The cuts the conservative Spanish government is implementing are affecting just about everyone. One such sector which is feeling the severity of these cuts is the scientific community which relies primarily on public funding to continue its vital investigations. Rajoy´s government cuts could exceed 25% of researchers´ funding “effectively paralysing most research” said Silbia Lopez de Lacalle from the Communication and Outreach Unit at the Andalusia Institute of Astrophysics IAA-CSIC in Granada.
Protests are becoming ever more common in every sector in Spain affected by the austerity measures. The IAA is leading the scientific community in protest against these cuts. Starting from last July the scientists have taken time out from their lunch break to gather outside their institute every day at noon carrying banners denouncing the austerity measures and raising awareness of the importance of scientific investigation. They have also turned the façade of the IAA into a permanent protest gallery with home-made banners and signs.
Apart from the direct threat on investigation there is “the very serious threat of a large-scale brain drain” warned Silbia Lopez de Lacalle, which is affecting young scientists as well as veterans. “In the 10 years I have worked here the number of investigators rose from about 70 to about 200 with a great mix of creative young scientists and experienced veterans essential for good investigative work.” All of this is starting to suffer irreparable damage with the double edged sword of austerity cuts and brain drain, a phenomenon not exclusive to the scientific community in Spain.
The IAA is planning to continue and expand their protest. They have a dedicated page on their website called SOS Ciencia en la Calle – “Science in the Street, what you lose if science loses” with a busy program of activities to express their discontent and critically to raise the public awareness of the gravity of the situation and the severe damage to Spanish science the austerity measures are causing as well as rallying the scientific community to join forces. Some of these activities include a flashmob in Granada, and a scientific encounter in the street with experiments, telescopes and face-to-face meetings with the investigators who will explain their work to the public. This event is planned for the 14 and 21 of September, however this remains provisional as the local Popular Party town hall has not been particularly cooperative in granting the needed permissions. In addition the scientists continue concentrating outside the IAA at the Glorieta de la Astronomía at noon every Thursday.
Check out the institute protest page at: http://www.iaa.es/cienciaenlacalle to stay up to date with the latest activities.
As one of the banners says: “Without science, there is no future.”
Syk Houdeib – Thursday 6 September 2012
~ A Sphere Point original article