We Need To Get Over Our Fear Of Science Before It Kills Us

We Need To Get Over Our Fear Of Science Before It Kills Us

Lives are lost when we fear instead of think.

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vdurgin
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Anti-vaxxers. Climate deniers.

They are all the butt of internet jokes and memes. They are the focus of (too) many news stories and TV reports.

And their ignorance is going to kill people.

Yes, I said it. People who outright deny the scientifically-proven, data-measured reality that is climate change are either influencing the decisions of politicians or are themselves politicians working to hinder any policy that addresses the global crisis.

From not transitioning to clean energy to removing the United States from international accords and everything in between, climate deniers are setting America further down a path that will only exacerbate our climate problems and lead to a very different planet for future generations.

The refusal of vaccinations is already wreaking havoc across America. Twelve states currently face a measles outbreak. An unvaccinated boy nearly died of tetanus in Oregon.

Disease outbreaks, especially outbreaks of illnesses thought to be eradicated in the U.S., are more common now than they have been in decades.

It is the 21st century and one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world is facing diseases it worked tirelessly to never deal with again.

Why?

And why is it still considered "okay" to deny climate science?

Because we are afraid. We are especially afraid of things we do not understand.

For many people, science is one of those things we don't understand.

People without a background in science might look at climate reports and not understand a single thing other than the fact that the world is seemingly going to end. Or maybe the only thing they can take away from wordy, technical reports is that we need to completely change every facet of society in order to avoid something 50 years away.

If there is one thing people fear as much as they fear what they do not know, it is change. The future also tends to scare people a lot.

The refusal to vaccinate children also stems partially out of a fear of science. When one report debuts about how vaccines cause autism, the public panics. Why?

Because many people don't understand how vaccines truly work, and we fear what we do not understand.

Now that fear has embedded itself within the minds of too many people, it is hard to explain how vaccines work, and how beneficial they are to society.

Which means our fight to protect the country from previously-gone diseases is really just beginning.

It also means our fight to save the planet from destruction isn't going anyway any time soon, either.

So, this also all means science education needs to exist before college. It isn't enough to have members of society trained as engineers or chemists or environmental scientists or doctors.

It is possible to teach climate science and the basics of how vaccines work, among many other scientific inquiries, in K-12 education. We should learn about our planet and our health from the time we learn about our times tables and our history.

The only defense against ignorance is education.

The only way to combat the societal fear surrounding science is to create a society that is educated enough to not fear the science in the first place.

We need to kill this fear before the fear kills us.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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The Flint Water Crisis Is Affecting More People Than We Know, Including The Unborn

Flint is not the only city with water pipes contaminated with lead. At 40 weeks pregnant, I have to worry about the lead in my home’s water.

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Many Americans are familiar with the atrocities in Flint, Michigan. Flint received nationwide coverage when it was revealed that residents were being restricted access to clean water and were exposed to water contaminated with lead for many years. After the state discovered the lead, the residents were left with the contaminated water and still have it years later.

I have watched many documentaries on Flint like "Here's to Flint" and "Fahrenheit 11/9." The scenes from the documentaries are haunting and much resemble a war-torn, third world country. I was especially surprised when I received a letter in the mail from Chicago's Department of Water Management. The letter looked like nothing special and had been placed in a pile of junk mail that none of my roommate's wanted to read. I eventually went through the mail and was shocked at what I read. The letter casually says that my home uses a water meter and water meters activate lead in pipes.

It continued to say that most homes in Chicago test under the U.S. EPA's benchmark level for lead in drinking, however, 17.2% percent exceed it.

As a pregnant woman, this is horrifying news. I had been pregnant for months drinking and cooking with contaminated water before reading this letter. Drinking water contaminated with lead has long term effects for the whole family. For example, it affects the brain and nervous system development in children and increases the risks of things like kidney damage and high blood pressure in adults. The CDC itself says that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood.

I especially remember a scene in "Fahrenheit 11/9" where they talk about the effects lead has on the babies born to pregnant women who consumed it. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. There are pregnancy complications like low birth weight, premature delivery, preeclampsia.

Babies whose mother consumed lead water have been reported to have behavioral problems, lower IQs, and learning disabilities.

My own home soon resembled that of a developing country. I had stacks and stacks of water bottles. I have to use these bottles for everything. Just like residents of Flint, I have to brush my teeth with water bottles. I have to go through about five water bottles to boil water to cook. If I am out of water bottles, I just have to wait it out because the alternative is not worth it.

Having to worry about lead in the water is very stressful. Along with all the other stresses of pregnancy, I have to stress about accidentally poisoning my baby. I know that I have to take precautions in my own home, but am unsure where else is contaminated. I don't know where is safe. I don't know who else received the same letter I did, but ignored it as junk mail.

I recently had a house guest stay from another state. He asked why our water had an odd smell. I had to casually tell him not to mind that, it's just the lead in our water. I find it very disheartening that the city, state, and country don't prioritize the health and safety of its pregnant women, babies, or children. It is sincerely unfortunate how things like access to clean drinking water in America are just a luxury.

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