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.

via Lever Du Ciné / YouTube and Josiah Robles / Twitter

One of the most touching moments in Disney's "Toy Story" series is in the third film when 17-year-old Andy goes off to college, leaving his beloved toys behind to a young girl named Bonnie. It's the moment when he's forced to put the things of childhood behind and make his way in the world as an adult.

Before driving off in his car, he gives Bonnie his favorite toy, Woody, and the two play together with his toys for one last time. While he's excited to move on to go to school, his heart is clearly heavy with the knowledge of everything he's leaving behind.

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via Lever Du Ciné / YouTube and Josiah Robles / Twitter

One of the most touching moments in Disney's "Toy Story" series is in the third film when 17-year-old Andy goes off to college, leaving his beloved toys behind to a young girl named Bonnie. It's the moment when he's forced to put the things of childhood behind and make his way in the world as an adult.

Before driving off in his car, he gives Bonnie his favorite toy, Woody, and the two play together with his toys for one last time. While he's excited to move on to go to school, his heart is clearly heavy with the knowledge of everything he's leaving behind.

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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."