6 items America should have on its holiday wish list to prepare for President Trump.

In too many ways, 2016 has been a rough one for America.

Way too many of our favorite celebrities died. We suffered a great deal of loss at the hands of Mother Nature. And now, this we’re capping off 12 tumultuous months with the end to maybe the most divisive, mind-boggling election in U.S. history, and many people have been left anxious about the prospects of President Donald Trump.

As we move into the holiday season, thinking about giving back and being thankful, there are a few things America desperately needs now as we all prepare to move into 2017.

Here are six gifts you can give America this holiday season:

1. The gift of more digital and print newspaper subscriptions to keep Washington (and Trump) honest and citizens informed.

Votes aside, no election is influenced by just one factor. But this election in particular felt the brunt of fake and misleading news on social media and cable news coverage that focused more on style than on substance.

Newspapers, on the other hand, provided some incredibly thoughtful and important reporting on the election and the state of our country from Trump’s questionable history paying federal taxes to Hillary Clinton’s complex time as secretary of state. The more newspaper subscriptions we have at our fingertips, the better. Give the gift of a newspaper subscription (or share your subscription with a friend), and the entire country becomes a better informed place to be.

2. Give the gift of an LGBTQ community that understands they are all of value, no matter who they love or how they identify.

Last week, as it became clearer Trump will be our next president, calls to suicide prevention hotlines for the LGBTQ community spiked. Tragically, it’s not all that surprising Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence are peddling possibly the most anti-LGBTQ platform in party history.

Proceeds for the shirt above by Trans Lifeline go to enabling the nonprofit to help more people in times of crisis. Their services will be critical throughout the next four years.

We can also support groups like The Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign to make sure the voices of our LGBTQ friends and family are elevated and prioritized, even if a Trump White House likely won’t be listening.

3. The gift of making immigrants feel right at home in their new country.

Building a wall became a cornerstone in Trump’s campaign. Our president-elect has threatened to deport millions of people and has demonized millions more. Many immigrant children and families are understandably afraid, left feeling as though their country doesn’t want them here.

But organizations like Soccer Without Borders want every kid to succeed in America.

The U.S. branch of the nonprofit based in Oakland, California uses soccer as a catalyst to unite kids from various backgrounds and different countries through sport. The group provides educational support, creates community service opportunities, and has a great track record at helping empower kids toward academic success.

We can also support groups like E4FC, which connect young undocumented immigrants to the legal and academic resources they need to achieve their goals, and Voto Latino, which empowers Latinos to become agents of change in their communities.

4. Give the gift of a green Earth that will stay habitable for centuries to come.

Soon, we’ll have a president who’s called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese. That should be terrifying to anyone who wants their grandkids to live on a beautiful planet.

Let’s not beat around the bush we need to do a lot to combat climate change, and we need to do a lot now. We can pressure our legislators to support clean energy, do our own part to live an eco-friendly life, and maybe the easiest one plant more trees.

Through conservation nonprofit American Forests, we can gift new trees to plant on behalf of others, and help offset our collective carbon footprint. Each tree costs just $1 to be planted, so you can see how a $25 or $50 gift can certainly grow into a huge impact.

5. The gift of security for every person seeking to access their right to an abortion.

Trump who once suggested women should be “punished” for having an abortion has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who would flip Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that confirmed a person’s right to choose. This means well-funded and accessible clinics are more important now than ever before.

By supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, its advocacy wing, PPact, and local chapters in your area, we can avoid going backward.

The Clinic Vest Project is one group helping clinics like Planned Parenthood do their work by providing vests, like the one seen above, to the friendly human shields that escort women from their cars to the facility entrance, oftentimes through aggressive protesters. That walk can be a painful and intimidating experience for someone who might already be in a vulnerable state, so these helpful, supportive people wearing colorful vests to show they’re an ally are crucial.

6. The gift of more diverse children’s media because representation matters, now more than ever.

Kids are feeling anxious and uncertain on the heels of the election especially children from groups that have been mocked or criticized during the campaign, like immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people. It’s important we reassure them that, yes, they are loved and that we’re a society that values diversity and inclusion.

Children’s books that make this point clear like “Promised Land,” which follows the interracial love story of Prince Leo and his farm boy crush, Jack should be in playrooms and classrooms across the country.

