earth day


Science denialism is a barrier to a better world. Every country in the world faces huge social, ethical, and political challenges, and in each country the enemies of free, careful thought are preventing meaningful progress regarding those challenges.

Science denialists all share common methods and arguments. “There’s not enough data,” they say, and “scientists think they know everything,” and “researchers are playing god!” In the past, denialists have propped up the tobacco industry, sold faulty medical knowledge and equipment, and hastened the spread of HIV and AIDS by spreading misinformation and preventing good research. Here a few of the most dangerous groups of science denialists operating around the world today.

Climate Denialism

These people are probably some of the most dangerous human beings on the planet today. Scientists the world over agree that the earth’s temperature is rising, and that this rising temperature will almost certainly bring about some devastating effects. Scientists and nature enthusiasts on every corner of the planet have been reporting strange things regarding temperature and wildlife for decades now.

Climate denialists make a lot of money from industries that pollute. When people cite scientists who supposedly don’t believe in global warming,they’re almost certainly talking about scientists who earn their paychecks from coal and other polluting companies. Scientists and scientific communicators need to step up their promotional game and shut down the denialism they face.

Luckily, many of the the traditionals villains in this fight—multinational corporations, agri-businessmen, etc—are changing their tune. Big money is making its way into the fight for the earth, and the tide may be turning even as it rises.

Anti-Vaccine Activists

Vaccines are miracles of medical technology. They prevent millions of deaths worldwide every year, many of those are children. Vaccines are rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness, and probably save more lives a year than any other technology in the world.

Yet vaccines face many obstacles, and one of the most significant of those obstacles is people who spread misinformation about what vaccines do. Anti-vaxxers, as many health expert refer to them, ignore clinical research and choose to believe whatever it is they want to believe that they read on the internet. Anti-vaxxers are vocal. They spread their dangerous message to anyone who will listen to them. This message is especially insidious because it endangers not only its adherents, but also vaccinated people who are exposed to unvaccinated people.

Again, though, anti-vaccine activists are losing credibility with the general public. Recent outbreaks of the measles and other preventable diseases are helping alert the world’s people that vaccines are necessary to the health of the world’s public.

New Age Healers

People who believe that fighting medical knowledge and replacing it with crystals, herbs, and other untested remedies are putting themselves in harm’s way. Real medical science works by testing; if something works, doctors use it. New age, holistic, and various other alternative medicines do not go through testing.

New age and alternative medicine proponents are not nearly the menaces to the public that climate denialists and anti-vaccine activists are. Still, though, they represent a stubborn clinging to ignorance that is no good for the world.

Care Packages for the Homeless

As the holidays roll around, many of us are inspired to give more than any other time of the year, especially when considering care packages for the homeless. A group of individuals that benefit from giving year round is the homeless population. Homelessness can happen at any time and maybe you have experienced it yourself. Homelessness affects men, women, and children. It affects the young, the old, the healthy, the unwell. Not every homeless individual has a drug and alcohol problem or a mental health issue. Never judge someone who doesn’t have a home, try to understand their stories.


According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are over 500,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night across the U.S. and approximately 15% of the homeless population are considered “chronically homeless” while about 9% of the homeless population are veterans.


Homelessness is a huge issue in the United States and many people want to help, but don’t know what to do. Creating and distributing care packages are a great way to offer a helping hand to an individual who doesn’t have a permanent residence. There are many checklists for care packages on the internet, but it’s always a good idea to make packages that are useful. While all care packages are well-intentioned, some items are better than others.

Suggestions for Care Packages


When you create a care package, think about the essentials and what will be long lasting and most portable.


  • Socks: Many homeless individuals, without a car, spend a great amount of time walking to and from appointments. A fresh pair of socks can do wonders on tired feet. Band-aids or blister pads are also helpful.


  • Food: While some individuals have the opportunity for at least one hot meal from a meal center, many need high protein, quick and easy snacks to eat throughout the day. Steer clear of sticky, hard, or overly sweet foods (like candy) that can put strain on teeth. For many, regular dental care is not an option. Applesauce, pudding, trail mix, beef jerky, and instant soup cups are a better idea.


  • Toiletries: While a bar of soap can go a long way, it can ruin a bag full of food. If an individual has a chance to shower, it’s highly likely that soap is already available. A better option would be baby or cleansing wipes. Other helpful toiletries include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a comb, unscented lotion. Avoid mouthwash, hand sanitizer, or any products that contain alcohol.


Some Extras


You may tempted to give money, but it’s difficult to know how helpful it will really be. Instead, offer a gift card to a coffeeshop or a sandwich shop. Travel mugs, hand/foot warmers, and extra cold weather clothing could also be helpful.


When you distribute your care package, take the time to talk to the individual, learn his or her story. Many homeless individuals are not “beggars”. While your contribution will most likely be appreciated, keep in mind that it is also difficult to accept help. Have a nice simple conversation with your recipient, you may find that you have a lot in common.

