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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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Jeff Bridges photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikicommons

An image from Jeff Bridges' personal note on his website

Way to bury the lead, Jeff! Yesterday's news of Jeff Bridges' cancer remission revealed the beloved Hollywood icon also faced COVID 19, which had him hospitalized for over a month. This put many things on hold, including filming for his new FX thriller series Old Man.

Taking on chemotherapy is no easy task. Pile that onto losing smell, restricted breathing, and medical isolation, and anyone would want to throw in the towel. But for the ever optimistic Bridges, dealing with two health crises simultaneously became a beautiful life lesson, which he shared in a handwritten letter found on his website.


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