Fortunately, more and more children’s books reflect the diverse world we live in, and many other titles are exemplifying why it matters our kids see themselves in the pages between their fingertips.

Diverse kids’ media shouldn’t be confined to books, though film, toys, and TV series are just as crucial. Shows like Nickelodeon’s “The Loud House” and coloring books like “Dream Big! More than a Princess” can be awesome tools that encourage our children to be confident in who they are and understand that they matter.

America has always been the sum its parts. The combined contributions of those of us who live here are what makes it great. Let that inspire you to kick off 2017 with a clear head, a big heart, and a determined spirit.

No one’s disputing that this year has been a rocky one in more ways than we’d care to admit. But we made it.

If you’re on edge about what 2017 will mean for you and your loved ones under our new president, don’t feel helpless fight to make sure America stays true to all the values that make us the great country that we are.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/6-items-america-should-have-on-its-holiday-wish-list-to-prepare-for-president-trump?c=tpstream

Airline tycoon Richard Branson joins Al Gore’s crusade to cut YOUR carbon footprint – twitchy.com

There’s nothing like somebody who has an airline getting in on the lecture about reducing the world’s fossil fuel consumption, especially when he joins up with the eco-hero who has cashed in on Big Oil money:

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project released a video last month which features, among many people, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, which operates a fleet of around 40 wide-bodied aircraft.

How they can lecture others about that with straight faces is simply amazing.

Branson is also involved in developing a space tourism industry, and those rockets don’t run on 9-volt batteries and solar power.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2015/10/09/airline-tycoon-richard-branson-joins-al-gores-crusade-to-cut-your-carbon-footprint/

These People Took Apart An Old RV And Turned It Into A Totally Sustainable Home On Wheels

Have you ever just wanted to pack up your home, drive off, and live on the open road?

While that idea seems far from reality for most of us, one couple made their dream of a nomadic lifestyle come true. They’ve been living their best lives in an RV for over a year with their two dogs.

Ching Fu and Jerud Crandall are outdoor enthusiasts who travel around the country without depending on fossil fuels. They bought an old RV in 2011, spent a year converting it into a sustainable home, and now have an amazing vehicle that is completely powered by solar panels.

This is how the RV looked when they bought it.

As you can see, there wasn’t anything particularly special about it.

Sure, it already had a nice setup, but Fu and Crandall transformed it into an awesome adventure mobile.

With the help of a friend, they got started with the rebuild in 2013 by tearing off the roof.

They took off the entire shell and proceeded to remove mostly everything because of water damage.

The bedroom was rotting and unlivable, so they ripped the whole thing out.

The kitchen wall wasn’t much better, so they tore that out, too, and got rid of the floor.

Then it was time to rebuild the bedroom and kitchen into cozy areas.

With all of the rooms in much better shape, they added two layers of insulation around the vehicle.

Read More: A Group Of Tourists Came Across A Shark Eating A Cow In The Indian Ocean

The last big step for the outside was attaching a new RV shell.

And with a little interior remodeling, they were left with this awesome living space.

However, the inside isn’t even the best part about this home on wheels.

Fu and Crandall also attached 1,220 watts of solar panels to the roof, allowing the RV they nicknamed “Toaster” to run on 100 percent clean energy. Even their appliances run off of solar energy!

The RV even has its own water tanks for drinking, showering, and sewage.

Fu says, “Our lifestyle and setup on the road is driven by our belief that with our passion for the outdoors comes our responsibility to take care of it.”

They’ve certainly done that, because they have been able to travel across the U.S. and Canada without having to rely on fossil fuels.

Because of their untethered way of life, they constantly get to witness incredible sights.

The couple and their dogs have been on the road for one and a half years, and they don’t plan on returning to living in a house anytime soon.

Read More: Her Dogs Were Barking At Something In The Yard When A Grizzly Jumped Onto Her Fence

With destinations like these, who could blame them?

You can follow along with this family’s awesome travels on Instagram, Facebook, and their website.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/home-on-wheels/

A list of top coal mines gives some perspective about how things are going for fossil fuel.

The time of coal has passed. Clean energy is our future.

