Pakistan hired 63,000 people, unemployed by COVID-19, to help plant 10 billion trees

If there is a bright spot to the COVID-19 epidemic, it's the positive environmental impact that social distancing has had on the planet. There has been a steep drop in worldwide pollution and wildlife is returning to places that were once dominated by human activity.

The pandemic has also inspired many world leaders to champion a green recovery.

Pakistan has found a great way to help its laborers who've lost their jobs due to the health crisis by hiring them to plant saplings as part of the country's 10 Billion Trees program. The five-year project was launched by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to counter the droughts, flooding, and rise in temperatures in the country caused by climate change.


Pakistan ranks fifth on a list of countries most affected by planetary heating over the past two decades by the Global Climate Risk Index 2020.

via PTI / Twitter

The country has been on lockdown since March 23, but the prime minster granted an exception for the 63,000 laborers it has hired for the program. The workers will be paid between 500 to 8000 rupees a day — about half of what a laborer would usually make —but it's enough to get by.

The work is a lifeline for the unemployed laborers but it will only put a small dent in Pakistan's unemployment rate. A recent assessment by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics found that up to 19 million people could be laid off due to COVID-19.

Even though the work takes place in isolated areas, laborers still have to abide by social distancing rules. They must remain six feet apart from one another and wear masks.

Much of the planting is being done on 15,000 acres near the state capital of Islamabad as well as other pieces of state-owned forest land throughout the country.

"This tragic crisis provided an opportunity and we grabbed it," Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to the prime minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

via USDA

The United States should look into similar programs to help its unemployed citizens as well as the planet. During the Great Depression, president President Franklin Roosevelt mobilized the U.S. Forest Service, the Works Progress Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps to create a shelterbelt of trees that ran in a 100-mile-wide zone from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle.

The goal was to provide a natural barrier against the dust storms that ravaged the middle of the country during the Dust Bowl

Over seven years, 30,233 shelter belts were planted, stretching over 18,600 square miles, and containing over 220 million trees. It also provided much needed employment for thousands of workers who's livelihoods had been destroyed by the Dust Bowl and stock market crash.

In every great tragedy holds the seed of opportunity. The U.S. should follow Pakistan's lead and use that seed to plant a better future.





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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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When an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 most people who lived in the area fled. Some left without their pets, who then had to fend for themselves in a radioactive nuclear zone.

Sakae Kato stayed behind to rescue the cats abandoned by his neighbors and has spent the last decade taking care of them. He has converted his home, which is in a contaminated quarantine area, to a shelter for 41 cats, whom he refers to as "kids." He has buried 23 other cats in his garden over the past 10 years.

The government has asked the 57-year-old to evacuate the area many times, but he says he figured he was going to die anyway. "And if I had to die, I decided that I would like to die with these guys," he said.

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