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March for Science events to take place around the globe

Scientists, students and research advocates rallied from the Brandenburg Gate to the Washington Monument on Earth Day, conveying a global message of scientific freedom without political interference and spending necessary to make future breakthroughs possible. “We didn’t choose to be in this battle, but it has come to the point where we have to fight because the stakes are too great,” said climate scientist Michael Mann, who regularly clashes with politicians.

Standing on the National Mall with thousands soaked by rain Saturday, Mann said that like other scientists, he would rather be in his lab, the field or teaching students. But driving his advocacy are officials who deny his research that shows rising global temperatures.

In Gainesville, Florida, more than 1,000 people stretched through the city’s streets.

“Most people don’t know how much funding for the sciences supports them in their lives every day. Every medical breakthrough, their food, clothing, our cellphones, our computers, all that is science-based,” said Pati Vitt, a plant scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “So if we stop funding scientific discoveries now, in 10 years, whatever we might have had won’t be, we just won’t have it.”

At the event in Nashville, Tennessee, where marchers shouted “science, not silence,” lawyer Jatin Shah brought his sons, a 5-year-old who wants to be a dentist and 6-year-old who plans to be a doctor. Shah worries about the boys’ futures if money is cut for the sciences.

“I fear that we’re not going to have the planet that you and I grew up on unless we find new ways to make this earth as livable as possible for as long as we can,” Shah said. “And we’re not going to have as intellectual a society as we should. We need as many people as possible to be educated in the sciences.”

People there carried signs that said “there is no planet B,” ”make America think again” and “climate change is real, ask any polar bear.”

Marchers in Geneva held signs that said, “Science — A Candle in the Dark” and “Science is the Answer.” In Berlin, several thousand people participated in a march from one of the city’s universities to the landmark Brandenburg Gate. “‘We need to make more of our decisions based on facts again and less on emotions,” said Meike Weltin, a doctorate student at an environmental institute near the capital.

In London, physicists, astronomers, biologists and celebrities gathered for a march past the city’s most celebrated research institutions. Supporters carried signs showing images of a double helix and chemical symbols. In Spain, hundreds assembled in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. (click here for more: www.associatedpress.com)

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