Hundreds of scientists, medics, engineers and other researchers will assemble in Whitehall tomorrow to protest about funding cuts. The Science Is Vital campaign has secured support from over 20,000 petition signatories, who believe that funding for research is vital to the UK's economy and should be seen as a solution to our economic doldrums rather than something that needs pruning.
Most sectors will suffer heavy cuts in the weeks to come, and all have their arguments for why funding should be sustained. Few areas of the economy, though, have a case as strong as the research community. Spending just 0.55% of GDP on research (much less than many nations), and with just 1% of the planet's scientists, the UK produces some 14% of the most highly rated scientific papers in the world. Historical precedents and recent examples from overseas suggest that boosting research spending is a stimulus for boosting the economy as a whole. And that's before we get on to why science is vital for curing diseases and improving wellbeing, mitigating the effects of climate change, fueling new technologies, and generally contributing to our sense of wonder at the complexity and beauty of our world.
If any of those things are important to you, gather on King Charles Street opposite Her Majesty's Treasury at 2 pm tomorrow (Saturday 8 October). If you can't make it, please consider signing the petition and writing to your MP.