Thousands of people in Berlin turned out for the first March for Science being held in more than 600 cities worldwide on Saturday due to growing concern about U.S. President Donald Trump’s climate change skepticism and cuts to research funding. Demonstrators carried signs reading “We love experts – those with evidence” and “Science not Silence” for the march from Humboldt University toward the Brandenburg Gate, led by mayor Michael Mueller and the leaders of the city’s universities. “There are no alternatives to facts,” read one large banner, referencing a term used by White House official Kellyanne Conway during a dispute with the media over the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.
The marchers also stopped briefly at the Hungarian embassy to protest a new Hungarian law that has threatened to close a university funded by financier George Soros. Organisers said 11,000 people took part in the event, which they said aimed to highlight the importance of science and evidence-based knowledge in democracies. “We Berliners know from our own history what the repression of freedom means. That is why we have a particular responsibility to mobilise for free science and an open and tolerant society,” Mueller told marchers.
The march, timed to coincide with Earth Day, comes after moves by Trump to cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health. “Science is necessary. In my opinion empirical science is the key to progress by the culture and civilisation we have developed,” marcher Hagen Esterberg told Reuters TV. Maria Pohle said she joined the march to show support “for the science which is not only threatened in America, but also in Europe and everywhere in the world.”