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Scientists plan march opposing Trump’s policies

Washington, D.C. -- 1/21/2017 - Protesters fill Pennsylvania Avenue during a rally at the Women's March on Washington. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) Topic: 22nationalmarch Reporter:
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff
Protesters filled Pennsylvania Avenue Saturday during the Women’s March on Washington. A similar march focused on science has been proposed, though a date has yet to be announced.

It’s not just women who have organized to express their frustration with President Trump’s controversial policies and provocative statements.

More than 700,000 people have connected through social media around a proposed Scientists’ March on Washington — date yet to be announced. A Boston march has been scheduled for April 22.

The group has had an online presence since Saturday — the day that millions took the streets for Women’s Marches in Washington, Boston, and elsewhere around the world.

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The organizers have set up a website, as well as accounts on Twitter (more than 220,000 followers), Facebook (more than 5,500 followers), and Reddit (more than 700 upvotes for its Subreddit welcome page). A private Facebook group for the event has more than 700,000 members.

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In its postings, the group does not name Trump, though it does attack policies he has begun to enact in the week since his inauguration.

“Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy,” says a statement on the group’s website.

The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Globe early Friday morning.

Trump has made several disputed scientific claims and has embraced policies that many scientists and doctors fear will endanger the environment and public health.

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He has publicly criticized the National Institutes of Health; expressed support for defunding Planned Parenthood; vowed to eliminate Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act; and suggested that vaccines cause autism.

Earlier this month, Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has also promoted the discredited belief that there is a connection between vaccines and autism, and asked him to chair a panel on vaccine safety.

Trump has also called man-made climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, despite broad scientific consensus that the Earth is warming.

During the presidential transition, his team requested from the US Energy Department the names of workers who helped implement former president Obama’s climate policy. The department declined.

Since Trump took office, his administration has taken down the official White House climate change webpage and ordered a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency, also blocking the agency’s staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.

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On Tuesday, the agency moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules finalized in the last months of Obama’s term.

On Wednesday, Trump’s EPA transition communications director, Doug Ericksen, said the administration is mandating that political appointees review any studies or data from scientists at the EPA before the information is released to the public.

Some people both inside and outside the federal government have taken to social media in response.

The official Twitter account for South Dakota’s Badlands National Park posted several messages about climate change in quick succession on Tueday afternoon. After the messages were deleted a few hours later, a National Park Service official said they had been posted by a former employee without authorization to use the account.

Then, on Wednesday, several other Park Service accounts posted tweets referencing climate change.

Several Twitter accounts have been created that purport to be run by federal employees acting against official orders, including @AltUSNatParkService, @rogueNASA, @Alt_CDC, and @altUSEPA.

The group behind the March for Science seems inclined to sidestep direct confrontations with Trump and instead to promote curiosity, interest in the sciences, and concern for the future repercussions of today’s actions.

But it does promote news coverage critical of Trump’s policies.

The group says on its website that science is a nonpartisan issue and that some scientific information must simply be accepted as fact.

“The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action,” it says. “The diversity of life arose by evolution. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.