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ozone layer, climate change
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Change is possible.

The negative effects of climate change are all around us—countless devastating heatwaves, droughts so severe in some areas that long lost ancient relics have reappeared, and in other areas, extreme storms destroy entire communities.

With all the visible decline on our planet, improvements might not be so obvious. But they do exist. All we need to do is look up.

Euro News announced on Sept. 19 that the Earth’s ozone layer, nature’s shield against UV radiation from the sun, has made significant progress against prior damage.

This is not only some much-needed relief against an onslaught of bad news for the environment, it also shows us that a better future is possible with concentrated effort.


It’s been 37 years since researcher Jonathan Shanklin first discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. His findings instigated arguably the biggest environmental movement of the 1980s, leading to the universally ratified Montreal Protocol, which phased out human-made, ozone-depleting chemicals (aka chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, remember those?) previously found in cleaning products, certain appliances and hairspray—just imagine how much hairspray was probably being used during that time to create the signature '80s coif … yikes.

climate change

Think about the environment, dude!

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Increased UV radiation can lead to more cases of skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems. It is also believed to be contributing to the increase in melanoma, the most fatal of all skin cancers. And it’s worth noting, since 1990, the risk of developing melanoma has more than doubled.

Though the potential danger of CFCs had been discovered as early as the mid-'70s, it would take a giant scare like a big gaping chasm in the sky for folks to really pay attention. But pretty soon it was a full-blown, mass hysteria sensation. One environmentalist even compared it to “AIDS from the sky” back in 1991.

Fast forward to 2022, and a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the overall concentration of those damaging chemicals has dropped just over 50%, back to levels not seen since before 1980.

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That's visible progress.

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Of course, progress doesn’t mean perfection. Antarctica, which still experiences a large hole once a year, has seen a slower pace of reduction. But even still, chemicals have fallen 26%, the report revealed. And until it does close, the hole is being closely monitored using 3D imaging.

The Montreal Protocol has been a success in part because it forced corporations to come up with alternative solutions. Today we have plenty of brands that are environmentally conscious, but that wasn’t always the case. And lo and behold, a huge systemic shift caused a huge positive impact.

We still only have one planet to call our home and it will take a collective effort to protect it, just as it did to damage it. It can be easy to get nihilistic (or at the very least, anxious) when only the destruction is visible. That’s why it's important to acknowledge and celebrate the small victories—it helps us hold onto hope and leads to more inspired action. Because, as we can see, for good or for bad, every action counts.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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