Climate change is not a partisan issue. So, let's stop treating it like one.

As a staunch Independent, partisan bickering over pretty much everything these days drives me batty.

So many issues that should barely be considered “political” much less “partisan” have divided Americans among party lines and become man-made mountains both Democrats and Republicans are willing to die on.

But the issue of climate change in particular has become increasingly partisan, which makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, I know Al Gore making himself the face of global warming was probably enough to create a partisan divide all by itself, but when you look at the core of the issue, there’s nothing particularly "progressive" or "liberal" about protecting our planet.


In fact, in some fundamental ways, environmentalism and fighting climate change fit more neatly within a conservative worldview than a liberal one. Here's why:

1) Conservation and limiting change are literally conservative ideas. It’s right there in the name.

Conservation is about conserving the environment, keeping our natural heritage in tact, taking responsibility, and subscribing to the traditional value of stewardship. It’s about maintaining the earth's status quo, keeping her resources balanced and sustainable. Action on climate change is about trying to keep too much change from happening too fast, which is the primary idea that conservative ideology embraces.

When you remove the Republican/Democrat labels and look at the ideologies that underlie them, fighting climate change and working for conservation actually seems like a more logical fit for conservatives.

2)  The National Parks Service and United States Forest Service were started by a Republican President.

Teddy Roosevelt is known for his focus on the protection of our natural resources and his love of the environment. His passion for conservation is what prompted the establishment of our National Parks the USFS.

He also encouraged Americans to think about the impact of our habits and what the future might hold if we insist on relying on deforestation and fossil fuels to sustain us:

“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”

3) The Environmental Protection Agency was started under Republican president. So was the NOAA.  

The EPA was proposed and established in 1970 by Richard Nixon as a response to the obvious air and water pollution that had developed around the nation. In his State of the Union Address that year, Nixon said:

Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces-these should once again be the birthright of every American.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which  was also established on Nixon’s watch. That government agency has done research on climate change throughout Democratic and Republican administrations, because science is not a partisan activity.

4) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was launched by a Republican U.S. president.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

George H.W. Bush said in a campaign speech in Michigan in 1988,

“Our land, water and soil support a remarkable range of human activities, but they can only take so much and we must remember to treat them not as a given but as a gift. These issues know no ideology, no political boundaries. It’s not a liberal or conservative thing we’re talking about.”

Four years later, Bush signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, making the U.S. the first industrialized nation to do so. In his official presidential statement, Bush wrote:

“The Climate Convention is the first step in crucial long-term international efforts to address climate change. The international community moved with unprecedented speed in negotiating this convention and thereby beginning the response to climate change.

As proposed by the United States, the convention is comprehensive in scope and action-oriented. All parties must inventory all sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and establish national climate change programs. Industrialized countries must go further, outlining in detail the programs and measures they will undertake to limit greenhouse emissions and adapt to climate change and quantifying expected results. Parties will meet on a regular basis to review and update those plans in the light of evolving scientific and economic information.”

It’s only recently that conservative politics has moved away from addressing or believing the science about climate change.

5) Traditionally conservative American pastimes are directly threatened by the impact of climate change.

Hunting and fishing are generally seen as hobbies enjoyed by folks in rural/conservative areas. If those were things I enjoyed doing, I’d be doing everything I could to make sure they remained sustainable. Ensuring the protection of land and water seems like a logical desire for folks who rely on them for food or for sport. And considering the impact unchecked climate change has on forest and waterway ecosystems, I'd think hunting and fishing enthusiasts would be totally on board with trying to mitigate it.

6) Scientists around the globe have come to the same conclusion, so it’s clearly not a Democrat/Republican issue.

Take America’s political parties completely out of the equation, and you still end up with the same answer to the question of whether climate change is real and accelerated by human activity. Thousands of scientists from all around the world contribute to climate change research and advise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which gives reports on the scientific consensus. Despite working in their respective regions of the world, these scientists are widely in agreement on the issue because, again, science is not a partisan activity.

Now, there are definitely some political debates to be had for how we go about addressing climate change. There's just no room for debate about whether we do so.

Meet the conservatives who are actively engaged in the fight to slow climate change.

The group Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship states on its website that climate change is real, that it is influenced by human activity, and that “There is nothing remotely conservative about ignoring or rejecting all of this scientific evidence.” These “conservatives stewards” do not reject the science of climate change and the proven need to reduce emission to mitigate it.

They do, however, assert that conservatives should be engaged in addressing the issue wisely:

“Because how we choose to reduce these emissions matters greatly, it is important that conservatives be constructively engaged in efforts to address climate change. Throughout the nation’s history, conservative leadership has produced the most effective, efficient and enduring solutions to our environmental problems—from smog and water pollution to ozone depletion and acid rain, conservative leadership has been instrumental to finding the best solutions.”

While that statement may not ring true for our most recent history, it has clearly been true in the past and there’s no reason it can’t be again. We need to get back to the place where we all embrace the science so we can have productive debates and work together to find solutions to our civilization’s most looming threat.

The effects of climate change don’t care where you live, how you vote, or what you believe. And our planet is too precious to let partisan politics keep us from protecting it for ourselves and our children, no matter what side of the aisle we lean toward.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love 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!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."