Heroes

One last stand for future earth: A retiring newsman is dropping facts and naming names.

A global newspaper's editor-in-chief is facing his biggest regret after 20 years on the job.

One last stand for future earth: A retiring newsman is dropping facts and naming names.

What's the story the top editor at one of the world's largest newspapers says is most hidden from you?

In his final weeks as leader of the Guardian's newsroom, Alan Rusbridger is doing what he and other news leaders should have done long ago by putting climate change front and center. And as you'll see, it's brought them to an interesting crossroads with a powerful funder.

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Climate change hasn't been the stuff of front pages, and Rusbridger believes that must change.

He sees climate change as "the biggest story of our lives." But the "news" is a glimpse at what's already happened, not what's to come. And when it comes to reporting, according to Rusbridger:


"We favour what is exceptional and in full view over what is ordinary and hidden. ... If it is not yet news — if it is in the realm of prediction, speculation and uncertainty — it is difficult for a news editor to cope with. ... For these, and other, reasons changes to the Earth's climate rarely make it to the top of the news list. The changes may be happening too fast for human comfort, but they happen too slowly for the newsmakers — and, to be fair, for most readers."

The Guardian has taken a stance on climate change, and it can be summed up in five words: #KeepItInTheGround.

GIF via The Guardian.

Fossil fuels, that is. Because burning them is warming the atmosphere and accelerating events like this:

Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf has existed for 10,000 years. In 2002, two-thirds of the shelf collapsed into the ocean over the span of six weeks. Researchers estimate the remaining portion will hold for only a few more years. GIF via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

They've launched a new section with stories and information about climate change and an eye-opening interactive feature.

With their carbon ticker, you can learn how much oil and gas humans have used in your lifetime and how long we have at our current usage rate until we've gone too far.

According to The Guardian, I will be 50 by the time we "blow the carbon budget." Image via The Guardian.

Climate policymakers' rough goal is to create rules to keep the earth's average surface temperature from rising 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Because that's when sh*t gets real, says retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen:

"At that level, the world risked initiating feedbacks in the climate system, such as the melting of ice sheet area, that could trigger irreversible warming out of humanity's control."

But some scientists say the 2ºC target isn't enough — that it's unavoidable, even, if we only focus pressure on policymakers, which brings us to another feature of the #KeepItInTheGround campaign.

They're calling people out.

The Guardian and 350.org launched a petition challenging the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to put their money where their missions are by divesting from oil and gas.

Bill and Melinda Gates. Image by Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons.

"Both have contributed hugely to progress in medicine and both are mindful of the grave dangers of climate change for public health. Yet both continue to invest in the companies driving the problem. Both spend millions each year on research and healthcare, but sink a chunk of their billions in capital into energy systems that will undo the work."
The Guardian

The two foundations' financial stakes in oil and gas, large as they may be, are just a drop in the bucket for the multitrillion-dollar industry. But the message their divestment would send could, according to The Guardian, "dent the standing of the companies involved, and curb their vast lobbying power."

Fossil fuel divestment sends a powerful message to both oil and gas companies and lawmakers.

More than 200 institutions, including the Guardian Media Group, Syracuse University, and the Church of England — plus over 200,000 individuals — have pledged to fully divest from oil and gas. Even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was built on oil profits, is withdrawing its fossil fuel investments.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Want to help #KeepItInTheGround?

Sign this petition urging the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels, and invite your network to join you. And if you have funds invested in fossil fuels, consider finding a better place for your money.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.