10 Great Things We Saw During The Australian Fire Crisis

Estimates suggest that up to a billion animals perished. The human lives lost are steadily climbing to 30. Millions of hectares. Countless homes. All consumed by one of the worst disasters in living memory.

It’s difficult to believe that anything great emerged from the horrifying Australian 2019-2020 fire season. But with the last decade marred by moral failure, global conflict, and petty division, the things pulled from the fire showed that humanity can still respond with great compassion and heroism.

See Also: 10 Terrifying Tales From The World’s Most Apocalyptic Fires

10 A Dachshund Survived The NSW Fires


Wilbur was unaware of the fame gathering around him. While news channels flashed his photo and appealed to the public to be on the lookout for him, the dog was trying to survive in the wild. The odds were against him. Wilbur was a small dachshund lost in the lethal fires of New South Wales.

It’s unclear when he became separated from his owner but he was found early in December. Firefighters battling the blaze near Termeil noticed a small creature wandering alone between the flames. They rescued the dog and kept him overnight with their team. Thankfully, Wilbur’s owner quickly responded when the firefighters made it known that they had found a sausage dog.

The traumatized dachshund was delighted to see his owner. For the man, called Paul, the moment was bitter-sweet. He was still looking for his other dog and asked the firefighters to keep an eye out for a beagle called Olly. Incredibly, just a few hours later, Olly was also found. Both dogs were unhurt and happy to be back with their owner.

9 Versace Drops The Use Of Kangaroo Leather


Two years ago, Versace announced that real fur was meh. The Italian fashion house guaranteed that none of their accessories or clothes would ever again contain the pelt pulled off an animal. However, they continued to use real leather. Moreover, kangaroo leather.

The kangaroo is viewed by many as the symbol of Australia and the number of wild animals being culled every year for leather doesn’t sit well with animal activists. Campaign groups have been asking fashion houses for a long time to boycott kangaroo products and finally, in 2020, Versace agreed.

The decision to remove kangaroo leather from its designs weren’t directly caused by the Australian fires. The pressure from activists had been ongoing for a while and Versace already withdrew any related products from its 2019 collection. However, the announcement was made this year and was seen as a welcome gesture at a time when the future of kangaroos is grappling with an unprecedented threat.

8 Six Koalas Saved By Firefighters


The koala is one of Australia’s icons. The 2019-2020 fire season didn’t help their fight against extinction. The numbers are heartbreaking. Tens of thousands of koalas have been burned alive. Hundreds were euthanazed and hundreds more are fighting for their lives in clinics. Stories abound of civilians and firefighters plucking the scorched koalas from trees, homes and off the roads.

One story concerned firefighters who came across a group of koalas at Cudlee Creek. They were fighting fires that would ultimately destroy over 100 buildings and homes and kill one man. During the dramatic hours that followed, the koalas were collected and taken to safety. Many praised the firefighters for their humanity. Battling the fast-moving fire meant that they were pressed for each second but the firefighters decided to stop and help the defenseless marsupials.

A photo of the koalas has since gone viral. The image shows the creatures, relatively unharmed, huddling together in a hallway. One even hugged the wall like a favorite eucalyptus tree. Koalas are cursed with cute looks in the sense that their portly bodies cannot escape a quick blaze. If it weren’t for these firefighters, and Koala Rescue taking them in, they would’ve joined the disaster’s terrible statistics.

7An Unknown Fish Trap


In 2019, UNESCO declared an aquaculture system in Australia as a World Heritage Site. The Gunditjmara people used the structure to harvest eels 6,600 years ago. Just to put that into perspective—the site is older than the Egyptian pyramids. The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is located in south-west Victoria and includes an intricate system of stone-lined pools, channels, and homes.

The fires arrived a few days before Christmas. A lightning strike boosted the flames and despite a gigantic firefighting effort, the blaze dragged across 7000 hectares (17,297 acres) of land. Including the brand-new UNESCO ruins.

Traditional owners of the site weren’t too concerned that the fire would damage the ruins directly. The stones were almost heat-resistant. The real danger came from falling trees. Some grew inside the aquaculture buildings. If the fire toppled any, chances were that the structure could be weakened by roots being unearthed or smashed by a toppling trunk. When the blaze passed, a group visited to see if any trees had crashed onto the structure. Luckily, none did. Even more surprisingly, the blaze had cleared vegetation to reveal an unknown section of the trapping complex.

Located near Lake Condah, the section was a smaller system with a channel running 25 meters (27 yards) along the ground. Until the fire, this part of the traps went undetected despite sitting 20 meters (22 yards) from a track leading to the main site. In this case, at least, something valuable wasn’t destroyed by the blaze but instead emerged more complete than it was before.

6Millions Were Raised


As the world watched Australia burn, those with deep purses weren’t idle. Celeste Barber is an Australian comedian whose fundraiser attracted huge donations and pledges from celebrities. All told, the sum totaled A$22 million. Stars like Pink, Kylie Minogue, and Nicole Kidman were among those who joined the call to support Barber’s Facebook fundraiser. Incredibly, the eye-watering amount took less than 48 hours to accumulate.

Perhaps more noteworthy are the people without personal fortunes who found creative ways to support Australia. One was a woman named Kaylen Ward. The 20-year-old sex worker took to Instagram and promised a personal nude photograph to anyone who donated $10 or more to her designated fire relief charities. Four days later, she raised $700,000. None of the money reached her. Ward insisted that her admirers must pay the charities directly and send her the receipt to get their nude pictures. For her efforts she earned the name “The Naked Philanthropist” and Instagram deleted her account.

5 The Koala Dogs


Narcotics dogs. Sure. Bomb-sniffing canines, okay. But koala dogs? As weird as it sounds, they do exist. When a handler barks, “Koala, find!” the four-footed detectives jump into action and start searching for fur and droppings. Their job is to keep track of the eucalyptus-munchers during good times and bad.

These are undoubtedly bad times and the dogs track under dangerous circumstances. Nearly all of them wear mittens to protect their paws from burns and sharp debris. Thus far, they’ve saved dozens of koalas. Two of the highly-trained canines are Taylor and Bear. Taylor is a four-year-old with eight koalas under her belt and Bear has such a prolific streak that Tom Hanks quipped he was going to make a movie about him.

Every koala saved is a treasure, but there simply aren’t enough dogs to help the thousands of marsupials that are still in trouble. Despite this, these service canines diligently perform their duties against an insurmountable tragedy, using their noses to find the bodies, the injured and the hiding koalas their handlers might miss.

4 Sheepdog Snoots 220 Sheep To Safety


Stephen Hill gave no thought of enjoying New Year’s Eve. That night he was facing a terrible loss. The fires were closing in on the small town of Corryong, in Victoria. He looked around his cousin’s farm where he worked and realized the sheep were in danger. Worse, it was a dark night, the flock was being difficult and he needed help.

He turned to Patsy. He found the shepherd mix on the property and loaded her on a four-wheeler before setting off to the field where the sheep were in trouble. Despite the heat, bleating and fire-related smells the dog never faltered. She followed Hill’s commands and herded the frightened animals to a safe barn. It wasn’t an easy task, not with a large number of sheep involved nor the proximity of the massive blaze. Indeed, the flames claimed six sheep. But in the end, Patsy nudged more than 220 animals to safety.

Hill gave the dog sole credit for the flock’s survival, an act that meant the world to him. He’s one of the countless people still badly affected by the genocidal losses suffered among domestic and wild animals alike.

3 Request For Shelters Triggered A Global Response


The inferno left hundreds of animals orphaned or without a home. A large portion of the destitute babies are marsupials that need warmth and a mother’s pouch to survive. This season’s tide of orphans sparked one of the disaster’s most unusual and cozy rescue efforts.

Animal Rescue Craft Guild is based in Australia. Long before the fires came, the organization whipped up shelters, including nests and slings, for young wildlife. The babies would then snuggle in their new homes made from knitted, crocheted and cloth items. When the crisis hit, the animals came pouring into shelters and the Guild appealed to their Facebook members to help sew and knit the items. The response was overwhelming.

From all over the world, thousands of knitters and crafters united. They made koala mittens for burned paws, kangaroo pouches for joeys, blankets for animals to sleep on and interestingly, something called bat wraps. These are exactly what they sound like. You take a baby bat and you wrap the kid up nice and comfy. Possums, sugar gliders and wombats also received their crafted goodies.

2The Government Airdropped Food For Wallabies


The Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby is an endangered species in New South Wales, one of the worst-hit areas. The fires connected with their vulnerability like a baseball bat. The blaze undoubtedly killed many and left the survivors in a barren landscape without food. Large-scale starvation set in. Before the fire season, the animals had also been struggling against Australia’s ongoing drought.

The government of NSW decided to help. Operation Rock Wallaby collected tons of vegetables, mostly carrots, and nutritious sweet potatoes. The planes first took off early in January and dropped the food over a dozen wallaby colonies. The project will continue until the marsupials can support themselves with renewed natural food resources and water.

The image of one of the wallabies was shared with the public, showing both the devastation and the success of the aid program. Like many others, the creature leaped at the chance to gorge on the veggies and this particular one was photographed enjoying a carrot.

1 A Secret Mission


When a park ranger found a tree in 1994, it sent shock waves through the botanical world. The Wollemi Pine existed before many dinosaurs and was thought to be extinct. Before the Jurassic wonder’s rediscovery, the tree was known only from 200-million-year-old fossils. The pine found in 1994 was not alone. A grove of the rare, so-called “Dinosaur Trees” stood nearby.

The grove is located in a gorge in the Blue Mountains. But the precise spot remains a closely guarded secret. Visitors and poachers would exterminate the living fossils. Botanical gardens around the world propagate the species but the Australian batch, numbering less than 200, is the last wild Wollemi Pines in the world.

When the blaze came, the prehistoric treasure was directly in its path. While keeping the location’s hidden status in mind, conservationists organized a secret mission to save the trees. Despite the drama of extinction edging closer to the grove and that the mission itself was unprecedented in the history of environmental protection, the rescuers kept everything low key. Publicity could’ve led unwanted guests straight to the grove.

Air tankers circled the pines and drew a ring of fire retardant around them. Specialist firefighters were airlifted to the gorge. Once on the ground, they rigged an irrigation system to keep the trees moist. But at one point, the team had to retreat. The fire had arrived. After a few days filled with thick smoke, everyone waited for the haze to clear to see if their plan had worked.

Incredibly, the pines were safe. A little charred, but relatively unscathed. The mission had been a phenomenal success.

Jana Louise Smit

Jana earns her beans as a freelance writer and author. She wrote one book on a dare and hundreds of articles. Jana loves hunting down bizarre facts of science, nature and the human mind.

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16 Most Dangerous Volcanoes In The World

Scientists simplify things to help us laypeople understand volcanoes. The reality, of course, is more complicated.

Every volcano is unique. Volcanologists must learn each individual “personality” and history when they try to help people living nearby.

With limited resources, though, how do you choose which volcanoes to study? Here’s how.

When the United Nations made the 1990s its International Decade of Natural Hazard Reduction, volcanologists decided to focus on 16 volcanoes — two each from the US, Japan, and Italy; one each from 10 other countries.

One of these Decade Volcanoes — Taal, in the Philippines — is making headlines right now.

16 Taal Volcano, Philippines

Taal made international news with its dramatic eruption in January 2020. The ongoing situation is still volatile, so let’s just look at it as a Decade Volcano.

Well over 20 million people live near Taal, located only 30 miles south of Manila, the nation’s capital.

Human risk alone made Taal a candidate for the Decade Volcano list in the 1990s.