A recent tweet from Taylor Kuykendall, who writes for an industry publication about the energy market, shows a list of the top 25 coal mines in Central Appalachia. It gives you some perspective about how things are going for coal companies.

The tweet includes a link to an article of his that opens with this zinger:

“Even some of the top-producing mines in Central Appalachia … find it increasingly difficult to keep business going in today’s market.”

Another recent financial article included this headline: “No Coal Companies Went Bankrupt Last Week.” There are so many coal companies headed for bankruptcy that when a week passes without one going bankrupt, it’s news.

It’s clear that it’s time to shift away from coal and the White House is preparing for that new, cleaner shift.

The White House Clean Power Plan limits carbon pollution from power plants, putting national standards in place for the first time. We have some work to do together, but we can make ours a clean energy future and it’s bigger than just coal. Here’s a petition you can sign to stop arctic drilling, which will help us continue this clean energy trend.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-list-of-top-coal-mines-gives-some-perspective-about-how-things-are-going-for-fossil-fuel?c=tpstream

This fisherman’s incredible, hidden underwater forests may change food as you know it.

When Bren Smith was 14, he dropped out of high school and went to sea.

Smith was born and raised in a small fishing village called Petty Harbour, in Newfoundland, Canada. Petty Harbour is 700 miles east of Maine, and it juts out into the Atlantic like the herald of the entire North American continent. It’s so tiny that it’s basically just a few saltbox houses painted in bright colors, helping fishermen find their way home in the fog.

Smith worked on boats for years, and he loved his job.

“That’s where I want to spend my days,” he said. Smith is now in his mid-40s. Pictures of him show a lean, bald man with varying stages of beard. He says that like a lot of fishermen, he fell in love not so much with the ocean itself, but with the feeling of working on the ocean.

“Farming the ocean is really meaningful work,” he said. “There are certain jobs, traditional jobs, like coal workers who help power the country, steel workers who helped build the country, and fishermen and farmers, who help feed the country there’s real satisfaction and meaning that comes with that.

But under the ocean’s surface, things weren’t going too well. One day, the jobs seemed to just disappear.

The Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland, are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. And at some point, they must have seemed endless. In 1968, fishermen brought home over 800,000 tons of cod from those waters, for instance. That’s more than the weight of eight full aircraft carriers.

But starting in the 1970s, the cod’s numbers started to fall. Overfishing, trawling, dragging, and government mismanagement destroyed the cod stock. And after centuries of being one of nature’s greatest wonders, in 1992, the Canadian government told Newfoundland’s cod fishermen that they couldn’t go out fishing anymore. There were essentially no cod left to catch.

As the Earth changes, jobs go away.

The ban on cod fishing snapped the economic backbone of hundreds of rural Newfoundland communities. Over 40,000 people lost their jobs. Some fishermen got government assistance or found new jobs on land, but Smith says the real shock ran much deeper than that.

There’s a famous story in Newfoundland, Smith said, about a former fisherman who got a government buyout a check to beach his boat, essentially “and then every morning he drives down to the dock at 5 in the morning, with his brand-new truck he bought with that government check, and drinks himself to death looking out over the ocean, wishing he was working at sea.”

This tragedy wasn’t about money, you see. It was never about the money. Instead, losing that job meant losing part of their culture. It meant losing a sense of meaning.

Smith had been working elsewhere, but watching his hometown’s collapse affected him. So Smith changed jobs, looking for work that was truly sustainable. Over the years, he tried a bunch of different things, but it never seemed to work out. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy put an end to his oyster farming idea, for instance.

Realizing that he needed to adapt, Smith decided to invent a new job altogether. Now, he’s what he calls a “3D ocean farmer.”

Smith owns and runs the Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut, but oysters are only part of what he does. He’s actually growing an entire forest underwater.

From the shore, Smith’s farms don’t look like much just a few buoys bobbing up and down in the surf. But running beneath those buoy are long ropes from which dangle kelp, seaweed, mussels, and scallop nests. Below, resting on the sea floor, Smith has cages full of oysters. Clams live in the mud below those cages. And holding it all together are heavy, hurricane-proof anchors studded along the edges.

The result looks a lot like an underwater garden or kelp forest.

These 3D farms might actually be one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture in the world.

