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sustainable energy

If Google was at a holiday party with the rest of the Fortune 500 companies, it would definitely have a New Year's resolution worth bragging about.

The company intends to be powered entirely be renewable energy in 2017.

Image via iStock.


Now those other Fortune 500 companies might go, "Hold on, Google, not so fast. We know you're one heck of an impressive tech company, but you employ over 60,000 people all over the world! Think you might want to set a more realistic goal?"

To which Google would probably say, "Nah, I'm good."

Of course, this isn't the kind of goal you hit overnight. Google has been laying the groundwork to hit this "landmark moment" for years.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

According to a post on Google's blog by senior vice president of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, Google is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world. Last year, the company purchased 44% of the power needed to run the entire company from solar and wind farms, but it began pursuing renewable energy much earlier than that.

In 2010, Google contracted with 114-watt wind farm in Iowa. The company also became one of three investors of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), the world's largest solar power tower plant back in 2011. Oh and no big deal, but Google's been working toward carbon neutrality (meaning its energy production cancels out its emissions) since 2007.

Photo via Google. Used with permission.

So yeah, you could say Google had a bit of a head start on its 2017 New Year's resolution.

If you're thinking this is the kind of initiative that only a company like Google can do because Google has a ton of money and renewable energy is expensive, think again.

According to Google's extensive environmental report, the cost of wind and solar energy has dropped 60%-80% over the last six years. So not only is that 2017 renewable energy goal good for the planet, it's good for their business as well. And if there's anything most companies can get behind, it's saving money.

All in all, Google has invested more than $2.5 billion in renewable energy sources all over the world and also works to help other organizations lower their emissions as part of its commitment to doing whatever it can to combat the very real threat climate change poses to our planet.

Photo via Google. Used with permission.

Google isn't alone in trying to make a shift toward renewable energy. Microsoft reports that its been carbon neutral since 2012. Pearson, the world's largest education company has been committed to total carbon neutrality since 2009, and has maintained it ever since. And that's just two of 100 companies in the United States that have committed to operating on 100% renewable energy sources in the next few years.

According to data collected by the Climate Group, if companies worldwide committed to this endeavor, global carbon emissions would drop by 15%.

In cleaning up their energy acts, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Pearson are setting a great example for other companies worldwide to follow.

Photo by AFP.

It will take a certain amount of initiative, especially from smaller companies, to make a full shift to renewable energy. Even Google is facing some challenges in meeting its 2017 goal. For one, its data centers require the most amount of energy, and even though use of artificial intelligence has cut the need down by 15%, needs keep mounting.

Google is determined to keep pushing forward, facing each new challenge as it arises because combatting climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. And thanks to the climate summit in Paris in 2015, more countries' industries are taking up similar emissions pledges.

The clean energy gauntlet has been thrown by some of the most influential companies in the world. Hopefully their resolutions will inspire others who don't want to be left behind in the pollution dust.

Heroes

What difference can one person really make in fighting climate change? More than you might think.

If we want a sustainable future, we need to stand up and demand action at the Paris Climate Summit.

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Unilever and the United Nations

Hey! You! (yes that's right, you)

You're just like me — a well-intentioned, well-informed, socially responsible, and ridiculously good-looking person who believes in a better world and is also completely and utterly overwhelmed by anything and everything relating to climate change and the environment.


It's cool. I get it. It's easy to feel paralyzed when you're faced with things like this...


And this...

And a 31st U.S. state that looks like this:

While everyone's dancing about numbers like this...

...but no one ever taught you the choreography.

After all, you're just one person (...right?). How can one person have an impact on such a worldwide problem?

Everyone's all like, "Renewable Energy! No more fossil fuels! Reduce your carbon footprint!" and you're over here like, "I'm trying but I can't afford the down payment on a hybrid car, and I still can't figure out what goes into each different recycling bin at my office!"

Even this frog knows that the struggle is real.

The start of a solution is simple: RAISE YOUR VOICE.

Right now, the leaders of nearly 200 nations are meeting in Paris to find a way to change the world. But nothing will happen unless the people — the masses, the all-of-us, like everyonedemands climate action.

Here's the deal: We all came into a world where things like gasoline and plastic are easy, cheap, and convenient. That's the way things work because that's the way that things have been working because someone made a profit once and said, "Yeah this works!" and the rest of the world just went along with it.

OK, so maybe that's a slightly oversimplified version of post-industrial world history.

The point is that renewable energy and cleaner living will actually be easier, cheaper, more convenient, and ultimately better for our health and the health of this floating space rock we call home — but we need every informed, responsible, intelligent citizen of the world to make it happen.


The entire planet has to change The Way Things Are Done and find A Better Way. But that will only happen if we speak up and demand it.

You can make sure your voice is heard by signing this petition to demand climate action at the Paris Climate Summit.

Once that's done, you can share the video below — and tell everyone you know to do the same.

See? I told you it was easy.

Heroes

Ellen never gave up on her dreams. And our dream for the Earth isn't unrealistic either.

100% clean energy may be a big dream, but we're ready to dream big.

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The Wilderness Society

It takes guts to dream big.

Because when you're willing to take a stand, it means you actually care about something. And it's scary — to be open like that. It means placing a part of yourself on the line. It's easier to give in to doubts or peer pressure. To hide.

But we've always loved the people who weren't willing to settle. The dreamers.


We look up to them because they've felt what we've felt — in every job interview, or school application, or confession of love — they felt those same doubts and beat them back. They're the people who inspire us to do what seems impossible.

But, what if Gandhi had gotten cold feet?

Image via Don't Panic London/YouTube.

What if Dr. King never had a dream?

Image via Don't Panic London/YouTube.

What if Ellen DeGeneres had stage fright?

Image via Don't Panic London/YouTube.

The extraordinary IS achievable.

As J.K. Rowling says, "We don't need magic to transform our world." Everyone has the power to do something amazing.

That's what this new video from creative agency Don't Panic and the Here Now project wants people to realize.

Because some people say 100% clean energy by 2050 is impossible.

Could the world really be powered by completely renewable sources? "There are a lot of people who say it is not possible," Stanford professor Mark Jacobson told Upworthy. He's out to prove them wrong.

Jacobson and his team weren't involved in Don't Panic's video, but they havecreated a road map to 100% clean energy for 139 individual countries. Jacobson used today's energy data — projected forward to 2050 — and customized the plan for each country based on their natural resources.

Volcanic Iceland, for example, could use a lot of geothermal, while sunny Italy could get more than half of their power from solar plants.

Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon spa is actually run off heated water from a nearby geothermal plant. Image from Vestman/Flickr.

In fact, many countries are already well underway to becoming carbon free.

People should feel confident that 100% clean energy is achievable, according to Jacobson. And moving to a carbon-free energy system could not only reduce pollution and emissions, but also stabilize energy prices, create jobs, make each country largely energy independent, and bring energy to those without access.

"In the end we'll have a system that's a lot cleaner, a lot safer, and our society should be more stable," he added.

But to achieve this, we still need the same determination and heart that Gandhi and King had.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015, world leaders will be meeting in Paris to try to finally solve the climate change crisis.

We need to show them that we're ready to dream big.

Watch Don't Panic's full video here:

The Wilderness Society also has a dream – to keep southern Australia's Great Australian Bight pristine and free of deep-sea oil rigs. Sign their petition to keep BP at bay and protect this untouched stretch of marine wilderness.