If You Haven’t Heard: December 2020

The world is a big and interesting place with hundreds of stories happening every day. However, the media overlooks much of it in favor of the flashy and over-exaggerated. Despite this, it is important to highlight the unique and interesting. This article will explore three events in the world that haven’t been touched on by big media. From using a fish to cure human scarring, pro-choice protests in Poland, and a drug crisis in Afganistan, I aim to explain all in an understandable and manageable way just in case you haven’t heard.

Fish to cure human scarring

Scientists in the UK led by the University of Bristol, have been using the zebrafish’s genetic code in order to find a way to eradicate scarring from human life. While the zebrafish might sound like an animal straight out of “Avatar the Last Airbender”, it actually shares around 70% of its genes with humans. So how does this help get rid of scarring? Well, this almost translucent fish is able to heal cuts, bruises, and even grow back limbs without a single scar. Scientists now believe that humans and zebrafish are similar enough that studying this fish could give us the answer to eliminating scarring from human life. The UK’s scar free foundation just kick-started its 1.5 million dollar project in hopes of reaching this lofty goal. According to the NIH, around 100 million people develop new scars every year, and these scars can be detrimental to people’s mental and physical wellbeing. This new found research could improve the lives of millions of people around the world and all because of a tiny fish.

Pro-choice protests in Poland

Poland recently announced the expected passage of a new anti-abortion bill which would make it virtually impossible for a doctor to administer a legal abortion. Poland is a predominantly Catholic country and this act by the government is justified in trying to protect the sanctity of human life. However, the people of Poland do not agree, as thousands of people, roughly ten percent of people within every major city and town have been marching and protesting the government’s abortion ban. Currently, abortions are only legal in Poland only if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, if it endangers the woman’s life, or if the baby is affected by severe congenital birth defects. All three of these provisions will be stripped with the passage of this bill. This would serve as a detrimental blow to women’s rights in Poland. Which are already under threat, as the government has targeted funding for women’s rights groups and more laws and regulations in place that make it harder for women to get jobs. This explains the outrage, people everywhere in Poland are taking part in “the women’s march” in order to try and delay the passage of this bill. Even when the chances are low thousands of people are making their voices heard on an issue that they deeply care about.

Afghanistan’s switch to Methamphetamine

Afghanistan has long had a drug crisis both in and outside of the country. Thousands inside the country are already addicted to heroin and opium, and both are some of Afghanistan’s biggest exports. The United Nations reported that in 2018 the harvest of plants used in heroin production produced around 550-900 tons of heroin to be made and sold. The problem is that even though the crops in Afghanistan can be used to make heroin the drug is still very expensive to make, driving up costs. But recently a naturally occurring plant was found to grow in the hills of Afghanistan, this plant can be used as a key ingredient in the production of methamphetamine, and at an extremely low cost. The effects on the population have been drastic and almost instantaneous, as more and more people switch from the expensive heroin to the cheap crystal meth. But this isn’t just affecting the Afghani population, as just like Walter White, the Afghan meth trade is worldwide. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction warns that the industry has the potential to become the world’s biggest supplier of crystal meth. With this new development, some are saying that because of this and the already prevalent Heroin and Opium trade Afghanistan is quickly becoming the world’s only real narcotic state.

So if you hadn’t heard, scientists in the UK are using the zebrafish to try and help millions of people afflicted one way or another by scarring. Poland is on the brink of stripping rights away from women in the form of a new anti-abortion law, but thousands of people are rising up and protesting. And Afghanistan’s heroin and opioid crisis and industry are being superseded by methamphetamine. Even when forming opinions in our own lives, it’s important to understand how our lives connect to the broader world. And now we are all one step closer to drawing clear and thorough conclusions about the world around us.