In 1600, a former Dominican monk, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake. Among the charges brought against him by the Holy Office, cardinal Bellarmine mentioned: “he believes that he has demonstrated the cause of Earth’s movement and immobility of the firmament on the basis which did not – according to him – undermine the authority of the Holy Scriptures; he challenged the dogma of world creation with a doctrine of infinite and eternal world consisting of numerous worlds. He justified it with the words: he, who denies the infinity of cause, denies also the infinity of possibilities”. To save his life, Galileo rejected the Copernican heliocentric theory, allegedly uttering on his deathbed the words: “and yet it moves”.
Yet for centuries scientists were ready for the greatest sacrifices to learn about chemistry, physics, human and animal anatomy or plant biology. Each discovery is announced with triumph and hope for a subsequent breakthrough. Regress came at the end of the 20th century and one of the best examples of the mismatch between the world of science and its addressees is the anti-vaccination movement. In 2011 the World Health Organization declared North and South America free from polio. Europe freed itself from polio in 2001. This is the effect of introducing obligatory vaccinations after the pandemic that swept the northern hemisphere in the first half of the 20th century. The first vaccine against the disease was invented by a Pole – Hilary Koprowski. However, Polio, which was supposed to have been wiped out, is coming back. In 2014, it appeared in Ukraine where half the children had not been vaccinated due to the warfare in the Donbas region.
Not only scientists will defend science and its credibility during the march on the International Earth Day. The biggest March for Science will take place in Washington and will not be free from political references. The organizers of the US marches admit that they are protesting against the policies of the present President who appears to ignore or even oppose the scientific approach to solving key world problems. One of the first decisions of the new administration was to remove all references to global warming from the websites of the most important research centres such as NASA or the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At the end of February the newly appointed chairman of the Environmental Protection Agency announced a “very aggressive” revocation of regulations concerning CO2 emissions or methane emissions from gas and oil installations.
The Conference of Rectors of Public Schools informs that during the meeting of general secretaries of Rectors’ Conferences from different countries that took place at the yearly EUA conference in Bergen (5-7 April) it turned out that some national conferences actively support the March for Science. The French Conference of University Presidents (CPU) participates in organizing the marches in 15 cities and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) informs and encourages the representatives of academic circles to take part in the German marches. The marches are also promoted by rectors in Ireland, Austria, Holland and Belgium (Flanders). In Warsaw the information spreads through social media.
The aim of the marches is to remind the governments and public opinion of the key role of science in the development of societies. They express opposition to discrediting science or even negating its obvious achievements.