Eclectic bundle of positive news nuggets from around the world to put a spring in your step.
A new drought-tolerant variety of durum wheat has been created as part of an international breeding programme to boost climate resilience in the food system by increasing crop diversity. Durum wheat is used to make pasta, pizza crusts, and flatbreads such as pitta and chapatis, as well as for couscous, bulgur and pastry for desserts such as baklava. The new wheat Jabal, which means “mountain” in Arabic, was developed by farmers and crop scientists by crossing a commercial durum wheat with a wild relative from an arid region of Syria, to create a new durum variety which can withstand drought.
A multilingual encyclopedia, believed to be the first, is currently helping Ukrainian children integrate fully into the Italian school system. It has 8-volumes and each entry is presented in Italian, English, and Ukrainian. It's intended for primary school children, but its main aim is to help Ukrainian pupils feel fully accepted in the classroom with their new classmates and teachers. All over Italy, dozens of schools and about 500 public libraries have adopted the trilingual encyclopedia.
North America’s largest flying bird has become a powerful symbol of what conservation can achieve. Since 1987, when the few remaining California condors were captured for a multimillion-dollar conservation program, the population has grown to more than 200 in the wild. The Green Status of Species, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, says the bird, despite still being listed as critically endangered, has the potential for “a significant rebound over the next century” across its previous range from British Columbia to Baja California.
The Nature Conservancy Photo Contest 2022: Jaw-dropping landscapes, majestic creatures and luminous fungi took home prizes in the 2022 photo contest held by The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit. Take a look...
Holy Grail of Robotics
A real everyday purpose for advanced robotics may be at hand at last. The WSJ says it’s a robot arm called the Sparrow being trialled by Amazon in its warehouses. The Sparrow uses AI, state-of-the-art servo motors and an advanced array of grippers to pick things up. To do this with as much precision and discretion as a human is extraordinarily hard, but the goal is worthwhile for warehouse managers because robots don’t need wages, pensions or workers’ compensation payments when they get repetitive stress injuries. This story may be of limited interest to non-warehouse people, but it shouldn’t be. Exactly the same skills are needed for the real holy grail of robotics – loading and unloading the dishwasher.
Solar Roof Tiles
Roofs of the future should be made entirely out of solar panels. Isn't that just common sense? “The potential for solar is enormous, but we haven’t come close to meeting it,” says Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, a spinoff of the largest roof maker in North America. “When you see solar panels going up the same way in 2020 as they were put up in 1990, yeah, you realize there’s an opportunity for innovation.” The company’s new design is called Timberline Solar and consists of solar cells built into standard roof shingles. “All you need to install the solar shingle is a nail gun,” says DeBono. He says the roofing industry is 20 times larger than solar, with about 5 million households replacing their roofs in the US each year, compared to 250,000 homeowners that install solar panels. If only 10 percent of those roofing customers opt for solar shingles, "it could have a significant catalyzing effect on our green energy transition."
Banning single-use plastic bags around the world is gathering pace and has now reached the Arabian Gulf. Since June this year, when Abu Dhabi introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags in retail stores, the emirate has prevented 87 million bags of plastic from going to waste - which is about half a million bags a day - a 90 percent reduction in single-use plastic bags, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi states. As elsewhere, retail outlets are now offering eco-friendly bag options or charging a fee for reusable plastic shopping bags.
“Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.” T. Harv Eker
On this Day
8 December 2010: The American aerospace venture SpaceX became the first commercial company to launch a spacecraft - the Dragon capsule - into orbit and successfully return it to Earth.
ON-J and Travolta reprise You're the One That I Want at the 2002 Grease DVD Release Party. The original movie premiered in 1978.