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In times like these, activism & science must work hand in hand


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Photos: March for Science NYC

Riverkeeper was proud to stand up for science on Saturday when more than 230 marches, rallies and science exhibitions took place around the world along with the second annual March for Science in Washington, D.C.

The New York City event led by NYU included a teach-in and rally at Washington Square Park before a march down Broadway to City Hall.

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay shared these remarks with the energetic crowd:

I want to thank the organizers of this 2nd Annual March for Science for letting me, a political scientist, speak today – especially since the whole point of this march is to get politics OUT of science.

Hudson Riverkeeper, the group I lead, has a 52-year history of fighting for healthy rivers teeming with life, and clean safe drinking water for all metro New Yorkers.

In recent years, we’ve helped stop hydrofracking, gained an agreement to close the aging and increasingly dangerous Indian Point nuclear power plant, and mustered thousands of people every year to sample, clean up and restore our waterways.

For 52 years, our mantra has been:

Stay true to the grassroots.
Don’t flinch when the going gets tough.
And be constantly, relentlessly, data-driven.

Here in New York, for the most part, we still take data seriously.

Riverkeeper spent the last 10 years taking over 20,000 water quality samples, showing how serious our river pollution problems still are. We worked with research partners at Columbia, Cornell, CUNY, SUNY, Sarah Lawrence and other institutions, and with 180 volunteer citizen scientists, testing water quality on 15 different local tributaries.

What did all this science do for clean water?

In the last three years alone, governor Cuomo and the state Legislature voted to spend $2.9 billion dollars to fix our aging water infrastructure and clean up our rivers and drinking water supplies. We now have a law requiring emerging contaminants of concern to be tested and regulated in ways no other state is doing.

The message here is: Science still matters!

If you want to learn more about the science Riverkeeper and its partners do and the change it’s made, text “RIVER” to 21333.

A moment ago, I spoke about the need to get politics out of science. Unfortunately, If we really want to get politics out of science, we’ve got to get more active about science. And not just once a year, but every day.

EPA has been decimated in the past year or so. Hundreds of scientists that were there in January 2017 aren’t there anymore.

We are in an era where ideology masquerades as policy to a degree that is positively shameless.
These days, when regulations go on the chopping block, you look for quantitative analysis and all you find is the press release. At times like these, activism and science just absolutely, positively need to work hand in hand.

So, you keep doing the research. You keep proving the connections between pollution and the growing threat to nature and humankind alike. You keep driving innovation on safe energy and clean water. And, groups like Riverkeeper will keep applying your science to drive policies that actually get us safer energy and cleaner water.

And if politicians won’t enact those policies, we’ll keep suing them until they do.

They don’t have the power. You do. You decide what they get away with. Tell Washington: Get your heads out of the sand. The earth is still round. Make laws and policies that are about the science, not despite the science. No more hatchet job deregulation; no more ideology masquerading as policy.

So today, go out there and pound the pavement so loud they’ll hear you all the way to Washington.

And, tomorrow, when the signs are all put away, go online and figure out who your state senator is, or your town supervisor is, and tell them you’re all in – you’re going to fight for science every day until you see them right there next to you, fighting for it too.

Thank you. Have a great day, and save science!

Photos: March for Science NYC (Facebook)

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