Heroes

For 7 hours last week, Germany paid its citizens to use electricity. For reals.

The question facing the shift to clean energy is 'when' not 'if.'

For 7 hours last week, Germany paid its citizens to use electricity. For reals.

For a few hours on May 8, Germany was generating so much renewable electricity that people were actually getting paid to use energy.

Seriously. Here's a chart:


The blue line represents the cost, the red line represents consumption, the green area represents renewable energy, and the darker blue area represents traditional energy output. Original chart by Agora Energiewende.

Basically, from 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. (the time period inside the blue box) the country was generating so much more energy than was being consumed that it cost negative euros for people in Germany to use electricity.

How freaking cool is that?!

This data comes from German clean energy think tank Agora Energiewende. While energy's negative cost was pretty much a one-time fluke, it's great to see the country so wholeheartedly embrace renewables.

Wind turbines generate renewable energy near Bergheim, Germany's coal plant, showing a major juxtaposition between the old and new. Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images.

This is only the start. Here are five other reasons sustainable energy has so much potential:

1. Renewable energy is, well, renewable.

One of the pitfalls of being so invested in fossil fuels like coal or oil is that at some point, we'll run out. Maybe not this generation, but there'll come a day when we'll need to switch to something a bit (a lot) more sustainable.

Why not make that switch sooner rather than later?

Natural gas burns outside Cuero, Texas. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

2. There are some major public health benefits to going green.

According to a study from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, fossil fuels take a major toll on health around the world. Take a look at what happened when China banned cars for two weeks; the difference is remarkable.

Here's a gorgeous look at a wind farm near Brieselang, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

3. Since 2009, the price of solar energy in the U.S. has dropped 70%.

That's kind of amazing, right? Even cooler: It's getting more efficient all the time, meaning that while the price of oil may go up and down, solar power will experience a consistent price decline over time. One study has those U.S. energy savings pegged at $64.3 billion by 2025 and $95.5 billion by 2030.

The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, has flown more than 12,000 miles without a single drop of fuel. Photo by Jean Revillard via Getty Images.

4. The shift to renewables will create hundreds of millions of new jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of clean energy jobs jumped 13% between 2013 and 2014 (3.6 million to 3.8 million). This addresses one common concern often cited by politicians: What are coal miners and oil drillers supposed to do for work if we make the shift to renewables?

The answer: Take that energy expertise and help bring a cleaner power source to the world.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

5. Oh yeah, the whole "not letting climate change destroy the Earth" thing.

Not sure about you, but I like Earth! From what I hear, it's a pretty popular place for us humans to live. But the harsh truth is that if we don't start taking climate change seriously and switching to lower-emission power sources (like, you know, solar and wind), it might not be such a great place for future generations. You know what they say — "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," right? Now's when we prevent.

Photo By NASA/Getty Images.

If Germany can go green, the rest of the world can't be far behind.

Simply put, making the switch from fossil fuels to sustainable sources of energy is a question of "when" not "if." As technology continues to improve and become more efficient, the stronger the argument in favor of renewables will be.

Just last year, 195 countries signed the Paris climate accord pledging to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades. Here's hoping that these countries (including the U.S.) keep their word.

We only have one Earth. Let's not mess it up.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less