Angela Merkel explained the scientific problem with 'overconfidence' in lifting lockdowns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel answered a question about determining how and when to lift the mitigation measures most countries have put into place during the coronavirus pandemic, and her answer shows us what it looks like to have a scientifically competent person leading a country.

Merkel is an honors graduate with a PhD in quantum chemistry, which undoubtedly makes her one of the most qualified heads of government in this pandemic. Germany, despite being hit hard by the virus, has managed to start flattening their curve and has a far lower death rate than most other countries. (This New York Times article explains some reasons for why that might be.)


Merkel explained why lifting lockdowns is a "fragile" situation that requires caution over overconfidence and described how exponential growth works. In clear terms, she showed how even a small increase in the reproduction number—how many infections an infected person causes—makes a huge difference in how taxed the health system will get.

Angela Merkel uses science background in coronavirus explainer www.youtube.com

Even with a translation from German, Merkel Comments on Merkel's video shared on Reddit show how much people appreciate a smart, educated, well-spoken person in charge—and how stark the contrast is with certain other leaders.

"Well, that's a Politician that understands basic numbers. Most others will try to deliver a speech they don't understand and butcher it."

"I'm flabbergasted seeing a politician explain the effects of exponential growth with cause and effect. This is so refreshing..."

"I don't understand. Why isn't she saying how great she is and how high the ratings will be for this clip?"

"Weird right? Also I am massively confused, but it feels like she uses long coherent sentences and I'm not used to that."

"When you are suddenly proud to be German and don't know how to deal with it. No, really. By comparison to many other countries, this must be my favorite response. I'm really not a fan of her politics at all, but I'm good with her response to this crisis."

On the one hand, seeing a leader who not only understands the science but can explain it simply is indeed refreshing. On the other hand, it shines an ugly spotlight on leadership that clearly does not understand the science and can't explain even the most basic concepts in full, coherent sentences.

And what's really sad is that no one even has to name a name for people to know who fits that bill.

Well done, Chancellor Merkel. Let us know if other countries can arrange to temporarily adopt you as our leader, please.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.