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It’s hard for people who weren’t around in 1960s and '70s to remember what the world was like before the EPA.

There was a reason President Richard Nixon’s proposal to establish a federal agency to protect the environment enjoyed bipartisan support.

A mountain of oil drums near an Exxon refinery in Louisiana. All photos via Defiant, via the EPA and National Archives and Records Administration.


Before the Environmental Protection Agency, many industries used U.S. waterways as toxic waste dumps. It was so bad that the Great Lakes and the surrounding rivers frequently caught fire.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 forced industry to control the pollution it dumped into America’s water. But President Donald Trump's budget proposal — which would cut one-fifth of the agency's staff, eliminate entire programs, and trim $2 billion from its budget — could curtail this act.

In 1971, one of the first things the EPA did was hire a team of photojournalists to document the ongoing environmental devastation in America.

The project took six years, involved 100 photojournalists, and produced more than 80,000 images.

The Cuyahoga River Fire of 1952.

They called it "Documerica," and in the past few years the National Archives has digitized some 15,000 images from the project. You can see them at its website or on Flickr. Some are simple pictures of life in the ’70s, but others depict a harrowing world.

A factory burning discarded batteries and belching poison into the air outside Houston.

Along the New Jersey Turnpike.

A landfill outside New York City.

It's a world where industry has carte blanche to poison the environment and the people in the name of profit. A world where our rivers and lakes catch fire. A world of garbage, toxic waste, and ash.

The George Washington Bridge, barely visible through the smog.

A poisoned lake near Ogden, Utah.

When Trump says he wants to make America great again and refers to a fanciful time when the United States was somehow better, this is what he’s talking about. This is what America looks like without the EPA.

This is why we fight.

This story was first published at Defiant is reprinted here with permission.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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Small actions lead to big movements.

Acts of kindness—we know they’re important not only for others, but for ourselves. They can contribute to a more positive community and help us feel more connected, happier even. But in our incessantly busy and hectic lives, performing good deeds can feel like an unattainable goal. Or perhaps we equate generosity with monetary contribution, which can feel like an impossible task depending on a person’s financial situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, the main reason people don’t offer more acts of kindness is the fear of being misunderstood. That is, at least, according to The Kindness Test—an online questionnaire about being nice to others that more than 60,000 people from 144 countries completed. It does make sense—having your good intentions be viewed as an awkward source of discomfort is not exactly fun for either party.

However, the results of The Kindness Test also indicated those fears were perhaps unfounded. The most common words people used were "happy," "grateful," "loved," "relieved" and "pleased" to describe their feelings after receiving kindness. Less than 1% of people said they felt embarrassed, according to the BBC.


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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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