Synopsis of last week's most important good news from around the world.
Glimmer of Hope: In a momentous event, a critically endangered Sumatran rhino has been welcomed into the world in Sumatra, Indonesia. This marks the second such birth in the country in 2023, offering a glimmer of hope for a species that currently boasts fewer than 50 individuals.
Scientific Gender Gap: An analysis of 5.8 million authors across all scientific disciplines shows that the gender gap in science is closing. Researchers found that men outnumbered women by 3.93 times among those authors who started publishing before 1992, but only 1.36 times among those authors who started publishing after 2011. Still a long way to go, but this is progress.
Deforestation Down: In more good news from the Amazon, deforestation in Colombia is down 70 percent year-on-year, reports Yale360.
Black Mambas: Over the past decade, the Black Mambas, an all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa, has eliminated rhino poaching in the Olifants West Nature Reserve, without the use of weapons. The group has made a significant impact on both local wildlife and the wider community, empowering women’s social standing and economic independence, reports BBC News.
Medicinal Gold: UK Biobank has unveiled new data that provides “the most detailed picture of human health that exists”, say scientists. That's good news because the data from whole genome sequencing of half a million people will equip researchers with the “ultimate toolbox” to make new discoveries, and will enable researchers to look at personalised risk of common disease, better understand genetic diseases and, hopefully, develop new and better drugs.
Could This Be The Solution? A tiny Virginia startup called NearStar Fusion has a bold new approach to achieving the holy grail of clean energy from nuclear fusion. They are using railgun tech rather than lasers. The world is watching.
Lepodisiran: Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic have conducted the first human trials of a new drug, lepodisiran, that has the potential to eliminate a risk factor for cardiovascular disease for which there is currently no treatment, says the American Heart Association. The one-dose drug reduced genetic bad cholesterol by 94 percent for almost a year.
Redwoods: A program in California has begun restoring redwood forests, only 5 percent of which have never been logged. Old-growth redwoods store more aboveground carbon than any forest on earth and take hundreds of years to grow. “In an era when short-term thinking threatens the very liveability of our planet, it's extraordinary that people are investing careers and great sums of money in these projects,” says BBC News.
Eradicating Malaria: Rwanda is on track to become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate malaria. Between 2016 and 2023, the country saw a decline of 85 percent. 'According to our latest data, we are on the right path towards eradicating malaria,' reports All Africa.
Win Win: Communities in Michoacán, Mexico have planted 2 million pine trees using a pre-Hispanic model called ‘forest rounds,’ which has ensured a 90 percent survival rate for the planted trees. The forests of Michoacán are particularly important as they form an important part of the habitat for the monarch butterfly, which travels thousands of miles each year from Canada to hibernate in Mexico, reports MexicoNewsDaily.
Transatlantic First: Last week, Virgin Atlantic became the first commercial airline to fly a passenger plane across the Atlantic Ocean by burning only fossil-free jet fuel, marking an important milestone for the CO2-intensive industry. The British airline said that SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from flying by over 70 percent when compared to fossil jet fuel.
Accountability: The German parliament is the first to approve the implementation of a global minimum corporation tax, as part of an international deal to ensure large companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15 percent.
Regenerative Climate Solution: The Fifth National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress and published last week by federal scientists, highlights practical solutions to the climate crisis that are already available - including blue carbon. It is analogous to ‘green’ carbon (soils and forests) with two big differences: it can trap carbon much faster and store it for longer.
Comms Upgrade: Remarkably, NASA has been communicating to and forth with space using radio technology that hasn't changed much since the Apollo missions of the 1960s. Happily, that's about to change as NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications experiment has succeeded in sending and receiving communications via laser beam - taking seconds rather than hours.
Circular Batteries: Under a new deal, some of Toyota's future hybrid and electric cars will be powered by U.S.-built batteries made from recycled minerals stripped from old Priuses, reports Axios. It's the beginning of what could become a circular domestic battery supply chain, helping to free the United States from its dependence on Chinese components.
America's First: New York State has achieved a historic milestone in its clean energy transition by installing the first turbine at its first offshore wind farm. Located 35 miles off Montauk, it will be the first utility-scale wind farm in the federal waters of the US when completed and will generate enough renewable energy to power 70,000 homes in Long Island, and reduce carbon emissions by up to 6 million tons over 25 years - equivalent to taking 60,000 cars off the road annually.
Sorting Plastic: A new Swedish factory can recycle more plastic packaging than any other site in the world, according to the non-profit behind it. The ‘Site Zero’ plant in the city of Motala is being billed as the biggest of its kind, capable of sorting up to 20,000 tonnes of plastic packaging a year, reports EuroNews.
US Record EV Sales: Electric vehicle sales are expected to hit a record 9 percent of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Atlas Public Policy. That will be up from 7.3 percent of new car sales in 2022. It will be the first time more than 1 million EVs are sold in the U.S. in one calendar year, probably reaching between 1.3 million and 1.4 million cars. Although the numbers show significant progress for electrification, the nation is lagging behind countries. EVs reached 33 percent of sales in China, 35 percent in Germany, and 90 percent in Norway for the first six months of 2023, according to a BloombergNEF EV outlook. These figures include both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs.
That's it. You're up to date.