21 years ago, smart people said global warming would change our world. They were right.

A lot can happen in 21 years of trying to save the world.

In June 1992, the leaders of 154 nations gathered in Rio de Janeiro.

They signed a pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global climate change. Two years later, those pledges became the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, solving the issue of global warming completely and letting the world get on with the important business of developing actual hoverboards (#justsayin).


No article about climate change is complete without the mandatory T-rex on a hoverboard GIF.

Except, uh, no.

Instead, governments have spent the last 21 years hammering out the details of how a global climate deal will work. After marathon talks in 2011, they agreed on a 2015 deadline. For negotiators in Paris right now, that is less than two days away.

In the meantime, the world is very different from how it was when the talks began. How different? Well...

In 1994, pop culture was so earnest and adorable.

Ace of Base had three songs on the Billboard Top 100. Everybody bought "The Lion King" soundtrack. Seinfeld was the most popular show on TV, George Clooney was still on "E.R.," and Captain Planet and the Planeteers saved the world from Hoggish Greedly every Saturday morning.

In 1994, everyone wanted "The Rachel."

Stylish people — and not just Tour de France riders — were excited to wear spandex bike shorts in public. People, like The Rock, unironically sported fanny packs, stonewashed denim vests, and jeans that did up with little padlocks instead of a button fly.

Seriously, the Rock wore that. Image via The Rock/Facebook.

You probably knew at least one person who tried to wear their wear their pants backwards.

In 1994, Bill Clinton was in the second year of his first term as President of the USA.

Vice-President Al Gore had helped implement some U.S. climate policies but hadn't yet made "An Inconvenient Truth" or won the Nobel Prize. Meanwhile, 1994's Barack Obama was a community organizer, an associate at a Chicago law firm, and still two years from being eligible to run for president at all. Oh, and Mark Zuckerberg was 10, which was fine because most people could only access the Internet via dial-up connections, and a "social network" was what your grandmother called her friends who came over to play bridge.

In 1994, the global concentration of CO2 was around 356 parts per million.

As of last week, it is officially 400 parts per million worldwide. Here's why that's bad.

In 1994, 5.6 billion people lived on Earth — 1.7 billion fewer than today.

Image via Andres Ubierna/Flickr.

China and India were developing nations, just starting to embrace industrialization. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa, just six months after apartheid ended and four years after being released from a 27-year prison sentence. Poverty, inequality, and disease were huge issues across the developing world — a sad constant that remains today.

In 1994, we didn't need new colors to map extreme heat in Australia.

Or new classifications for superstorms like Haiyan in the Philippines or Sandy in the U.S. The first small island states were still 15 years from needing to evacuate their homes from rising sea levels. We knew about the hole in the ozone layer, but we hadn't yet discovered how warming seas were bleaching and dissolving coral reefs or that plastic pollution created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Say hi to the giant blue hole in the ozone. Image via NASA/Flickr.

If you were a baby born on the day the UNFCCC came to be in 1994, you probably wouldn't be reading this right now because you'd be at a bar somewhere buying alcohol legally.

Think about that — in the time it has taken world leaders to agree on what to do about climate change, a child has grown from a tiny chubby-cheeked blanket burrito who doesn't know it has a nose to an adult who can vote, join the Army and graduate from college in a few months.

In the past 21 years, we've seen great advances in renewable energy technology.

Fancy solar panel doing its thing. Image via The ReGeneration/Flickr.

Hybrid and electric cars are freely available. Business, industry, and government are all adapting to make climate change part of their current operation and future plans. Taking action on climate change inspires global mobilizations, music, and movies.

At the same time, we've seen the real impacts climate change is already making on our planet as extreme weather drives droughts, storms, and sea-level rise, sending species to extinction and displacing tens of millions of people.

So while it may have taken two decades to get here, the world has never been more ready for climate action than it is now.

Heroes
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

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Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

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Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

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