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.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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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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