But Taal also has been very active down through the centuries, as well as a couple eruptions in the distant past powerful enough to have left calderas — holes in the ground, basically — that eventually filled in with Lake Taal.

Communication is important in volcanology, too. Scientists and regional planners worked together as part of the Decade Volcano program to limit intensive development inside the caldera. This foresight has probably made the current crisis a little easier to manage.

15 Avachinsky-Koryaksky, Russia

Population at risk: Over 200,000 people live within 62 miles (100 km) of these two volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.
Last known eruption: Avachinsky, 2001; Koryaksky, 2009.

The flip side of living dangerously close to an active volcano? All the fun you can have during quiet spells!

The people in the video here, for instance, summited Avachinsky one sunny day and also got excellent views of nearby Koryaksky.

Avachinsky looks so solid there. It’s hard to believe that this volcano sometimes collapses. However, nearby Petropavlosk — the largest city in Kamchatka — was built on deposits left by one such prehistoric catastrophe.

Mud flows and lava are more likely hazards and can happen at either volcano.

Petropavlosk is so isolated that its residents will have to wait for aid to arrive by land and sea during a volcano emergency.

14 Colima, Mexico

Population at risk: 1.5 million.
Last known eruption: 2019.

Colima, a complex volcanic center near the western coast of Mexico, presents multiple hazards, in addition to being a threat to population centers.

For one thing, it has frequent violent eruptions: like the one here in 2017, caught on monitoring cameras.

Almost all Decade Volcanoes are in subduction zones, which usually produce explosive volcanism.

Such explosions cause blast effects, ballistic rocks and lava bombs, and pyroclastic flows. As you can see, they even ignite wildfires.

And Colima does this over and over again. In past millennia, it has also had several large debris slides.

After making the Decade Volcano list, new hazard maps were made for Colima and its monitoring post was restructured.

13 Etna, Italy

Population at risk: A quarter of Sicily’s entire population lives on Etna’s slopes.
Last eruption: 2020

Everyone knows this one!

Etna is a UNESCO site and has one of the longest historical eruption records of any active volcano, going back some 3,500 years.

One look at its spectacular lava flows will tell you why Etna was selected as a Decade Volcano.

The footage above was filmed in 2011 near the town of Zafferna, which only exists today because of coordinated efforts in 1992 that succeeded in damming and then diverting a lava flow that threatened to overwhelm the town.

That kind of success doesn’t happen very often during an eruption.

Lava and occasional hydrothermal blasts like this are the chief hazards at Etna. However, Sicily is heavily dependent on Etna tourism as well as on agricultural products grown on the volcano, so any increased activity would also have bad economic effects.

12 Galeras, Colombia

Population at risk: Almost two million.
Last known eruption: 2014.

A tragedy happened at this flat-topped stratovolcano in 1993, when some tourists as well as six volcanologists, who were participating in a Decade Volcano workshop, were killed by an unexpected eruption.

Activity at Galeras before and during that risky field trip was heavily monitored, of course, but no one had ever before seen the seismic signals, called “tornillos,” that came just before the blast.

Now everyone knows that tornillos are warning signs of imminent explosive activity — a scientific discovery that carried a heavy cost.

Galeras is one of Colombia’s most active volcanoes. Above, its fireworks in 2008 light up the sky over the nearby city of Pasto.

Hazards include debris flows, large eruptions with heavy ash fall, and pyroclastic flows.

11 Mauna Loa, USA

Population at risk: 175,000.
Last known eruption: 1984

You might think that Mauna Loa is just that long, low mountain near Kilauea – the Hawaiian volcano that had a spectacular eruption in 2018.

Mauna Loa is actually the tallest active volcano on Earth, rising almost 6 miles above the Pacific sea floor. It has frequent eruptions, too.

In 1984, a lava flow came within five miles of the city of Hilo.

Lava is the main hazard here, although Mauna Loa also has had some flank collapses in the very distant past.

Fortunately, the Hawaiian Islands are nowhere near a subduction zone, and eruptions here are usually not as explosive.

Volcanologists are watching Mauna Loa closely, since it appears to be slowly building up to another eruption, but they’ve seen no reason to raise the alert level any higher than it is now (yellow, the lowest warning stage).

10 Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Population: Almost 25 million.
Last known eruption: 2019

Much international collaboration focused on Merapi during the Decade Volcano program — it’s one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes and sits in a heavily populated region.

Merapi’s eruptions are violent, too, with long-lived pyroclastic flows.

Besides those terrifying gray death clouds, hazards at Merapi include lahars (an Indonesian word for mud flows) and big landslides.

The worst eruption from Merapi recently, in 2010, killed over 100 people.

9 Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Population at risk: A little over nine million people live within 62 miles (100 km); a million of them are less than 20 miles from the summit.
Last known eruption: 2019.

This African volcano has a flattish top like Galeras, in South America. Unlike Galeras, Nyiragongo has hosted a series of lava lakes for centuries.

That’s a deadly hazard, because those lakes drain every few decades and the lava is extremely fluid, meaning it an travel long distances, even into the nearby city of Goma.

This has happened twice recently: in 1994, during the civil war, and again in 2002, when it killed about 150 people in addition to causing enormous damage.

Unfortunately, warfare and social problems have limited what international volcanologists can do here. But local hands have taken up the task of researching and monitoring this Decade Volcano.

8 Mount Rainier, USA

Population at risk: Almost three million.
Last known eruption: 1450 AD (eruptions during the 1800s have been reported but not confirmed)

This world-famous landmark near Seattle, Washington, had its last big blast — a VEI 4 eruption – about 2,200 years ago.

But that’s not the only hazard. Mount Rainier, which is heavily glaciated, tends to collapse, causing enormous mud flows.

This hasn’t happened during recorded history.

The residents of Armero, Colombia, weren’t so fortunate in 1985. While their ice-capped volcano, called Nevado del Ruiz, didn’t collapse, its lava melted summit glaciers and sent down a mudflow that engulfed Armero and other communities, killing over 23,000 people.

There was lots of warning, but nobody expected this. Thousands died who could have simply run a few hundred yards to safety.

The Armero tragedy was a major factor behind both the UN hazard reduction declaration and the Decade Volcano project.

Partly as a result of all this attention, Mount Rainier now has better monitoring and hazard mapping. As well, some legislation is in place to reduce future development in high-risk zones and promote public awareness of the threats here.

But many people near Rainier are still in denial. That’s understandable, though very sad: It’s human nature to never really believe that such a bad thing can happen to you — until it does.

7 Sakurajima, Japan

Population at risk: 2.6 million.
Last known eruption: 2019

You might not have heard of this volcano, which sits on the same island as Mount Fuji, but farther south.

World-renowned Fuji-san is a dire threat to Tokyo and the subject of intense research.

Perhaps the Decade Volcano selection committee went with Sakurajima instead because this dangerous volcano isn’t as well known.

After all, you haven’t seen the above happening in Tokyo recently.

But that 2013 video shows one of the hazards that citizens of Kagoshima City, less than five miles from Sakurajima, often face.

Sakurajima Volcano used to be an island in Kagoshima Bay until 1914, when one of its explosive eruptions also unleashed lava flows that connected it to the mainland.

Now thousands of people live in the area, Kids there wear hardhats, just in case it rains stones on the way to school.

6 Santa Maria/Santiaguito, Guatemala

Population at risk: 6,200,000.
Last eruption: 2019.

This is not two separate volcanoes, as with Avachinsky and Koryaksky on Kamchatka.

Here, “Santa Maria” is the stratovolcano and “Santiaguito” is what people call the lava dome complex near the summit.

Santiaguito has frequent minor eruptions. Too, the domes sometimes collapse, causing pyroclastic flows. Larger explosions and mudflows are also possible.

Nevertheless, lots of people still enjoy climbing 12,300-foot-high Santa Maria so they can look down on an eruption and take silly pictures.

That dome complex has existed since 1929, when Santa Maria ended 27 years of violent eruptions that killed over 7,000 people.

Santa Maria/Santiaguito’s Decade Volcano status hasn’t led to many government-financed projects yet.

Guatemala has lots volcanoes that demand attention. Officials still need to be convinced that preparation before another major eruption here will be less expensive than coping with the aftermath of one later.

5 Santorini, Greece

Population at risk: 67,500.
Last known eruption: 1950.

Volcanologists are curious about the eruption history that gave Santorini — also known as Thera — its dramatic appearance.

They have identified at least four caldera-forming events over the last 180,000 years. The most recent, roughly 3,600 years ago, was a VEI 7 eruption.

That’s the one that may have doomed Minoan civilization, which centered on the nearby island of Crete. Or not. No one is really sure yet what closed down that amazing culture.

Thanks to the Decade Volcano program, Santorini now has its first modern volcano observatory. So far, it has detected only occasional swarms of seismic activity, nothing that looks like an impending eruption.

4 Teide, Canary Islands

Population at risk: 766,000
Last known eruption: 1909

Actually, the entire island of Tenerife is a complex of stratovolcanoes that have been active since Miocene times. Teide is just the highest, and also one of the youngest.

Teide sits in 6 x 11-mile-wide Las Canadas caldera, and the view from the top is tremendous!

Those sulfur-producing fumaroles up there are the only visible sign of current activity. Teide has also had some earthquake swarms but is otherwise quiet.

3 Ulawun, Papua New Guinea

Population at risk: 61,000
Last known eruption: 2019

You might not have heard of this island volcano in the South Pacific, but (along with contributions from an equally obscure Russian fire mountain) Ulawun gave you purple sunsets last year!

Ulawun is one of Papua New Guinea’s most active volcanoes. Its eruptions, though explosive, used to be fairly minor until the 1970s. From that point on, larger blasts became more common, including a VEI 4 eruption in 2000.

At the moment, this gorgeous tropical stratovolcano is once more behaving like one of the Daily Planet’s mild-mannered reporters. We’ll just have to stay tuned and see what happens next.

2 Unzen, Japan

Population at risk: 7,300,000
Last known eruption: 1996

Yes, this is the one that killed volcanologists Harry Glicken, Katia Krafft, and Maurice Krafft, along with 40 other people in 1993.

Unzen isn’t so much a single volcano as it is a mashup of three large stratovolcanoes and several lava domes, taking up most of the Shimabara Peninsula east of Nagasaki.

Pyroclastic flows are a major hazard here. And sometimes collapsing material falls into the sea, generating tsunamis like the one in 1792 that accounted for most of the 14,000-plus casualties from Unzen that year.

Unzen awakened in 1990, forcing evacuations and destroying more than 2,000 buildings near Shimabara City.

All is quiet now. When Unzen stirs again, activity forecasts will be more accurate thanks to data obtained from Decade Volcano studies and other research.

1 Vesuvius, Italy

Population at risk: More than 6 million.
Last known eruption: 1944.

You knew Vesuvius would be on the list, all because of the video above.

That’s what a VEI 5 eruption looks like close up. The only typical volcanic hazards not shown in this animation are lava, gas, and tsunamis, though these all claimed victims that day, too.

Pyroclastic flows, lava, and gas have killed people and caused massive damage during other Vesuvius eruptions, including the last one in the 1940s. Tsunami-generating landslides into Naples Bay are possible, too.

While everyone has been aware of the hazards here for centuries, the issue was first addressed during the Decade Volcano program. Now, emergency plans based on the Pompeii eruption and another powerful eruption in 1631 are in place and reviewed regularly.

It’s not easy to evacuate Naples and surrounding areas, but Vesuvius will not catch scientists and emergency personnel sleeping the next time it roars to life.

The worst volcano in the world is always going to be the one erupting near you, whether it’s on a scientific list or not.

