Stop Ruining the Galapagos Islands

As we've blogged before on Big Think, the state of science savvy in America is pretty sorry. Only about a third of us accept evolution through natural selection, even lower than the tally that accepts human-caused global warming as a reality. Do we all need to take a science field trip for inspiration, say to the Galapagos Islands, the legendary birthplace of Charles Darwin's singular notion? No. In fact, we're ruining the place.

The Galapagos is already a fragile place, an archipelago formed by fairly recent volcanic activity. And the same geographic isolation that causes the evolution of the peculiar wildlife also means they have nowhere to go to escape disaster. And now, thanks to human travel, the Galapagos face the threat of invasive species.

Mosquitoes are the current villain. Southern house mosquitoes, to be exact. They've reached the archipelago aboard our ships and planes, and managed to survive by breeding with the native mosquitoes. And where there are mosquitoes, disease often follows.

Southern house mosquitoes are known to carry avian pox, malaria, and West Nile virus. If any of those diseases arrived in the Galapagos and spread around the mosquito population, those mosquitoes could pass on the disease to the islands' rare and historic wildlife and wipe them out. It happened in Hawaii in the 1800s, killing off many native bird species.

Tourism forms and increasingly large part of the Galapagos' economy, but the islands face the same problems that plague any tourist destination—tourism ruins the thing people go to see, either aesthetically by overcrowding the area with people in bad T-shirts, or through causing real, irrevocable damage.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
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Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
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