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League of Conservation Voters

Weather apps are wonderful things, like little Magic 8-Balls in our pockets that double as conversation starters.

My only complaint? Sure, it's nice that they can warn us when rain will wreck this weekend's picnic, but what about that wedding next summer?

What if we could predict the weather far beyond the coming week? Well, turns out we can.


Weather's gettin' sassy here! Photo by Josh McGinn/Flickr (cropped).

No, really! There's now a way to find the current conditions — while also getting a glimpse of the future (and the past!).

Created by a team of independent journalists, climate scientists, and meteorologists from Climate Central, WXshift is a new website that not only tells you what the weather is right now, but also offers different ways to visualize how the overall climate is shifting.

Specifically, it helps you understand the ways that weather has changed over time in your current location and what that forecast is looking like for the future.

Here's what WXshift looks like right now:


(I was actually hoping to show you the weather/climate comparison here in Paris, where I currently am and where the 2015 COP21 Climate Conference is currently underway, but WXshift only works in America right now, so I punched in my home ZIP code. Ah well.)

And if you're still unclear about the difference between weather and climate, you can think of it in terms of this delicious Vietnamese meal that I'm currently enjoying: "Weather" is the wonderful bo bun au porc dish I'm eating right now while "climate" refers to my overall dietary practices (i.e. eating all of the delicious things — last year, next week, next month, etc.).

Think of it as weather in context.

It's easy to be preoccupied with the weather right in front of us. But WXshift is a better way to see beyond the haze — which is more important now than ever, given the current conditions of the world.

Sure, it's easy to crack jokes about the follies of weathermen. Even I get cranky when it's a 20% chance of rain and I'm caught in a downpour. But while humans can't predict the future with 100% accuracy, we are pretty good at picking out the patterns and cycles that emerge over time.

Oh, don't act all innocent like you don't know that the way you calculate probability of precipitation is weird and misleading. Admit it, Mr. Meteorologist! You wanted me to get wet! Photo by Phil Konstantin/Wikimedia Commons.

The truth is that even those of us who believe the vast scientific consensus about climate change aren't always aware of just how bad it is.

There are many parts of America where even the year-to-year fluctuations don't seem so bad. For example, by the time next summer comes around, you're hardly going to notice or care about the difference between 85.6 degrees and 85.8 degrees.

It's not until you look at the bigger picture that you see the undeniable upward curve. Which is why WXshift is so cool. And important.

It allows us to visualize what's happening to our planet.


Which part of "Up" don't you understand? Graph from NASA.

And that bigger picture paints a pretty clear story: It's time to take action. And fast.

Again, I'm in Paris, so I'll compare it to the Impressionist paintings of the great Claude Monet: Up close, they look like random smudges of paint, and it's only when you step away that you can see the water lilies for what they really are.

But in this case, replace "water lilies" with "flash floods and forest fires and sinking shorelines and other catastrophic events of nature," and you'll have a more accurate picture.

See? They get the picture. Photo of Monet's "Water Lilies" at the Musée de l'Orangerie taken by me. Insert your own apocalyptic embellishments.

WXshift won't stop the rain from ruining our beach plans. But it could help us save the world for our descendants.

Our planet's at a turning point: If we don't take action now to curb our carbon emissions, the next generations will be stuck with the (pretty horrific) consequences.

Try showing WXshift it to someone you know who still refuses to submit to the scientific census about climate change. Or use it to just get a clearer sense of how this moment in time stacks up to the past and future.

And if you want to take action to keep these predictions from becoming reality, you can start by signing this petition to support America's Clean Power Plan.

In the meantime, here's a look at how WXshift looks for a few other cities around the country:

Chicago




Houston




Kansas City




Los Angeles




Miami



New Orleans



New York City


Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

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Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



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