The hole in the ozone layer is smaller than ever, NASA says

In some double-edged news for the planet, NASA has recently announced that the hole in the ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest size since it was detected in the mid-1980s. But there's a bit of a catch as to why it shrank in the first place, and yes it has to do with climate change.


Back in the days of glam rock and unlimited hairspray most people were totally oblivious to the damage they were doing to the atmosphere. Then in 1985 a group of buzz killers (a.k.a. scientists) released findings that showed the ozone levels in the atmosphere over the poles were depleting at an alarming rate.

And suddenly certain real estate moguls had to find another way to make the remnants of their hair bend in an unnatural direction, and proving that anyone can be a victim of their own ignorance.

The ozone layer is a part of the Earth's atmosphere made up of molecules called, wait for it, ozones! Which are basically triple strength oxygen - where the oxygen molecules we breath are made up of two oxygen atoms, the ozone layer molecules have three oxygen atoms.

And throughout Earth's history these brave tiny soldiers stood guard against the sun's radiation, specifically UV rays which are known to cause skin cancer. But when we found that they were being killed off, well, you can see how that could raise some obvious concerns. Please enjoy this nifty video from The National Geographic to learn more!

In the decades since the substances that caused the depletion were banned or prohibited (see: the Montreal Protocol) the ozone layer has shown signs of rebounding.

Recently NASA released a report that said the ozone hole was the smallest it has been since it was discovered, stretching to 3.9 million square miles. That may sound like a lot but it's actually half the usual size around this time of year which is around 8 million square miles.

This is all pretty good long-run news for the planet, but, and yes this the big "but," there's a caveat. "It's great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere," said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "But it's important to recognize that what we're seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures. It's not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery."


It's true, and shrinking of the ozone has actually happened in the past though not quite to this degree, but it was always due to strange weather patterns. And scientist are still investigating, however the main culprit for this seems to be rising global temperatures.

"It's a rare event that we're still trying to understand. If the warming hadn't happened, we'd likely be looking at a much more typical ozone hole." Said Susan Strahan, a researcher with the Universities Space Research Association.

Despite this however, scientists are optimistic that by 2070, at current rates the ozone layer can return to normal.

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Cassie, the mother of 4-year-old Camryn, had one of the those moments when her child yelled, "Black lives matter" to a Black woman at a Colorado Home Depot.

But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

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