Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ohio marches defending science set for Saturday

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

Marchers in cities big and small across the nation this Saturday say the evidence is clear: It's time to stand up for science. Thousands are expected at the dozen Marches for Science scheduled in Ohio.

An organizer of the Columbus event, Laura Sammons, says leaders need to know that a lot of medical, environmental and other research doesn't happen without public support, and the goal of these events is to affirm the value of science and the need for evidence-based policies.

"We not only need to do the research, but we have to actually have to pay attention to the results," she said. "And whether we're talking about public health, or environmental protection or energy, we need to have policies that are grounded in actual scientific evidence."

While Sammons says science isn't political, many in the scientific community are concerned about President Donald Trump's proposal to cut the EPA's budget by almost one-third, as well as the new administration's denial of evidence of man's role in climate change and its silencing of federal scientists and national park employees.

Jenna Antonucci is a scientist and Ph.D. student at Ohio State University. She says it's appropriate that tomorrow's marches fall on Earth Day.

"To have the March for Science coincide with it this year I think is especially poetic, because it was the initial proposed cuts to the EPA that really scared a lot in the scientific community to sort of put on their activism hats, and walk out of the lab and start planning marches," she explained.

Sammons says many who are marching have their own reasons for doing so, and the list includes folks from biology, engineering, physics and other scientific fields. She's concerned that funding will be pulled for scientific research, which she fears would affect the environment, public health and the economy.

"If we make those cuts, then we're putting our country in a position where we're not going to be as competitive in the global economy, because we're not investing in the fundamental research that's going to lead to new growth and different kinds of jobs that we're not even imagining right now," added Sammons.

The National March for Science website also says the march is not political. It notes a nationwide trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and asks, "Can we afford not to speak out in [science's] defense?"

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