3 ways the Amazon is keeping all of us alive and why we should keep it alive in return

The Amazon rainforest is called "the lungs of our planet."

And nope, that's not an exaggeration at all.


The Amazon provides up to 20% of the Earth's oxygen...

Yes, it's true. In 2013, the Amazon was estimated to have close to 400 billion trees, which is close to the number of stars in our galaxy! Those trees absorb about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year (down from 2 billion tons in the 1990s).

The Amazon trees then transform the carbon dioxide into oxygen, and that's how we get fresh air. This means the Amazon can also help regulate climate, because CO2 and similar gases contribute to rising global temperatures.

...and contains 20% of the world's fresh water.

The Amazon Basin is pretty huge, measuring up to 2.6 million square miles. That's 40% of South America.

It has a TON of species that could hold the cures for cancer or HIV.

Botanist Mateus Paciencia has faith that the Amazon could churn out almost-magical substances that would rock the world of medicine. Chances are, it *has* to have something that spectacular.

"The Amazon has something like 20% of all the biodiversity in the world. Just in terms of plants with flowers, there are around 22 or 23 thousand. It is impossible to imagine that ... not one of them will have an active substance for some disease."
— Botanist Mateus Paciencia

Basically, the Amazon is a living, breathing wonder.

We Earthlings are lucky to have it.

But the Amazon is in trouble.

Drilling. Deforestation. Oil pollution.




Which means...

Those carbon-dioxide absorbing trees are being chopped down. Those rivers are being polluted. And those plant and animal species are facing threat of extinction.

Trouble for the Amazon means trouble for the globe.

Thankfully, we've got some heroes who are standing up for the Amazon.

What these indigenous tribes are doing to save the Amazon is saving their communities. But they're also saving the rest of us, too. Every step they take to push back and preserve the Amazon helps ensure that the rest of the world won't suffer from the rainforest's destruction.

Watch what these amazing tribes are doing. Be grateful. And then spread the word.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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