Heroes

We can't wait 4 years: 800 climate scientists have united for immediate action.

The scientific community is in agreement: Climate change is real.

President-elect Donald Trump has a very complicated history with climate change.

He's referred to the issue as a "hoax," one of his advisers claims the president-elect plans to scrap NASA's climate research, and Trump has even gone on record against the historic Paris climate agreement. At the same time, he's acknowledged that climate change poses a threat to his golf courses, he met earlier this week to discuss the issue with Al Gore, and in an interview last month, he told the New York Times that he's going into his presidency with an open mind on the topic.

President-elect Trump visits his golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images.


In the hopes of convincing the president-elect to take the actions needed to save the planet, 800 scientists joined forces to send him an open letter.

Published in full at Scientific American, the letter outlines six clear steps these members of the scientific community hope to see from a Trump administration.

What Trump chooses to do, the authors of the letter warn, will determine whether his presidency will be "defined by denial and disaster, or acceptance and action."

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Photo by Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images.

The group also launched a public petition urging Trump to take action on climate.

Misinformation and disbelief have the potential to lead to irreversible disaster. That's why these scientists are urging action now. This can't wait four years.

Dr. Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and MIT working on energy system planning, and Ploy Achakulwisut, a doctoral candidate in atmospheric science at Harvard, helped organize the effort behind the letter. For them, the message extends beyond Trump's beliefs to the larger issue of climate change denial facing the country.

"As scientists and as citizens, Donald Trump’s anti-science climate denial scares us to the point that sitting on the sidelines is not an option," Supran and Achakulwisut explain in a joint e-mail to Upworthy.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

The letter comes less than a week after the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tweeted out a link to a factually dubious article from a right-wing media outlet.

Citing Breitbart.com, the Congressional committee's tweet refers to the roughly 97% of climate scientists who believe that climate change is real and manmade as "climate alarmists," a term the site has used on other occasions and one that does not sit well with Supran and Achakulwisut.

Seeing a Twitter account representing members of Congress responsible for crafting science policy promote false, anti-science views made Supran and Achakulwisut feel "angry, terrified, and more determined than ever to hold our leaders accountable," calling the committee's decision to share the article "a reckless abuse of power."

Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University and director of the Earth System Science Center, shares a similar opinion about what it means that Congress would share such a reckless article.

"As a climate expert, I'm horrified at the ignorance and antipathy toward science that now pervades our highest levels of our government," Mann, who also signed onto the letter, writes in an e-mail. His recent book, "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy," tackles this very challenge.

The Iguacu Falls between Brazil and Argentina. Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images.

Atmospheric scientist Kait Parker of The Weather Channel even stepped in to ask both Breitbart and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to stop using a video of her to promote misleading information.

While it's great to see climate scientists step up in defense of their work, what is there for those of us who aren't experts in the field to do?

Here's some advice from the letter's signatories: Take it upon yourself to stay educated. Don't take everything you see on the news or social media at face value. Supran and Achakulwisut recommend checking out Skeptical Science and Climate Feedback if you need to fact-check something related to climate change.

"But then we need to get out from behind our computers, speak to our friends and families, lobby elected officials, and get involved with local advocacy groups," they write. "Our own e-newsletter, Tip of the Iceberg, is one way to stay up-to-date on climate news and ways to take action."

Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images.

Mann says it's important not only to stay informed, but to actively fight back against misinformation when it appears online, in the media, and in conversations with people in our everyday lives. He believes it's important that discussion be focused on what to do about climate change, not whether it exists.

The Grand Canyon. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

Others, like Jonathan Petters, data management consultant at Virginia Tech, stress the importance of thinking about how we push back and counter misinformation. Petters suggests focusing on the potential impact of human-caused climate change.

"Even if policymakers or citizens think this global warming/climate change thing is all a bunch of hooey (which it is not), there's no reason we shouldn't understand and be better prepared for impacts of extreme weather events, changes in disease and vegetation ranges, changes in agricultural potential. etc.," he writes.

We only have one planet — one spectacular, wonderful, amazing planet — and we all have a responsibility to make sure that it'll still be here for generations to come.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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