But thanks to the Decade Volcano program, lessons have been learned that help people survive and manage a volcanic crisis wherever it occurs.

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Top 10 Creepy Things Happening Inside China

China is ancient and beautiful. But cherry blossoms and the Great Wall aside, the country’s freakiest issues could harm its own population, the international community, and even unborn sacred leaders.

See Also: 10 Ways You Are Ruled By Communist China

There is a terrifying reason why China is never short of organ donors. Its social point system is also straight out of a dystopian novel. Some mysteries are equally creepy. Nobody knows why the government remains quiet about a deadly virus, or what happened that day when American diplomats experienced a bizarre attack on Chinese soil.

10The J-20 Fighter Jet


China gave one look at an American fighter plane, the F-22 Raptor, and decided to counter it. Enter the J-20. For a long time, the stealth aircraft was designed and tested in secret. In 2018, it rolled out onto the tarmac for everyone to see. The answer to the Raptor was finally combat-ready.

The sinister aura fostered during its secretive beginnings was missing. More correctly, a little bit delayed. A set of WS-15 engines was supposed to make it equal or better than the F22. Instead, after an explosion during a ground test in 2015, the engines were excluded from the plane’s design. This means that while China’s latest jet is operational and capable, it cannot yet growl at the F-22.

For the time being, the J-20 flies with weaker engines until the WS-15 problem is sorted out. This could take a few years but the aircraft remains special. An array of weaponry arms this beast, making it China’s best defense against the stealth planes of the U.S.

9 Most New Pharmaceuticals Are Fake


In 2016, the Chinese government investigated the latest pharmaceutical drugs. The study focused on products waiting for approval. The analysis included 1,622 clinical trials and additional data like application paperwork, ingredients and the creation timelines of the drugs. The results were disturbing.

Over 80 percent of the data was fraudulent. Records about side-effects had been deleted. Information was twisted until it “proved” that the drugs worked. Other information was incomplete or missing. Many products were not even new. Instead, somebody just mixed existing medicines. The investigators also found that several trial results were written before any experiments were performed.

The dishonesty ran deep. Scientists, pharma companies, laboratories, and even other investigators were implicated. This seedy network was not purely motivated by greed. Pharmaceutical employees are under enormous pressure to produce groundbreaking work or risk getting fired. Add the cut-throat competition among companies and the rampant corner-cutting starts to make sense.

8Presidential Enemy – Winnie The Pooh


A lot of things we take for granted are blocked in China. In 2017, Winnie-the-Pooh joined the censored club. The reason was not that the lovable character made remarks about the government. Or disagreed with Chinese law. Pooh did not even hug the Dalai Lama. His terrible crime? Chinese citizens started to compare President Xi Jinping to the iconic bear.

Revenge was swift. Pooh was banned from Chinese social media and his stickers were removed from chat apps. China’s upper crust famously lacks humor. They cannot stand civilians with clown genes. For example, those individuals who first started the trend in 2013 after they compared Xi and President Obama with a picture of the tubby bear walking next to the fit-looking Tigger. A year later, Xi fumbled a handshake with Japan’s Prime Minister and the internet struck with a meeting between Pooh and Eeyore. In 2015, China’s most censored image was that of Pooh popping up through a toy car’s roof. It was a composite that also showed Xi standing up through the opening of his parade car’s roof.

7 Mysterious “BreedReady” List


In 2019, a Dutch researcher stumbled upon a database in China. Anyone could read it. This was more than a little disturbing. The cache held the private information of 1.8 million Chinese women. Not only did the database reveal their phone numbers and home addresses – a stalker’s dream – but it also gave each person a “BreedReady” status.

Some speculated that poor translation caused the bizarre word. The database was written in English. A language-challenged individual from China could easily have mangled the word without any sinister intentions. The original Chinese phrase could have referred to women of child-bearing age or whether they had children. Indeed, the average age was 32.

Alternatively, the creepy options were legion. The government could be identifying women who can “breed,” since birthrates are falling too fast. It might not even be a government registry. Another company, dating app or hacker could have compiled the list which also included details about the women’s education levels and political views. We might never know who gazed at those ovaries. The database was taken down soon after the Dutch researcher spilled the beans.

6 The Electromagnetic Railgun


China’s latest naval toy is an electromagnetic railgun. Spotted for the first time in 2011, it uses electromagnetic energy instead of conventional gunpowder to fire. Incredibly, the force shoots projectiles at 2.6 kilometers per second (1.6 miles per second).

In 2019, photos showed the first Chinese warship mounted with the gun. The Haiyangshan was a Type 072II Yuting-class tank landing ship. It was first noticed on the Yangtze River where the vessel was docked near a shipyard. A few months later, more photos appeared on social media and they apparently showed Haiyangshan sailing the open ocean. It was still armed with what looked like the electromagnetic railgun. This raised suspicions that the weapon was being tested under sea conditions.

This kind of firepower is enough to give other nations the willies. But China is not satisfied. U.S defense sources claim that the country wants, by 2025, a warship with electromagnetic railguns that can hit a target at 200 kilometers (124 miles) away.

5 Reincarnation Must Obey Chinese Laws


For the first time in history, the world might see two Dalai Lamas living at the same time. This remark came from the current Buddhist leader during an interview, in 2019. The 83-year-old was chosen for this exalted position when he was 2 years old. For the past 60 years, the Dalai Lama lived in India after he fled the Chinese in his native Tibet.

Recently, Beijing said that his reincarnation must comply with their laws. Its called the “New Regulations on Religious Affairs and the Rules on the Management of the Reincarnation of Tibetan Living Buddhas.” According to this mouthful, China reserves the right to approve the selection of the child destined to be the next Dalai Lama.

The present leader knows how dangerous this is. His successor would be under the control of China’s Communist Party, which persecutes most religions. Additionally, in 1995, the Dalai Lama identified a child as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. This position is the second-highest rank after himself. The Chinese government took the 6-year-old Tibetan boy into “protective custody.” Beijing provided a Panchen Lama of their choice and nobody ever saw the Tibetan kid again. Due to this, the current leader implored people to only trust a Dalai Lama reborn in a free country and not the one chosen by China.

4Dystopian Credit System


Imagine not being able to ride a train or get quick treatment at a hospital. The reason? You lack enough government points. In 2018, China implemented a surveillance and population control project unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Called the Social Credit System, a score is given to every citizen and business. A positive score is bolstered by things like paying the bills on time, sorting recycling items properly and doing charity. Perks include cheaper travel rates, better credit opportunities and shorter waiting periods at a hospital. A chilling statement provided the other side of the coin, saying that the system was designed to “make it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” This epic public coercion is made possible by the country’s 200 million CCTV cameras. They are hooked up to facial recognition software and once a person is identified, the system can riffle through their private records and watch for disobedience.

A point deduction is frighteningly easy. People can lose points for smoking in forbidden zones, jaywalking or struggling to pay their bills. One journalist, Liu Hu, reported government corruption and was scored as “dishonest.” He was denied access to public transport, his social media accounts were closed down and his career was destroyed.

3 Sonic Attacks


In 2017, American diplomats stationed in Cuba fell ill. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the event, which many suspect was a sonic attack, soured relations between Cuba and the U.S. At one point, all Cuban diplomats were kicked out of the States. This episode is well-known to those who follow the news. A fact that received less attention was that during the same year, and a few months into 2018, the same thing happened in China.

American diplomats stationed in Guangzhou started hearing funny noises. This was followed by splitting headaches and insomnia. One consulate, who also reported abnormal feelings of pressure, ended up with brain trauma. Highly alarmed, the American government withdrew several staff members and their families. The consequences between the two countries did not reflect the Cuban kaboodle. Chinese diplomats were not expelled, but officials from China expressed their concern when the U.S. refused to play open cards with them. A local investigation found no wrongdoing but said it would remain open-minded to any information the Americans might share – which was not forthcoming.

2China Is Hogging A Lethal Virus


The United States and China had an understanding. Ever since the H7N9 bird flu was first detected in China in 2013, samples would be provided to the U.S. on a regular basis. Initially, things went swell. China shared the new flu strains and all related data. Over time, communication deteriorated until the samples stopped. No amount of asking could produce a single vial.

The implications are not immediately obvious. However, China’s refusal is a disaster waiting in the wings. H7N9 has a 40 percent fatality rate. If that is not terrifying enough, the strain keeps evolving. American scientists need to follow and understand this shapeshifting to protect people from a pandemic. But since the silence fell, there came with it the chance that the world might experience an outbreak nobody is prepared for. Indeed, there is no way to develop a vaccine without the latest samples.

Worse, China experienced two bumper infections in the meantime – in 2016 and 2017. Scientists outside of the country know nothing about the type of H7N9 that felled hundreds. No samples or patient information were ever released. Should this virus hogging continue, many scientists fear that it could lead to an international crisis and countless deaths.

1A Terrifying Organ Trade


China is known for its efficiency. However, some fields cannot produce zippy results without causing suspicion. For instance, every country struggles with the number of patients needing organ transplants. There are not enough donors. Most people wait for years to replace a defective organ. In China, the period is more like weeks.

In 2016, around 640 organs were transplanted. This sounds normal until you check the facts. All 640 operations occurred over a period of 10 days. The official donors were listed as 30 individuals, which runs to an impossible 21 body parts harvested per person. In the past, China plucked organs from prisoners without their permission. The country claimed to have abandoned this practice. But in 2019, a tribunal interviewed witnesses and combed through records. They found that the forced harvesting was still very much alive.

One doctor testified that he was ordered to remove the kidneys from a prisoner who had been shot in the head. He performed the operation while the man was still alive and struggling. Criminals are not the only targets. The so-called dissidents, or people arrested because they catch the government’s dislike, are also slaughtered like cattle. Among them are ethnic minorities and especially hard-hit are the members of a spiritual movement called Falun Gong.

Jana Louise Smit

Jana earns her beans as a freelance writer and author. She wrote one book on a dare and hundreds of articles. Jana loves hunting down bizarre facts of science, nature and the human mind.

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8 Problems Math Solved For Us (No One Asked For)

Math is, understandably, a complicated subject to get a hang of. Most of us are simply not wired to do anything with a large amount of numbers, even if we’re intuitively mathematical beings. We’re adding, subtracting, multiplying and doing even more complicated equations in our heads all the time. It’s a problem, though, when that turns into complicated symbols and alien words like ‘derivatives’ as soon as it’s translated on paper.

See Also: 10 Simple But Costly Math Errors In History

While some mathematicians would simplify those complex equations for the layman, there are also those who do the complete opposite – apply a complicated equation to something simple for no discernible reason. A considerable amount of funding from legitimate – even government – sources has gone into finding out the math behind the simplest things in our everyday lives, even if we never – for once – asked for it.

From the mythical “Beer Goggles” effect to dripping teapots, here are 10 simple things scientists made unnecessarily complicated with math.

8The “Beer Goggles” Effect


We’ve always suspected that having more alcohol makes other people more attractive to you. In fact, many of us depend on it. There have never been any studies that confirm this, though most of us have always just assumed it to be the case from anecdotal experience.

Some researchers from St. Andrews University and Glasgow University in Scotland, though, weren’t satisfied with just that. They sought out to seek the ultimate formula for how alcohol affects attractiveness, and set up a study.

As they found, the formula consists of symbols we honestly do not have even the educational background to understand. As far as we can tell, it depends on a variety of factors, like how brightly lit the area is, the amount of smoke in the air, number of glasses you’ve had etc. It then calculates a “Beer Goggle” factor from 1 to 100, where at 1 you perceive everyone to be as attractive as you would sober, and 100 where you find everyone in the room to be at peak mating condition.

