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 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.

Heroes
Facebook / Colette Kingston

A sanitation worker near Kansas City, Missouri is inspiring others with his kind act that was caught on camera.

Billy Shelby, 50, was collecting trash when he witnessed Opal Zucca, 88, fall trying to bring her bin back to her house. So for the last 10 months, he's been doing it for her to make sure it never happens again.

Zucca's daughter, Colette Kingston, found out what Shelby was doing thanks to video from her mother's Ring surveillance camera. Inspired by Shelby's big heart, Kingston shared the video on Facebook, which shows the man holding Zucca's hand and chatting with her as they walk up her driveway.

[facebook https://www.facebook.com/colette.kingston/videos/10157439423166067/?__xts__[0]=68.ARAscWKURe6rWEKLRnQ_5sWIi4WcZIEEKnOrHMI_SQdqBABzCvAx0424B00HLADEN7jv-T000f7zbTnxj07wUCSwjlkiZ9YynvDvr3Pl3VbTgtFldJtZyQZLQucNcqefmGbsCe8poRbKaZ4mSRnDh1iibGs_Bbt5yOvcUzGuuhobKnTBWC3HQ44qBGL-1gPut0ppiODGWE4Bh5mRlfIDi8RNZKI4Ag&__tn__=-R expand=1]

"God bless you as always, darling!" Shelby says to Zucca. "You're looking good. That hair! You got it down!"

Keep Reading Show less
popular

If there's one thing that unites us all, it's the inevitability of death. That may sound morbid, and it's not something most of us care to think about, but our mortality is something every person on Earth has in common.

However, ideas and beliefs about what dying means are as diverse as humanity itself. So when someone manages to nail a universal truth about death, we pay attention. And when someone does so in a way that touches us deeply, we share it as a way to say, "Look at this gorgeous evidence of our shared human experience."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Lyft

One of the most under-reported challenges to lifting people out of the cycle of poverty is transportation. The vast majority of American cities are car-dependent and jobs are increasingly moving towards suburban areas. This puts the urban poor in a terrible position, with many jobs out of town and inaccessible without a car.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia detailed the problem, saying:

"In nearly every discussion held … access to reliable transportation was discussed as a necessary component of economic mobility and quality of life. Many residents in northeastern Pennsylvania — especially lower-income or elderly residents — couldn't access employment, were missing doctor's appointments, couldn't get their children to child care, and couldn't participate in social, religious, and cultural events, all as a result of the lack of transportation. Residents from the region who did not own a car were stuck — literally and figuratively."

As part of a $50 million commitment to "improve our cities through transportation infrastructure, donated transportation, and sustainability initiatives" ride hailing app Lyft has launched a new program designed to help low-income people overcome their transportation obstacles.

RELATED: A blind inventor created a 'smart cane' with Google Maps to help visually-impaired people get around

Lyft's Jobs Access Program aims to close short-term transportation gaps related to employment access and job training. It will provide people with free rides to job interviews and, if hired, free transportation to and from work until their first paycheck.

"We know that for the unemployed, reliable transportation to a job interview or to the first few weeks of work can mean the difference between successful, long-term employment and lost opportunities," a Lyft spokesperson told Upworthy.

via Lyft

Lyft aims to help immigrants, refugees, the formerly incarcerated, people with disabilities, and low-income workers or unemployed people living in low-income areas through the program.

"There's so many different types of candidates we're aiming to help," Mike Masserman, Lyft's head of social impact and former executive director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy under the Obama Administration, told Fast Company.

"One example is the 18- to 24-year-old person who might be going to their very first job, or doesn't have a way of getting to their job interview . . . In some cases, folks are taking four different buses to get to work."

RELATED: Pizza guy whose quick thinking saved a woman's life gets the reward of a lifetime

The program is available in over 35 markets throughout the U.S. and Canada via Lyft's partners, including: United Way and 211, The USO, Goodwill, National Down Syndrome Society, Year Up, Generation, #cut50 (Dream Corps), The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, and Upwardly Global.

Lyft will provide ride credits to the nonprofits to distribute among their clientele as they see fit.

"We really defer to our nonprofit partners on that," says Masserman. "They're the ones that understand their constituency base the best."

Those who are interested in the Jobs Access Program and aren't currently affiliated with any of the aforementioned nonprofits can reach out to the United Way via it's 211 help number to learn more about their eligibility.

Prosperity

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for her workouts. When the documentary RBG came out, the trailer started with her pumping iron (or rather, hand weights). In 2017, her personal trainer, Bryant Jonhson, even wrote a book about her, entitled The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... And You Can Too! And when she did her fitness routine with Stephen Colbert, he struggled. The 86-year-old Supreme Court justice still gets her reps in, even after her recent bout with pancreatic cancer. Like that's going to stop her?


Stephen Works Out With Ruth Bader Ginsburg youtu.be


Keep Reading Show less
popular