rolling back of all of that once again.

I understand places that have been doing research on issues of climate change, for example, and the dramatic effects it's having on our lives, and our climate due to say, CO2 and so forth, is one of the fight backs that is going on, on the part of scientists. Give us a sense of what is the greatest crisis that has mobilized the science community to come out.

TRINA COLEMAN: Well, yes, climate change was the area that has been focused on the most by the government in general, as being a myth, according to some, and also irrelevant to deal with at this time, or forever, according to some of these scientists. But one of the things that joins us together, with the climate change issue as scientists as whole, is that it's not just about climatologists. The climate changes, and the things that impact the atmosphere, are related to the work of various types of scientists.

For example, mathematicians have to be involved to help determine some of the things that are going on with the climate, physicists, chemists, biologists, etcetera. So, it is all our fight to fight, not just climate change, but also the attack on science in general, and the attempt to minimize our relevance.

SHARMINI PERIES: Dr. Coleman, tell us what your hopes are for outcomes from this march.

TRINA COLEMAN: My hope for the outcome to this march, is that, a) scientists can intermingle with each other, because we tend to collaborate as necessary. This is like more of a family, let's join forces type initiative. So, the outcome that I would like to see is, a) that we are heard by the relevant congressional members, senators, all the way up to the White House.

Yes, scientists are important, they need to be funded and supported, in order to, a) make sure that America stays in the game, with technology and science. And also to understand that targeting a particular profession is not helpful for the United States, or America, or the world in general.

So, there is a global movement to do this march, not just here in the United States, but around the world, to help support the relevance of science.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Dr. Coleman I wish you all the best on Saturday, and we'll look forward to being out there with you covering the event.

TRINA COLEMAN: Well, great. We need as much support as we can get. And I hope that everyone is out there, and they do get it. We need to make people get it. And that's what I hope to see is the biggest outcome.

SHARMINI PERIES: Great, all the best with that. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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