Unlike many common foods, Smith’s seaweed and shellfish need no land, fresh water, or fertilizer. Kelp also grows extremely quickly.

And while seaweed is largely absent from the American diet, it’s a really common food in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Many American chefs are now testing it in their menus.

There are secondary benefits to the environment from the underwater farms as well. The kelp can trap carbon, removing it from the atmosphere and reducing the impact of global warming. Shellfish can help filter pollutants and excess nitrogen out of the water. The farms can even act like coral reefs, providing a hiding place and habitat for other creatures.

“The best fishing in the entire area is surrounding our farms,” said Smith. “We have seals, we have ducks, we have sea horses all these different species that are returning to our areas.”

Because of what he’s learned, Smith is now helping other fishermen start underwater farms too.

In addition to running his farm, Smith is in charge of GreenWave, a nonprofit that helps other farmers start their own 3D ocean farms. They have a blueprint for 3D farmers to get started as easily as possible. The GreenWave team also helps farmers evaluate locations and feasibility, get permits, and set up and expand their farms.

GreenWave is still a small operation just a handful of people working toward something they believe could change the world. But what they’re doing is actually working, and they’ve even been awarded the 2015 Buckminster Fuller Prize for ecological design. They’ve also just opened a big new project, a seaweed hatchery, to help farmers supply other farmers with seed.

Ultimately, Smith thinks we could build a whole new food system using 3D ocean farms.

He wants to break the logic that leads to big, industrial farms on land and create a whole new kind of food industry one that has sustainability and food justice at its heart.

For example, GreenWave doesn’t charge farmers extra for seed, and it encourages farmers to only use local species. A farm in California won’t grow the same kind of seaweed and shellfish as a farm in Maine, a practice that can help keep our food system safe from climate change and disease. And Smith says the minimum wage in their processing plants starts at $15 an hour.

There are still a lot of hurdles, of course. Americans still aren’t known for their love of seaweed. And it seems like GreenWave will need to build a lot of their infrastructure from scratch, too. But these obstacles do not seem insurmountable.

To me, the most encouraging part of this story is that we can revive the kind of job Smith fell in love with.

Sometimes it’s easy to think of conservation like a museum, trying to capture the world in some unchanging, static preservation, like a bug under glass.

But that’s not what Smith is interested in. For him, the question has always been as much about economics as environmentalism. The question isn’t “How do we make sure things never change?” The question is “How do we prepare for the future?”

“We need to build a new economy, we need to feed people, we need to create jobs, and we have to give people meaning if we’re going to save the planet,” Smith said. He finds that the work on his farm still has that meaningful heart that propelled him to the ocean as a teen.

As Smith put it, we have to find the space for “jobs we can still sing songs about.” And we can.

Whether that’s transitioning coal miners to solar power-plant workers, oil drillers to dam workers, or fishermen to ocean farmers, we can reinvent the old industries into the new.

We can still have jobs you fall in love with.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-fishermans-incredible-hidden-underwater-forests-may-change-food-as-you-know-it?c=tpstream

There’s 1 thing standing in the way of U.S. clean energy, and Sigourney Weaver wants to stop it.

The United States has made some pretty great progress with the issue of climate change.

Between the recently announced
Clean Power Plan and the upcoming Paris Climate Conference and the various clean energy subsidies that have been in place for years, there’s a metaphorical Magic 8 Ball somewhere in the heartland saying “Outlook good.”

Granted, we’re also partly responsible for letting the situation get this bad in the first place:

GIF from “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Despite these efforts, President Obama has still granted permission for Shell to continue drilling for oil in the Arctic.

GIF from “Galaxy Quest.”

On the bright side, Shell hasn’t
actually gone forward with their drilling plans.

Yet.

But they still have permission, which means that that could change tomorrow. And their reasons for not risking
the entire Arctic ecosystem and causing further damage to the planet is … they don’t think they’ll make enough money right now to make it worth their while.

So regardless of all our other efforts, the planet is still facing an inevitable disaster, and we’re powerless to stop it.

Sounds familiar. Maybe we need the voice of a hero to help guide us through…

GIF from “Alien
3.”

That is, unless we all come together and demand a change.

