These 4 breathtaking islands have found amazing ways to make their own natural energy.

Located off the grid? How about making your own?

Islands are their own little worlds. It's part of their awesomeness. But being cut off from the mainland can also be a serious challenge. Larger land mass means more space and more people ... and that usually means more support for roads, electricity, cable lines, and all the other technological amenities of modern living.

But just because you're surrounded by water doesn't mean you have to be stuck in the Stone Age. In fact, the inconvenience of connecting back to a mainland-based power grid might just provide the motivation to find an alternative solution — like it did for these four islands that found sustainable ways to make their own independent energy.


1. Samsø, Denmark

The island of Samsø is located off the central-east coast of Denmark in the Kattegat sea. It's about 44 square miles in area with a population of around 4,000 people and has been functioning on 100% self-sustainable wind- and biomass-generated electricity since about 2007. In fact, they've reached the point where they're producing so much clean electricity that they're able to export their surplus.

They also have a cool interactive map that shows how their renewable energy system works.

Samsø photo by David Huang/Flickr.

2. El Hierro

Samso used to have support from the Danish government and was connected to the mainland power grid. But the remote island nation of El Hierro wasn't so lucky. An autonomous community of Spain located in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, El Hierro used to ship in diesel fuel from the mainland to power their electric grid.

But in the summer of 2014, they started to break away by constructing a new wind- and water-turbine farm. The $110 million plant is on track to provide 100% of the island's electricity by the end of 2015.

El Hierro photo by Jose Mesa/Flickr.

3. Tokelau

In addition to being the free domain host for my very first personal website back in 2003, the tiny Pacific island of Tokelau (population: 1,400!) also has the distinction of being the first almost-nation to run entirely on solar power.

If we're being technical, Tokelau is still designated as a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand, according to the United Nations. But the installation of this solar grid was actually part of the long-term plan to end Tokelau's dependence on New Zealand and establish themselves as a fully independent and self-governing entity.

Tokelau photo by Cloud Surfer / Wikimedia Commons.

4. Kodiak Island, Alaska

The residential electricity rate in Alaska in June 2015 was nearly the highest in the U.S. and 63% higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even though places like Kodiak Island were already relying on hydropower for 80% of their electricity, they were still burning millions of gallons of diesel fuel each year.

But with a little help from the Alaska Energy Authority, the second largest island in the United States now gets 99.7% of its energy from wind and hydro. Which, sure, might not be exactly 100%. But considering the fact that their goal was to reach 95% renewable energy by 2020, I'd say 99.7% by 2015 is pretty good. (Alaska as a whole aims to reach 50% renewable energy by 2025.)

Kodiak Island photo by Wanetta Ayers / Wikimedia Commons.

And while these other islands aren't quite there yet, they have plans to become self-sufficient and sustainable by 2050:

Hawaii

In June 2015 — just ahead of President Obama's announcement of the Clean Power Plan — Gov. David Ige of Hawaii committed his island-that's-a-state to achieving the goal of 100% renewable power by 2045. Two months later, they opened the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant in the U.S.

This is a particularly good idea for Hawaii, which couldn't even harvest its own fossil fuels if it wanted to.

Hawaii photo by Xklaim/Wikimedia Commons.

Marshall Islands

A Pacific island nation in free association with the United States, the Republic of Marshall Islands also released a new plan for an eco-friendly future, starting in the summer of 2015. This tiered plan aims for them to reduce carbon emissions 45% by 2030 with the ultimate goal of achieving zero emissions by 2050.

Marshall Islands photo by Stefan Lins/Flickr.

The country's minister of foreign affairs, Tony de Drum, said it best in the press release announcing this initiative: "Our message is simple: If one of the world's smallest, poorest and most geographically isolated countries can do it, so can you."

Sometimes a little competition is all it takes. Let's hope the rest of the world accepts the challenge.

Heroes
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The Wilderness Society
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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