7 The Physics Of Biscuit Dunking


Biscuits maybe the British equivalent of cookies, but they occupy a more prominent role in British culture than their American counterparts. Tea and biscuits are one of Britain’s favorite meals, especially during the more boring parts of a typical British day. That’s why all Brits are aware of the classic dunking method of having biscuits with tea. Most of them are good at dunking their biscuits, but only a few are serious about it.

Take this one British scientist, who wanted to perfect the science of biscuit dunking. He carried out an elaborate and in-depth study on all the factors that affect the dunk-ability of a biscuit, and it took him years to finish, too.

Many of his findings were surprising – even if completely unnecessary and unasked-for – like the fact that a gingernut biscuit should be dunked for 3 seconds, while a digestive biscuit could be dunk for up to 8 seconds.

6 How To Hold A Hamburger


Despite being around hamburgers for so long, most of us are bad at eating them without making a mess. There’s really nothing we can do to change that without fundamentally altering what makes them so good. Moreover, most people don’t care either way.

Some researchers appearing on a Japanese TV show, though, claimed to have found the perfect way to hold a hamburger without spilling anything. They came to that conclusion after months of complex calculations and research, too, suggesting that they were serious about it.

According to them, a hamburger is best held with the thumb and pinky fingers on one side, and all the other fingers on the other, holding everything down. It may even work if you keep the angles right, though that’s if you want to bring math into your food.

5 How To Avoid Teapot Dripping


Tea is quickly coming up as a healthier and more organic alternative to caffeine around the world. If you’ve ever dabbled in it, you’d know that it also harbors one of the culinary world’s most curious mysteries; how to stop a teapot from dripping along its side when you’re serving it. It happens a lot and is admittedly a problem, though we still manage because tea really is quite healthy.

That can’t be said for the team of fluid dynamics experts that decided to apply some math to it. In a relentless pursuit to end teapot dripping once and for all, they carried out a detailed research into the matter. What they found will shock no one, and was honestly not a very big deal in the first place.

They found that the real problem is a phenomenon called the ‘hydro-capillary effect’, which causes the tea to spill no matter what you do. There are multiple ways to reduce it, like putting butter in the spout, using a teapot made out of a thinner material, or opting for a teapot with a thinner lip.

4 Can Spider-Man Scientifically Exist?


As a casual party conversation, it’s interesting to discuss whether superheroes could, theoretically speaking, exist in real life. It’s easier to answer for superheroes with outright supernatural abilities, as well as the ones with no abilities at all. For everyone in the middle, it gets complicated. While we realize that it’s an important thing to talk about, most of us wouldn’t ponder beyond it.

Some researchers, however, wanted to take the argument further. They took Spider-Man’s ability to stick to walls, and tried to figure out if it could actually be replicated in real life. As they found out, this is one ability humanity will never possess.

Apparently, geckos – according to physics – are the largest animals that could physically scale a wall. It has to do with the mechanics of how we interact with the wall. In order to successfully scale it perfectly like Spider-Man, our shoe size would either have to be a US 114, or 80% of the body’s frontal area would need to stick to the surface. As neither of those seem to be desirable – or even possible – options, they conclusively prove that no amount of scientific progress or evolutionary mutations could ever make us scale walls like geckos.

3 Who Is The Real Antichrist?


The real identity of The Antichrist is a rather theological question. It may even be a philosophical one, though it’s definitely not a mathematical one. We can think of no way you can use math to prove that some real person is, in fact, the Antichrist. For one, the Antichrist isn’t (likely) really a real figure. More importantly, any Antichrist who lets himself be found so easily is not a good Antichrist at all.

Those fundamental problems didn’t dissuade an American author called Robert W. Faid. He spent years – even getting other students and researchers in on the project – trying to find a mathematical link between the Antichrist and Mikhail Gorbachev; yes, the Soviet premier at the time. After painstaking research with higher forms of statistics and probability, he seemed to have found it, too, which he eventually published in a book. According to his research, the odds of Mikhail Gorbachev being the Antichrist were a whopping 710,609,175,188,282,000 to 1.

2How Much Saliva Does A Child Produce?


If you ask someone about an estimate on how much saliva they produce every day, it may come across as a weird question. Besides being too personal, it also doesn’t help with any sort of statistics. Calculating the saliva production may have its uses in some niche areas of medicine, though it’s not anything you’d go out of your way to check for anything in your daily life.

One team of scientists from the University of Hokkaido, Japan, on the other hand, decided to not just calculate that, but further narrow the subject field to just five-year old children. They applied a lot of calculations and general math to it, and came to the conclusion that an average five-year old produces about 500ml (about 17oz) of saliva every day.

1Where Can We Walk On Water?


Walking on water has fascinated humanity ever since the concept was first introduced in a bestselling book around two millennia ago. We won’t lie, we’ve had the thought of being able to do it once in a while, too, though as of now, our laws of physics simply don’t allow it. It’s a bummer, though most of us would probably not lose sleep over it.

That’s not true for this team of researchers from Italy, who came together to conduct the first ever detailed research on the conditions required to walk on water. They compared the structure of the human body with other animals, as well as check if human body is even built to walk on water in the first place.

Unfortunately, as they found out, there is no way we can ever walk on water on Earth. We can, however, walk on water on the moon, if there was water on the moon, and we were willing to go all the way to the Moon just to walk on water.

Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for sites like Cracked, Screen Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He could be found shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or trying his hand at amateur art on Instagram.

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8 Strange Effects Of Mutated Genes

Genetic diversity is essential to the survival of a species. We all inherit a mix of genes from our parents, some of them passed down along several generations. Along the way, these genes are often mutated – for example, a single base in our DNA may be randomly swapped for another during replication, or a whole segment can be mistakenly deleted or multiplied. Many of these DNA mutations are silent and can only be detected on a molecular scale by a geneticist in a lab. However, there also exist some pretty strange mutations that can have some very noticeable effects on their carriers.

See Also: 10 Foods That Have Been Genetically Modified Beyond Recognition

8Double eyelashes


Elizabeth Taylor was famous for her gorgeous eyes, but it turns out that the dark lining around her eyelids wasn’t simply a trick of make-up. Rather, the actress benefited from a genetic mutation known as distichiasis. Due to a mutation in the FOXC gene, a gene responsible for embryo tissue development, Elizabeth Taylor and other carriers of this mutated gene have double eyelashes. While these extra eyelashes may have enhanced Taylor’s beauty, this is not always the case with distichiasis – many carriers have eyelashes that grow inwards, potentially damaging their corneas. This mutation has also been linked with the development of lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, which can sometimes be associated with congenital heart disease and other health complications.

7 Satiety


While excessive weight gain or weight loss can certainly be influenced by outside factors, genetics can have a strong influence on eating habits as well. In particular, the melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MCR4) can be mutated to either increase or decrease feelings of hunger in affected individuals. The MCR4 protein plays an important role in establishing a feeling of satiety – it essentially tells your brain when you are full. When this gene is mutated in a person, there exists a possibility that they will never experience the feeling of satiety, leading to overeating and obesity. However, the opposite may be true as well. Certain mutations in this gene can actually make a person feel constantly full and never hungry, thereby protecting them against obesity.

6 Alcohol Flush


We all have that friend, or perhaps are that friend ourselves, who turns as red as a tomato whenever drinks are served. While facial flushing is often associated with alcoholics, some people simply have a genetic mutation that renders them incredibly sensitive to even small amounts of alcohol.

When we drink alcohol, the ethanol content must be broken down in order to be flushed out of the body. One of the products of alcohol metabolism is called acetaldehyde, and it is extremely toxic. The enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, coded for by the ALDH2 gene, plays an important role in breaking down the acetaldehyde before it begins to build up in the body, but for about 8% of the population, the ALDH2 gene is mutated. The mutated ALDH2 enzyme cannot efficiently break down acetaldehyde, which builds up very quickly as alcohol is metabolized. This causes the blood vessels in a person’s face to dilate, causing a red flush soon after imbibing in alcohol. The facial flushing does not pose a direct danger to the affected person, but symptoms such as nausea may accompany the redness, making drinking alcohol an uncomfortable experience. Some research also suggests that this mutation may be associated with increased risk of high blood pressure development.

5 Painlessness


A woman in Scotland baffled scientists when it was discovered that she did not feel pain or anxiety and had gone about 60 years into her life before realizing that this was not normal. After an operation on her hand that would typically cause discomfort caused her no pain, her doctors became aware of her seemingly pain-free life and referred her to a geneticist. The woman, named Jo Cameron, reported that she did not realize she was burning herself on a stove until she could smell the scent of burned flesh, and had actually found childbirth enjoyable. Analyzing her DNA revealed that her FAAH gene was suppressed and her FAAH-OUT pseudogene was missing information. The FAAH gene codes for a protein, fatty acid amide hydrolase, that normally breaks down anandamide in the body, a chemical that buffers pain and anxiety. For Jo Cameron, this anandamide is not broken down because she does not produce the FAAH protein, meaning she feels no pain, never worries, and never gets anxious.

4 Addictions


For the most part, addictions like alcoholism have not been exclusively linked to a specific gene mutation, but they may be linked to gene expression. Epigenetics is an interesting field of study that is concerned with external modifications to genes. Rather than an error in the DNA code itself, epigenetics suggests that outside influences can alter how our cellular machinery is able to read a gene in order to build proteins and other chemicals. For example, DNA methylation is the addition of methyl groups to part of a DNA sequence, and the presence of methyl groups on DNA can block the genes on that DNA segment from being expressed. Therefore, even though the gene itself has no errors or mutations, this methylation can interfere with the function of the gene. Studies suggest that alcohol exposure can alter gene expression associated with the neuronal circuits in the amygdala and other regions of the brain, such as those involved with behaviors like dependence and tolerance. There have also been studies linking epigenetic changes and their pattern of inheritance in offspring. Essentially, if a parent is an alcoholic and experiences epigenetic changes to their gene expression as an effect of ethanol exposure, it is possible for those epigenetic changes to be passed down to their offspring. As a result, the children of addicts may be predisposed to their parent’s addictions.

3Mountaineering


When climbing a mountain like Everest, it is often recommended to bring along a Sherpa as a guide, and for good reason. Sherpas, or members of the ethnic group native to the mountainous regions of Nepal and the Himalayas, are often genetically predisposed to function far better than the rest of us at high altitudes. Hypoxia, a fall in tissue oxygen levels, is a very serious concern when mountain climbing due to the lower levels of oxygen as you ascend higher, and it can lead to nausea, delusion and death. Although not completely immune to the effects of high altitude on the body, Sherpas have historically lived at higher altitudes and have adapted to the low-oxygen environment in some pretty incredible ways. There are numerous genetic variants commonly found in the Sherpa population that help them to thrive better than us ordinary sea level folk do way up in the mountains. One of these variants is found in the EPAS1 gene.

The EPAS1 gene regulates hemoglobin production in low oxygen environments. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues and carbon dioxide away from tissues. The mutated EPAS1 gene found in Sherpas regulates their body’s response to high altitude by allowing them to maintain the same hemoglobin levels at high altitude as they would have at sea level. In contrast, a non-mutated EPAS1 gene at high altitude would lead to the excessive production of red blood cells. While having more red blood cells does increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, it also leads to thicker blood and slower blood flow, which can result in serious mountain sickness, excessive strain on the heart, and hypoxia.

