How to take your panic over Trump and the environment and turn it into real action.

A lot of people are worried about the environment right now. And President Trump ... well, he's not helping.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

He's called climate change a Chinese hoax, made no secret of his disdain for the Clean Power Plan, and signaled that he plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate deal.


But here's the thing: Though the political parties are divided, the American people are largely in agreement — we want to preserve the environment and take proactive steps against climate change. So, with that in mind...

Here are 21 things anyone can do over the next four years to take action for the environment:

1. Donate to organizations dedicated to environmental causes.

You know that old adage about voting with your dollar? Now's the time to put it to use. Check out organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Ocean Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, World Wildlife Fund, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Rainforest Trust, or the Conservation Fund.

2. If you can't donate yourself — well, how do you like marathons and bake sales?

If donating money isn't in the cards, you could try signing up for charity drives or races. The World Wildlife Fund's Panda Nation program, for instance, can help you set up fundraisers that combine events like bake sales or marathons with charitable donations.

3. Get your hands dirty by joining a citizen scientist project.

A horseshoe crab. Image via iStock.

Instead of just promoting science and nature conservation, how about getting involved yourself? Scientists need lay people to help collect important data from all around the country. There are a ton of these projects, from tracking horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay to watching urban birds. PBS, National Geographic, and Scientific American have lists of citizen science projects for you to help out in your area.

4. Prefer to keep your hands on the cleaner side? Help with research by playing games online.

No joke. Some of these citizen science projects have migrated to the internet. At Zooniverse, for instance, you can decipher bat calls, spy on colonies of penguins, investigate old whaling ship records, or play Chimp & See.

Other websites will let you use satellite footage to uncover archaeological sites or will fold proteins while you sleep.

5. Organize or participate in park cleanup events.

Image via iStock.

Instead of a hiking trip, why not join a park cleanup? It's a good workout, and at the end you can break out some beers and enjoy the newly clean park yourself.

Check out The Ocean Conservancy and GOOD for guides to getting started.

6. Support good science journalism with real, actual money.

You know what's the antidote to fake news? Real news.

Show your support for legitimate, nuanced science reporting by subscribing or donating to outlets such as National Geographic, Scientific American, and Smithsonian Magazine. While you're at it, support reputable news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, or NPR.

7. And follow them on social media so you can join in the discussion.

In addition to the places mentioned above, check out groups like the National Parks Service; science communicators like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ed Yong; astronomer Phil Plait; and podcasts like "RadioLab." I mean, I could go on naming people all day. Join in to hear what they're saying and add your own voice.

That said, remember that people on social media are still people — keep it civil. It's always good to stay a little suspicious, fact-check, and read articles before you post or retweet them.

8. Or ditch the phone entirely and just go outside!

Image via iStock.

Grab some friends and and organize hikes, boating expeditions, or nature walks. Hit the beach. Check out the tide pools. Get a hunting permit and go hunting, if that's your thing. Get a fishing permit and go fishing. Get an annual pass to the national parks and go enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes our country has to offer.

Why? Because, well, nature is goddamn beautiful and being outside is good for you. But it'll also remind you of why it's worth protecting.

9. Call your representatives and senators and let them know you care about the environment and they should too.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Making small changes yourself to protect the environment is good, but in order to make a huge difference, we need systemic changes too. It's important to make sure politicians are paying attention. Call them.

Actual phone-to-phone conversations make a difference. Remind them what's important to you. Here are all the phone numbers for the House of Representatives. Here are all the phone numbers for the Senate. You can also sign up for email alerts from various conservation organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund or for apps like Countable that will let you know when important bills are up for a vote.

10. If your representatives don't listen, set up a calendar reminder so you don't forget the midterm elections.

Or, heck, have you considered running for office yourself? If you're not happy with how the government works, why not get involved? Anyone can run for office, so if you've got some good ideas, why not throw your hat in the ring?

