Remembering the Purpose of Earth Day

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I celebrated the 45th Earth Day with the Pacifica Beach Coalition, a group that collects trash and restores habitat

Forty-five years ago, rivers were on fire because of industrial pollution. Today our entire planet is on fire because of carbon pollution. 2014 was the hottest year on record. Temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were the highest since scientists started recording them in 1880. Strange weather has made headlines around the world. We’ve seen polar vortices and tornadoes in the Midwest, massive snow storms on the East Coast, rapidly shrinking sea ice at the North and South poles, record hurricanes and cyclones over the Pacific and Indian Oceans, flooding in Asia, and extreme droughts in Africa and right here in the western states of the U.S. Scientists call this the “new normal” – in a warming world we have to expect the unexpected.

But even in California, where we are used to a dry climate, we didn’t expect four consecutive years of exceptional drought. Just a few weeks ago on April 1, Governor Jerry Brown announced the lowest snowpack on record in California. He stood on a brown meadow in the Sierras instead of in five feet of snow.

Forty-five years ago, people were sick and dying from air and water pollution. They were fed up. Millions of protesters took to the streets to express their appreciation of the planet and demand its protection. One of the co-founders of Earth Day, then Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, says the movement resulted in the defeat of corrupt politicians and spurred a quarter century of bipartisan environmental legislation.

In 1970, industrialization was at its height. Garbage was dumped into rivers and bays, sewage flowed straight into the ocean, toxic chemicals from factories and leaded gasoline exhaust from cars were fouling the air. The Cuyahoga River —> Read More

High-pitched sounds cause seizures in old cats: Certain breeds more susceptible

Sharp high-pitched sounds have been found to cause seizures in older cats. The most commonly reported triggers were the sound of crinkling tin foil, a metal spoon clanging in a ceramic feeding bowl, chinking or tapping of glass, crinkling of paper or plastic bags, tapping on a computer keyboard or clicking of a mouse, clinking of coins or keys, hammering of a nail and even the clicking of an owner’s tongue. —> Read More

“Things R Elephant”: Heated Debate in Kenya Gets to the Heart of What It Will Take to Save the Species

By Paula Kahumbu

In Kenya, when you hear that “Things are Elephant,” it means there’s a major problem. That’s why we chose this as the title for the first ever debate of its kind, organized by WildlifeDirect, on the future of elephants.

On the afternoon of April 25, in a school hall in Nairobi, two highly charged teams—who had traded emotional Tweets the days before—went head to head. The only thing they agreed on was the need to save elephants.

The need to save our elephants has never been greater: Only today, in Thailand, three tons of illegal ivory from Kenya was seized at a port in eastern Thailand. The ivory was shipped from Mombasa, but it’s not clear if it originated in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa.

Elephants are a big deal for my country, Kenya, which is renowned for it’s spectacular wildlife. Despite it’s conservation history, Kenya is listed among the world’s eight most complicit countries as a source of ivory, and it’s a major contributor to the illegal transiting of ivory out of Africa.

Something is very wrong.

As the CEO of WildlifeDirect, I lead a national campaign—Hands Off Our Elephants—to transform results in Kenya, and we’re best known for our advocacy for better law enforcement, especially in the court rooms.

Our campaign, whose patron is First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, has had major impact. For example, on March 3, President Uhuru Kenyatta set 15 tons of ivory alight and promised to destroy the rest before the end of 2015.

We patted ourselves on the back for lobbying for what was the boldest move by any African president to date.

But less than 24 hours later, a full-page article appeared in a major local newspaper by respected columnist Charles Onyango-Obbo titled, “Don’t Burn Ivory, Sell it to Pay for Conservation.”

Furious, I hounded Charles on Twitter and met —> Read More

This Infographic Proves Why We Need To Stop Believing Myths Related To Vaccinations

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It’s getting more and more difficult to justify the decision not to vaccinate a child.

In recognition of World Immunization Week from April 24-30, 2015, UNICEF created an infographic to point out how crucial vaccinations are in preventing diseases like polio, tetanus and measles.

Not only do they save lives, they save the world economy lots of money.

Every year, vaccines prevent about 2.5 million deaths, according to the organization, and — if vaccines were given to every child in the 72 poorest countries — roughly $6.2 billion would be saved throughout the next decade in treatment costs.

But a wide range of factors still prevent far too many children from accessing immunizations, according to Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

“Vaccines have been critical in reducing childhood deaths over the years,” she said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. “Still, today, one in five children worldwide is not being immunized because they’re living in a conflict zone, or extreme poverty, or because of misinformation and mistrust. Much more needs to be done to ensure that every child receives the life-saving vaccines he or she needs for a healthy life.”

In the U.S., myths related to vaccine safety can confuse parents trying to make the best decisions for their family, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A recent measles outbreak in California — which officially ended earlier this month, according to state officials — can be linked to low immunization rates in certain schools, The Los Angeles Times reported. State epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez told the outlet the vaccination rate in some schools is below 50 percent — a figure that’s lower than in some developing countries, UNICEF noted in the infographic.

When Melinda Gates sat down —> Read More

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