2 Pungent Smell


Trimethylamine is a very odorous chemical that has been described as smelling like rotting fish and garbage among other unpleasant things. The FMO3 gene codes for an enzyme that breaks down compounds like trimethylamine present in our diets to eliminate the strong smell, but for an unlucky few, this gene is mutated so that the enzyme is either completely missing or limited in activity. The result of this mutation is a disorder called trimethylaminuria, which is characterized by a very strong odor released in the sweat, urine or breath of an affected person. This odor comes from the build up of trimethylamine in the body due to the missing enzyme, and it can be an incredibly isolating disorder. Depression and social isolation are possible side effects of this unlucky mutation, often referred to as stale fish syndrome.

1 Female Infidelity


Men cheating on their partners has sometimes been blamed on a biological need to “spread their seed,” so to speak – in other words, having multiple partners makes it more likely that they will have many offspring, which is important for the survival and evolution of a species. In women, however, cheating is less of a biological necessity, as women are typically limited by their own capacity to carry a certain number of children rather than by a lack of multiple partners. Now, clearly this is a very narrow, scientific explanation of cheating behavior; it does not consider the fact that male partners may be infertile, and disregards everything other than the biological urge to reproduce (such as emotional intimacy or commitment). However, the basic concept is simply that women do not have a strong biological need to cheat on their partners – so why do they?

Well, clearly there are many reasons why, but what you may not have considered is that some women are actually predisposed to cheat because of mutated genes. Specifically, a large study on human mating behaviors found that mutations in the vasopressin receptor AVPR1A gene seem to be associated with infidelity in women, but not in men. Vasopressin is a hormone that plays an important role in bonding between partners, as well as in sexual motivation, or the desire to engage in sexual acts. Essentially, mutations in this gene may affect how a female responds to vasopressin, and therefore, how they connect emotionally with their partners, and how drawn they are to look for sex outside of their relationship. As this is a genetic mutation, it may also be passed down to a cheater’s offspring, giving them the same predisposition as their parent. More research needs to be done to confirm these findings (or potentially disprove them), but these results are promising in that they provide a biological reason why some women may be attracted to the idea of infidelity – it’s simply in their genes.


8 Maps That Will Change How You See The World

Regardless of where you are in the world, chances are that your mental image of the world is largely the same as everyone else’s (unless your high school geography curriculum was wildly different from others’). Of course, we know much more about our immediate surroundings – like our own country, its neighboring states etc. – than other places, though our overall perception of the world is similar to each other’s.

See Also: 10 Ways You’re Picturing The World Incorrectly

As it turns out, there are many inaccuracies in that perception we simply never bother to correct, mostly because they don’t directly affect us. Inaccuracies like:

8Brazil Is Bigger Than The Entire Contiguous USA

Brazil may come across as a relatively big country by global standards, though we don’t really consider it to be anywhere as big as the absolute behemoth that is the USA. Anyone who has driven from one American coast to the other knows that it has to be one of the biggest countries in the world (and it is!). Brazil, on the other hand, looks no bigger than any of its neighbors, let alone USA. Just look at the map.

In reality, though, Brazil’s size isn’t just comparable to the USA, it’s also the fifth largest country in the world. If we compare it to the American mainland without its offshore territories, Brazil is actually 11% bigger. We can’t really do an east-west comparison like USA, as Brazil’s road network is far from being as extensive. Additionally, a huge chunk of the country is occupied by the Amazon, making the terrain largely inaccessible by road.[1]

7South America Is Almost Entirely East Of North America


While this one may sound to be more America-centric than we intend, it’s not just a misconception held by Americans. Most of us – in our heads at least – place the continent of North America at a similar longitudinal position as South America. It makes sense, too, as SA looks to be almost directly below NA on most maps we see, even if it really isn’t.

The problem is the popular map we all visualize whenever we think of the world map. It’s called the Mercator’s Projection, and is only one of the many projections we have. It’s the most widely accepted, too, as almost every single country uses it for official purposes.

The problem is that the Mercator Projection isn’t just inaccurate, it also propagates outright misinformation as fact (Greenland isn’t almost as big as Africa by a HUGE margin). It’s a very Eurocentric projection of the Earth, as it massively exaggerates the size of countries in the northern hemisphere over its southern counterparts. In reality, continents in the global south are much bigger than we think they are.

That’s also the reason South America comes across to be much more compact and towards the east than it is. Apart from being much bigger than we think it is, almost the entirety of it lies east of USA – and in turn North America. Yet, maps around the world still place it more or less directly below for some reason.[2]

6 The Third Route Around The World


If you’re, say, in the USA and want to fly to some country on the other side of the world, chances are you’d take one of two routes. Depending on which part of the USA you’re in, it could either be across the Atlantic, or the other side via the Pacific. The latter is almost always a longer option, as the Pacific Ocean is ludicrously huge (we’ll get to that one in a bit).

If we were to ask you if there’s another, faster way to travel, the definite answer would be ‘no’. After all, if you look at the map, those two seem to be the only options, as any other possible route couldn’t possibly be shorter than these two. Right?

You see, the reason we think that is because the map is in 2D, as our brains aren’t exactly designed to intuitively convert things from 3D to a plane. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience it, you’d know that there’s another way around the world that may even be – depending on where you’re going—shorter than the two we know of; the one over the Arctic.

Think of the Earth as a sphere instead of a piece of paper folded in a cylinder, which is how we really perceive it. Many flights – like Cathay Pacific’s non-stop route from New York to Hong Kong – go over the Arctic, as it ends up being two hours faster than other routes. It’s also one of the most scenic routes we know of, as it gives us a rare glimpse into what the vast, unexplored wilderness of the Arctic looks like.[3]

5 Everything About Africa


In popular imagination, the Equator is seen as a neat divider between the southern and northern continents. While that’s largely true for South America and Australia – with some irregularities here and there—it couldn’t be further from the truth in the case of Africa.

If you look at the map, you’d see that most of Africa isn’t in the southern hemisphere at all, as the equator almost perfectly divides it into two parts. The northern part is still slightly bigger, though, because of the bulge on the western side of the continent.

That’s hardly the only way we’re picturing Africa wrong, though, as we tend to massively underestimate its size as well. We don’t know if it’s because of the Mercator Projection or the fact that Africa simply doesn’t figure into the regular global discourse. In reality, though, Africa is humungous. It’s bigger than China, India, contiguous U.S. and almost all of Europe…combined. For some reason, though we still imagine it to be somewhere around the same size as USA (or Greenland, if the maps are to be believed).[4]

4 Only A Small Part Of Iran Is A Dry, Arid Desert


Misconceptions about the Middle East could fill up a whole list. We still perceive the vast region—with countless ethnicities, types of cuisines and ways of living—as a monolithic entity with more or less the same culture throughout. While most of us could be forgiven for that – as going there and seeing how things are for ourselves isn’t really the best course of action right now – it’s misconceptions around countries that we’ve been consistently in contact with that bother us.

Take Iran, which is still – for some reason – seen as a desert nation in popular imagination. Most of us imagine unending views of sand dunes and camel safaris to distant oases whenever we think of the country, as that’s how it’s still portrayed in popular western media.

We’re not saying that Iran doesn’t have a desert – it does, and two of them, too – though they aren’t anywhere close to as big as we think. Only about 22% of Iran could be classified as a desert. To put that in perspective, the desert makes up around 28% of China, though no one has ever referred to China as a desert nation.

The rest of Iran is actually made up of a diverse array of terrain types, like rangelands, wetlands, glaciers and tropical beaches, among others. Mountain peaks perpetually covered by snow – things we don’t expect to exist anywhere near Iran, or the Middle East—form the backdrop of daily life in Tehran, which may as well be one of the most scenic cities in the world.[5]

3 Europe Is A Lot Closer To The Arctic Than USA


Ask anyone if New York is closer to the Arctic than London, and the answer would probably be a definite yes. It stands to reason that it is, too, as its average temperature in the winters is around 10C lower than London, which must be because of its proximity to the Arctic. It’d be absolutely ridiculous to think that its counterpart in Europe would be, say, a country so much further south that a part of it lies in Asia, like Azerbaijan.

It’s not that ridiculous, though, once you actually see the map. New York is on almost the same latitude as Azerbaijan, which – as you’d have noticed – is quite far from London. Miami’s European (or more accurately, African) counterpart is somewhere in Egypt. If you horizontally fold the map, you’d find that America’s northernmost tip falls somewhere near the southernmost point in Europe.

The misconception likely arises from the abovementioned Mercator map, which distorts the size of some parts of the world to make them look bigger than the others, resulting in irregularities in the overall positions of the places.[6]

2 We Just Don’t Understand How Big The Pacific Ocean Is


Back when cartographers were first mapping the world, a lot of them took liberties in their calculations depending on various thing, like cultural prejudices, lack of better equipment, or simply not being the best at their job. Even if most of those inaccuracies have been cleared out, we still exaggerate the size of Earth’s landmass compared to its oceans.

This discrepancy is the most acute in the case of the Pacific Ocean, which is perhaps the least explored and frequented ocean in the world. Even if we know it’s the biggest ocean on paper, we’re unable to grasp just how big that translates to in practice. Consider this; the Pacific Ocean covers more than a whooping one third of the Earth’s surface. Yup, around 33% of the 70% of the Earth covered by water (that’s all water, including freshwater) is just the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific’s size isn’t just for show, as it creates real problems for exploration and mapping for us. It’s so huge that we still find things we never knew existed there (they recently found a 3 million old volcano near Minamitorishima Island, Japan). It’s also the deepest ocean, and its deepest point has only been visited – not even explored – four times. For perspective, we’ve been to space over five hundred times.[7]

1 Australia Is Quite Empty


Australia is like that cool brother who moved out of the house on his own for a job pretty early and we don’t hear from, and the only time he reluctantly comes over is during the holidays (NATO wars in real terms). It’s one of the five majority English-speaking countries (not including autonomous overseas colonies), and a relatively prosperous nation by all measures.

What we don’t realize, though, is that it has managed to do all of that by being so sparsely populated that it could be compared to some of the emptiest and most inhospitable regions around the world, like Mongolia and Namibia. Despite being as developed and huge as contiguous USA (it’s the sixth largest country) Australia only has a population density of 5 people per square mile. That’s because the entire population of Australia actually lives on the coasts, as most of the inner part of the country is too inhospitable for human life. Even on the coasts, population is concentrated around the biggest urban centers the eastern side.

The government acknowledges that the low population density is a problem, as there are still many regions of the country that could be turned into thriving towns and cities with more focused development efforts.[8]

About The Author: You can check out Himanshu’s stuff at Cracked (www.cracked.com/members/RudeRidingRomeo/) and Screen Rant (https://screenrant.com/author/hshar/), or get in touch with him for writing gigs ([email protected]).

Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for sites like Cracked, Screen Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He could be found shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or trying his hand at amateur art on Instagram.

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Top 10 Horrifying Trips To The Zoo

[WARNING: Contains some disturbing images.] Usually, when you visit the zoo, you just see animals lying around trying to avoid the heat. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a large cat eat something that the trainers gave to him or her.

See Also: 10 Facts About History’s Shameful And Horrible Human Zoos

Every so often, trainers and handlers will get maimed or killed, but those are the hazards of a job like that.

Then, very rarely, things can go seriously wrong for people expecting to have a leisurely visit to the zoo.

10 Maqsood


A 20-year-old man living in Delhi, India, who was only identified by the name of Maqsood, had been obsessed with tigers ever since he visited the Delhi Zoo in June 2014.

After Maqsood lost his job as a porter in mid-2014, he would visit the zoo during the afternoon, telling his mother and pregnant wife that he was out looking for a job.

