Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Call To Action: March For Science...What I Did For Love

Wendy reports on the Science March in the latest installment in her "A Call To Action" series....

This past Saturday, Tom and I marched in the NYC March for Science.  Overcast skies turned to light drizzle turned to pouring rain.  And yet over 25000 protesters kept marching through the Upper West Side to Columbus Circle and further down Broadway.  A middle aged woman stood in front of the Trump International Hotel and Tower with a sign that read "Fund Research, Not Walls."  Can't argue with that.  Others I liked included "One Trip to Mar-a-Lago Equals Ten Funded Grants.  "Make American Geek Again." "Women Belong in the Lab." "There is No Planet B."  And what was to me, a very poignant sign, left hanging on a post near the end of the march which simply said, "STEM."

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoorI know there was some debate about this march, about politicizing science.  And I actually agree with those who carried signs saying "Science Is Not A Liberal Agenda."  But from the first moment I heard about this march, I knew that I would be there.

Like so many of you, I've long contributed my time and money to causes that are particularly important to me.  I volunteer for Hope's Door, a domestic violence agency, and for Planned Parenthood because I believe that these organizations, and others like them, are the first step towards economic equality for women, even those amongst us who are most disadvantaged.  My devotion to women's rights likely stems from the particular time in American history that I experienced as a young woman -- at the advent of "the pill" and Roe v Wade and as a transfer student to a newly co-ed college.  I've also volunteered many years as a board of education member in my community and as a tutor and mentor to young men at Children's Village, a residential school for underprivileged children.  That interest likely stems from the steady beat of my childhood that education is the great equalizer. . I've attended rallies to oppose the immigration ban and I've made countless calls to Congress -- simply because it felt to me like the right thing to do. 

The science march was different.  I'm going to say something now that's trite, but true.

I marched in the March for Science for my daughters.

Nothing -- not even the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court -- will affect my daughters' futures as surely, as strongly, and as negatively as cuts to funding for science research.  The benefits of science research are a public good.  The vaccine that was developed to end small pox and the one that will be developed to end Zika, the technology that brought us seat belts, air bags and blind spot detection: these developments benefit us all.   We need continued progress in combating cancer, diabetes, autism, and depression.  We need continued progress in matching organ donors to recipients.  We need to control population growth and we need to feed the population that’s already here on earth. 

And, of course, there's the elephant in the room: the consequences of climate change threaten the very existence of the planet.  One of my daughters, an entomologist, went to a rally in Orono, ME on Saturday carrying a sign that read "Mosquitoes Are Ready For Climate Change; are you?"  Indeed.  Those Zika-carrying mosquitoes are adapting, while we turn a blind eye.

You may dodge a virus or a car accident, but climate change is upon us already and will, if unchecked, pose a risk to humanity itself.  For my generation, climate change feels more like a concept than a direct threat. Not so for our children and grandchildren.  Gutting the EPA and the NIH mortgages my daughters' futures, and there's nothing this mother cares about more than her daughters.  So I marched.

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