For years, Sweden has led the movement in green leadership. They've taken the biggest steps out of any Western economy to completely eliminate their dependence on oil by working to replace all fossil fuels with renewable energy by 2020.

Recently, they've sourced a significant portion of their energy from burning household waste. The "recycling revolution" has led to less than 1 percent of the country's waste being landfilled. That means more than 99 percent of household waste in Sweden is recycled. Residents can find recycling stations no further than 900 feet from any residential area.

They're not making tables out of wood pallets or using old mason jars as coffee cups but Sweden has taken to repurposing trash for a purpose. They've begun importing trash from countries like Norway and Denmark to keep the recycling plants going. Al Jazeera reported last month that Sweden is projected to import 2.3 million tons of waste, almost 70 percent more than they did in 2015. Discuss

In a recent interview with Town & Country magazine, Prince Harry talks about his passion for conservation of wildlife.

Harry spoke to Town & Country while he was in Malawi for three weeks working with the 500 Elephants project. They transport elephants to areas with more opportunities for food and less proximity to conflict and possible poachers.

Harry spoke about being most at peace during the time he spends in Africa, starting with the time he spent shortly after his mother's death:

My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags—we were going to Africa to get away from it all. My brother and I were brought up outdoors. We appreciate nature and everything about it. ... This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could have spent more time in Africa. I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here. To not get recognized, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down to earth people on the planet, people (dedicated to conservation) with no ulterior motives, no agendas, who would sacrifice everything for the betterment of nature.

He went on to talk about his views on international regulation of wildlife management and treatment. He believes there should be an international body that regulates and inspects the way the animals are treated and how the surrounding community is treated.

His passion for wildlife, specifically elephants is apparent. He went on to talk about how taking care of wildlife is a call from God.

I do worry. I think everyone should worry. We need to look after them because otherwise our children will not have a chance to see what we have seen. ... This is God's test: If we can't save some animals in a wilderness area, what else can't we do?

This year, almost 90,000 Christians died for their faith, according to an Italian research group.

The Center for Studies on New Religions (Censur) will publish its annual report next month, and it's devastating. That 90,000 number means in 2016 one Christian was martyred every six minutes.

Earlier this week, the center’s director, Massimo Introvigne, told Vatican Radio that this number makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world. (It’s important to note that while Christians represent the most persecuted religious group, both according to this and other studies, they are also the most populous in the world.)

Introvigne explained that most of these killings (around 70 percent) resulted from “tribal conflicts” in Africa, often because Christians refused to take part in violence.

Another part of the problem in Africa, and particularly in North Nigeria, is the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Introvigne said the other 30 percent of Christian martyrs happened in terrorist attacks and as the result of government persecution. Discuss

The continued decline of Venezuela has been one of the most persistent news stories of the past two years. At this point, the Latin American country is all but a failed state, and the violence and suffering there represents one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises. And in a year like 2016, that’s saying something.

A new report shows the devastation is recording-breaking. The number of killings in Venezuela have risen to 28,479 this year, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory. Not only is that the highest number ever recorded in the country, but the report claims that number represents 91.8 of every 100,000 Venezuelans have been killed. That devastating number makes Venezuela the second most violent non-war zone in the world, with only El Salvador remaining more dangerous.

An in-depth article in today’s The New York Times documents some of the reasons for Venezuela's decline—including deep problems in the economy, healthcare, food supply and resulting starvation— The report claims gangs have basically taken over in many neighborhoods.

In some kind of response, the Venezuelan government is now using its military to try to restore order. But the Times article suggests that these efforts are making everything worse. Venezuelan political scientist Margarita López Maya told the paper: “It has become more militaristic and more repressive. Anyone can be caught.” She says the victims of these crackdowns are often the civilians who needed protection in the first place. She continued: “We are walking on the path to a failed state. It will come to a point where no one is in control.”

How you can help.

What makes the situation in Venezuela particularly difficult is that the socialist government blocks most foreign aid, so helping the people there isn’t easy. But for those who want to give, there are a couple organizations working to make a difference:

--The International Red Cross. IRC works in Venezuela primarily among the armed forces.
--Programa de Ayuda Humanitaria para Venezuela. This group on the ground accepts donations of medical supplies and distributes them to those in desperate need—often without government permission.

If you know of more ways to help Venezuela, please let us know in the comments section and we’ll update this post as often as we can. Discuss

This week, Pope Francis addressed the Christian communities around the world who face persecution for their beliefs. Speaking at St. Peter’s Square, he specifically mentioned Christian communities in Iraq who have been targeted by ISIS, saying

This was an example of fidelity to the Gospel. Despite trials and dangers, they courageously show that they belong to Christ … Today, we want to think of them and be close to them with our affection, our prayers and even our tears.

The pope added, “There are more Christian martyrs today than in the first centuries.” His statements echo recent research that has found that Christians are the persecuted group in the world, and regularly face executions, imprisonment and torture at the hands of radical Islamic groups like ISIS and regimes like that of North Korea and Iran. Discuss

Cheetahs are going extinct too.

If you were sad hearing about the decline of the giraffe population, then you're really not going to like this report.

A recent study revealed that there are only 7,100 cheetahs remaining across the entire globe. What’s the cause of the extinction? Researchers from Zoological Society of London, Panthera and Wildlife Conservation Society conducted the study and reported that nearly 91 percent of cheetahs have been driven out of their historic range because people have been hunting the animal’s prey.

The director of Panthera’s cheetah program spoke to the issue:

“We’ve just hit the reset button in our understanding of how close cheetahs are to extinction. Securing protected areas alone is not enough. We must think bigger.”

The study’s authors notified scientists to move the classification of the cheetah to endangered. This distinction will hopefully promote awareness and the proper funding needed to protect the species. Discuss