Heroes

Take a deep breath because this camera is showing a part of us not many people see.

This camera just made it a bit easier to protect ourselves from ourselves by seeing what we've not been able to see before.

Take a deep breath because this camera is showing a part of us not many people see.

Imagine if you could see what you exhale every time you took a breath.

Pretty cool/creepy, huh? GIF from "Racing Extinction."


Turns out, it's actually possible. Award-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society to create a camera that lets you do just that.

You might be thinking, "OK, that's cool, but why in the world would someone bother to make a camera that shows your breath?"

Well, he thinks it's important for us to really see the carbon dioxide we put into the air.

The carbon dioxide — the gas we exhale into the atmosphere — could actually kill us.

I know, I know. It's a little confusing because carbon dioxide is everywhere. I mean, you're exhaling some right now as you're reading this, but your body's natural function to keep you alive isn't the problem.

The problem is with the other things we do in our day-to-day lives that put a dangerous amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

It looks so innocent. But don't be fooled. Image by Jynto/Wikimedia Commons

Right now, the amount of CO2 — that's carbon dioxide in science talk — in our air actually isn't bad in and of itself.

What is bad are the sharply increasing levels of CO2 in the air.

The important nuance is this: Yes, our planet has seen higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere before, but the real problem isn't the amount — it's the rate of increase which is unlike anything the Earth has never seen before. Not by a long shot.

Scientists have been trying to warn us about this for decades, but we haven't been listening.

It's been kinda easy to ignore the threat since we can't actually see this potentially harmful gas in the air all around us.

"La la la, I can't hear you!" says the world to the scientists. Image by 6SN7/Flickr.

So scientists took a FLIR SC8300 thermal imaging camera and put a special filter on it so they could capture really cool footage of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Whether it's from the leaf blower you use every fall:

GIF from "Racing Extinction."

Or those motorcycles you and your buddy bought during your mid-life crises:

We all deal with aging differently. GIF from "Racing Extinction."

Practically everything that we do — whether it's driving to work, doing outside chores, and even breathing — puts CO2 into our atmosphere.

Why is this important? Carbon dioxide and mass extinction are like BFFs — they're attached at the hip, so to speak. Psihoyos hopes this footage will help kick our collective butts into gear and do something about these carbon emissions.

"My entire career OPS is all built on this notion that we can show something to people that they haven't seen before in a way that they have never visualized it," he says.

And more ominously: "This should be frightening."

Maybe now that we can see the thing that is hurting our planet we'll take some action.

Our lives depend on it.

See the magical camera in action here:


True

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.