On September 24, 2014, Maqsood was visiting one of his favorite exhibits at the Delhi Zoo—the white tiger exhibit. Maqsood was seen leaning over the wall of the enclosure and warned by a guard not to do that.

When the guard wasn’t looking, Maqsood fell into the tiger enclosure and landed 15 feet below in a moat. A few minutes later, Vijay, a 7-year-old, six-foot-long, 450-pound white tiger approached him. As Maqsood crouched, either pleading or praying, the tiger bit his neck and dragged him to the other end of the enclosure.

Fifteen minutes after dragging the young man away, zoo officials were able to lure Vijay to another area of the enclosure with some meat.

Sadly, it was too late for Maqsood; he died as a result of his injuries.

After the death, attendance at the zoo went up, and the tiger exhibit became especially popular. Vijay is still at the zoo, and the staff says he isn’t a man-eater. But they always keep an eye on him, just in case.[1]

9 Roger Dean Adams


On July 5, 1970, 19-year-old Roger Dean Adams and two of his friends were drinking beer. At some point, they decided that it would be an excellent time to visit the Oregon Zoo. But, when they arrived, they were surprised to find that the zoo was closed.

Undeterred, the three friends broke into the zoo and started roaming around. First, they visited the penguin exhibit where they jumped the rail. Once inside the enclosure, Adams picked up one of the smaller penguins and threw it in the pool.

Feeling a bit braver, Adams and his friends moved on to the bear enclosure. Adams climbed the wall, then lowered himself down and kicked a bear a couple of times in the head. He then managed to scramble out of the enclosure uninjured.

Having survived that encounter, the three young men moved on to the lion enclosure, where Adams climbed the wall and lowered himself into the cage. While hanging onto the wall of the enclosure, Adams kicked an 11-year-old lioness named Sis in the head. Sis jumped up and pulled Adams into the cage as he tried to climb out.

Adams’ friends tried to scare her away by throwing rocks and bottles, but eventually, they had to call for help.

The police arrived, and they had to shoot Sis and a 15-year-old male lion named Caesar.

Roger Dean Adams was dead by the time the police killed the lions.

When the president of the zoo was asked by a newspaper reporter what he thought of the incident, he said that his quote would be unprintable. He pointed out that the lions were exactly where they should have been.[2]

8 Prakesh Tiwari


It was New Year’s Day, 1996, and Prakesh Tiwari and Suresh Rai, both in their 20s, had spent part of the day drinking in Calcutta, India. For some unknown reason, they thought that the celebration called for a visit to the tiger exhibit at the Calcutta Zoo.

With a gold garland in hand, they climbed into the tiger exhibit, and crossed the exhibit’s moat. That’s when they came face to face with a 13-year-old Bengal tiger named Shiva. Rai threw the garland around Shiva’s neck. Shiva did not take kindly to this, and she pounced on Rai. To save his friend, Tiwari kicked the tiger in the face, so Shiva turned her attention to him.

People at the zoo noticed the commotion and got help. Officials were able to rescue Rai, but Tiwari died as a result of the attack.[3]

7Jayaprakash Bezbaruah


On December 19, 2007, 50-year-old Jayaprakash Bezbaruah was visiting the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati, India, with his wife and two children.

To get a picture of two Bengal tigers, Bezbaruah went against the warnings from guards and climbed over one of the barriers. Once he was close to the enclosure, he stuck his arm in between the bars. Suddenly, two tigers grabbed his arm, and then tore his arm off in front of his horrified family and dozens of other witnesses.

Bezbaruah was taken to the hospital, but he died from blood loss.[4]

6 Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr.


It was shortly after closing time at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day, 2007. 17-year-old Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr. and his two friends who were brothers, 19-year-old Paul Dhaliwal and 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal, had spent the afternoon at the zoo.

As they were walking out, they passed by the tiger grotto.

It is believed that the three young men taunted a 4-year-old Siberian tiger named Tatiana. The 450-pound tiger jumped out of the grotto and caught the top of the 12-and-a-half-foot wall, which was below federal regulations. She was able to pull herself up and out of the enclosure. The tiger landed on the asphalt and attacked Paul. Carlos and Kulbir tried to get the animal’s attention, and when they did, the tiger pounced on Carlos. The Dhaliwal brothers ran to a nearby zoo café and started yelling for help.

After killing Carlos, the tiger followed the trail of blood left by Paul. She tracked him from about 300 yards. When Tatiana found Paul, he was with Kulbir, and Tatiana started mauling Kulbir. The police arrived on the scene shortly afterward, and they were forced to kill Tatiana.

Both Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal survived the attack.[5]

5 David Mark Wasson


On September 3, 1977, 6-year-old David Mark Wasson and his father were visiting the Miami Serpentarium. David and his father stopped off at the crocodile pit. David was placed on top of the wall of the enclosure, so that he and his father could throw sea grapes to the crocodiles.

When his father turned around to get more sea grapes, David fell into the pit. A guard who witnessed the accident said that Cookie, a 12-foot African crocodile, reacted instantly. From 10 feet away, he lunged at David and clasped his jaws around the boy’s chest. Cookie started shaking David and banged his head against the wall.

Another man jumped into the pit to save David. The man managed to grab David, but Cookie still had a hold on David. The man was dragged towards the crocodile-filled water as Cookie carried David into the water, so he had to let go.

Once in the water, the crocodile held the boy’s body underwater for five or six minutes. He only let go of the body after he was poked in the eye.

David was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

The owner of the serpentarium was visibly shaken by the tragedy. He shot Cookie seven times, and it took an hour for the crocodile to die.[6]

4 Juan Perez


On May 19, 1987, 11-year-old Juan Perez and two of his friends were visiting the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York, after the zoo had closed for the day.

At about 7:00 p.m., the friends started daring each other to go swimming in some of the animals’ enclosures.

First, they took a swim in the moat in the seal exhibit. But when that wasn’t daring enough, the three boys decided to take a swim in the polar bear cage.

The three boys disrobed, but two of them started to back out. Trying to force his friends into the cage, Juan threw their clothes into the moat. This noise roused the two polar bears, a male and a female, that were both over eight feet tall and weighed over 900 pounds.

When Juan slipped into the water, the polar bears approached him. But instead of climbing out, Perez provoked the female bear. This led to the male biting him on his shoulder and dragging him away. As Juan was being dragged away, he screamed to his friends, “Go get help! They’re biting me hard!” Juan’s two friends screamed for help and then hid.

The police arrived several minutes later, but it took 20 minutes for them to get the zoo unlocked. When they arrived at the polar bear enclosure, they saw the two bears fighting over Juan’s remains.

The police were told that there were more children in the enclosure with the bears, and they could see children’s clothes floating in the moat.

The police felt that they had no choice but to shoot the bears 20 times with a 12-gauge shotgun and six times with a revolver. Both bears died as a result of their wounds.

It was only after the bears were shot that the police found out that the other two boys did not go into the enclosure.[7]

3 Ruth Ellen Freedman


On June 28, 1966, three-year-old Ruth Ellen Freedman and her parents were visiting the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. They stopped to see the zoo’s only elephant, a three-ton 23-year-old Asian elephant named Winkie. Winkie had been at the zoo for 20 years and was considered docile. He was a favorite amongst the children because they could feed him peanuts and popcorn.

Wanting to feed him on that fateful day, Ruth ducked under a guard rail and got close to the cage. Then Winkie did something unusual; he reached out and wrapped his trunk around Ruth. Ruth’s mother screamed, and Winkie smashed the little girl against the bars, knocking her unconscious. Winkie picked Ruth up again and dropped her. Then Winkie brought Ruth’s body into the cage and stomped on her repeatedly.

Both of Ruth’s parents tried to get into the cage to save her, but they were unable to. When the caretaker stepped into the cage, Winkie stopped his attack, and the caretaker pulled the three-year-old’s body out of the cage.

After the death, Winkie was sent to a breeding farm. One of his offspring, also named Winkie, has been labeled a dangerous animal because he killed a female handler, and injured several other handlers and zoo visitors.[8]

2Julia Ann Vogt


In May 1958, the mother of 2½-year-old Julia Ann Vogt, brought her and her sister from their home in Chilliwack, British Columbia, to Washington D.C. to visit her parents.

May 16 was a beautiful day, so the family decided to visit the National Zoo. Grandfather Harry Jackson took Julia Ann to see the lions. Somehow, she got away from him and slipped past the guardrail. A full-grown male African lion named Passion approached her and grabbed her leg. Jackson jumped into action and tried to grab his granddaughter, but the lion was too strong. Passion pulled her body into the cage and walked around with her body in his mouth. When he dropped her, a lioness named Princess mauled the child, and she ended up decapitating her.

At the sight of his granddaughter being mauled, Jackson suffered a minor heart attack.

Julia Ann’s body was recovered after zookeepers chased the lions away with fire extinguishers. The tragic death sent ripples through the zoo industry, and new safety measures were enacted because of it.

Julia Ann’s grandfather, Harry Jackson, survived his heart attack.[9]

1 Maddox Derkosh


On November 4, 2012, two-year-old Maddox Derkosh and his parents were visiting the painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Maddox was placed on the railing by his mother, and he accidentally fell in. There were safety nets in place, but witnesses said Maddox bounced twice and fell into the enclosure.

The eleven painted dogs, which are very territorial, immediately pounced on the young boy. Even though there were zookeepers in the immediate area, there was nothing they could do because, by the time they responded, it was evident that Maddox was dead.

One of the dogs had to be shot because he would not leave the body alone.

After the tragedy, the zoo gave the painted dogs away. The Derkoshs sued the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the zoo’s lawyers said that Maddox’s mother was at fault for her son’s death. Ultimately, the Derkoshs and the Pittsburgh Zoo settled in June 2014.[10]

About The Author: Robert Grimminck is the creator of the true crime YouTube channel Criminally Listed.


10 Reasons Our Last Hope For A Green Future Lies With China

China isn’t usually the country that comes to mind when we think of “environmental responsibility”. This is, after all, a country that loses 1.6 million lives each year to the toxins in its air.

See Also: 10 Animals That Surprisingly Benefit From Climate Change

Still, no country better understands the dangers of pollution than China – and that’s having an effect. While other countries have been slacking in their commitment to the world’s climate pacts, China’s actually been stepping up – and is on track to becoming the world leader in combating climate change.

It’s the last thing anyone ever expected. China has become our last, best hope for the environment.

How in the world did this happen?


10 The Chinese People Demand It


In 2008, the US Embassy in Beijing installed a little air-quality monitor on the top of their building and had it send out automated tweets reporting the daily level of air pollution. They weren’t out to be subversive, but they accidentally revealed a major issue.

The levels the embassy reported were much, much higher than the ones the Chinese government were reporting, and they made something painfully clear – the government wasn’t telling the truth.

Soon, Chinese citizens started tuning in to the embassy’s report instead of the government’s. The government tried to censor it, announcing that its “readings were illegal”, but the embassy went on tweeting anyway.

The people started getting worried. They complained about the “state secret” of environment pollution levels. Normally, complaining would have been dangerous, but the government’s a bit more forgiving when it comes to the environment, and so the complaints rage on.

Pretty soon, the government had to start giving out the real numbers. They had to change their approach due to the population – because the people wanted it. 90% of the country was willing to sacrifice economics for the environment, and the government had to follow suit.[1]

9 China Is Calling For Bigger Emissions Cuts Than The UN


In 2011, China stood before the UN and declared that every major economy – including themselves – should be legally forced to curb greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. They proposed introducing consequences to countries that didn’t meet their targets and volunteered to sign up first, saying, “We accept a legally binding agreement.”

