See how much the world has physically changed since you were born. Hint: It's more than you realize.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

Sometimes it's hard to see change as it's happening around us.

Sure, you might notice that first fallen leaf of autumn as it crumbles underfoot or the glimmer of a flower bud bursting the snow. But for the most part, we're not actively aware of the effects of time as we go through it. It's only when we look back that we can see difference by comparison.

But there are a lot of other things that have been changing around us while we've been alive, and I'm not just talking about the seasons. Maybe you've come to expect the annual cycles of the weather, but what about the rest of the world? And what's the difference from one winter to the next?


Let's take a look at how the world has changed since you were born — like physically changed, in ways beyond strip malls and landfills.

Are you a Centenarian? (a) Congrats! (b) The average temperature has increased 2 degrees to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1915.

Heating world GIF images via NASA.

It goes from almost all blue — that's -1 degree to 0 degrees Celsius (aka that tens-based temperature measurement used in the rest of the world that makes a lot more sense) — to almost all reds and oranges. It might not seem like the biggest deal, but remember: This is just an average.

But you might not be that old. Let's jump ahead to the mid-1960s — specifically 1965.

See how similar the average temperature in 1965 was to 1915 above? That means most of that change has happened in the last half-century, a fact which probably has very little to do with Dylan going electric.

If you were born a decade later in 1975, things were just starting to heat up.


Things were really gettin' hot around Antarctica and Australia, which I'd much rather attribute to the release of the first AC/DC record than to something ridiculous like carbon emissions.

Generally speaking, people born in 1985 came unto this sizzling Earth with hopes for good luck and a sparkling wit.


There's an entirely logical reason for the world being so much hotter all the sudden, and it's not "Howard the Duck." (Did I mention that I'm turning 30 soon, and you can totally buy me presents? You should do that!)

You 1995ers were the first to face a world without Kurt Cobain (and the climate felt sad about it, too).


For those of us in America, this decade got just a little bit warmer, but probably not enough that you would notice. But there are a lot more red spots all around the globe, which may or may not have had something to do with the conclusion of the OJ Simpson murder trial (I'm thinkin' not, though).

As for those of you born in 2005, I admit: I have a hard time believing you're real and on the Internet right now.


I'm not sure which is scarier: that you never knew a world without Facebook or that you never knew a world that wasn't already covered in the orange temperature zone. Honestly, it's a toss-up.

What about those who were born right on the decade lines? Let's go back to 1980 and check the view from the top.


Polar ice GIFs via National Geographic.

Back in the day when the Clash was still a band, the "Star Wars" prequels were but a formative inkling in George Lucas's mind, and ... wait did that polar ice cap lose like half its landmass in the last 35 years?!

Then of course there are the children of 1990, who are same age as "The Simpsons" (the show, not the characters).


Compare that 1990 ice cap to the way it looked in 1980, and that's about as different as the bass line from "Under Pressure" and the one from "Ice Ice Baby." Oh hey, remember Vanilla Ice? He was something, huh?

And that brings us back to the turn of the millennium. How 'bout them polar ice caps, 2000 babies?


Oh, I'm sorry — you thought all that melting was evenly spread across three long decades? Yeah, not so much. I guess we were all too busy freaking out about the Y2K bug-that-never-was to even notice.

But now we're gonna party like it's 1999, when the World Atlas map began to drastically change.


Map GIF from National Geographic.

On average, the polar ice caps have shrunk by 12% each decade since the '70s, and that melting rate has become exponentially worse since 2007. The image above depicts the actual changes made to the world map between 1999 and 2014, according to the World Atlas.

That's a pretty major change for 15 years, right? But get this:

The maps of the Arctic Circle as seen in 2014 edition of the World Atlas are already inaccurate.

Yeah. It really is that bad.

Ironically, the rate of Arctic melting has essentially snowballed — the factors add up exponentially, and the effects get bigger and bigger and bigger (even as the snow itself disappears). So while yes, there are still winters and it still gets cold, the ecosystem is disastrously out of balance, and it's only getting worse.

But fear not! There's still hope!

Or maybe do fear a little bit, if that's the kind of motivation that you need to make sustainable environmental changes in your life or to urge President Obama to take action before it gets too late. Because we seriously need to do something — and fast.

Here's a little more information, courtesy of National Geographic.

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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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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