Everyone thought his ideas for making ice sounded crazy, but now he's a national hero.

Welcome to the rooftop of the world.

This is the story of a man who spent 40 years in the Himalayas watching glaciers melt. One day, he figured out how to do that himself — in reverse.

Ladakh sits at the northernmost tip of India, high in the mountains. Life here is not what anyone would call easy — average rainfall in these mountain villages where most people are farmers is less than two inches a year. Farmers in Ladakh have traditionally relied on glacial meltwater for their spring crops.


But climate change is creating a whole new challenge. The climate has been drier and warmer, with irregular, sometimes torrential rains. The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting faster than any other glaciers on the planet, and when water does come, there's too much of it at once. Basically, the farmers have a storage problem.

This is Chewang Norphel, who came from a farming family and spent his whole career as a civil engineer here. Watching farmers struggle to grow crops (only to give up and migrate to eke out a meager living in the city), Norphel focused his work on how to capture water in the winter and store it until spring when farmers need it.

While watching a small stream freeze when it flowed into the shade of some trees near his house, Norphel realized that he could imitate that process on a bigger scale. He could create a small glacier.

People laughed when I first presented the idea. They said, 'What crazy man are you? How can anyone make a glacier?'
— Chewang Norphel

While "growing glaciers" is not a totally new idea, Norphel had to convince people that he could build these glaciers large enough and close enough to villages to be useful to people. His early attempts in the 1990s worked so well that people were soon offering to help him construct more.

How did he do it?

His method involves channeling glacial meltwater to the shady side of a mountain.

Half-inch-wide iron pipes are placed perpendicularly to the edge of a small reservoir dug in the shaded area, where the water is collected. As the gradually freezing water seeps into the pipes, frozen blocks are pushed out the other side, and a neat, artificial glacier emerges. The glacier remains frozen until the spring when it begins to melt and water flows down to where farmers can use it.

Norphel's work is now being continued by younger engineers he's mentored. Sonam Wangchuk is using Norphel's ideas to create giant ice pyramids (which will melt more slowly), which he's dubbed ice stupas in honor of the dome-shaped shrines of the region.

Image by icestupa.org and used with permission.

As the search for climate solutions continues, the "ice man" is an innovator who has made a difference. He's been widely recognized for his contributions, even being named a climate hero. Check out his story below:

And for some fun, catch the Bollywood movie trailer that honors him too!

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less
via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

Keep Reading Show less