On Saturday, April 14, Buffalonians will gather at Niagara Square for the second annual March for Science. Why in times when numerous policy issues and personal stressors loom, should science be the cause to step out and speak up for? Scientific research can and should effect direct and positive changes in the lives of Erie County residents.
Last year, coinciding with the National March for Science in D.C., around 3,000 Western New Yorkers rallied, but a dedicated group of volunteers knew that one march was not enough. They formed the non-profit, Science Demands Action, to promote awareness of specific problems in Western New York in partnership with existing groups and advance the ways the scientific method can be used for social good and evidence based policies in our communities.
Two of issues of great concern for Science Demands Action are:
1) Advancing healthcare for addiction in the wake of the opioid epidemic, and
2) Advancing environmental justice in the region
An estimated 316 people died of reported opioid overdoes in Erie County in 2017. That’s nearly a person a day from just one of many types of addictive substances. Often, addiction is written off as moral failing on the part of an individual, but research helps us understand the causes of addiction, opening up possibilities for treatment, prevention, and emotional healing in our communities.
Meanwhile the health of area residents can be compromised by the health of the environment. Plastics in the water dangerously disrupt the marine ecology and industrial pollution transports toxic contaminants throughout our environment. All of the money and time already spent starting to restore our ecosystems will go to waste if we do not vigilantly protect and expand environmental monitoring.
One mission of 2018 Buffalo March for Science is to help Buffalo see science as not distant and unapproachable, but as local and as a tool for action. We cannot reverse an epidemic in a day, but we can commit healthcare and research resources to recovery and prevention. We cannot clean up the Niagara River in a day, but we can insist on taking informed steps toward a cleaner environment with reduced public health risks each day.
The appeal to science is not just an appeal to dry facts, it is an appeal to humanity.
Join the March on April 14, starting at Niagara Square at 1pm and following Main Street to Canalside. Amongst food trucks and poster competitions, 25 local organizations will be manning tables providing educational materials and hands on activites. The rally will include speakers from Save the Michaels of the World, Citizen Science Community Resources, The Patient Voices Network, and Buffalo Area Engineering Awareness for Minorities. Along with Science Demands Action, each of these organizations is making a push to put tools into the hands of Buffalo citizens, to make change in our communities.
Courtlin Byrd and Elizabeth Schiavoni, MS
RSVP to the 2018 March for Science here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1477762595683712