Beijing banned cars for 2 weeks and the sky turned perfectly blue. Guess what happened the next day?

China marked the 70th anniversary of their victory during World War II in the only way possible: a ginormous parade.

On Sept. 3, 2015, Victory Day kicked off with a massive military parade through Beijing.



Photo by Rolex Dela Pena/Getty Images.

The celebration included 12,000 troops in 50 different military formations along with hundreds of fighter jets. Veterans and soldiers ranging from 20 to 102 years old participated. Parade training was apparently so intense that multiple officers reported losing 10 pounds or more.


Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

Blue sky at night? Parade Day delight!

A parade this size takes months, sometimes even years, of preparation.

And in the case of Beijing's Victory Day parade, numerous restrictions were put in place leading up to the festivities. Hundreds of factories were shuttered, and half of the 5 million registered cars in the city were banned from driving in the main urban hub.

Say what you will about spending government resources on a giant party, but in this case, it definitely paid off.


Photo by Jason Lee/Getty Images.

By the day of the parade, the air quality in the city of Beijing had dramatically improved.

An average day in Beijing clocks in on the Air Pollution Index at around 160 (out of 500), which means adverse health effects for absolutely everyone (by comparison, an average day in the worst U.S. cities is said to be around 125). But by parade day, it had dropped to 17.

Photo by Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images.

Grey sky at morning? Air pollution warning.

The day after the Victory Parade, cars were allowed to return to the roads — and the Air Pollution Index in parts of the city immediately returned to an unhealthy 160 out of 500.


Want to see the difference? Here's how Beijing looked in June:


Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

Here's Beijing during the Victory Day parade in September:

Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

And here's Beijing less than one week later. Just in case you thought they were having a hazy day or something.


Photo by Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images.

The sky is back to looking bleak, but the future doesn't have to be. What happened before the Victory Day parade shows that a sunny change is still possible.

Air pollution is bad. Carbon emissions are bad. Cars are bad. We've all heard it before. But what we may not have realized is how much power we have to change things.

What happened in Beijing shows us — yes, how grim the situation is, but also just how easily we can change it.

By cutting back on cars and other emissions for a mere two weeks, Beijing underwent a beautiful and healthy transformation. And yet, all it took was one day of business-as-usual to bring Beijing crashing back into the danger zone.


Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

It's something to consider the next time you get behind the wheel. We can ensure a future of blue skies if more of us walked to work, rode our bikes, or crammed onto public transportation — even just a few times a week.

Those blue skies sure look nice to me.


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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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