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Natural Resources Defense Council

The only country with parts in all four hemispheres, Kiribati, sits in the middle of the Pacific, straddling the Earth's equator.

It seems nice — the beaches are white-sand-and-palm-trees scenes right out of a travel guide. Just over 100,000 people live on its 33 atolls and islands.


South Tarawa, Kiribati's capital and most populous area. Image from Government of Kiribati/Wikimedia Commons.

But its president just thanked Fiji for helping them be able to leave this paradise.

“It's so heartening to hear that Fiji has undertaken to accommodate our people of Kiribati in the event that climate change renders our homes uninhabitable," said Kiribati President Anote Tong during a speech at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, as reported by Adam Vaughn from The Guardian.

Fiji is nearly 2,000 miles away from Kiribati. Traveling that far is like moving from Los Angeles to Chicago.

So why would 100,000 people need to abandon their homes and travel across the ocean to an entirely new country?

Because for them, the climate talks have come way too late.

Kiribati, though beautiful, is pretty poor, and local diets are often supplemented by crops grown in the atolls' thin, sandy soils. Of course, you can't grow plants in seawater, so much of the water for drinking and irrigation has to come out of a thin underground reservoir of rainwater.

But Kiribati's average elevation is less than 6.5 feet above sea level, so it doesn't take much for a large wave or storm surge to flood one of its islands.

Image from Erin Magee/DFAT/Flickr.

And when the sea rises over the land, that layer of freshwater can become polluted with salt. People can't drink it. Plants can't grow in it.

These palm trees, starved of fresh water, have turned into a forest of ghosts. Image by Government of Kiribati/Wikimedia Commons.

People can't thrive in a place with no food and clean water.

Malnutrition is becoming a serious problem in Kiribati. And it hits kids especially hard. A UNICEF report stated that 15% of children under 5 on Kiribati are underweight. This can stunt growth and make it harder for them to fight off illnesses.

This is just one effect of climate change. I'm not even getting into the other problems flooding and sea level rise can cause, like the destruction of houses or drowning risks.

Islands don't have to be underwater to become uninhabitable.

This is one of the things about sea level rise: A little bit doesn't look that serious. After all, the islands are still above sea level, aren't they? But islands don't have to be underwater to become uninhabitable.

Hence the evacuation plans.

President Tong has been outspoken about this existential threat for years. He's been building seawalls, protecting marine environments, and giving speech after speech. Even so, he's accepted the fact that Kiribati may soon be gone.

“We have to relocate people because the landmass is going to decline. That's common sense. Simple common sense. ... I can say that I refuse to move, but that's being stupid isn't it? Because it will not be me that will be affected. It will be my grandchildren," a March 2015 report from The Guardian quoted Tong as saying.

President Anote Tong meets with U.S. Navy Capt. Wallace Lovely in 2013. Image by Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet/Flickr.

In 2012, he said he was in talks with Fiji to buy land for resettlement. This latest speech in Paris seems to confirm some sort of deal has come through. He also has a program to help the people of Kiribati leave and get job training in other countries such as New Zealand.

Climate change is going to end up forcing a lot of people out of their homes.

This wouldn't be the first time islanders have had to move because of the sea, but it would be the first time an entire nation was evacuated.

Some of the people of Kiribati are worried about whether their national culture will survive or be absorbed by Fiji's.

"Let us not pay lip service to an urgent and pressing issue."

Of course, Fiji may have its own climate change problems to deal with. Other island nations such as the Marshall Islands and the Maldives may also be under threat.

"For those of us whose very survival is at stake," President Tong said Monday, “our plea is very simple: Let us give substance to the pledges that have been made. ... Let us not pay lip service to an urgent and pressing issue."

That's why Paris is so important: These aren't hypotheticals anymore.

President Tong has had to make some incredibly tough decisions, and his message deserves to be heard by more people. Listen to his urgent address here:

If you're looking for something more concrete to do, sign this petition from the NRDC to demand climate action from our world leaders and make sure voices like President Tong's are heard.

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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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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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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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