Heroes

5 things happening now that should give you hope about climate change.

Finally, the world is stepping up its game against global warming.

5 things happening now that should give you hope about climate change.
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League of Conservation Voters

Admit it — talking about climate change can be super depressing.

Sea levels could rise to terrifying levels, droughts are getting worse, storms are getting more severe, and ... this one's tough ... even beer is being ruined.

But don't let all the doom and gloom rain on your parade. Because although, yes, we certainly need to continue acting on climate change (like, yesterday), the world has taken many encouraging, consequential steps forward as of late. And you have every right to feel good about that.


Here are five reasons to feel hopeful in the fight to keep global temperatures down.

1. Carbon emissions are expected to stall — or even fall — this year.

Yeah, you read correctly — decline.

Photo via iStock.

New data presented at the UN climate talks in Paris earlier this month suggests global carbon emissions will have dropped 0.6% in 2015.

Even though that figure might sound measly (no one's saying we don't have our work cut out for us), this is pretty big. It marks the very first time carbon emissions have dropped during a year of global economic growth.

What have we been doing differently lately? Well, the world is using more renewable energy, the data found, and China — one of global warming's worst offenders — is slowly kicking its dirty coal habit to the curb, which helped a lot.

2. More and more people around the world are taking climate change seriously.

Photo via iStock.

Just last month, Pew Research Center found that in all 40 countries where it polled respondents, majorities agreed that climate change is a "serious problem."

What's more, a median of 78% of global respondents were in favor of their country agreeing to limit greenhouse gas emissions to halt rising temperatures.

It's OK to celebrate these numbers because, naturally, the more people believe in the science behind climate change, the harder they'll fight to do something about it.

And that leads me to #3:

3. The biggest carbon-emitting culprits just united in Paris to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN hosted the largest-ever gathering of heads of state this month in France at COP21— a summit focused on setting ambitious global goals to drastically reduce our collective carbon footprint.

Photo via iStock.

Yes, plenty of international climate conferences have happened before, and many have failed on reaching their prospective benchmarks. But this time looks especially promising, seeing as 195 nations around the world committed to dramatically reducing their carbon footprints.

"The Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis," President Obama said of the agreement. "It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way."

But it's not just politicians (finally) trying to pull their weight against global warming...

4. Big names with deep pockets are stepping up to share the burden of a warming planet.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a UN Messenger of Peace on the climate, was also in France for COP21, encouraging about 1,000 mayors and leaders from around the world to go big on renewable energy.


“Model cities like Vancouver, Sydney, Stockholm and Las Vegas have already committed to using 100% renewable energy in the coming decades," he said in a speech. “So to all the mayors and governors in this room today, I implore you to join with your peers to commit to moving to no less than 100% renewable energy as soon as possible. Do not wait another day.”

And billionaire philanthropist and cool dude Bill Gates? He announced a massive carbon-fighting initiative that will use both billions of dollars from private investors (like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg) as well as clean energy commitments from several countries to help prevent catastrophically high global temperatures.


"It is great to see so many government leaders and investors making these commitments and showing how the public and private sectors can come together to work on big problems," Gates wrote on his blog.

"I am optimistic that we can invent the tools we need to generate clean, affordable, reliable energy that will help the poorest improve their lives and also stop climate change."

5. The worst of climate change is still avoidable! And the urgency we've seen to act is a positive sign.

Yes, rising temperatures will continue to affect our planet in big, costly ways. But, if ambitious goals are met, we will have a green future ahead of us.

"I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world," Obama said, praising the new climate agreement as "the best chance we have to save the one planet that we've got."

See? There's no need to feel demoralized. However, there still is a need to act. Demand the U.S. step up its clean energy game by signing this petition by the League of Conservation Voters.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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