The North Pole was once one of the most inaccessible places on Earth.

Robert Peary's 1908 expedition to the Arctic. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.


Ships trying to sail anywhere near it risked getting permanently frozen in its vast, icy prison.

Fridtjof Nansen's ship, stuck in ice. Photo from Fridtjof Nansen/Wikimedia Commons.

Going on an expedition meant being at sea for at least a few months (maybe even years) and battling horrible cold, wind, snow, and ice, not to mention starvation. Not everyone who set out made it home again; whole expeditions sometimes just ... disappeared.

The crossing was so intense that humans actually reached the South Pole first. It really says a lot when Antarctica is the easier of your two options.

The first verified expedition to the North Pole didn't happen until 1926.

Though U.S. Navy engineer Robert Peary claimed to have made it to the pole in 1909, the first verified, undisputed claim to that achievement didn't happen until Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen flew over it in an airship in 1926.

Roald Amundsen. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Amundsen's team had also been the first to reach the South Pole, which I'm pretty sure means he owns the Earth now.

Before Mr. Roald "Fur Coat" Amundsen, however, mapmakers had been trying to guess what the Arctic looked like for centuries.

See the stone thing in the center and the four islands surrounding the North Pole in this map from 1595?

The red, green, and yellow blobs around the edges are Canada, Europe, and Asia, respectively. The blobs in the middle are ... Mordor? Image from Gerardus Mercator/Wikimedia Commons.

Those are there because mapmaker Gerardus Mercator seemed to think there might be some sort of lost world up there.

By the late 1600s, mapmakers had a better idea of what the pole looked like, but Greenland and Canada still seemed to cause some conundrums.

1680 map by Moses Pitt. Original image from Moses Pitt/Toronto Public Library/Wikimedia Commons.

Like, I'm pretty sure Greenland and Canada don't actually connect to each other.

Original image from Moses Pitt/Wikimedia Commons.

And this mapmaker in 1720 seems to have admitted ignorance, shrugged his shoulders, and just stopped drawing.

C. G. Zorgdrager's 1720 map of the North Pole. Original image from National Library of Norway/Wikimedia Commons.

Some maps, like this one from 1762, made some ... interesting guesses at what the North Pole looks like.

Jean Javier's 1762 map of North America. Image from Jean Lattre/Wikimedia Commons

Interesting guesses like "Maybe future-Alaska isn't a thing."

Image from Jean Lattre/Wikimedia Commons.

And "What if I put a big ol' sea here in the middle of what will one day be Seattle and British Columbia?"

I'm pretty sure I'd remember if Seattle were in the middle of a giant bay. Image from Jean Lattre/Wikimedia Commons.

Even years later, in 1776, Alaska was still proving troublesome to mapmakers.

1776 map. Image from Zatta/Wikimedia Commons.

I mean REALLY.

?!?!?!!!!! Image from Zatta/Wikimedia Commons.

By the 1880s, at least, we knew more or less what was at the North Pole (nothing but water and ice).

Although this map still has a few blank places at the very top of Greenland and Canada.

Those Aleutian Islands look a little short, too. An 1882 map. Image from the New York Public Library.

Good job, 1880s.

Thanks to those explorers and technology, we now know that the Arctic looks like this:

Image from Uwe Dedering/Wikimedia Commons.

But — would those explorers of a century ago, the ones who spent months and years traversing its icy waters, even recognize the place if they saw it today?

In a recent interview, oceanographer Peter Wadhams told The Independent that the Arctic may be on track to be ice-free for the first time in 100,000 years.

Climate change has been consistently reducing the sea ice around the Arctic Ocean for decades, to the extent that the same passages and channels that once baffled and trapped early explorers are now so ice-free that they're being considered for use as shipping lanes.

In late 2015, the Russian icebreaker Vaygach completed a trip along the north coast of Siberia in just seven and a half days. Image from Dudinka_Apu/Wikimedia Commons.

Our maps may be a lot better now, but that doesn't mean we should abandon the Arctic's air of mystery and adventure.

After all, it's still home to seals that look like something out of a Tim Burton film...

Yup, that's definitely the seal version of Beetlejuice. Image from Michael Cameron/Wikimedia Commons.

...not to mention weird methane that seeps from deep in the seabed and these fire-breathing lakes. So even though we now know where we're going when it comes to the North Pole, there's still plenty up there left to discover.

Last year, 174 countries pledged to help fight climate change at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris. Individual people can help, too, by reducing their energy consumption and not only voting for politicians who don't think climate change is a hoax, but making sure they stick to their agreements after they're in office.

If we can accomplish that, we can keep the Arctic cold — and help preserve for future generations the air of mystery and adventure that those old (admittedly faulty) maps embody.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less