Heroes

Obama just made a milestone move on coal power plants. Here's why it's so important.

Did you know coal plants are responsible for more CO2 pollution than all the passenger vehicles in the United States?

Obama just made a milestone move on coal power plants. Here's why it's so important.
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League of Conservation Voters

President Obama recently launched a new plan to fight climate change, state by state.

Climate Desk's Tim McDonnell (scroll down for the video) says this is the single biggest step toward limiting climate change that any president has ever taken. And Obama is doing it by creating a new set of rules for the biggest industrial contributor to global warming in the United States — coal-fired power plants.

Why is Obama's new plan on coal important?


Obama unveiled his energy plan at the White House on Aug. 3, 2015. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Emissions. You know, the stuff that causes global warming.

Until now, the fossil fuel industry didn't have any cap on emissions, which, you know, could be a bit of problem in the long run.

Now Obama wants to introduce a plan to help keep global warming at bay.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in our country.

According to Climate Desk, coal plants are responsible for more CO2 pollution than all the passenger vehicles in the United States.

That seems like something we should be on top of, humanity. What were we doing before Obama enacted these new rules?

There were no national limits on coal-fired power plant emissions.

In the United States, these types of emissions were unlimited until Obama launched the plan. Whoa.

Now, each state has targets for how to reduce emissions from these plants.

The new plan will regulate the emissions from coal plants. An impressive (but could-get-more-impressive) 64% of Americans support more stringent emissions regulations on coal-fueled power plants.

Learn more about the plan here:

What will that mean? Less CO2 emissions and more sustainable energy plans. Awesome. But there's more than just coal. Here's a petition you can sign to stop arctic drilling, too.

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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