March for Science

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the March for Science in Washington, D.C. with my fellow Johns Hopkins classmates. This demonstration sends a clear message to the Republican Administration that science plays a role in everyone’s lives and has given us so much as a society and in the world. Without science, we wouldn’t have life-saving medicines or vaccines. Without science, we would not be able to discover new cures and treatments for diseases.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world gathered on April 22, 2017, Earth Day, to celebrate science! There were scientists, researchers, doctors of different disciplines, supporters of science (young and old) that came together for the purpose of advocating for science. The March for Science page states:

Science protects the health of our communities, the safety of our families, the education of our children, the foundation of our economy and jobs, and the future we all want to live in and preserve for coming generations. 

We speak up now because all of these values are currently at risk. When science is threatened, so is the society that scientists uphold and protect.

When I was growing up, I watched Bill Nye the Science Guy and ZOOM, and had the chance to create that ever cliche paper mache volcanos that erupts with baking soda and vinegar. I knew I wanted to be involved in helping other people, and ended up in Public Health. It was evident that science and research is paramount to making advances towards innovations that would lead to better health outcomes, even when I was a little girl and to this day.

I hope we continue this open dialogue about science and that my fellow colleagues will continue to fight the fight to promote science and support organizations such as the NIH and EPA to protect our planet and our populations’ health. I hope that PBS continues to get funded so the programs can continue to inspire the younger generation to be inquisitive, eager to learn, and get involved in STEM.

Here are some of great posters that I was able to take photos of this past weekend!

Water-Saving Tips & Tricks

Countries around the world are currently facing water scarcity. Drought is caused by a lack of precipitation for an extended period of time, which can affect agriculture, the economy, and our bodies of water. In the 1930s, the US had experienced the Dust Bowl, a period in which soil from large plots of land would blow away due to wind erosion. Because of a lack of understanding of topsoil and necessary grasses to keep soil in place, farmers had plowed the land that uprooted these grasses and soil and made it easier for strong winds to pick up the soil during a drought, making the land unable to support any agriculture during that period.

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California has been suffering from a drought for the past few years, and as our main source of produce throughout the country, we should be wary of potential ramifications of wasting unnecessary water when we should be focusing on water conservation. Less than 3% of water on the planet is fresh, potable water, while the rest is undrinkable (ocean water or water with too much salinity). If you do not live in a water-scarce city or country, you might want to consider the term Tragedy of the Commons, where we as individuals “act independently according to [our[ own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all [individuals] by depleting that resource through [our] collective action.”

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Individually, we may not see a huge impact, but by becoming more aware of how we use our water and tweaking our behaviors slightly to use a little less water, we can educate others to alter their behaviors and make it more possible to make a larger impact and help the environment. On average, one household in the US can use up to 400 gallons of water IN A DAY!

Here are some tips for conserving water in your home:

  • turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth
  • turn off the faucet when you soap your dishes before you rinse them
  • take shorter showers by timing yourself
    • if you listen to music while you shower, limit your showers to 1-2 songs (that can range between 3-10 minutes)
  • fix any leaks when you detect them to prevent wasted water
  • if you can, invest in an efficient toilet with two flush settings
  • use a broom to sweep away leaves or dirt outside of your home instead of hosing down the sidewalk and driveway
  • use a sponge and a bucket to wash your car instead of spraying a hose
  • invest in xeriscaping over a green grass lawn; it doesn’t just save water, but it can bring out your creativity!
  • more tips here 🙂
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An example of a backyard with xeriscaping!

What tips and tricks do you have for conserving water within your home?

Where do we go from here?

I was hesitant about posting something after the elections, but after I saw this article about Trump’s plans to put Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment, in charge of leading the EPA transition team, I felt compelled to write something especially since I’m in graduate school for public health.

Climate change is an issue we need to address. The sea level has been slowly rising and we’ll lose our coastal cities before the end of the century if we don’t acknowledge that global warming is REAL and do something about it. Long Island, Miami, New Orleans, all the tourist/beachy destinations you want to go on vacation to will be lost with the continuing rise in sea levels. Our beautiful coral reefs will die because of the increase in ocean temperatures, as we are already witnessing with the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

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The agriculture and livestock industry contributes 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, we’re abusing and depleting our non-renewable energy sources and causing more unnatural disasters history has ever seen. We have the renewable resources within reach (solar energy, wind power, tidal wave power!) but we continue to push on for oil and resorting to unconventional methods such as hydro-fracking and extracting oil from tar sands, all the while bulldozing into sacred reservation lands for our greed for cheap gas… Our environment in America was built for cars and transportation, and we are not thinking of the bigger picture when our population continues to grow and when we eventually run out of space for people. We became so greedy at the thought of having bigger lands to occupy, bigger houses to buy, etc. that we don’t think of the repercussions to our purchases–the bigger homes are in the suburbs, which lead to an increase in personal vehicle purchases, longer drives, and overall a greater sprawl on land that could essentially be used to grow more food to feed us. All of this contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the warming of the planet and the gradual destruction of our environments and ecosystems.

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People might not care about this issue because they won’t live long enough to see more drastic evidence that climate change is real, but what about the habitats for the animals and the destruction of ecosystems because of the warmer climates and the melting of the ice caps, of the oil spills and fertilizer runoff that makes dead zones in our oceans where no marine life can thrive? What about the future generations, our future children, our future grandchildren? What kind of earth are we going to leave them when we are gone?

Going into public health and learning more about the global environment, climate change, and what we can do is so frustrating because I see that we have the potential to take steps to correct the massive damage that we have done to the earth over the past century, but that there are so many obstacles that still stand in our way i.e. Trump and Ebell. The evidence is in front of our eyes to prove that climate change IS happening–the too-frequent earthquakes that are happening right on US soil in the Midwest, the devastating hurricanes that are destroying homes in Haiti and cities in the South… We take a couple steps forward with the growing momentum to invest in renewable energy, but I feel as though we have taken an incredible number of steps back with the election results and the change that is inevitably going to happen.

It’s frustrating because I want to be optimistic for our future. I want the progress that we’ve made in America to continue and not be reversed. I want my friends and family of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, Muslims, etc. to not have to fear for their safety or their lives when they leave their homes to go to school or to work, or just to run simple errands in their neighborhoods. I want to trust that our nation has more good people than intolerant people who will continue to foster love and acceptance…

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I’d like to hear anyone’s thoughts on this if you feel like sharing. I apologize for this gloomy post, but as a future public health professional, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the environmental implications that will occur if conservatives reverse the progress we’ve been making in the environmental health and climate change arena.