3 ways the Amazon is keeping all of us alive and why we should keep it alive in return

The Amazon rainforest is called "the lungs of our planet."

And nope, that's not an exaggeration at all.


The Amazon provides up to 20% of the Earth's oxygen...

Yes, it's true. In 2013, the Amazon was estimated to have close to 400 billion trees, which is close to the number of stars in our galaxy! Those trees absorb about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year (down from 2 billion tons in the 1990s).

The Amazon trees then transform the carbon dioxide into oxygen, and that's how we get fresh air. This means the Amazon can also help regulate climate, because CO2 and similar gases contribute to rising global temperatures.

...and contains 20% of the world's fresh water.

The Amazon Basin is pretty huge, measuring up to 2.6 million square miles. That's 40% of South America.

It has a TON of species that could hold the cures for cancer or HIV.

Botanist Mateus Paciencia has faith that the Amazon could churn out almost-magical substances that would rock the world of medicine. Chances are, it *has* to have something that spectacular.

"The Amazon has something like 20% of all the biodiversity in the world. Just in terms of plants with flowers, there are around 22 or 23 thousand. It is impossible to imagine that ... not one of them will have an active substance for some disease."
— Botanist Mateus Paciencia

Basically, the Amazon is a living, breathing wonder.

We Earthlings are lucky to have it.

But the Amazon is in trouble.

Drilling. Deforestation. Oil pollution.




Which means...

Those carbon-dioxide absorbing trees are being chopped down. Those rivers are being polluted. And those plant and animal species are facing threat of extinction.

Trouble for the Amazon means trouble for the globe.

Thankfully, we've got some heroes who are standing up for the Amazon.

What these indigenous tribes are doing to save the Amazon is saving their communities. But they're also saving the rest of us, too. Every step they take to push back and preserve the Amazon helps ensure that the rest of the world won't suffer from the rainforest's destruction.

Watch what these amazing tribes are doing. Be grateful. And then spread the word.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.