A big, beautiful wall is currently being built across the entire width of Africa.

While the U.S. argues over building a wall on the U.S. Mexican border, a massive "green" wall is going up across the continent of Africa.

When we think of walls, we usually think of a structure to keep people and/or animals out or in. But The Great Green Wall being built across Africa has an entirely different purpose.

The Sahel region, along the southern border of the Sahara desert, is one of the poorest regions in the world, and one of the most impacted by climate change so far. Persistent drought and lack of food has created conflicts over resources and forced people to migrate away from the region. The Great Green Wall project is an ambitious attempt to mitigate the environmental and economic effects of climate change in this part of Africa, utilizing nature itself to do so.


The goal is to create a 6000-mile (8000 km) "living wonder" across the entire width of the continent, from Senegal to Djibouti, restoring the degraded land and creating millions of jobs in the process. The project involves planting trees and other vegetation—hence the "green wall"—but its impact goes far beyond adding greenery to the landscape.

The Great Green Wall tackles many issues at once, including many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN hopes to make significant progress in improving the lives of people around the globe by 2030 with its Sustainable Development Goals. The Great Green Wall helps with many of them. It helps battle poverty by providing food security and opportunity for farming and businesses to grow from it. It supports gender equality by improving water security so women and girls don't have to walk long distances to collect water and by empowering women with new opportunities. It provides environmental resistance to climate change in an area where temperatures are rising the fastest.

It's also an important symbol of peace, unity, and hope in a world that can sometimes feel hopelessly divided. Twenty African nations have joined together on the project since its inception a decade ago. The wall is now 15% underway, and while ongoing support is needed for the work to accelerate to a good pace, the groundwork has been laid. If this desolate region can be brought to life environmentally, economically, and societally, it will show the rest of the world what's possible when diverse people work together toward a common goal.

When complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

The project an enormous undertaking for sure. But many international organizations, including the African Union, European Union, World Bank, and United Nations are partnering to bring it to fruition.

The African Union Commissioner for the Sahara and Sahel Great Green Wall Initiative, Elvis Paul Tangam, says that the key to the project is how it involves and empowers the people. “The Great Green Wall is about development; it’s about sustainable, climate-smart development, at all levels...It’s about ownership, and that has been the failure of development aid, because people were never identified with it. But this time they identify. This is our thing.”

"The Great Green Wall promises to be a real game-changer, providing a brighter future for rural youth in Africa and a chance to revitalize whole communities," says Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. "It can unite young people around a common, epic ambition: to ‘Grow a 21st Century World Wonder,' across borders and across Africa."

And Ireland's President, Michael D. Higgins says, "With its capacity to unite nations and communities in solidarity, the Great Green Wall represents the best kind of international cooperation that will be required in this century."

A wall that unites people and creates economic opportunity for people living on either side of it? So here for it. If you are too, The Great Green Wall asks that you share the project and sign the Great Green Pledge that helps them have more power to lobby governments and organizations to support the movement.

Let's let the world know that this is the kind of wall we'd like to see more of.

Growing a World Wonder (Virtual Reality film)

A groundbreaking 360° film about Africa’s Great Green Wall, and the people growing it.

Posted by Great Green Wall on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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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