President Trump’s decision to constrain and muzzle scientific research signals an important milestone. The War on Science has shifted into high gear. This is a fight for our future, and scientists as well as citizens had better prepare for what is coming next.

At his confirmation hearings last week, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled the new language of this war—a subtle, yet potentially damaging form of science skepticism. Manmade climate change, he says, is “subject to continuing debate.” There is reason to be concerned about methane released by fracking, but he’s “not deeply concerned.” And research on lead poisoning is “not something [he has] looked into.”

These might sound like quibbles compared to the larger cultural and political upheavals happening in America today, but collectively, they add up to something big.

The systematic use of so-called “uncertainty” surrounding well-established scientific ideas has proven to be a reliable method for manipulating public perception and stalling political action. And while certain private interests and their political allies may benefit from these tactics, the damages are something we will all have to face.

Make no mistake: the War on Science is going to affect you, whether you are a scientist or not. It is going to affect everything—ranging from the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the kind of planet we live on. It will affect the kinds of diseases we get and the medicines we can use. It will determine our safety and security, and the privacy of our data and personal lives. It will dictate what our kids are taught in our schools, what is discussed in the news, and what is debated in the halls of Congress. It will affect the jobs we have, the kind of industries that thrive here, and what powers our economy.

The reality is that science touches everything we do, and everyone we love, which is why the War on Science is so deadly serious. This is a war that needs to be won. But in order to do so, scientists and science supporters—including those participating in the upcoming March for Science—need to take a new tack.

Here, to start with, is what we recommend:

1. Portray an Inclusive Vision

First and foremost, science supporters must articulate a very clear choice about the future that all Americans can relate to. Not something abstract, which only scientists care about—like the levels of research funding, the criticisms of evolutionary biology, or the pressures on government scientists. This needs to be a choice that every American can appreciate and understand.

Do we want to be the America that embraces science and the pursuit of knowledge to advance our health, safety, prosperity, and security, making America the leader of the civilized world?

Or do want America to mimic failed regimes of the past, where knowledge and science were deliberately suppressed to benefit a few, to funnel more profits into dying industries, and placate the prejudices of a mob?

Do we want to be the America of the space race and the Kennedy era, where anything seemed possible, and our science and engineering prowess was the envy of the world? Or do we want to enter a new Dark Age where science is ignored and muzzled?

Many of us still hold on to a powerful vision of America—the America we grew up in, and still believe in—that embraces the benefits of science, technology, and engineering. This is the America that defeated fascism. It won the cold war. It landed on the moon. It cured polio. It is the home of Silicon Valley, Jonas Salk, and the Apollo mission. It is the nation that led the world in openness, discovery, and innovation. It is the beacon of knowledge and hope for the world.

This is the America many of us want to live in.

And we need more everyday Americans to identify with this vision of what science can do, and to believe in it. Only then can we inspire them to advocate for it too.

2. Do Get Political

Traditionally, scientists have been coached to steer clear of the political fray. But if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that now is the time for a quantum leap of political relevance.

Science is intimately connected to politics. It always has been. After all, politics is how we are supposed to solve problems in a democratic society, and science is crucial to nearly everything we do—our economy, our health, our security, our very future. You cannot isolate science from politics, or politics from science. To try is folly.

That is precisely why scientists shouldn’t shy away from engaging in political conversations. Now more than ever, it is necessary to be participating in them.

We can start by doing a better job of demonstrating the critical role that science plays in people’s everyday lives. What are the tangible benefits of science to society, and why does investing in science benefit everyone? Furthermore, modern democracies need scientists to help us navigate highly complex issues—like emerging diseases, food safety, genetic engineering, nuclear energy, data privacy, vaccines, and climate change.

Science advocates should also pose important political questions, taking a more direct part in shaping the national discourse. For example, when “skeptics” try to undermine the validity of climate science, let’s explore their underlying motives and desired outcomes, rather than simply defending the data. And when research gets defunded or even censored, let’s pose the larger issue of why politicians, not scientists, get to decide what research is a priority?

