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Midnight sun and science marches: Norway steps out

Next up: A trip to the land of the ice and snow, to the land of the fjords where five marches are slated on April 22.

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This year, Norway was named the “Happiest Country in the World” by the United Nations annual World Happiness Report.

With a population somewhere between Minnesota and South Carolina, Norway has a thriving scientific community and dozens of national organizations and societies that support science and scientists.

From the formal Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters with its internationally recognized Abel Prize in Mathematics and Kavli Prize in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience, to the grassroots elder group Besteforeldrenes Klimaaksjon (The Grandparents Climate Campaign) and the fun but educational organization Miljøagentene, where children learn to be 'Environmental Agents' — the sheer variety of groups is as impressive as their number.

<strong>Scandinavian science. </strong> Five sites in Norway are hosting marches on Earth Day, and you're welcome to join. Courtesy March for Science, Norway.

In Norway, we’re not only busy celebrating, supporting, and teaching science, we’re also planning at least five nation-wide marches for April 22, in solidarity with the March for Science in Washington DC.

Good life

As Americans, North, Central, and South, we have it good in Norway. We are happy for many of the same reasons that most Norwegians are happy: A high standard of living, a robust social welfare system, free and accessible higher education, and a cultural appreciation for freedom and human rights.

And while it is expensive to live here, we know that not all costs are economic and that many of our friends and colleagues both in the US and around the world are paying a much higher price as scientists than we ever will.

Watching the defunding, ridiculing, and dismissal of science and scientists is like watching the lights go out, one by one.

Without exception, each of us who are engaged in the March for Science Norway has watched the events unfolding in the US with horror and fear. Though we are not there, we have friends, family members, and colleagues who are.

We have come to appreciate not only what we have while we are here in Norway, but what is at stake. Watching the defunding, ridiculing, and dismissal of science and scientists is like watching the lights go out, one by one.

March motives

While our backstories vary a great deal, each of us involved in the national leadership and in organizing the city marches in Bergen, Bodø, Oslo, Tromsø, and Trondheim shares a few very simple motivations for the time we’re spending volunteering, organizing, and ultimately marching.

First, we’re doing it because we don’t have to march for ourselves. We have it good and feel a fairly strong sense of national and governmental support for our work and ourselves. We march for those who do not.

Second, we have watched how easily funding can be cut and political climates can change. We’re ok now, but may not always be, as those of us from Canada know only too well. We march to ensure that as many people as possible know how much science and what we do matters.

Our final reason for marching is that our first two reasons aren’t as good as they might seem — if science and scientists take a hit anywhere else, we as a communtiy of scientists and science as an international pursuit are affected.

Climate science is a perfect example: When information is deleted or when voices are silenced, the entire field suffers.

<strong>Sign of the times. </strong> In any language, science is important to humans and other living things. Courtesy March for Science, Norway.

Climate affects all of us; we share a single planet and climate trends and changes do not start or stop based on politics or national borders. The study of climate cannot afford to either.

So yes, we here in Norway, in the world’s happiest country, with our robust science support and community, have also been affected.

To put it in terms of a cultural meme most of us appreciate, there has been a very real disturbance in the force for science.

We march because, quite simply, we cannot afford to lose the data or our colleagues.

We depend on them, and believe that our world and our happiness does too.

~Erika Palmer

~Claudia Melim-McLeod

~Anna Mazzarella

~Denna Hintze

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