The world was confused. This was, after all, China, the pollution center of the world. Most of the world’s leaders just wanted to figure out what China was up to. As it turns out, though, China has actually followed through with its commitment. They have plans on lowering their reliance on coal over the next few years and have committed to making carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030, with levels only going down after that.

And it’s working. Based on their progress so far, experts actually believe they’re going to do better than promised. There are people asking if China’s emissions have already peaked, 14 years ahead of schedule.[2]

8 China Probably Isn’t The Worst Polluter


We usually think of China as the world’s biggest polluter – but people are starting to shift blame onto the US instead. And they might not be wrong.

Technically, China releases the most greenhouse gases per year, but from a historical perspective, they’re far from the worst. Between 1850 and 2011, the United States was the source 27% of all carbon dioxide emissions, while China only caused 11%.

Even today, the United States might actually be creating more pollution that China. China produces 8.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually, but that’s just because their economy relies on industry. 20% of those gases come from factories producing things for the United States.

American companies pay for these factories, but they put them in China instead of the US to keep their costs down. Still, the pollution is actually coming from American activities and interests. If we shift the responsibility for that pollution back to America, the United States’ annual 6.9 billion tons of greenhouse gases gets a lot higher – and it becomes a bigger number than China’s.[3]

7 Reforestation Initiatives


One of the reasons the climate’s going up so quickly is because we’ve lost so much of the rainforest. You’ve probably already heard that the rainforest absorbs a massive amount of carbon dioxide, and that without it we’ve lost a major natural defense. You might not have heard, though, that China’s pretty much made up for it.

Ever since 1981, every Chinese student over the age of 11 has been required to plant at least one tree each year to encourage their role in taking care of the environment. It’s made a difference. In 2008 alone, China increased its forestage by 4.77 million hectares.

The biggest impact, though, is from the Great Green Wall they are planting in the Gobi desert. China is planning on covering a 4,500km area of desert with 100 billion trees.

The impact will be incredible. Already, the Great Green Wall has offset 81% of the loss in above-ground biomass carbon lost to tropical rainforest deforestation since 2003 – and they aren’t even done planting yet.[4]

6 Car-Free Cities


Cars are one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the world. Currently, the vehicles on Chinese roads are responsible for nearly a third of the toxins in the air – but they’re doing something about it.

China is currently working on a plan to take 5 million aging vehicles off of the road as part of a larger commitment to cut emissions by 17%. In exchange, more and more people are going with electric cars. In fact, sales of Tesla’s electric cars tripled in the last year.

The most interesting idea, though, is the Great City, China’s plan to create a town that doesn’t have a single car. The city will be able to house 80,000 and will be surrounded by a buffer green spaces that make up 60% of the area. It will take 20 minutes to walk across the city on foot, and people will have to use public transit to enter and exit the town.[5]

5 Animal Rights Activism


China doesn’t exactly have the world’s best track record for animal rights, but it’s starting to get a better. They’ve made some major changes in how they harvest shark fins, and what’s interesting, for an autocratic country, is how it happened.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming launched a massive campaign to stop shark fin consumption in China. Before he’d started, the public was unaware of where their food was coming from. Shark fin soup, in China, is marketed as “fish wing soup”. Because of its name, in 2006, 75% of the people didn’t even know it came from sharks, let alone that crippled sharks were being tossed back in the water to die after their fins were harvested

That changed because of Yao Ming’s campaign. By 2013, 91% of the population of China supported a nationwide shark fin ban – showing that the people are really willing to fight for animal rights as long as they understand it.[6]

4 China Bans Every Pollutant


China hasn’t banned shark fin soup yet – but they’ve banned an awful lot else. China can get away with limiting people’s freedoms in a way that democratic countries can’t, and they’re taking advantage of it in the war on pollution.

They are the largest country in the world to ban plastic bags, and, because of it, Chinese supermarkets have reduced bag use by 66%.

That’s just the start, though. They’ve also set limits on fireworks – which sounds like a silly idea, but actually makes a lot of sense. Fireworks create a lot more pollution than we realize. In an experiment, scientists lit off 3 fireworks in a 30-cubic-meter room and pollution went up to 40X the safe level. In China, where New Years means fireworks are being lit on every corner, it adds up a serious effect.

Anything and everything that adds to air pollution is being cut out of Chinese life. Smoking was banned in Beijing because of its contribution to air pollution. In some places, China even banned bacon for putting too many toxins in the air.[7]

3 Carbon Trading


China has been looking into ways to stop just regulating and forcing people to stop polluting and start trying to find ways to make going green economically worthwhile. One of those is their new carbon market, which is going to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Next year, China will open a cap-and-trade program to lower emissions from their most environmentally dangerous industries. The plan puts a cap on the six industrial sectors that create the most pollution. They aren’t allowed to go over their limits, but if they stay under, the can sell their extra permission to other industries.

They’re going to share power outside of the country, as well. China is currently working on setting up a super grid with India, South Korea and Japan that will let them share excess power with their neighbors, reducing energy waste and their impact on their environment.[8]

2 They Are Sacrificing Their GDP To Help The Environment


China is committed to their new image. They have admitted that, in the past, “China’s GDP growth has sacrificed its environment,” but their plan has changed – and now they’ve pledged to put the environment first.

The country has set aside $6.6 trillion to meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals. They’re planning on going even further, too – they’re committed to regularly checking their progress and increasing their goals whenever possible.

When America started talking about dropping out of the Paris Agreement, China didn’t change their plans. Instead, they are filling the gap by putting $3.1 billion into helping other developing countries’ climate programs.

It’s a strange role reversal. Today, China is criticizing America for not doing enough to protect the environment. “If they resist this trend,” one Chinese politician warned, “I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people, and their country’s economic and social progress will also be affected.”[9]

1 Soft Power


China’s doing all this for a reason – it’s for their own gain.

China has become a bastion of progressive environmental ideals because it’s in their best interest. They’re trying to win over the world through soft power, or, in other words, by expand their political influence. They’re fighting for a green future because it lets them take the moral higher ground in UN meetings on other issues.

That’s not an opinion – that’s a quote. China’s senior climate talks negotiator, Zou Ji, has directly said, “taking action against climate change will improve China’s international image and allow it to occupy the moral high ground.”

Winning the moral high ground on the environment, Zou Ji said, will “spill over into other areas of global governance and increase China’s global standing, power and leadership.”

So, China’s doing this for crass, political reasons – not out of the goodness of their hearts. But in a weird way, it actually might be our best hope. China’s the one country we can count on to hold up their promises – because it’s worth their while.[10]

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

Read More: WordPress


10 Remarkable Facts About Animals Put In Human Perspective

We all know that our cat can jump high and our dog can smell well, but sometimes it’s hard to appreciate just how amazing their abilities really are. Putting the numbers into a human context can help us appreciate the superhuman capabilities of some of the animals we share our world with.

See Also: Top 10 Real Superpowers You Can Learn

10 Cats Jumping


Walking into your cat perched on top of a bookcase might be an everyday occurrence, and it can also make us forget just how amazing their jumping capability is. Most cats can make a vertical jump from a standstill to five times their own height. For the average, 6 foot-tall human, that means executing a standstill jump and clearing 30 feet. In other terms, that would make us capable of jumping to the roof of a 3-story building.[10]

9 Ants’ Carrying Power


Depending on the species of ant, these tiny creatures can carry anywhere from 10 to 50 times their own weight. While that might not sound impressive when you’re looking at such small creatures carrying leaves, blow that up to human proportions and it become truly astounding. If humans had the same muscle control and strength as an ant, that would mean an average, 180-pound man could carry anywhere between 1,800 and 9,000 pounds. And what do those numbers mean? On the low end, 1,800 pounds is about the same as a Clydesdale horse. And 9,000 pounds is about the same as three Volkswagen Beetles.[9]

8 A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey


The monarch butterfly might look delicate, but the North American monarch makes an epic journey every spring and fall. These hardy creatures travel up to 3,000 miles from their summer homes in the northern part of the United States to their winter home in Mexico. And all with a wing span of about 4 inches. To put this in human terms, the average stride of an adult is 32 inches. That’s 8 times the wing span of a butterfly, meaning a human would need to walk 24,000 miles to experience the length of the butterfly’s journey. That’s only a couple of hundred miles short of walking around the world at the equator.[8]

7 A Cats’ Purr


Most cats purr at a soft, comforting level, but the world’s record for the loudest purr is held by an English cat named Smokey. His purr has been recorded at a whopping 86.3 dB. To put this in perspective, a human breathes at about 10dB, and a normal speaking voice will register at about 60dB. Noises around 80-90dB that we’re more familiar with include hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, and many hand power tools.[7]

6 Breeding Like Rabbits


Start with one pregnant female rabbit. Keeping in mind that an average litter size for rabbits is 6 babies and a new mother can become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth, the exponential estimate for rabbits produced not only from her but from her babies, and her babies’ babies, is astronomical. In the 7-year breeding lifespan of a rabbit, that means a single mother can – mathematically – be responsible for 95 billion little rabbits. For the sake of simple math, let’s say the human female’s fertile years are between the ages of 18 and 45 – 9 times the length of a rabbit’s. If we could reproduce like them, that would mean a staggering 855,000,000,000 offspring.[6]

5 An Elephant’s Trunk


An elephant uses his trunk like the ultimate multi-purpose tool. Not only can they pick things up with it, but it can manipulate objects and store several gallons of water. Bulbous appendages on the end of their trunks give them the fine motor skills needed to pick up and manipulate the smallest of objects. An elephant has roughly 100,000 muscles in their trunk alone that allows them this fine control. In comparison, the human body contains 34 muscles that control the fingers and thumb; only 17 of these are in the hand itself.[5]

4The Chicken’s Egg


Firstly, it doesn’t seem possible that an egg comes out of a relatively small bird. The Rhode Island Red, a common breed of chicken, weighs about 6.5 pounds at maturity. The size of the eggs vary, but they’re known for producing above average sized brown eggs – this means usually around 2.25 oz. Proportionately, this is the same as a 150 pound woman giving birth to a 3.25 pound baby. Still painful, but it doesn’t make a chicken’s life look quite so bad.[4]

3The Lion’s Share


In the wild, lions have to take their meals when they can get them. This means they need the ability to take full advantage of a major kill; in one sitting, an average, 300 pound male lion can consume up to 90 pounds of meat. That’s almost a third of their entire body weight, and it’s also like a 200 pound man eating 60 pounds of chicken fingers and french fries for dinner.[3]

2 Parrot’s Speech


All types of parrots have the capability to mimic and pronounce human speech, although that capability varies both between species and within individual members of each species. The African Grey parrot is one of the most prolific talkers, with some outstanding representatives. One bird in particular, named Alex, could correctly identify more than 50 objects and colors by name. At the end of his life, he was beginning to learn how to count and demonstrate that he not only knew the sequence of numbers, but that he understood what they meant. In comparison, the average human toddler will be about 2 years old when they start to use as many words, and will be about 3 before they understand the concept of numbers such as age.[2]

1 A Dog’s Nose


A dog’s nose is extremely sensitive, with its 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our measly 6 million. From their nose to their brain, their sense of smell works differently than ours, allowing them to separate different smells and process that information independently – resulting in a sense that is estimated to be (at least) 10,000 times better than ours. From search and rescue dogs to drug dogs, they’ve shown time and time again that they can use their amazing sense of smell to save countless lives. But how much better does that make their smell than ours? Since smell is difficult to measure, we’ll make a visual comparison. The human eye can detect a light source no brighter than a candle at 30 miles on a dark night. If our vision was as acute as a dog’s sense of smell, we would be able to see it 30,000 miles away. That’s the distance between Bangor, Maine and Los Angeles, California – 10 times.[1]

Debra Kelly

After having a number of odd jobs from shed-painter to grave-digger, Debra loves writing about the things no history class will teach. She spends much of her time distracted by her two cattle dogs.

