Today's bite sized chunks of good news from all corners of the globe.
Marilyn for Charity
Andy Warhol’s iconic 1964 Pop Art portrait of Marilyn Monroe is headed to the auction block. With a record-breaking asking price of roughly $200 million, the artwork - titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn - is poised to become one of the most expensive 20th-century paintings ever sold at auction. Per a statement from Christie’s, which will feature the painting in its May Marquee Week sales, the good news is that all proceeds will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, a Zurich-based charity that supports children’s health and educational programs. The current auction record for a 20th-century painting is held by Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O), which sold for $179.4 million in 2015.
In case you missed it, three Russian cosmonauts recently arrived at the International Space station wearing the colours of the Ukrainian flag. When asked about the get-up, one of the men explained they "had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it". What a remarkable coincidence!
They absorb carbon, clean the air, support wildlife and slow floodwater. No wonder they’re being touted as a solution to climate change and biodiversity loss. But which ones are best? The UK’s Royal Horticulture Society has just launched a study to find out. Researchers will look into the best combinations of hedges for urban areas – information that could inform planning decisions and further boost cities’ credentials as hotspots of biodiversity. The RHS has already declared that the dense, hairy-leaved Cotoneaster franchetii is at least 20 percent more effective at soaking up pollution compared with other shrubs. Lead researcher, Dr Tijana Blanusa, said: “We know that in just seven days a 1 metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive.”
Dutch bank ING will no longer finance new oil and gas projects, reports Reuters, becoming the biggest bank yet to commit to such a step in the fight against climate change. The move by the Dutch financial services giant raises pressure on peers to heed a call by the International Energy Agency for a halt to funding for new fossil fuel projects to help cap global warming at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Thai government has started incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles in order to help reduce carbon emissions. It has approved a budget of 3 billion baht ($90m) to subsidise the price of electric vehicles and is installing free-to-use EV charging stations in Bangkok to promote the shift to a low carbon society. The secondary aim is to make Thailand a centre of production for electric cars and motorcycles in the region. They are rather late to the party, but at least they're now getting going properly.
Birthday presents can be hard to nail, but when Allison Marois started planning for her father's birthday, she knew exactly what to get. Bill Collins served as a firefighter with the Des Moines Fire Department for 38 years before recently retiring. So she decided to collect T-shirts of fire departments from all 50 states, and posted her idea on social media. She's now been sent shirts from almost every state. Some even came with handwritten notes from firefighters across the country, telling stories about their departments and wishing her father a happy birthday. Marois says the response has been overwhelming, but not necessarily surprising. "Being a firefighter, you're part of a family," she says.
Quote of the Day
"They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for." Tom Bodett
On this Day
30 March 1867: William H. Seward, secretary of state under U.S. President Andrew Johnson, signed the Alaska Purchase, a treaty ceding Russian North America to the United States for a price - $7.2 million - that amounted to about two cents per acre.
Dive in Deeper
Erected on the roof of a suburban house in 1986 in defiance of the planning regulations - with the city council spending years trying to get it removed - has now been awarded protected status. Oh, the irony! Read on...
Nature Mood Booster
Enjoy a 4 minute flying visit to Alaska during its summer season.