Don’t take my word for it
here’s award-winning actress and certified Earth hero Sigourney Weaver (are you sensing a theme?) to show you what’s really going on and just how serious it is:

Join me and Sigourney and sign this petition to tell our world leaders that we demand climate action and a cleaner future.

GIF from “Aliens.”

Right here:

GIF from “Working Girl.”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/theres-1-thing-standing-in-the-way-of-us-clean-energy-and-sigourney-weaver-wants-to-stop-it?c=tpstream

He figured out a way to bring clean, affordable power to people who were off the grid.

Imagine what the world would look like if industrialized countries had skipped the age of fossil fuels and gone directly to solar power.

Our infrastructure, way of life, and environment would be radically different.

Image via iStock.

Thats the future 23-year-old entrepreneur George Mtemahanji envisions for his home country of Tanzania.

Image via SunSweet Solar, used with permission.

Of the more than 51 million people living in Tanzania, 70% don’t have electricity at all, either because theyre not connected to the energy grid, or, if they are, they still don’t have electricity due to poor connections and frequent outages.

Mtemahanji knows firsthand what it’s like to live without electricity.

He grew up studying by kerosene light and going to bed at 8 p.m. (the sun goes down in Tanzania at 6 pm).

“I understand very well the discomfort that people who have no electricity have,” he told Upworthy via email. “I was born at night in a clinic without electricity, and so I was born with the light of the moon. My mom always told me that she had to wait [until] the next day to see me, she knew I was born healthy because I weighed nearly 4kg, but she could only see me the next morning. … I was born and I lived without electricity and I know what it means, for this I decided to use all my knowledge to light up the lives of all those who do not have electricity.”

In 2003, Mtemahanji moved to Italy with his mother and became a technician in renewable energy before going to work in Switzerland. By 2014, hed saved up enough to return to Tanzania, where he started a business with a friend, Manuel Rolando.

The business they started is called SunSweet Solar Limited, and it has the potential to solve three major problems at the same time.

Solar power seemed to Mtemahanji and Rolando like the perfect way to resolve a few different problems simultaneously (1) bringing electricity to people who needed it, (2) in areas that were mostly poor, and (3) without contributing to climate change.

SunSweet Solar designs, plans, and constructs solar photovoltaic systems, water pumping systems, street light systems, and off-grid lighting.

Image via SunSweet Solar, used with permission.

SunSweet Solar’s first contract involved installing a solar power plant at a secondary school that could run 236 lights, dozens of computers, and fans.

The project was challenging, but it was also a success, and Mtemahanji was curious to see how having electricity affected the students.

He wasn’t disappointed; he says that since SunSweet Solar’s installation last year, national exam performance at Benignis Girls Secondary School increased from 81% to 94%.

Mtemahanji attributes at least some of that success to the introduction of electricity.

“This result shows that studying in a serene environment where electricity is always present, can help a lot to improve the quality of education.”

In addition to big projects like the Benignis school, the company sells solar kits and installs larger scale solar systems.

The plan originally was to sell solar kits capable of powering a few lightbulbs and charging a phone to individual households, but SweetSun Solar has since changed its model: nNow they install single solar systems that can satisfy the energy demands of a whole village.

Image via SunSweet Solar, used with permission.

SunSweet Solar customers pay for the solar setup in installments through their phones, and it costs them about $0.13 a day. The government of the village earns 5% of the revenue to assist in the development of the village.

Image via SunSweet Solar, used with permission.

In October 2015, SunSweet Solar was selected as one of the 12 best companies led by young Africans by the Anzisha Prize, an award celebrating young African entrepreneurs.

Since the award, sales have skyrocketed, and SunSweet Solar now faces a new challenge: how to keep up with demand. The company gets requests from about four villages every month, each village with an average of 30 customers/houses. Mtemahanji and Rolando are currently looking for investors so that they can scale up their business.

Mtemahanji says it can be discouraging because it seems like many investors want to work with Western and Asian companies operating in Africa rather than directly with Africans.

“We must be content with the funds that we can have through the seed and prizes. But many of these funds help to support the company, not to scale up. I am confident, however, that this situation will change soon as possible, and we are ready for that moment.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/he-figured-out-a-way-to-bring-clean-affordable-power-to-people-who-were-off-the-grid?c=tpstream

It’s 4 times better than standard solar setups and it looks freakin’ cool: Meet the Solar Sunflower.

What if we could turn different types of solar power into one mega sun-fueled energy source?

That’s exactly what Gianluca Ambrosetti, the head of research at Zurich’s
Airlight Energy, wanted to know.

For those who didn’t know (I sure didn’t),
there’s actually more than one way to harness the sun’s energy. In super-oversimplified terms, there’s photovoltaics, which kidnaps light and turns it directly into energy (we’ll call that “solar-electric” for short) and then there’s solar thermal energy, which uses liquid to absorb the sun’s heat to use as hot water or to turn into steam (we’ll call that “solar-steam” for now).

Left: photovoltaic panels. Photo by
David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons.
Right: solar thermal heaters. Photo by
Gilabrand/Wikimedia Commons.

The long version of the story is that Airlight Energy tried to combine solar-electric and solar-steam into one hyperefficient bundle.

In a collaboration with
IBM Research, Ambrosetti and his team started experimenting with aluminum mirrors that double as solar-electric panels. They held a lot of energy, but were also prone to overheating because metal + heat + science, et cetera.

To get around that problem, they used the solar-steam tech to
cool down the hardware with warm water (collected from that converted steam), thus allowing each cluster of aluminum reflectors to absorb even more sunlight enough to concentrate the sunlight into the equivalent of 5,000 suns.

This process is called
High Concentration Photovoltaic Thermal (HCPVT), which I share because it’s fun to say.

Of course, you have to spend energy to make energy. But where the last-best solar panels could convert
up to 46% of their absorbed sunlight into energy, the HCPVT system has an efficiency rate of about 80%.

(Meanwhile, your standard residential solar setup works at
about 15-20% efficiency, which is still surprisingly cheaper than standard electricity!)

The short answer is: freakin’ Solar Sunflowers!

Technically a computer rendering, but still freakin’ cool! Photo by IBM Research/
YouTube.

Each of these shiny metal sculptures is capable of pumping out
12,000 watts of solar-electric energy and 21,000 watts of solar-steam energy.

Compare this to regular old residential roof panels you’ll only get about
5,000 watts if you cover your roof in ’em.

The only question left is how do I get me one of these futuristic sun-powered robo-flowers?!

Oh, yeah. About that…

Airlight Energy currently
expects to start selling Solar Sunflowers to early adopters in 2016, with a plan to ramp up commercial production by 2017.

“See yourself reflected in the Solar Sunflower.” See? It sells itself. (Also, hi, please hire me for marketing. I write great catchphrases.) GIF via IBM Research/YouTube.

But, well, they’re kind of expensive. There’s no official price yet, but some estimates are placing them upwards of $45,000 a pop. That makes it about twice the cost of an average home solar setup.

Granted, the Solar Sunflower can produce four times more wattage. But that’s still a hefty overhead that for many people might not seem worth it upfront.

It’s basically the difference between buying a brand new
2017 electric Tesla Model 3 or continuing to drive my dad’s old 1997 Nissan Altima. (Although now that I put it that way, hrmmm… )

Of course, a single Solar Sunflower could also be used to power a handful of homes. This would be a selling point if they weren’t so conspicuous we’re talking 32 feet tall with a dish area of 430 square feet.

That takes up a lot more space than a slim, flat solar panel that sits on your roof. And even you have somewhere to put them, you’d still need hundreds, possibly thousands, to power an entire city.

Not quite conducive for your the roof of your house …
yet. GIF via IBM Research/YouTube.

But still! Solar Sunflowers! Aren’t they super cool*?

*And also incredibly hot, capable of melting metal at 2,800F without their cooling systems.

They’re not the most practical option
yet, but the Solar Sunflower is still a tremendous step forward in sustainable energy. And considering the goals of the Clean Power Plan to cut CO2 emissions by 30% over the next 15 years, I’d say we’re on the right track.

In the meantime,
you can sign this petition to help stop corrupt corporate attacks against the EPA. Not only will it help our environment, but it will help keep the red tape lobbyists out of the way and make it easier for things like the Solar Sunflower to scale down and catch on and make the world a better (and prettier) place.

