Today's eclectic bundle of positive news nuggets from around the world.
A light bulb moment: The Biden administration has moved to reverse the depredations endured by one of the more unusual targets of Donald Trump’s culture wars during his time as US president: the humble lightbulb. The US Department of Energy has put forward a new standard for the energy efficiency of lightbulbs that would essentially banish the era of older, incandescent technology in favor of LED lighting. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has found the use of wasteful incandescent lights is costing Americans nearly $300m a month in needless electricity bills and releasing an astonishing 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetimes of the inefficient bulbs sold each month.
Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, says a new study published in Science. An international group of researchers has found that tropical forests have the potential to almost fully regrow if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. This is due to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as “secondary succession”. These new findings are likely to play an important role in climate-breakdown mitigation and provide actionable advice on how to act next. The further good news is that this suggests that it's not too late to undo the damage that humanity has done over the last few decades.
Frozen soil samples collected around a decade ago are now rewriting our understanding of Ice Age animals like the woolly mammoth. The soil samples were pulled from Canada’s permafrost a decade ago, but no work on them had been published until recently. A new analysis of the DNA samples reveals that woolly mammoths, wild horses and steppe bison were around as recently as 5,000 years ago - some 8,000 years later than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature Communications.
Good news for those that want to travel in style and keep their carbon footprint to a minimum: the Orient Express, the famous luxury train service, is making a comeback. In 2023, the La Dolce Vita programme will launch, offering six trains taking in several popular European itineraries spanning 14 regions. Passengers can experience five-star luxury as they travel flight-free onboard the 1960s and 1970s-inspired trains, designed by Dimorestudio. Each train comes with 12 deluxe cabins, 18 suites, one honour suite and a restaurant carriage, where haute cuisine will be served alongside Italian wines. There will also be three international itineraries available from Rome to Paris, Istanbul and Split.
Scotland has marked the end of its coal-powered history by demolishing the huge chimney at its last remaining coal plant at Longannet in Fife. Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who pushed the ignition button on the controlled implosion, described the demolition as ''a symbolic reminder that we have ended coal-fired power generation in Scotland, as we work in a fair and just way towards becoming a net zero nation by 2045.''
Every December, NiemanLab (founded by Harvard in 2008) releases its predictions for journalism in the coming year. And one of this year’s predictions states that 2022 will be a time when journalists all become climate reporters. That's got to be good news.
Germany has given the all-clear to Mercedes-Benz's semi-autonomous driving system. This means that the firm's Drive Pilot autonomous feature may soon be available internationally ahead of Tesla's. Oh, well. The highly automated system allows the driver to focus on other activities while in heavy traffic. This has long been a dream of many carmakers, including and especially Tesla.
According to Google, the world searched for 'how to start a business' more than 'how to get a job' in 2021. Let's hope that's good news...
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” John Lennon.
On This Day
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was one of the greatest figures in the history of polar exploration; he left Norway for Antarctica in June 1910 and on 13 December 1911 became the first person to reach the South Pole.
On this day in 1979, British punk rock band the Clash released its breakthrough album, London Calling.
Dive in Deeper
Stunning film explaining the evolution of Mars and the discovery of the largest waterfall in the solar system.