5 incredible facts about snow leopards, plus 1 fact humans can no longer ignore.
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Discovery - Racing Extinction

High in the frigid mountains of central Asia, a snow leopard watches and waits.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.


Often referred to as the "ghost of the mountains," she stalks with a fierce intensity, her piercing eyes following her prey's every move. Without warning, she strikes. She springs into the air, lunging toward her next meal. Success!

It's a scene that used to play out on mountains across the continent but now, it's rare.

The snow leopard is critically endangered, and if something isn't done soon, this majestic creature found in the high jagged peaks of Afghanistan, Kazakstan, Russia, India, and China will surely vanish for good.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

But first, let's get to know these cool cats.

Here are five interesting things to know about these incredible creatures.

1. They have serious appetites.

Snow leopards dine on blue sheep and ibex. The hungry cats can take down prey two to three times their weight! And you thought you were a beast when you splurged for guac.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

2. Snow leopards have major hops.

They use their powerful legs to jump up to 50 feet. That's a whopping 10 times their length. To put that in perspective, the world record for a human long jump is 29 feet, 4.36 inches.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

3. Their feet are built-in snowshoes.

Snow leopards have extra-wide paws. The evolutionary trait makes it easy to walk in snow, but it's pretty difficult to find cute shoes.

Photo by iStock.

4. Unlike lions and Katy Perry, snow leopards don't roar.

They purr, growl, moan, and hiss occasionally but because of their small throats, these cats can't roar.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

5. Snow leopards have furry tails they put to good use.

Who needs Gore-Tex when you have a long, fur-lined tail? Snow leopards wrap their tails around their more sensitive body parts to protect their skin from harsh weather. They also use them for balance.

Photo by Dave Pape/Wikimedia Commons.

But snow leopards and the places they call home are critically endangered.

The snow leopard population has dropped 20% in 16 years, and just 4,500 exist in the wild.

Rising temperatures have caused plants and trees to die off, which means the snow melt has made the land more inviting to farmers. Quite simply, snow leopards are running out of places to go.

Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

This climate change won't just affect the big cats. More than 330 million people count on water from rivers that originate in snow leopard territory. Climate change could alter the flow of the water down the mountains, disrupting the lives of countless people across central Asia.

So it's important to act while we still can.

There's already a plan in place protect natural snow leopard habitats across 12 different countries including India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China. Policymakers have signed on, but they haven't done a great job putting the agreement into practice.

Additionally, the World Wildlife Fund is on a mission to protect the great cat by pushing for action on climate change. WWF global snow leopard leader Rishi Kumar Sharma spoke about the dire consequences of inaction.

"Urgent action is needed to curb climate change and prevent further degradation of snow leopard habitat, otherwise the 'ghost of the mountains' could vanish, along with critical water supplies for hundreds of millions of people."

This is one more reason to get serious about climate change. And the time to act is now.

Snow leopards and the places they call home urgently need our help.

Unlike the "ghost of the mountains," we can no longer afford to watch and wait.

Photo by Rafael Ketsyan/Wikimedia Commons.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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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.