3 Diseases We No Longer Have to Worry About Thanks to Vaccines

The vaccine is a modern miracle. First discovered in 1796 by Edward Jenner, this disease fighting technique is the product of hard science, thorough testing, and a long communications battle. Vaccines work using a counterintuitive trick. Scientists give the human body a weakened or dead version of a specific pathogen, which the body’s immune system uses as both target practice and research; your systems develops resistance techniques and learns from its battles. Then, when the virus attacks for real, your body has the skills and knowledge to fight it off.


Neat, huh? But vaccines aren’t just an interesting science experiment. They are one of public health’s most important weapons. Vaccines have eradicated many once-lethal and near-ubiquitous diseases from the modern world. Think of these diseases the next time you realize that, well, you don’t ever need to think about these diseases.


Between the late 19th century and the mid 50s, roughly 35,000 people developed polio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Polio was a terrifying childhood disease, causing meningitis, paralysis, and even death. And it hit children. Polio was one of the America’s most serious public health crises until the advent of the vaccine in the 1950s. And this vaccine has been incredibly effective. As of this writing, not a single case of polio has been reported in the United States since 1979.


The smallpox vaccine has been called “one of the greatest achievements in human history” by medical professionals. Prior to vaccine, smallpox killed millions of people. Ancient Rome, ancient China, Africa, and Europe were all hit by the disease. Smallpox killed entire cultures when Europeans introduced it the Americas. Smallpox is a nasty disease. Sufferers develop rashes, lesions, and fevers. 30% of people infected with die, usually within the first few weeks. Or at least they to. Thanks to vaccines, this horrifying disease, which wreaked havoc on our species for nearly two thousand years, is gone. It’s simply gone. The last case of smallpox (not including one from a lab accident the following year) was reported in 1977. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared smallpox dead in 1980. The only remaining  copies exist in a few labs for research purposes, and officials have often discussed killing even those.


Measles still exists in the world, and in 2013 killed about 16 people an hour, according to WHO. And most of its victims were not even five years old. But in most industrialized countries, people do not have to worry about measles. Prior to widespread vaccination programs that began in 1980, 2.6 million people died every year from measles. That simply is not the case any more. The measles vaccine is incredibly effective and saves countless children from a terrible disease every year. The only danger most people in the industrialized world most people face is parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, due to fear-mongering spread by anti-science conspiracy theorists.  


Plastic Microbeads: Scrubbing Your Skin, Polluting Your Planet

The next time you reach for that new skin care product, you should probably think again. That fresh face may come with a big price tag. Microbead awareness is about to have its moment, but at the moment, most people aren’t aware that many popular cleaning and skin care products are extremely hazardous, filled with tiny little plastic pieces which pollute the world’s water and may pose significant problems we’re yet to find. Activists, scientists, environmentalists, and public health experts the world over are currently pushing for bans on these deceptively dangerous little balls of plastic. And, so far, their push appears to be working.

What are Plastic Microbeads?

Plastic microbeads are the tiny little spheres of plastics, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, which are found in lots of cleaning produces. Manufacturers sell them to public based on their exfoliating properties; those teeny dots are intended to reach into your pores, scrub out the gunk, and leave your face looking bright and fresh. And, apparently, it works. But there’s a price to pay.

Microbeads and Water

That price is big one. According to a report recently published in Nature, American water habitats are flooded with eight trillion beads every day. Eight. Trillion. Every day. In Lake Ontario, researchers found 1.1 million beads per square mile.  While many of these beads are supposedly caught by water treatment plants, they still make it into the larger world, being sprayed onto crops and eventually trickling into the water system anyways, according to Nature. Then they get eaten by local wildlife. That’s when things get nasty.

Microbeads and Wildlife

Microbeads look like plankton. Plankton is an important source of nutrition for much of the world’s wildlife population. The world’s wildlife, being unaware of what polypropylene is, gobble this plastic caviar by the mouthful. Shrimp and other little creatures eat a particularly large amount of these beads. These animals are, in turn, eaten by larger animals. Which we eat. If we are what we eat, then we get closer every day to become mannequins, it seems. This is a new enough problem that the research is still out, but it can’t be good more massive portions of the American population to be eating polypropylene regularly.  

What’s Being Done

Luckily, environmentalists around North America have been raising the alarm, and lawmakers have been taking notice. In California, lawmakers recently sent a proposal governor Jerry Brown describing a law that would phase out plastic microbeads of a certain size by 2020. In Illinois, the push to get them banned by 2017. A bipartisan bill by Michigan and New Jersey lawmakers is pushing for a 2018 ban. The same thing is happening in Europe.
These laws appear to be receiving popular support. Activists should appreciate the rare ease they are having getting this issue noticed. While the damage being done is serious, and the lawmakers will take a few years to get these bills through, it seems clear that the government is doing the right thing here.    

