Can you guess which state had over 500 significant quakes in 2014? The answer is telling.

It's a 600-fold increase in the historical rate of quakes. And it's not natural.

When I think of a disaster in Oklahoma, I usually assume it's a tornado.

That's because Oklahoma sits right in Tornado Alley. And it's true, some really terrible storms have come through the state in the last few years, such as the one that hit the town of Moore in 2013.


Image from State Farm/Flickr.

But something else has been hitting the state lately — earthquakes.

A lot of earthquakes. This is a record from Global Incident Map last Friday.

Four earthquakes, fairly strong ones, hit within a short period. And every time I've checked back on the site, there's been at least one dot right smack dab in the middle of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has become one of the newest and most earthquake-prone places on Earth.

That's what spokesman for the Oklahoma Cooperation Commission — which looks after Oklahoma's oil and gas — told a local rotary club on Nov. 9, 2015.

"We have had 15 [earthquakes] in Medford since 5 o'clock Saturday morning," spokesman Matt Spencer said. "We've got an earthquake issue."

What the heck is going on here?

Earthquakes normally happen along geologically active fault lines: places like California or Washington. Oklahoma is not supposed to be an earthquake state. It does have some ancient fault lines, yes, but they're mostly dormant. There were only seven magnitude 3 or greater earthquakes in the 1980s, for example.

But compare that to over 500 in 2014!

On the left is Oklahoma from 1980 to 1989. On the right is Oklahoma in 2014. Images from Earthquakes in Oklahoma/Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment.

"The current average rate of earthquakes is approximately 600 times historical averages," the Oklahoma Office of the Secretary of Energy and Environment's website said. "While we understand that Oklahoma has historically experienced some level of seismicity, we know that the recent rise in earthquakes cannot be entirely attributed to natural causes."

Fracking.

Fracking is a way to extract oil and natural gas from the ground. It uses a high-pressure mix of water and chemicals to crack open underground rocks. This releases the oil and gas trapped inside, which is sucked up by the drillers. The contaminated wastewater is then usually disposed of by pumping it into deeper disposal wells and sealing the well.

It's actually this disposal fluid, not the fracking itself, that causes the problem, say two scientists from Stanford University. Professor Mark Zoback and doctoral student Rall Walsh published a paper in June blaming wastewater wells for the earthquakes.

"What we've learned in this study is that the fluid injection responsible for most of the recent quakes in Oklahoma is due to production and subsequent injection of massive amounts of wastewater," Zoback told Stanford News.

When the high-pressure wastewater hits one of those deep fault lines, it's like putting too much air into a weak tire. It's going to pop.

GIF from World Science Festival/YouTube.

The faults, which are already under extreme stress from the movements of the earth, would likely pop one day anyways, but by injecting wastewater, humans are ramping up the schedule.

"The earthquakes in Oklahoma would have happened eventually," Walsh told Stanford News. "But by injecting water into the faults and pressurizing them, we've advanced the clock and made them occur today."

While most of the quakes have been around magnitude 3 — enough to be felt, but not enough to do lasting damage — there have been larger quakes too, such as the magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit Prague, Oklahoma, in 2011. And unlike places like Los Angeles, where earthquakes are routine, buildings in Oklahoma usually aren't designed with quakes in mind.

A house damaged by the 2011 earthquake in Prague, Oklahoma. Image from U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr.

Oklahoma's government has started taking steps to try to stop these quakes, including ordering certain wells to stop or reduce their injection. But this isn't going to go away any time soon, they cautioned.

This is street-side video of a magnitude 4.7 quake that hit Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If you're as shaken up by this trend as I am, sign this petition from the League of Conservation Voters celebrating the Clean Power Plan, which promotes alternative, non-earthquake inducing energy sources such as wind and solar.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture