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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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.


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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.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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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.