Read More: Twitter


10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week, And A Good Bye

In today’s hyperfast political environment, keeping on top of the news can seem a Herculean task. So we have been doing the hard work for you. Every Friday for two years, Listverse has rounded up the most essential stories from the week, from the world-changing, to the shocking, to the inspiring.

The week that took us into December got off to a tragic start when a terrorist attacked people with a knife on London Bridge, killing two. While the UK was in mourning, other stories were busy rocking the rest of the world. In France, the nation once again prepared for paralysis as Macron once again pushed unpopular reforms through. In Germany, there were fresh political convulsions, while political shenanigans in the US continued to rumble on. Are you ready to have your news-perceiving organ comprehensively blown for the last time? Wait . . . last time? Yup! An explanation follows the news. Read on.

10 Terrorism Returned to London Bridge


In June, 2017, armed attackers plowed a van into a crowd of people on London Bridge, before getting out and proceeding to stab dozens of bystanders. 8 people died in the carnage, while nearly 50 were injured.

We mention this, because last Friday, grim echoes of this event reverberated across the British capital. At around 14:00 local time, Usman Khan entered a building at the corner of the bridge and stabbed five people before being tackled by members of the public, and subsequently shot dead by police. Two of his victims later died of their wounds.

Khan’s identity is significant, as he’d previously been jailed for plotting to attack the London Stock Exchange in 2012, only to be released last year. In light of his attack, the UK is now conducting an urgent review into the 74 people convicted of terrorism offenses who are now outside jail.

Depressingly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the attack to try and make electoral hay, blaming the opposition Labour Party for Khan’s release. Labour has not been in power for 9 years – plenty of time, you’d think, for Johnson’s ruling Conservatives to repeal any laws they did not agree with.[1]

9 Ohio’s Legislature Produced an Impossibly Strict Abortion Bill


An ectopic pregnancy is an unfortunate biological screw-up whereby a fertilized egg will not implant in a woman’s uterus, but in her fallopian tube instead. At that point, the pregnancy becomes completely unviable, with the added bonus that it can severely injure or even kill the woman.

That’s the grim background you need to know for the new bill introduced in Ohio. As reported last Friday, it’s a strict anti-abortion bill, with one side-helping of utter insanity. According to the bill, doctors would be under a legal obligation to try and re-implant ectopic pregnancies in the uterus.

Those who failed to do so would face charges of murder. Now might be a good time to mention that this procedure does not exist, and is likely impossible with current medical technology.

To be fair, the bill stands no chance of becoming law. Even if it passes in Ohio, it would fall before the courts, which routinely rule such bills unconstitutional. Still, it’s a chilling look at the zeal that has gripped the extreme wing of the pro-life movement. If Roe V. Wade is overturned, expect to see more of this fanaticism.[2]

8 Germany’s Junior Ruling Party Elected Shocking New Leaders


Normally, German politics is about as interesting as watching paint that isn’t just drying, but has already dried and is now in a state of seemingly permanent stasis. “Safe, predictable, boring”, that’s been the mantra of post-war Germany. Then Saturday came along, and suddenly all that paint didn’t look quite so dry anymore. The junior partner in the ruling coalition, the SPD, announced the results of their leadership election. Rather than a safe pair of hands, the members had picked the candidates most likely to dynamite the government.

Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken are the very definition of obscure. What makes them stand out is their willingness to torpedo their coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU. Walter-Borjans ran on a platform of committing to more public spending, saying they’d be willing to pull the plug on the government if the CDU said no. Were that to happen, Berlin would be sent into a tailspin.

Notably, the pair beat current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, seen as an old-school pragmatist who was widely expected to win. It may be that the shocks that have upended politics elsewhere are finally reaching Germany’s governing parties.[3]

7 France Erupted in Protest (Again)


Is there anyone left in France that Macron hasn’t driven onto the streets at some point or another? Since he came to power, the populist centrist has faced down waves of strikes and protests, mostly notably the Yellow Vest movement that erupted a little over a year ago.

While things have calmed down since the heady days of late 2018, there’s still time for more paralysis. On Thursday, France’s public sector workers went on strike to protest pension reform. The result was the biggest such protest since 1995.

Hundreds of thousands have now taken to the streets, with many train and bus services grinding to a halt. Even the Eiffel Tower was closed down. At the same time, most teachers, health workers, firefighters, and many air traffic controllers are joining the strikes. Basically, the country is frozen, and may stay that way for some time.

Still, this isn’t the first time Macron has faced down mass protests. Each time he seems to survive. The smart money is he’ll survive these protests, too, but in today’s volatile environment, who can tell?[4]

6 Elon Musk’s Defamation Trial Began


One of the weirdest side-effects of Twitter has been how it can take what would normally be a feel-good story about, say, a bunch of Thai boys being rescued from an underwater cave, and turn it into a depressing news-slog. Case in point: the Elon Musk “pedo guy” tweet that resulted in a defamation trial starting this week.

Back in 2018, a teenage Thai soccer team were trapped in a cave that had flooded and in danger of drowning. The rescue operation gripped the world, including Elon Musk. At some point, the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur decided to build a sub that could rescue the boys. It didn’t work, and the boys were rescued manually. In the aftermath, rescue diver Vernon Unsworth said Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts”. In return, Musk took to Twitter to call Unsworth a “pedo guy”.

As a result, Musk is now on trial for defaming Unsworth. What’s amazing about this case is that it actually got so far. Musk is a billionaire. He could have settled out of court with Unsworth thousands of times over. And its not like Unsworth has actually been accused of pedophilia and Musk is taking a stand to expose him. But here we are.[5]

5 Sudan Began Creeping Toward Democracy (Maybe)


If someone ever tells you protest doesn’t work, tell them to take a good, long look at the recent history of Sudan. A hardline Islamic dictatorship for decades, Sudan suddenly exploded in protests last December against the ruling party. Despite a brutal crackdown, the protests continued and, over 2019, a crazy story unfolded.

In April, long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed in a coup. In August, the transitional ruling junta began handing power to civilian administrators. And now this. Last Friday, it was reported that the civilian administration approved a law dissolving the ruling party. At the same time, laws regulating women’s dress and movements, and other aspects of Sharia Law, began to be scrubbed from the statute books. It could be that Sudan is finally on the path to democracy.

Still, there’s a long way to go yet. Free elections will need to be held, and Khartoum will need to avoid a repeat of Egypt; where the deposal of one dictator led first to a hardline Islamist civilian government, and then another dictator. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel.[6]

4 The UK’s NHS Election Leak Was Possibly Traced to Russia


So, this is an unexpected one. Last week, we briefly touched on secret documents brandished by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of the UK’s general election, claiming the NHS was for sale in secret post-Brexit trade talks with the US. Given the sensitivity over Britain’s National Health Service, it was a potentially election-changing moment. But it may have been something else, too.

This week, researchers at Oxford University, the Atlantic Council think tank, and Graphika analytics firm claimed to have traced the origins of the leak to something known as Secondary Infektion, an election-disrupting outfit working from Russia that’s thought to be aligned with the Kremlin. While no-one is accusing Corbyn of being in cahoots with Moscow, it now seems possible that his bombshell documents were part of a covert Russian campaign to disrupt Britain’s elections.

It might seem counterintuitive that the Kremlin would give secret help to the Labour Party, especially since far-right populist Boris Johnson would seem more like Putin’s type. But that’s assuming Putin has a direct agenda for electing certain people, rather than simply sowing chaos in nations he perceives as his enemies.[7]

3 Malaysia’s Former PM went on Trial for Corruption


Back in 2015, a British journalist was quietly handed a sheaf of documents. Inside were some explosive revelations. The then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, had been siphoning off billions from a national development fund known as 1MDB. It was possibly the biggest fraud in history, and triggered an investigation by Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency. When they appeared to get close to Najib’s fraud, he fired everyone investigating him, and appointed a new attorney-general who promptly cleared him.

But the case wouldn’t go away. In the 2018 election, a former PM declared he would run against Najib on the promise of investigating the 1MDB case. The May vote resulted in Najib’s ruling party losing power for the first time since 1957. In the aftermath, Najib was arrested.

This week, the former PM finally took the stand to defend himself at a sprawling corruption trial. While Najib continues to blame a financier who is currently in hiding, the charges are serious. If convicted on even one count, he could face 20 years in prison.[8]

2 A US Sailor Killed Two at Pearl Harbor


In the run up to December 7, Pearl Harbor usually appears in the news only to memorialize those killed in the Japanese strike in 1941; the deadliest attack on Americans prior to 9/11. This year, though, Pearl Harbor appeared in the news thanks to a much more modern tragedy. On Wednesday afternoon, a US sailor took a gun into the Naval facility and shot three civilian contractors. He then turned the gun on himself.

This appears to be the first shooting at a US Naval Facility since 2015, and the first in a long time committed by a serviceman. The most striking comparison is likely with the Fort Hood military base shooting in 2014 (not be confused with the much deadlier 2009 shooting at the same facility), in which an enraged soldier killed three other people before committing suicide. At time of writing, the Pearl Harbor shooter’s motive hasn’t been uncovered.

Aside from anything, the incident shows just how acute the problem of mass shootings has become in the USA. In mid-November, it was calculated that there had been more mass shootings in 2019 than there had been days. The events at Pearl Harbor add another number to that grim tally.[9]

1 Impeachment Rumbled On


Remember how at a certain time in the late 90s every single news show contained at least one image of Bill Clinton looking gaunt and gray as the impeachment sharks circled? Well, we’re basically at that stage now with Trump. As such, you can probably expect this story to sit at the #1 spot until it either resolves itself or we all die of politics fatigue. Pick your poison.

Anyway, impeachment news this week came in a one-two punch against the president. On Tuesday, Democrats released their 300-page impeachment report, which they said contained clear evidence that Trump actively sought foreign interference in the 2020 election. With the proceedings now moved from the investigation phase to the judging phase, this was followed by a panel of constitutional experts testifying on whether the president committed an impeachable offense. Rather predictably, the three experts chosen by the Democrats said “yes”, while the expert chosen by the Republicans said “no”. Quelle surprise.

At this stage, opinions on impeachment seem to be set along party lines, so don’t expect any great shifts. The likeliest outcome is now: Trump gets impeached, the trial moves to the Senate, the Senate acquits Trump. All that remains to be seen is the timing.[10]

+ The End Of The News


[From JFrater]: This news roundup marks the end of an era (since May 2017 in fact)! It is the final weekly news round up that Listverse will be presenting for the foreseeable future as we move towards a more general lineup of lists as we did during our early years. We seem to have reached a point in societal division where news is impossible to present without choosing sides and causing anguish for half of the readership.

You are either for or against impeachment. You are either a climate change alarmist or denier. You are pro or anti vaccination. You are in favor of, or against, the worldwide political protests. It is exhausting to be honest. Neither side will budge on their views no matter how reasonable the debate—so why debate at all? Let’s leave the news reporting to fake news sites (Fox News or CNN depending on which half of our splintered society you are in). Listverse is for learning and enjoyment and, frankly, the mainstream news is no longer able to provide either of those things.

I would like to thank Morris for the years of news updates but also for the general lists which were always excellent and enjoyed by all. I hope we will see some non-news content in the future from him.

Morris M.

Morris M. is Listverse’s official news human, trawling the depths of the media so you don’t have to. He avoids Facebook and Twitter like the plague.