Simple Steps to Stop Poaching

Humans have a long history of killing off animal populations. Our current tools (guns, aircraft, traps) make over-hunting easy. Even prior to modernity, people pushed the earth’s creatures into extinction; from–possibly–the mammoth, to the dodo bird, to the passenger pigeon, our species has hunted, trapped, eaten, and simply swept away entire species. Observing humanity’s relationship to animals, you may be tempted to see people as cold killers, and little more.

The recent uproar over Cecil the Lion’s death, though, is a reminder that people–at least some of them–do care. These dedicated stewards of the earth seek a harmonious, respectful relationship between humans and animals. The big question for many of these people, many of whom live far from the hunting grounds, is what can I do? Saving endangered species is a tall order. With dedication, though, you will make a difference. Here are a few options for helping prevent poaching.

Donate to Wildlife Organizations.

When you want the job done right, your best option is often to pay the experts to do it for you. Groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the International Rhino Foundation, among countless others, do excellent and important work in wildlife conservation. If you have a specific animal you’re interested in helping protect, find a group dedicated to its preservation and give them some money. They often need it.


If you want a more hands-on experience but don’t have the credentials necessary to work in the field, consider volunteering. Many organizations have volunteer programs and would be thrilled to have another compassionate person lending a hand. Find an organization with a local chapter and email or call them. You might end up phone-banking, providing social media outreach, or even get to interact with one of the animals you’re championing. The International Anti-poaching Foundation’s site has many ideas about how to give some of your time.

Spread the Word

People can’t care about issues they don’t know about. Educate yourself, speak with friends and family, and make resources available to anyone who shows interest. Start a blog, volunteer for social media outreach for a local group, or start a club.

Make sure you get your facts straight. People won’t listen to you if they think you’re not credible. The WWF has lots of educational and easy-to-use fact sheets on their site. Read up, organize your thoughts, and get the message out there!

Remember to Go Beyond Charismatic Creatures

This can be a controversial topic among conservationists. Lovable animals like lions, rhinos, etc. get a lot of attention (and donations) from the public, while their less cuddly brethren–such as the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver spider–are ignored. People who want to help prevent species-loss need to be aware of the varieties of endangered animals out there. (As a counterpoint, research does indicate that focusing on charismatic creatures can help retain populations of non-charismatics as well.)

Empathy for a Troubled and Suffering World

Although the lives of people around the world are constantly being disrupted by countries and communities in turmoil, many people here in the United States seem to be dissociated with what others living in different parts of the world are going through.

In Greece, people have been struggling with their country’s extreme debt crisis for a long period of time. Banks have been closed. Despite nervous citizens wanting desperately to pull their money out, Greece essentially shut down its banking system and restricted access for the general public. Anti-austerity protests turned violent and the country is still in a state of turmoil, until financial resolution is achieved and order can be restored.

CNN reports areas in China and Korea were hit hard with a Category 4 typhoon that pelted the countries’ east coastline last weekend. Millions of residents had to be evacuated from their homes, airports were shut down and ships were called back into port. The full extent of the damage and losses, as well as the cost to the affected communities, has yet to be determined.

Fighting continues around Baghdad and other areas throughout Iraqi, as Iraqi News reports that Federal Police launched rockets in an attack which allegedly killed 20 ISIS militants. Due to its financial resources, seemingly unlimited supply of arms, its recruitment efforts and its aggressive tactics, many believe ISIS to pose more of a threat than al-Qaeda. This is a danger both abroad and close to home, a fact which many Americans may not fully grasp.

Seeing Life Through Other People’s Eyes

The majority of people who live in the U.S. have relatively comfortable lifestyles that can cause them to be disconnected from the plights that other people, thousands of miles away, go through on a daily basis. Even if you listen to the news, and hear about issues faced by people around the world, what is it really going to take to see life through a different lens?

Only once we can see life through other people’s eyes will we truly be able to have empathy for the situations that they may be may struggling with or living with on a daily basis. Millions of people occupy this planet we call home. Unless we can empathize with humanity’s difficulties and struggles, we will be unable to come up with solutions on a broader scale.

How We Can Become More Humble

While you go about with your day-to-day activities, it is important you recognize all you have here in the United States. Even those who may be fighting with monetary problems, physical ailments or other real life-threatening situations must realize how different life would be if they lived in another part of the world. So, how can we humble ourselves a bit?

  • Before you comment, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  • Try not to be quick to judge. Everyone has their own struggles. Find out about someone else’s before rendering judgment.
  • Be willing to admit when you make a mistake and take responsibility for your actions.
  • Be grateful and gracious, for what you have is probably far more than others could ever dream of having.
  • Value other people’s time and worth as much as you do your own.