11. If you have kids, get involved in their environmental education.

If you have kids, offer to chaperone a school field trip to a museum or park. If their school isn't planning any field trips, help set one up for the class. An AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium is a great place to start. Or maybe your kid would like a birthday party at a natural history museum or a trip to a day camp or summer camp? If you're in the Seattle area, the city has a list of camps.

12. Fill your car's tires. Yeah, I'm serious.

A well-maintained car gets better gas mileage and produces fewer emissions. Just filling low tires can improve your fuel efficiency by up to 3%. You may want to get regular tune-ups and consider going easy on the pedal and brake as well.

Image via iStock.

If you live in a place where bikes and buses are a thing, save the car for long trips and use alternative transportation whenever you can instead.

13. Rethink your grocery list.

We all need food to live, but the way we grow it can be kind of taxing on the planet. Large livestock such as cows and pigs often take a lot of land, feed, fuel, and antibiotics to raise, which can be tough on the environment. Eating smaller, buying local, and eating animals further down the food chain can reduce the impact your grocery list has on the environment.

Consider swapping burgers for barbecue chicken or adding an extra vegetable to your dishes, and whenever possible try to eat things that are grown in the same state you live in.

14. Get rid of all the junk mail and needless paper waste that's been piling up.

Oh good, I qualified for 47 different credit cards today. Image via iStock.

More than 4 million pounds of junk mail is produced each year, and about half of it ends up in the trash. You can help cut down on this waste by talking to your local post office or using services like Catalog Choice, DMAChoice, or  OptOutPrescreen to remove your name from mailing lists.

While you're at it, sign up for electronic billing and receipts instead of paper ones.

(Also, who wouldn't want less junk mail?!)

15. Make sure you're recycling electronics properly.

Computers, electronics, and batteries can be full of acids, rare metals, and lead. That gunk can end up in our soil and water, which is, you know, not good. You can help keep lead and toxins out of the soil by using proper e-waste procedures.

Instead of tossing your old cell phone in the trash or leaving your old laptop on the curb, use this website to find a recycling center near you. You can also donate or recycle old cell phones. Many carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, also have trade-in programs.

16. If thinking about the global environment feels overwhelming, think local instead.

We might not be able to count on the federal government, but that doesn't mean cities, towns, and neighborhoods can't still take action to protect the environment.

Join Audubon International's Green Neighborhood program, read the NRDC's neighborhood development guide, create a neighborhood repair team, persuade your city to turn defunct industrial sites into green spaces, or follow the small town of Ashton Haye's example and go carbon-neutral altogether.

17. Download apps that will help you keep conservation and environment info handy.

Put your phone to good use. Find more sustainable fish with an app like Seafood Watch, lower your water bill with Dropcountr, get ocean conservancy tips from Rippl, learn what's going on in your neighborhood with Ecoviate, or find new ideas with #climate.

18. Educate yourself by watching amazing environmental documentaries.

Image from "Before the Flood."

Documentaries are a great way to get caught up on current issues. Check out BBC's delightful "The Blue Planet," "Life," "Life Story," and "Planet Earth" series; Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before the Flood"; "Chasing Ice"; Discovery Channel's "Wildest" series; or both "Cosmos" series.

19. Have uncomfortable conversations.

Look, I can write as much as I want here, but if you actually want to change someone's mind, you've really got to talk to them. Connect over shared values. If you're a hunter, talk to other hunters. If you're a farmer, talk to other farmers. If you're a city dweller, talk to other city dwellers. Find the places where you can agree, and go from there.

It can be weird, but it helps.

20. Don't panic.

Yes, climate change is real. Yes, it's caused by humans. Though some politicians may try to sow confusion, we just need to look out the window to see that the weather's getting weirder.

That said, it's not too late. We probably can't stop it entirely, but we still have the power to both lessen its effects and prepare for the future.

So don't panic.

21. Remember, you are not alone.

Though we may disagree sometimes on the best way to do it, the majority of Americans do want action on climate change and conservation. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green, this is an issue we can all get behind.

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."