How this major city in Norway plans to help rid its streets of traffic by 2019.

It's easy to see why Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world.

With delicious seafood at your fingertips and landscapes like this outside your window ... yep, that makes perfect sense.


Bergen, Norway. The Scandinavian nation is the fourth-happiest country in the world, according to recent findings by the World Happiness Report. Photo by Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images.

The European nation also means business when it comes to keeping Oslo, its capital city, green and pedestrian-friendly.

Green? Check. Pedestrian-friendly? Check-check! Photo via iStock.

On Oct. 19, 2015, Oslo politicians made an unprecedented announcement: Cars will be banned from the city center within the next four years to curb pollution.

Cars will be gone. Finished . Done-zo ... with a few exceptions.

The new law will stop all private vehicles from venturing through central Oslo, with only special cases allowed — like for vehicles carrying someone with a disability or transporting goods to businesses — Reuters reported.

Photo via iStock.

Some business owners have been hesitant to support the plan, believing the ban may impede their ability to draw customers, but local leaders think making the area more pedestrian-friendly will actually boost business.

"We want to have a car-free center. We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists ... it will be better for shops and everyone."
— Lan Marier Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for Norway's Green Party in Oslo

According to the Oslo City Council, this will make Oslo the first European capital city to implement such a sweeping and permanent ban on motor vehicles.

Paris has tried going car-free for a day, Beijing did the same — for two weeks — and London and Madrid have congestion fees to curb traffic. But this bold new plan from Oslo, a city of more than 600,000 people, is in a league of its own.

The ban is part of Oslo's robust strategy to slash carbon emissions and craft a friendlier city for bikers and pedestrians.

Oslo's car-eliminating plan is just one way to cut greenhouse gases significantly — a feat the city has been prioritizing in recent years — The Guardian reported. It also just announced it's officially divesting from fossil fuels, becoming the first capital city in the world to commit to go fossil-free.

Photo via iStock.

Local leaders recognize they can't simply disallow cars without accommodating those who still need to get around town, though. They're planning to create at least 37 more miles of bike lanes throughout Oslo, as well as allocate a "massive boost" of resources toward improving public transit systems.

The idea is to reduce automobile traffic by 30% throughout the city in the next 15 years. Even then, cars on the road will have to be way more eco-friendly.

"In 2030, there will still be people driving cars," Berg said at a news conference. "But they must be zero-emissions [cars]."

Photo by Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images.

Let me get this straight. A forward-thinking city — filled with happy people and delicious seafood, no less — that clearly takes pollution seriously?

BRB, I'm moving to Oslo.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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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via Pexels

There are certain things in the real world that just can be duplicated virtually. No matter how hard we try, a virtual happy hour isn't as fun as a regular happy hour. It's difficult to find chemistry on a Zoom date, and virtual dance parties will all be something we make fun of when this pandemic is over.

My heart goes out to all of the students and teachers across the country who have had to make do with virtual learning over the past year. It's a frustrating thing for all involved, but it's the best we can do at a time when we have to be apart.

Distance learning can be an effective way for kids to learn, but a mother on Twitter just told the world about a thing called Zoom Detention and nobody's here for it.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less