By Elizabeth Schiavoni
If you live in Western New York, it’s likely you think science makes your life better. Nearly 80 percent 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 No. 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 SolarCity, tablet computer makers at Bak USA and tech innovation incubators will 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 policymaking.
The majority of Americans in 2014 reported believing government funding for science is essential for America’s success. On the federal chopping block is almost 20 percent of the National Institutes of Health budget. Over 80 percent of NIH resources go to biomedical research and training programs, including over $30 million at the University at Buffalo and the area’s research institutions and biotech companies.
Next on the chopping block is the entire NASA education office, which provides internships and scholarships for young scientists, supports women and underrepresented minorities in science and funds programming at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
The vast majority of Americans want clean air and water and safe land free of toxic chemicals.
In the aftermath of the fire at the former Bethlehem Steel site 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 percent of its budget, 25 percent of its employees and 56 programs, including pesticide safety and water runoff control.
In Western New York we’re also facing a 97 percent 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.”
Saturday at 1 p.m. we will march from Soldier’s Circle up Lincoln Parkway to Delaware Park, where we will hear from community leaders and hold a science festival until 3:30. Local organizations will be 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.
Elizabeth Schiavoni is public relations chairwoman of the Buffalo March for Science.