See how much the world has physically changed since you were born. Hint: It's more than you realize.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

Sometimes it's hard to see change as it's happening around us.

Sure, you might notice that first fallen leaf of autumn as it crumbles underfoot or the glimmer of a flower bud bursting the snow. But for the most part, we're not actively aware of the effects of time as we go through it. It's only when we look back that we can see difference by comparison.

But there are a lot of other things that have been changing around us while we've been alive, and I'm not just talking about the seasons. Maybe you've come to expect the annual cycles of the weather, but what about the rest of the world? And what's the difference from one winter to the next?


Let's take a look at how the world has changed since you were born — like physically changed, in ways beyond strip malls and landfills.

Are you a Centenarian? (a) Congrats! (b) The average temperature has increased 2 degrees to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1915.

Heating world GIF images via NASA.

It goes from almost all blue — that's -1 degree to 0 degrees Celsius (aka that tens-based temperature measurement used in the rest of the world that makes a lot more sense) — to almost all reds and oranges. It might not seem like the biggest deal, but remember: This is just an average.

But you might not be that old. Let's jump ahead to the mid-1960s — specifically 1965.

See how similar the average temperature in 1965 was to 1915 above? That means most of that change has happened in the last half-century, a fact which probably has very little to do with Dylan going electric.

If you were born a decade later in 1975, things were just starting to heat up.


Things were really gettin' hot around Antarctica and Australia, which I'd much rather attribute to the release of the first AC/DC record than to something ridiculous like carbon emissions.

Generally speaking, people born in 1985 came unto this sizzling Earth with hopes for good luck and a sparkling wit.


There's an entirely logical reason for the world being so much hotter all the sudden, and it's not "Howard the Duck." (Did I mention that I'm turning 30 soon, and you can totally buy me presents? You should do that!)

You 1995ers were the first to face a world without Kurt Cobain (and the climate felt sad about it, too).


For those of us in America, this decade got just a little bit warmer, but probably not enough that you would notice. But there are a lot more red spots all around the globe, which may or may not have had something to do with the conclusion of the OJ Simpson murder trial (I'm thinkin' not, though).

As for those of you born in 2005, I admit: I have a hard time believing you're real and on the Internet right now.


I'm not sure which is scarier: that you never knew a world without Facebook or that you never knew a world that wasn't already covered in the orange temperature zone. Honestly, it's a toss-up.

What about those who were born right on the decade lines? Let's go back to 1980 and check the view from the top.


Polar ice GIFs via National Geographic.

Back in the day when the Clash was still a band, the "Star Wars" prequels were but a formative inkling in George Lucas's mind, and ... wait did that polar ice cap lose like half its landmass in the last 35 years?!

Then of course there are the children of 1990, who are same age as "The Simpsons" (the show, not the characters).


Compare that 1990 ice cap to the way it looked in 1980, and that's about as different as the bass line from "Under Pressure" and the one from "Ice Ice Baby." Oh hey, remember Vanilla Ice? He was something, huh?

And that brings us back to the turn of the millennium. How 'bout them polar ice caps, 2000 babies?


Oh, I'm sorry — you thought all that melting was evenly spread across three long decades? Yeah, not so much. I guess we were all too busy freaking out about the Y2K bug-that-never-was to even notice.

But now we're gonna party like it's 1999, when the World Atlas map began to drastically change.


Map GIF from National Geographic.

On average, the polar ice caps have shrunk by 12% each decade since the '70s, and that melting rate has become exponentially worse since 2007. The image above depicts the actual changes made to the world map between 1999 and 2014, according to the World Atlas.

That's a pretty major change for 15 years, right? But get this:

The maps of the Arctic Circle as seen in 2014 edition of the World Atlas are already inaccurate.

Yeah. It really is that bad.

Ironically, the rate of Arctic melting has essentially snowballed — the factors add up exponentially, and the effects get bigger and bigger and bigger (even as the snow itself disappears). So while yes, there are still winters and it still gets cold, the ecosystem is disastrously out of balance, and it's only getting worse.

But fear not! There's still hope!

Or maybe do fear a little bit, if that's the kind of motivation that you need to make sustainable environmental changes in your life or to urge President Obama to take action before it gets too late. Because we seriously need to do something — and fast.

Here's a little more information, courtesy of National Geographic.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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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.