How John McCain's Great Barrier Reef comments could change hearts and minds.

“I think climate change is real,” John McCain said.

Sen. John McCain at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

On May 30, the 80-year-old Republican senator visited the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. While there, he spoke at length about many issues, including Russia and recent White House scandals. He took time to speak about climate change as well, The Guardian reported.


"I think that one of the great tragedies of our lives is that the Great Barrier Reef is dying [and] the environmental consequences of that," McCain said. He voiced his support for the U.S. staying in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to try to mitigate climate change.

"If we don't address this issue, I am very much afraid about what the world is going to look like for our children and grandchildren."

McCain's comments are more important now than ever — the reef is not doing well.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for more than 1,200 miles. Coral bleaching caused largely by climate change has damaged 91% of it since 1998. Image from Ho/AFP/Getty Images

On May 24, The Guardian reported that experts told Australian governments they may need to revise their plans for the reef. It is no longer feasible, they said, to stick to the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan's goals to improve the reef's overall health. Instead, the government should focus on just maintaining its "ecological function."

Coral reefs around the world are under stress from a number of factors, such as overfishing and bleaching caused by climate change.

We need voices on both sides of the aisle talking about not just the reef, but our planet's future.

A safe, clean, and stable environment is not a partisan issue. It's something we all want, and the concern over climate change in the U.S. is at a three-decade high.

That's why it can be frustrating to see the government come to loggerheads over and over again — and why McCain's words are important. As Vox's David Roberts wrote, the most important factor in building bipartisan support isn't clever arguments — it's outspoken leaders. McCain hasn't always been an environmental lion (he recently voted to repeal a stream protection rule, for instance), but those simple words — "I think climate change is real" — matter.

There are many more conservative voices — such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) — who are also speaking.

Curbelo represents Florida's 26th district, which sits at the state's southern tip and includes part of America's own barrier reef, which, unfortunately, has also been taking a few hits lately.

When leaders speak up, people listen.

We need immediate, bipartisan action if we're going to head off the worst effects of climate change. Hopefully, more leaders will come forward and take a stand.

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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