Heroes

One last stand for future earth: A retiring newsman is dropping facts and naming names.

A global newspaper's editor-in-chief is facing his biggest regret after 20 years on the job.

One last stand for future earth: A retiring newsman is dropping facts and naming names.

What's the story the top editor at one of the world's largest newspapers says is most hidden from you?

In his final weeks as leader of the Guardian's newsroom, Alan Rusbridger is doing what he and other news leaders should have done long ago by putting climate change front and center. And as you'll see, it's brought them to an interesting crossroads with a powerful funder.

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Climate change hasn't been the stuff of front pages, and Rusbridger believes that must change.

He sees climate change as "the biggest story of our lives." But the "news" is a glimpse at what's already happened, not what's to come. And when it comes to reporting, according to Rusbridger:


"We favour what is exceptional and in full view over what is ordinary and hidden. ... If it is not yet news — if it is in the realm of prediction, speculation and uncertainty — it is difficult for a news editor to cope with. ... For these, and other, reasons changes to the Earth's climate rarely make it to the top of the news list. The changes may be happening too fast for human comfort, but they happen too slowly for the newsmakers — and, to be fair, for most readers."

The Guardian has taken a stance on climate change, and it can be summed up in five words: #KeepItInTheGround.

GIF via The Guardian.

Fossil fuels, that is. Because burning them is warming the atmosphere and accelerating events like this:

Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf has existed for 10,000 years. In 2002, two-thirds of the shelf collapsed into the ocean over the span of six weeks. Researchers estimate the remaining portion will hold for only a few more years. GIF via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

They've launched a new section with stories and information about climate change and an eye-opening interactive feature.

With their carbon ticker, you can learn how much oil and gas humans have used in your lifetime and how long we have at our current usage rate until we've gone too far.

According to The Guardian, I will be 50 by the time we "blow the carbon budget." Image via The Guardian.

Climate policymakers' rough goal is to create rules to keep the earth's average surface temperature from rising 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Because that's when sh*t gets real, says retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen:

"At that level, the world risked initiating feedbacks in the climate system, such as the melting of ice sheet area, that could trigger irreversible warming out of humanity's control."

But some scientists say the 2ºC target isn't enough — that it's unavoidable, even, if we only focus pressure on policymakers, which brings us to another feature of the #KeepItInTheGround campaign.

They're calling people out.

The Guardian and 350.org launched a petition challenging the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to put their money where their missions are by divesting from oil and gas.

Bill and Melinda Gates. Image by Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons.

"Both have contributed hugely to progress in medicine and both are mindful of the grave dangers of climate change for public health. Yet both continue to invest in the companies driving the problem. Both spend millions each year on research and healthcare, but sink a chunk of their billions in capital into energy systems that will undo the work."
The Guardian

The two foundations' financial stakes in oil and gas, large as they may be, are just a drop in the bucket for the multitrillion-dollar industry. But the message their divestment would send could, according to The Guardian, "dent the standing of the companies involved, and curb their vast lobbying power."

Fossil fuel divestment sends a powerful message to both oil and gas companies and lawmakers.

More than 200 institutions, including the Guardian Media Group, Syracuse University, and the Church of England — plus over 200,000 individuals — have pledged to fully divest from oil and gas. Even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was built on oil profits, is withdrawing its fossil fuel investments.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Want to help #KeepItInTheGround?

Sign this petition urging the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels, and invite your network to join you. And if you have funds invested in fossil fuels, consider finding a better place for your money.

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.

Keep Reading Show less
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