Environment Column

Bulman: There’s no Planet B, and other takeaways from the Syracuse March for Science

Crystal Fang | Contributing Photographer

The Syracuse March for Science was a satellite rally held in solidarity with similar marches across the United States.

UPDATED: April 24, 2017 at 10:14 p.m.

Hundreds of people from the greater Syracuse area celebrated Earth Day Saturday morning by gathering downtown to raise awareness about the necessity of science.

The Syracuse March for Science was one of hundreds across the United States held in alliance with the March for Science in Washington, D.C., to send a signal to the White House that Americans are not happy with the administration’s disregard for scientific truth, particularly in regard to climate science. In Syracuse, attendees listened intently as local scientists spoke about the preservation, education and celebration of science.

No matter their profession or age, advocates huddled together to cheer, chant and boo in solidarity. Many scientists, too, could be seen among the crowd. Doctors, nurses, biologists, conservationists, psychologists, chemists, physicists and engineers came out in support of the belief that staying silent about science “is a luxury that we can no longer afford,” a message noted in the March for Science’s mission statement.

Rather than stay silent about science, it is essential for voters to support leaders who believe in it. But between Earth Day and Election Day, it’s important that people remember they have the power to effect positive environmental changes.

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Crystal Fang | Contributing Photographer

The people have the power to reach out to politicians, whether it’s at the city, county, state or national levels. The people have the ability to express their opinions and urge those in charge to act on climate and support scientific research.

“Don’t let our administration or government defund science,” said Calvin Prothro, a professor of geology and planetary science at Onondaga Community College, at the march. “Because it hurts all of us.”

Prothro reminded protesters that to “think globally,” they must also “act locally.”

Most scientists today indicate that people are more likely to believe in climate change if it’s happening to them, according to a Pew Research Center study published last year. Inhabitants of coastal states including California, Florida and Louisiana are more apt to accept climate change as a reality because they’ve experienced it firsthand. But climate change is happening here in Syracuse, too.

This past summer, Onondaga County endured an extended period of time without rain, which later manifested into a severe drought. The state of New York was forced to issue a drought watch for the first time in 14 years.

And just north of the city, Oneida Lake is becoming increasingly warmer each year, resulting in the dangerous growth of blue algae and a steady reduction in native fish populations like walleye. In fact, the lake is green more often than it is clear in the summer.

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Crystal Fang | Contributing Photographer

When the march drew to a close, scientists in various fields — earth science, social sciences, education and medicine — held up signs stating their concentration in order to provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and learn more about what they do.

Jesse Yale, a junior at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, held up a sign for biology because he’s currently pursuing a degree in environmental biology and said it’s “very near and dear to my heart.”

“Go out and learn and as much as you can about anything that you can,” Yale said. “Being well-informed about topics in the sciences is so important and can’t be understated.”

April 22 should not be the only day of the year that people take the time to admire the planet they live on. This should not be the only day of the year to feel angry about climate change. And it shouldn’t just be a reason for someone to Instagram a picture of themselves hiking in the woods, either.

The volatile state of ecosystems around the world is not something to joke about. As Earth Day comes and goes, don’t forget there is no Planet B when this one’s gone, and we should all do a part to take care of the one we have.

Morgan Bulman is a graduate student studying magazine, newspaper and online journalism. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at mebulman@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @morgbulman.

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Crystal Fang | Contributing Photographer

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