Why are Western New Yorkers Marching for Science on Earth Day?

If you live in Western New York, it’s likely you think science makes your life better. Nearly 80% of Americans reported thinking the same in a 2014 Pew Research Center Survey. Western New York as we know it exists because of hard work and science.

We’re currently the home of the first U.S. clinical trial for an innovative lung cancer vaccine and historically the birthplace of early prostate cancer detection at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The #1 U.S. fossil park is Penn Dixie and we know how to enjoy Tifft Nature Preserve when the weather brightens up. As we look to new economic opportunities, energy creators at Solar City, tablet computer makers at bak USA, and tech innovation incubators at dig step forward to move Buffalo’s legacy forward.

So it’s no surprise that when science is under attack at the federal level, Western New Yorkers stand up with the March for Science Movement across the country to protect science education, the environment, science accessibility, public health, and evidence based policy making.

The majority of Americans reported believing government funding for science is essential for America’s success in 2014. On the federal chopping block is almost 20% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. Over 80% of NIH resources go to biomedical research and training programs, including over 30 million in the 26th congressional district across the University at Buffalo, research institutions, and biotech companies.

Next on the chopping block is the entire NASA Education office; providing internships and scholarships for young scientists, supporting women and underrepresented minorities in science, and funding programming at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

The vast majority of American’s want clean air and water and safe land free of toxic chemicals. In the aftermath of the Bethlehem Steel Fire in Lackawanna this past November, the EPA was there to monitor air quality and assess the safety of the neighborhood adjacent to the former factory. The EPA is facing tremendous losses: 31% of its budget, 25% of its employees, and 56 programs including pesticide safety and water runoff control. In Western New York we’re also facing a 97% budget cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, negatively impacting economic development and quality of life in the area.

Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recently issued a statement that the proposed federal budget plan, "would cripple the science and technology enterprise." As of March 17th almost 700 Western New Yorkers have RSVPd and 2,000 have shown interest online for the Buffalo March for Science because we cannot afford that loss.

Over 30 local organizations including the local chapter of the Audubon Society, InfoTechWNY, and the Science Teachers Association of New York State are marching with us. Western New York leaders in innovation and education such as Dr. Gale Bernstein, the Commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health, and Dr. Liesl Folks, the Dean of the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will be speaking out at the event.

On April 22nd, we will march from Soldier’s Circle at 1:00pm up Lincoln Parkway to Delaware Park where we will hear from community leaders and hold a science festival until 3:30pm. Local organizations will be tabling and providing information; allowing groups and individuals to find new partners in the fight for science education, the environment, accessible science, public health, and evidence based public policy in Western New York. We hope to see you there

Elizabeth Schiavoni's Image
Elizabeth Schiavoni

Elizabeth Schiavoni is the PR Chair for the Buffalo March for Science. She is the owner of Life Science Writing Solutions LLC as a medical and science writer.