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Global Good News Round Up

Synopsis of last week's important good news from around the world.

Two young women celebrating good news
Celebrating the good news!

Largest Ever Donation: The widow of a top Warren Buffett investor has donated $1 billion to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx to cover tuition for all future students. Ruth Gottesman’s gift is the largest ever to a US medical school.

Botanic Gardens: A comprehensive new review of research into the heat-mitigating effects of green spaces during heatwaves has found that botanical gardens are the most effective. The team at the Global Centre for Clean Air Research found they reduced air temperatures during heatwaves in the city streets around them by an average 5C / 41F. Street trees, by way of comparison, achieve -3.5C / 38F.

Europe's First: The Belgian Federal Parliament just voted in favour of making ecocide punishable at both national and international levels, making the country the first European nation to recognise ecocide under international law. Nationally, the new crime, which is aimed at preventing and punishing the most severe cases of environmental degradation, will apply to individuals in the highest positions of decision-making power and to corporations. In addition, Belgium now recognises ecocide as a fifth ‘international crime’ after war crimes, crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Cleaning Dublin's Air: This year, Dublin will become the latest European capital to bar through-traffic from its city centre. The plan promises to ease current traffic congestion and allow for the creation of new pedestrian streets and plazas that will make Dublin’s heart an altogether more pleasant place to linger. The goal is a 60 percent traffic reduction.

Metamaterial: New material has supernatural strength and could have significant positive implications for everything from medical implants to aircraft. The new material is made from a common titanium alloy. Remarkably, it's strength-to-weight ratio is 50 percent greater than advanced metal alloys used in aerospace applications.

UK 4 Day Week: Most of the firms that participated in the world’s largest four-day week trial are operating a shorter working week one year on, a new report shows. In all, 61 organisations took part in the UK trial. Of those, 54 are still operating the policy.

Entrance to Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic
Entrance to Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Food Security: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a frozen Arctic vault built to preserve global agricultural crops from extinction has received seeds from the largest number of new contributors yet. First-time depositors included seeds from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria and Zambia. “Preserving genetic diversity in this Arctic fastness ensures the adaptability and resilience in our crops, guaranteeing food security for generations to come.”

EU Nature Law: The European Parliament has approved a flagship law to restore nature. The nature law is one of the EU's biggest pieces of environmental legislation, requiring countries to introduce measures restoring nature on a fifth of their land and sea by 2030.

Apple Juice: Scientists have discovered a new method of squeezing apple juice which may help to increase its health benefits - by boosting polyphenol content by four times as much as regular apple juice. Researchers say they can maximise these compounds in the juice by using a spiral filter press, which actively takes out oxygen by vacuum-driven pressing. Oxygen is excluded from all other processing steps, therefore reducing nutrient deterioration, according to the experts.

Congratulations to Nepal: Nepal’s pioneering ecosystem restoration project has led to the restoration 257 square miles of forest and nearly tripled the population of the endangered Bengal tiger - and has just been honoured as a UN World Restoration Flagship, one of the seven best examples of ecosystem restoration around the world.

New species of sea toad
Sea toad discovered at a depth of 1389 metres on the underwater mountain | Schmidt Ocean Institute

Abundance of New Species: Over 100 new species have been found living on an underwater mountain off the coast of Chile in a “mind-blowing” discovery by scientists, at depths up 3,530 meters. “We far exceeded our hopes on this expedition. You always expect to find new species in these remote and poorly explored areas, but the amount we found, especially for some groups like sponges, is mind-blowing,” said Dr Javier Sellanes of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

UK's Sahara Sunshine: A project to power Britain using solar farms thousands of miles away in the Sahara is moving closer to fruition. The project's backers will soon be laying four parallel cables linking solar and wind farms in the desert in Morocco with a substation in a tiny village near the coast of Devon, in south west England. Once completed, hopefully by 20230, the scheme is expected to deliver about 8 percent of the UK's total power demand.

Bumpy Solar: Solar cell efficiency may get a bump from bumps. New research from Turkey's Abdullah Gül University suggests that building tiny domes into the surface of solar cells could boost their efficiency by up to two-thirds, while capturing light from a wider angle.

Practically Zero: Western Europe has broken free of Russian oil and gas imports for good, says research by energy consultancy Rystad. Jorge Leon, Rystad’s senior vice president for oil markets, said: “I think people underestimated how flexible the energy system is. Just before the war, just the idea of, we’re going to stop buying oil and gas directly from Russia, would have been crazy. But it has largely happened.”

A trio of new drug discoveries...

Omalizumab: Asthma drug has been found to stave off food allergies in up to two thirds of patients. Omalizumab, currently used to treat asthma, has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening reactions in people aged one and older with multiple common food allergies, including peanuts, following accidental exposure. While not a cure, the now FDA-approved drug could improve the quality of life for food allergy sufferers.

Alzheimer's Weapon: In 1920s France, a doctor and a veterinarian discovered a cure for bovine tuberculosis (TB) and thereby ended up saving millions of lives. Now it looks like a promising new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s. It's a wonderfully positive example of the law of unintended consequences.

Abatacept: A drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis could also slow its progression in patients showing early symptoms or stop it entirely, King's College London researchers reported in The Lancet. In a clinical trial with 213 participants at risk of rheumatoid arthritis, half were given a drug called abatacept, while the others received a placebo. A year later, 92.8 percent in the abatacept group did not have arthritis, compared to 69.2 percent in the placebo group.

And finally...

Health Accomplishments: The WHO's South-East Asia region, home to two billion people, has a new report out, highlighting an extraordinary list of accomplishments from the last decade. Between 2014 and 2023, the region eliminated neonatal tetanus and saw the highest reduction in maternal mortality in the world, as well as the fastest decline in tobacco use. Two countries eliminated malaria, two eliminated trachoma, three eliminated rubella and measles, four eliminated lymphatic filariasis, four achieved hepatitis B control, and the Maldives and Bangladesh became the first countries in the world to eliminate leprosy and visceral leishmaniasis, respectively.

That's it, you're up to date. Feel free to spread the good news by sharing this page with friends and family.

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