Who's ready for some good news about icebergs? Because they're doing something cool.

Who’s ready for some ACTUALLY GOOD NEWS about icebergs?!

Ooo! Ooo! I am! Image from NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr.


Because icebergs kind of get a bad rap.

Every time we hear about icebergs, it's because of something negative. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. Wrecked ocean liners.

Bad stuff, icebergs, bad stuff.

You sink one ship... Image from Willy Stöwer/Wikimedia Commons.

But it turns out, icebergs aren't all bad.

I mean, nothing covered in penguins can be THAT terrible. Image from Jason Auch/Wikimedia Commons.

Icebergs are basically giant fertilizer bags for the ocean, scientists have found.

As icebergs melt, they release minerals like iron into the ocean. These minerals can act like fertilizer, encouraging the growth of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton.

Image from Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, Stony Brook University/Wikimedia Commons.

In fact, you can track where an iceberg has passed by watching where new phytoplankton growth happens. One group from the University of Sheffield looked at satellite images and found that the fertilization effect can last for more than a month after an iceberg has passed through an area.

As the phytoplankton grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. This new plant growth captures carbon, helping to reduce climate change.

When the phytoplankton die, some of them sink to the bottom of the ocean, effectively trapping all that carbon down there, a process known as carbon sequestration.

Plankton blooms can sometimes be large enough to see from space, so that's a LOT of carbon. Image from NASA/WIkimedia Commons.

We've known about this effect for a while, but that study from the University of Sheffield says that icebergs may be responsible for as much as a fifth of the carbon sequestration in the ocean around Antarctica.

This is a very good thing because it keeps the carbon out of the atmosphere and slows climate change.

As climate change continues and the Earth gets hotter, it's expected that there will be a lot more icebergs in the future as ice shelves and glaciers break up, creating new 'bergs.

"It's not you, it's me, glacier."

This means the icebergs' effect on the ocean's carbon sequestration might become more and more important in slowing the effects of climate change.

"If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important than we previously thought," said Professor Grant Bigg, who led the Sheffield study.

While it's certainly better for everyone if most icebergs stay with their parent glaciers, they're not inherently bad on their own.

Let's be clear, icebergs are not going to save us from climate change. We can't just dump them in the ocean and hope things will get better. This isn't "Futurama."

As much as we wish it was. GIF from "Futurama."

Carbon sequestration isn't going to offset the more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide we're putting into the atmosphere each year. But understanding icebergs and their role in carbon sequestration can help us find new ways to talk about potential solutions.

We still need to do a lot to fight climate change, but it's cool to see that nature is helping us do that all on its own.

Yeah, nature! Image from iStock.

The Earth is a very complex system with a lot of different little processes that all add up to one beautiful planet. The more we know about how it works, the more we can do to keep it healthy, whole, and habitable.

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Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

via Abigail Mack / Instagram and Abigail Mack / TikTok

Abigail Mack, an 18-year-old high school senior from Massachusetts, is over the moon after being admitted to Harvard during the most competitive admission season of all time.

Applications to the university skyrocketed during the pandemic and it was only able to accept 1,968 out of 57,435 first-year applicants, less than 4%.

However, Abigail didn't just overcome long odds during the application process, she was accepted because she was able to thrive as a high school student after losing her mother to cancer. Her experience losing a parent was the topic of her inspiring admissions essay which has touched countless lives.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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