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.

vdurgin
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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6 Small Ways To Live More Sustainably

Here are a few easy tips that will help you protect the beautiful planet we live on.

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Living sustainably has been a major focus of my life recently after finding out that it's not that hard for me to do my part. We live on a beautiful planet that contains the resources that help life as we know it to operate. We are dealing with problems that are caused by humans such as smog, trash in the oceans, and polluted waterways. While we can't fix pollution by ourselves, we can do our small part to help keep our planet clean and safe. So here are some easy, tangible tips that all of us can do to live more sustainably.

1. Recycle 

In elementary school, we all learned about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Recycling is one of the easiest things we can do because most colleges and communities already recycle and it just takes a conscious effort to differentiate your waste between trash and recycling.

If your community doesn't have an easy recycling process, you can still put in the extra effort of taking it to the local recycling plant or request curb side pickup. The reason we need to recycle is that trash in landfills can release both harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment so we are cutting down the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and allowing our goods to live longer lives.

2. Rely on your car less 

Motor vehicles account for most of the United States' carbon monoxide pollution according to the EPA. Some easy solutions to this problem would be to carpool more, drive a car or scooter that get's really good gas mileage, walk or bike to school or work, or use public transportation.

3. Use less water 

This is an incredibly easy change that you can make in your life that will help out the planet. Take quicker showers, turn the water off when you are washing your hands or brushing your teeth, and try not to take baths often. Not only will this limit your impact on the earth's already small amount of fresh water, but it will save you some money on your water and energy bills every month.

4. Buy quality goods 

Whether it be clothes, household items, or equipment for whatever your hobbies are, spending extra money on something that will last you a long time rather than wasting money on cheap stuff that you will end up throwing away after a few months will save you money in the long run and will help you reduce your trash output.

5. Repair your goods 

Extending the lifetime of your items has the same benefits as the prior point. You'll be saving money and you get the added benefit of an emotional connection to an item because you've fixed it and it's been in your life a long time. Whether you're patching up a hole in your coat or repairing the soles of your shoes, you're keeping that item alive and out of a landfill.

6. Get yourself a reusable water bottle 

This one is the easiest out of all of them. Single-use plastics are one of the worst environmental impacts humans are having on our oceans. In 2012 there was a reported 165 million tons of plastic in our oceans. While a lot of is does degrade after about a year, the degrading plastic releases harmful chemicals into the water and more plastic is going into the ocean every year. Marine animals are also being harmed by plastic in the oceans if they try to eat it or are caught in it. Reusable water bottles help cut down on plastic pollution. If you don't like the taste of your tap water, I'd recommend getting a water filter! Plus, you can cover your water bottle in stickers which makes it personal to you!

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