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Heroes

The consequences of fracking revealed in a simple kitchen test. Holy smokes.

Let's be real, fracking isn't exactly breaking news these days. For those of us who're passionate about environmental issues, we know that fracking is terrible and has serious consequences for our planet. But it wasn't until I heard how residents directly affected by these fracking sites have been treated by the oil companies that I really understood just how deep the problem goes.

What in the world is fracking?

Before we can dive into why fracking is so harmful to the planet, let's make sure we understand how it works.



Now of course this is a more condensed (and animated) explanation of how fracking works, but you get the idea. The thing is, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see why there might be serious consequences to pumping the ground full of chemicals in order to make *more* chemicals.

"The oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29chemicals that are (1) known or possible human carcinogens, (2) regulated under the SafeDrinking Water Act for their risks to human health, or (3) listed as hazardous air pollutants underthe Clean Air Act.
...
Between 2005 and 2009, the hydraulic fracturing companies used 95 products containing13 different carcinogens.20 These included naphthalene (a possible human carcinogen), benzene(a known human carcinogen), and acrylamide (a probable human carcinogen). Overall, thesecompanies injected 10.2 million gallons of fracturing products containing at least onecarcinogen."
— U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce minority staff, "Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracking, 2011"


Where do all those toxins go?

Fracking has been known to contribute to earthquakes, climate change, droughts, and, worst of all, extreme water contamination. While harmful toxins have serious long-term consequences for everyone, those who live closest to drilling sites suffer them firsthand.

"Residents began complaining of fouled water near Pavillion in the mid-1990s, and the problems appeared to get worse around 2004. Several residents complained that their well water turned brown shortly after gas wells were fracked nearby, and, for a time, gas companies operating in the area supplied replacement drinking water to residents.

Beginning in 2008, the EPA took water samples from resident's drinking water wells, finding hydrocarbons and traces of contaminants that seemed like they could be related to fracking. In 2010, another round of sampling confirmed the contamination, and the EPA, along with federal health officials, cautioned residents not to drink their water and to ventilate their homes when they bathed because the methane in the water could cause an explosion."
— Abrahm Lustgarten and Nicholas Kusnetz of ProPublica, "Feds Link Water Contamination to Fracking for the First Time"


What's it like living next to a fracking site?

In the aptly titled "Fracking Nightmare," Pennsylvania resident Sherry Vargson shares what life has been like since selling part of her property to the Chesapeake Energy Corp.



And if bubbling and steaming water weren't enough to convince you, Sherry demonstrated just how toxic her tap water is by lighting a match next to her running faucet.

Umm ... I'm not a scientist or anything, but I'm pretty sure water is NOT supposed to be flammable. Sherry thought this was pretty suspect too, so she contacted the state Department of Environmental Protection, which found excessive levels of methane in her home, measuring over 56.3 milligrams per liter. That's when they shared that typically anything over 3 milligrams should be controlled with monitors and a proper ventilation system. Yikes. And while Chesapeake Energy did eventually bring Sherry a ventilation system, they acted as if flammable water was perfectly normal, saying, "There's natural occurring methane in the wells already."

In addition to bubbly water, gassy showers, and flaming sinks, Sherry has had to relocate her farm animals and order drinking water from a local company — all because her water's "fracked." I don't know about you, but to me, this is some seriously scary stuff.

How can we stand up to oil companies and stop fracking?

As of January 2015, fracking is taking place in 22 states. And while plenty of states aren't currently affected, those in rural areas could be next. But the good news is that plenty of communities are winning the fight against drilling in their neighborhoods.

Dryden, New York, is just one small town that was successful in banning fracking, along with 105 others since 2011.

And while environmentalists and small towns across the country are working hard to put a stop to fracking, they need all the help they can get. Whether you live in a community that's been affected by fracking or just want a healthier planet, Environment America has a list of resources, petitions, and legislation you can support based on where you live.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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