Find out more about the Solar Sunflower in the video below and get a glimpse of this gorgeous pieces in action:

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/its-4-times-better-than-standard-solar-setups-and-it-looks-freakin-cool-meet-the-solar-sunflower?c=tpstream

The Paris climate accord has been approved! Now here’s what that actually means for you.

For the first time in history, representatives of 195 nations agreed to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Rejoice! Hooray! The world is saved!

GIF from “Captain Planet,” obvi.

Well. Sort of. Ish. For now.

The so-called “Paris Agreement” was signed into effect Saturday evening, Dec. 12, 2015, after two weeks of grueling negotiations (and technically one day after what was supposed to have been the end of the Conference of the Parties, but that’s OK).

It is a landmark step in slowing the effects of climate change across the globe. The mere fact that 195 nations actually came together and agreed on something is a pretty remarkable feat in itself, especially considering that the last 20 times the United Nations tried to get together to address global warming, all ended in resounding shrugs.

GIF via MTV News/Kanye.

While the historical importance of this cooperation is certainly worth celebrating, it’s also an easy distraction from the more … lackluster aspects of the climate deal.

Imagine those 195 nations involved in the agreement are 195 friends who all went out for dinner one night.

Now imagine the nightmare of trying to split the bill 195 ways. The Democratic Republic of the Congo doesn’t want to go in on the $300 bottle of wine that the United States bought for the table. And the Marshall Islands had two more pieces of calamari than Brazil did, so Brazil wants them to pay the difference. Then, of course, there’s Monaco, who only got a salad and yes OK paid for exactly what they ate plus a stingy tip, but they didn’t factor in the tax and everyone else wants them to split the cost of the appetizers, too. And we haven’t even gotten started on entrees yet!

Let’s just say there was a lot of compromise involved. But hey, at least everyone had a good time, right?

Actual footage from the signing of the agreement. GIF via New York Times.

For example, there was a whole lotta hemming and hawing about the difference between a 1.5 and 2C global temperature increase.

We know the overall climate is warming and we need to stop it before it gets worse. But there’s some disagreement on what “worse” means, exactly.

The general consensus has been that 2 degrees Celsius is the cutoff for rising global temperatures by the end of the century. Any hotter than that, and it gets increasingly difficult to predict just how unpredictable the ecological damage could be. Also, 2 degrees seemed like a pretty attainable goal for most countries.

There are others, however, who were pushing to cap the rise at 1.5 degrees. And while that half-degree might seem like splitting hairs, there are some parts of the world where it could be the difference between life and death.

GIF from “Anchorman.”

The result of all this back-and-forth? The global temperature increase will be capped at … um … well, we’re gonna cap the global temperature increase.

Basically, every country gets to set its own limits for greenhouse gas emissions. These limits will be publicly available through the UN website so all nations can be held to proper public scrutiny.

Unfortunately, there’s not really any requirement for these emission reductions other than “less than what we’re doing now.” Amid the fancy legalese of the formal agreement, it actually says: “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible” (emphasis mine).

That’s remarkably vague and noncommittal, especially for a legally binding contract. But the parties will reconvene every five years to review their progress and maybe-possibly increase those limits. So that’s something?

The upside of the Paris Agreement: Everyone agrees that we need to take climate action.

Even if specific action is still left to the discretion of each nation, this is a big move in the right direction.

While the issue of global warming is hardly “solved” and we’re not any closer to saving the planet once and for all (if such a thing is even possible), at least we acknowledge there’s a problem, and we’re committing to fix it.

Yes, there are some changes that will happen in your country and some things that might be integrated into your day-to-day lives. But you might not even notice them, and they might not be enough to make a difference.

That might seem like cold comfort. But it all depends on what we do from here on out.

So let’s pledge as individuals to embrace climate-conscious lives whenever possible.

Vote with your dollars and go green when you can. You don’t have to buy solar panels for your home just pay attention to what you recycle. Walk, bike, or carpool when you can (and maybe next time you buy a car, aim for electric). Be aware of the world as you move through it, and consider the impact that actions might have on the future of our planet. And whenever there’s an option that involves less fossil fuels, I implore you to take it.

That might be as vague and noncommittal as the Paris Agreement. But everything has to start somewhere.

Let’s get started.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-paris-climate-accord-has-been-approved-now-heres-what-that-actually-means-for-you?c=tpstream