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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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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."