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League of Conservation Voters

The big UN Climate Conference started on Nov. 30, and the timing couldn't be better — because as of Nov. 11, CO2 levels in our air have officially exceeded the safe zone.

According to measurements from the Scripps Mauna Lua Observatory in Hawaii, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has risen above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 3 million years.

And sadly, it will never drop down again as long as any of us are living.


Oh boy, gee golly. I can't wait until the world looks like Beijing! Photo by Steven Zhang/Flickr.

For reference, CO2 levels clocked in around 275 ppm before the Industrial Revolution and scientists have been urging us for years to get things down to 350 ppm in order to stop temperatures from rising even more and damaging the planet.

Of course, some people still argue that this is just the natural cycle of things. Which, well...

Image via Leland_McInnes/Wikimedia Commons.

So I mean, sure, there is a natural cycle to carbon levels. Note the word "natural" — digging up and burning fossil fuels is not natural, especially at the rate we've been doing it.

We've spent the last few decades pumping an additional two ppm of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. And that's above and beyond the constraints of that natural cycle.

Also worth noting: The last time CO2 levels were consistently over 400 ppm? Global temperatures were about three degrees higher; the polar ice caps melted, causing sea levels to rise about 30 feet from where they are right now; and camels lived in the Arctic region.

Camels.

In the Arctic.

And speaking of cycles...

The Earth actually passed that 400 ppm milestone back in May, before dipping back down to 398.2 ppm in July. Why the dip? That's just due to the seasonal increase of plant life in the Northern Hemisphere.

As you might recall from middle school science class, plants love CO2. That's why we get along with them so well; it's a mutually beneficial relationship.


Image via Mikael Haggstrom/Wikimedia Commons.

But now, winter is coming and the plants are dead and CO2 levels are back up to 400 ppm. ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

Since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and we're still increasing CO2 levels by two ppm every year — well, it's safe to say we won't see another atmosphere in that safe zone below 400 ppm as long as any of us are alive.

Now if only we had more trees to eat up all that extra CO2...

Unfortunately, we're a little preoccupied with cutting our trees down. Industrial deforestation accounts for 23% of man-made carbon emissions, or 17% of our total carbon increase over the last 100 years.

Photo by Kaibab National Forest/Flickr.

There's also the fact that the influx of wildfires across the planet is directly related to the increase in global temperatures.

Photo by Cameron Strandberg/Flickr.

To recap: We're burning fossil fuels to cut down trees that would otherwise eat the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn causes global temperatures to rise, which leads to the forests combusting, which results in fewer trees to eat the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which...

This GIF is a metaphor. We're Melissa McCarthy, and the Earth is Kristen Wiig. GIF from "Bridesmaids."

While our air quality won't get any better within our own lifetimes, we can still make it better for the next generation.

If you care about your children, and your children's children, and their children's children, and so on, sign this petition to support the EPA and the Clean Power Plan.

If we all work together, we could build a brighter future that returns our planet to those natural cycles that worked so well for so long.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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