A million species face extinction—and the threat to humans reminds us we're all connected.

Throughout our planet's history, plant and animal species have died out—but not like this.

Earth has faced mass extinctions before, but she is now staring down a threat to life that she's never faced. With a population that has doubled since 1950, a global economy that relies on industrialization and consumerism, and our modern addiction to convenience, the impact humans are having on nature is significant and startling.


According to a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), about a million plant and animals species are now on the verge of extinction. Nearly 150 authors from 50 nations compiled the report over a period of three years, as 300 contributing authors helped to estimate future effects of economic development on the environment.

Let's just say those future effects are not looking good.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture," said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide."

We can't destroy the environment without destroying ourselves.

Some people complain when environmentalists seem to focus more on endangered animals than on immediate human challenges, such as poverty or hunger. Why focus on saving coral reefs when people are dying preventable deaths?

But the long view clearly connects the fate of plant and animal species to our own. Destroying habitats and ecosystems doesn't just threaten wildlife—it disrupts the systems in nature that we rely on for things like food and water. Hunger and thirst have a way of making people desperate—and violent. Throw in diseases perpetuated by malnutrition and the security issues our military leaders have attributed to climate change, and these endangered species no longer seem like such an afterthought.

In fact, Watson says that the implications for humans is the most vital outcome of the report.

“The most important thing isn't necessarily that we're losing . . . 1 million species — although that's important, don't misunderstand me," Watson said during a teleconference, according to the Washington Post. “The bigger issue is the way it will affect human well-being, as we've said many times—food, water, energy, human health."

Ironically, our industrial efforts to feed ourselves may be leading us toward greater food insecurity.

There are multiple manmade reasons these species face extinction, most of which are intertwined. But a big one is our farming, fishing, and food preparation practices.

Pollution and overuse of fossil fuels has contributed to rapid climate change and ocean acidification, which in turn impact our ability to fish sustainably. Overfishing has depleted many aquatic species, affecting aquatic food chains. Forests are being replaced by farms to feed a growing population, but we destroy the balance of nature in the process. That imbalance, in addition to the pesticides used to protect crops, affects insects that we rely on to pollinate our crops.

In a bizarre bit of human contradiction, we're killing ourselves to feed ourselves. And it's catching up to us quickly.

Scientists tell us it's not too late to act, but we do need to act—and convince our governments to take the lead.

Many people have become immune to warnings when it comes to the environment, especially as many politicians use climate change as a political football instead of a reason to unite. Some people think the U.N. is on some mission to control the masses and that governments are using climate change as an excuse to bilk us out of our hard-earned dollars.

That's why you listen to scientists, not politicians. And the vast majority of the world's scientists—the people who study this stuff as their life's work—agree that we have to figure out a more sustainable model of human activity or risk our own safety and security.

“Since 1992, we've been telling the world we have a problem," Watson said. “Now what's different? It's much worse today than it was in 1992. We've wasted all of the time . . . the last 25 years."

However, he added, “we have a much better understanding of the links between climate change, biodiversity, and food security and water security."

It's long past time to start putting that knowledge into meaningful action. Let's encourage our governments to work together on a collective plan to save the earth's endangered species—before we become one of them.

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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.


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.