Of course, scientists should always be professional, prudent, and mindful to stick to their areas of expertise. Also, scientists should avoid partisanship. But the discourse of any modern nation depends on scientific knowledge and, increasingly, scientific insights. If scientists don’t lend their expertise on scientific issues to our broader political conversations, who will?

3. Don’t Fall into the “Culture War” Trap

We cannot ignore the fact that the War on Science is partly fueled by deepening social divisions over class, education, religion, urban vs. rural lifestyles, and a growing distrust in “experts” in America. This is all part of the larger Culture War we see in the country today, and its flames are being fanned by opportunistic politicians and media icons who are intentionally trying to divide us.

Our advice to scientists: Don’t fall for it.

To focus on these false divisions is to get bogged down in fights over things like creationism versus evolution, faith versus science, and our different views about our place in the universe.

Rather than magnifying these existential differences, scientists and science supporters would be wise to find common ground with people of faith. Given what we are up against, today’s truth-seeking scientists might have more in common with value-driven communities than most people realize.

At the very least, we all share a deeply-held fascination with our natural world. The search for meaning, the understanding of something bigger than ourselves, is of universal significance. In this way, science and religion are allies. Texas Tech professor Katharine Hayhoe is a wonderful example of someone who is bridging these two worlds, and creating a constructive dialogue.

Unfortunately, some science advocates attack people of faith, often employing a highly arrogant tone. But for every “fan” these smug experts win to their side, they lose dozens more. This hurts the cause of science, and reflects a perceived elitism that we must jettison.

4. Balance Facts with Meaningful Stories

In today’s world, facts alone are not enough to win debates, let alone people’s hearts and minds. Research shows that increasing scientific knowledge can often deepen the divide between people on polarizing issues. “Individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values,” a recent study points out.

On the other hand, stories help build bridges of mutual understanding. They break down the barriers that keep people wedged into their preconceived notions, promoting empathy, trust, inspiration, and hope.

Astronomer Carl Sagan was a master storyteller. He had a way of weaving together the elements of science and wonder, and insight and awe. His pieces always ended not with a declaration that his was the sum of all knowledge, but rather with the invitation for the audience to go out and discover answers for themselves.

Not all scientist are great storytellers like Sagan, but nearly all scientists have great stories to tell. If probed, most will tell you how they always knew they wanted to be a scientist. Maybe they were the innately curious kid, who played in ponds, shorelines, and with weird electronics in their garage. Maybe they wanted to know how the world really worked, and didn’t mind getting their hands dirty in the process. Most likely, they were inspired by the natural world, or the inner working of machines, or the wonders of medicine. An inner spark was ignited and never went out, and they continue to carry it throughout their lives.

It often helps for people to understand the life story behind the science. Such context can go a long way in terms of building trust and helping the hard facts get through.

5. Be Forceful

Finally, let’s not sugar coat the significance of this war. It is something to be hard won.

Powerful interests, some with huge profits at stake, have tried to undermine America’s scientists for decades. They’ve intimidated scientists. They’ve ridiculed them. (Occasionally, incited zealots have even threatened to kill them.) Powerful interests have also put up other so-called “experts” who try to dispute the overwhelming body of evidence, yet somehow offering none of their own, to deliberately sow confusion into the public consciousness.

These Merchants of Doubt execute an effective strategy. That is—if we let them.

At its heart, the War on Science is often an attempt to de-regulate industry and weaken environmental laws. Stifling science—especially on topics like climate change, toxic pollution, unsustainable agriculture, and animal welfare—is part of a ploy to undermine these safeguards, and to cast doubt on inconvenient scientific truths, all in the service of profits and power.

It’s time to call out this merciless greed and ignorance. The short-term gains of a few corporations and individuals must no longer rise above our national interests, our long-term economic competitiveness, and most importantly, our individual safety, health and wellbeing.

So, let’s not be timid. Let’s call things as they are.

America has a choice to make. A choice between advancing civilization or bringing it down. A choice between knowledge and chaos.

Now, everyone must choose which side they are on.