Rounding off the week with a worldwide selection of positive news nuggets.
In February 2020, Niwat Roykaew and the Mekong community’s advocacy resulted in the termination of the China-led Upper Mekong River rapids blasting project, which would have destroyed 248 miles of the Mekong to deepen navigation channels for Chinese cargo ships traveling downstream. Flowing 3,000 miles from the mountains of Tibet before draining to the South China Sea, the biodiversity-rich Mekong River’s fisheries, tributaries, wetlands, and floodplains are a vital lifeline for more than 65 million people. This is the first time the Thai government has canceled a transboundary project because of the environmental destruction it would cause. No wonder he's one of this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize.
The Pacific island state of Niue has announced that it will protect 100 percent of the ocean surrounding it - all 317,500 sq.km (122,000 sq.miles) of it. The waters around one of the world’s largest raised coral atolls is the only place where the katuali is found – a sea snake that lives in the island’s honeycomb of underwater caves. Humpback whales migrate to Niue from Antarctica to give birth, spinner dolphins swim near the coast and Niue boasts the world’s highest density of grey reef sharks. Those caught breaching Niue’s marine park laws and fishing illegally can have their vessel and catch seized, and receive a fine of up to NZ$500,000 ($323,000). The islanders monitor the marine park with the help of a satellite surveillance company, Global Fishing Watch.
Scientists in Argentina have excavated the largest flying reptile species ever unearthed in South America. The two giant specimens, dubbed Thanatosdrakon amaru or "dragon of death," are part of the Azhdarchidae family of pterosaurs that ruled the skies during the late Cretaceous period, 66 to 146 million years ago. Thanatosdrakon amaru is thought to predate birds as the first creature with wings to hunt for prey from the air.
90 percent of Guatemalans living in extreme poverty eat the same food every day: maize. You can’t be healthy on that kind of diet. But the good news is that Semilla Nueva, a non-profit initiative, has given farmers a hybrid seed, bred by conventional selective breeding – not genetic modification – that has more essential nutrients. “Our solution improves the cheapest and most culturally significant food, which is corn,” said Curt Bowen, co-founder of Semilla Nueva. “The F3 maize seed is bred to increase the crop’s density of vitamins and minerals. Since it is consumed regularly by these farmers and families, this agronomic practice will make a huge impact on the population’s nutritional status.”
A wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.
A stone found in the Egyptian desert formed within a supernova explosion outside of our solar system, according to a paper published this week in the journal Icarus. Called “Hypatia” after a female Egyptian astronomer, the stone was found in 1996 in the Great Sand Sea in southwest Egypt. Now a three-gram sample has been determined to be utterly unlike anything in our solar system or even in the Milky Way. No wonder it's getting scientists excited!
Keep on Truckin'
The truck maker Volvo is developing electric lorries that can travel 600 miles (965km) on a single charge in what would be a major step towards cutting carbon emissions in the freight industry. Volvo says it will be able to manufacture electric trucks that can handle almost any long-haul journey within the next few years. That's great news as currently heavy goods haulage accounts for a fifth of road transport emissions.
Quote of the Day
"I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives." Ralph Waldo Emerson
On this Day
3 June 1965: Ed White emerged from the orbital spacecraft Gemini 4 and became the first American astronaut to walk in space.
Dive in Deeper
Nature Mood Booster
Cute polar bear cubs playing with their mother.