If all went according to plan yesterday, scientists will have put down their test tubes, switched off their Bunsen burners and taken to the streets as part of the global March for Science.

Apparently inspired by a throwaway suggestion on Reddit, the movement's mission statement read: "The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest."

They're scientists. No one said they had to write well.

But who, you might well ask, could possibly be against science? Millions of knuckle-dragging idiots, apparently, but if you want to find one person more than any other who's behind them, it's the knuckle dragger who seems to be behind anything that's troubling these days: Donald Trump.


As well as believing climate change remedies are part of a Chinese plan for world domination, and appointing a creationist to head a task force on higher education reform, Trump has cut billions of dollars in funding for research and scientific endeavour.

Science is like journalism.

It's based on research and facts and is used to describe the world and how it works. Naturally, Trump loathes both.

I hope the scientists and their friends came up with some good chants to buoy their spirits as they marched. Something like: "One, two, three, four, without us you wouldn't even be able to count that far." Or "What do we want? Parallel universes! Where do we want them? Everywhere!"

I know they put a lot of effort into preparing signs to carry, including one reading "Trump's team are like atoms: they make up everything!" They're scientists. No one said they had to be come up with good jokes.

Being good at science doesn't necessarily mean you're good at thinking in general and incredibly not all scientists supported the march. A survey in Nature magazine found some who said they wouldn't march because they were concerned the movement would politicise science.

Well, science has already been well and truly politicised by the politicians. And not just in the United States. One of Theresa May's first acts on becoming British prime minister was to shut down the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We did something similar here by putting Paula Bennett in charge of it

Science is the expendable plaything of politicians. John Key knew it could be quite glamorous when he established the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser and some prizes in 2008. In the wake of that ... not much has happened.

Physicist Jeff Tallon, writing in the Herald earlier this year, criticised the decision a few years ago to scrap tax credits for research and development and noted that investment in research, science and technology as a percentage of GDB fell steadily between 2009 and 2014.

The incumbent chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, KNZM FRSNZ FMedSci FRS, recently released a report on the state of our waterways which was widely quoted and prompted immediate action in the form of more than usually energetic head shaking and muttering.

Without "robustly funded and publicly communicated science" we would not be seeing the incredible recent advances in health, food production and awareness of environmental degradation and what we can do about it. We would not be enjoying rapidly expanding knowledge of the universe and how it works. We would not even have Netflix.

An attack on science is an attack on humanity's future.