One of the main events at Saturday's March will be our speaker panel. We wanted to take a moment to address some of the questions we've had about our choice to invite Senator Jacobs and Congressman Higgins to speak after the panel.
To start, a quick note about the mission of the March for Science movement:
The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
Political decision-making that impacts the lives of Americans and the world at large should make use of peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus...
All of Saturday's speakers are in agreement with these goals - including both of our political speakers, Senator Chris Jacobs and Congressman Brian Higgins.
Senator Jacobs (R) has a record of environmental support and leadership that he has demonstrated throughout his career as a local politician. This includes his support for the Niagara River Greenway project and clean water legislation as well as his support for funding scientific studies to gain insight before passing legislation.(, , )
Congressman Higgins (D) also has a record of environmental support and leadership, including his support to send disaster funding to Flint, MI to assist with their ongoing water crisis, voting to preserver our environment on several bills introduced protect public lands, develop clean energy, and fighting for the Solar Tax Credit in NYS(,,,,)
At this point is is probably clear that in addition to choosing two pro-science members of government, we also chose a speaker from each party. Since science supporters are diverse, we wanted to take the opportunity to include that diversity in our speaker panel - both in terms of the speakers backgrounds and their political views. This diversity will help us explore the current issues in greater depth, avoid being caught up in "group think", and will also hopefully foster new allies that previously held disparate points of view. It is also absolutely vital for all political parties to be pro-science so that science remains objective, as David Sedlak of Environmental Science & Technology explained:
"[Scientific] community members have legitimate concerns about the implications of environmental activism in the research world because it undermines the standing of academics as objective seekers of truth"
To this end, science in politics has had mixed success. While it is now routine and almost considered a prerequisite to have scientific studies to provide relevant data to justify (or not) potential legislation, it is also the case that political parties can and will (rightly) question these findings. Despite the fact that skepticism has a firm and welcome place in the scientific process, unfortunately in excess it can become the case that the result is actually increase confusion rather than clarity and sometimes even outright dismissal of the data. The co-chairs of the DC march expressed this sentiment when they acknowledged that all political parties suppress science when it doesn’t support their view.
Something else to remember: as we embark on Saturday's march and beyond, in order to open the minds of others to our perspective we must first open our minds to theirs and appreciate where they are coming from. All the more reason to have diverse marchers, diverse organizers, and diverse speakers!
We hope you find this blog post helpful and we look forward to seeing you on Saturday!
Blog post co-authored by Nick Stuckert, one of the Sponsorship and Fundraising Co-Chairs for the Buffalo March for Science.