What everyone heartbroken over the 'Planet Earth II' turtle episode should know.

On Dec. 11, 2016, animal lovers sat in front of their TVs, devastated at what they saw on the screens in front of them.

It had to do with baby turtles.

"Planet Earth II" — the sequel to BBC's 2006 mega-hit series "Planet Earth" — had documented Hawksbill turtle hatchlings in Barbados.

The series, which aired in the U.K. and is coming to the BBC America this January, culminated in an episode focused on how cities are affecting animal populations around the world.


The Hawksbill turtle — a critically endangered species — was one of the featured creatures. And it was really tough to watch.

The series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, explained what happens when these hatchlings are born.

When Hawksbill turtles hatch from their eggs at night, their immediate instinct is to go toward the brightest horizon, which — if humans didn't exist — would lead them to the sea (and safety).

This is a Hawksbill turtle hatchling, born in a Jakarta breeding center in 2010. Photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images.

But humans do exist. And our expanding societies have had a dramatic effect on this crucial point in the hatchlings' lives.

As cities continue to sprout up on seashores, their bright lights complicate those first few moments in a hatchling's life. Instead of being drawn toward the sea, hatchlings are drawn toward the artificial lights of the city. This isn't good.

Without human interference, Hawksbill turtles already have a small chance of surviving long-term, according to Carla Daniel, deputy field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project. But with this added barrier stopping them from safely reaching the ocean, baby turtles are getting "crushed in the road [or] lost forever in drains," among other not-so-happy endings, on their accidental journeys into the city.

It was a big wake-up call for many distraught "Planet Earth II" viewers.

The outcry among upset viewers spurred responses from the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, which partnered with the BBC during production.

"We know that watching the footage on the 'Cities' episode of 'Planet Earth II' last night was emotional and heartbreaking," the group wrote on its Facebook page. "While it does portray what thousands of hatchlings face every year, we want to reassure you that we do our very best to ensure that as many hatchlings as possible are rescued and no hatchling is ever left behind!"

Baby turtles that were hatched at a conservation center in West Sumatra are released into the ocean. Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images.

The "Planet Earth II" team also assured viewers on Twitter that its film crew did, in fact, break protocol and saved any turtles it spotted.

Typically, the crew does everything it can not to engage or disrupt wildlife while filming, but — because this particular tragedy was manmade — they decided to intervene.

The hatchlings' fatal endings served as a learning moment for viewers on the unintended consequences of our modern existence as humans.

Many of our behaviors and technologies have surprising consequences to other species. Light pollution is a great example.

It doesn't just affect baby turtles, after all.

While light pollution may not seem as harmful as, say, pumping pollution into the air or cutting down huge swaths of trees, artificial lighting is responsible for millions of bird deaths each year, according to the International Dark Sky Association. Many birds use moonlight and starlight to hunt and migrate, and bright city lights can throw them off course. Birds may arrive in a new region too early or too late, for instance, and miss the climate conditions they need to survive there.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Artificial lighting, which unintentionally draws insects, may create a "fatal attraction" between the tiny creatures and our manmade structures as well. Although insects seem like a nuisance to us, they're often the foundation of the food web in a given habitat. A decline in Insect population can affect whole ecosystems.  

The artificial light problem may seem unconquerable for many devastated "Planet Earth II" viewers. But the last thing we should do is give up.

Take it from Carla Daniel.

“There are many times that everything feels kind of pointless," she explained candidly of the enormous problem of hatchling deaths. "'What's the point in doing this?' This is one of those things where we kind of all have to hold hands and come together and agree to make a difference.”

“If there was one, single thing that was necessary for change, [it's] for you to get up," she noted. "Go out of your house and do something [about it]."

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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