An open letter to humans from 20 animals who may not be around much longer.

We, the undersigned, are tired of your excuses.

1. Sea lion. Photo by Jean-Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images.


We are animals from around the globe. Strong, majestic, and beautiful.

2. Giant panda. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

But some of us are just starting to feel vulnerable.

3. Marine iguana. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images.

And others are rapidly approaching extinction.

4. Hawksbill sea turtle. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

We're not here to point fingers. Mostly because we don't have any.

5. Black rhino. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

But if we're being honest, a lot of this is your fault.

6. Rockhopper penguin. Photo by Marc Müller/AFP/Getty Images.

Well, not you specifically, but your kind. You know, humans.

French customs recovers some narwhal tusks. Photo by Francis Roche/AFP/Getty Images.

Thanks to some of your favorite pastimes like logging, overfishing, poaching, hunting, and being lax on climate change, we're in the weeds.

7. Great white shark. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

In fact, it's worse than the weeds. Some of us would kill for some weeds.

8. Red panda. Photo by Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images.

Seriously, it's bad. We're in trouble.

9. Bonobo. Photo by Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images.

But all is not lost.

10. Indochinese tigers. Photo by Ken Bohn/Zoological Society of San Diego via Getty Images.

We're holding on as long as we can, but we need your help.

11. Amur leopard. Photo by Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images.

And there are a few things you can do right now that would really help us out.

12. Dugong. Photo by Off/AFP/Getty Images.

Things like buying sustainable products and recycling, especially when it comes to your electronics.

13. Gorilla. Photo by Ivan Lieman/AFP/Getty Images.

Columbite-tantalite, known as coltan, is a metallic ore used to make cell phone and computer batteries. It's found in large quantities in central Africa which is also home to endangered gorillas. Recycling the batteries reduces the demand for coltan and could help preserve this vital land.

You can visit us in your local park or wildlife refuge.

14. Bison. Come and explore. Check out our homes and habitats. See what we're all about. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

Because once you see what's at risk, we'll be a little bit harder to ignore.

15. Humphead Wrasse. Photo by Greg Wood /AFP/Getty Images.

Oh, and have we mentioned you can take action on climate change?

16. Snow leopard. Photo by Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images.

We know it's hard to think about solving climate change as an individual, but we have this thing we do called "teamwork." Maybe it will work for you too.

17. African elephants. Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

And lastly: Speak up. Your words are a gift. Use them for good.

18. Monarch butterfly. Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images.

Write your elected officials. Talk to your friends. Engage with the organizations fighting the good fight.

19. Chimpanzee. Photo by Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images.

Because we need your voice now more than ever. Especially since we don't have voices of our own.

20. Polar bear. Photo by Peter Steffen/AFP/Getty Images.

Signed,

Earth's Threatened, Vulnerable, and Endangered Species

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less