Good News Friday

Celebrating TGI Friday with an eclectic bundle of good news nuggets.


Dubai skyline
World's Largest

Dubai currently imports around 90 percent of its produce from other countries, but that’s about to change - it just built the world’s largest vertical farm, which will grow an estimated 2 million pounds of produce every year. The vast facility grows lettuce, arugula, spinach, and mixed greens using 95 percent less water than they’d require in a field. The plants also don’t require pesticides or herbicides due to the controlled growing environment. While the facility uses a lot of electricity to cool and power the artificial intelligence that provides the plants with the nutrients, light, and humidity they need to optimally grow - it’s possible that the fossil fuels used to power it (which will ideally be renewable in the near future) would be offset by how much carbon they used to emit importing produce.


Garden flower bed
Goodbye to Grass?

For generations, the lawn - that neat, green, weed-less carpet of grass - has dominated American yards. It still does, but a surge of gardeners, landscapers, and homeowners worried about the environment now see it as an anachronism, or even a threat. And, they are starting to chip away at it. Some people are experimenting with more “eco-friendly” lawns, seed mixes you can buy with native grasses that aren’t as thirsty or finicky. Others are mowing less and tolerating old foes like dandelions and clover. Still others are trying to replace lawns, entirely or bit by bit, with garden beds including pollinator-friendly and edible plants. It all leads to a more relaxed, wilder-looking yard. “The more you can make your little piece that you’re a steward of go with nature’s flow, the better off everyone is,” said Dennis Liu, vice president of education at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

 

Lawn grass takes up 2 percent of all land in the United States. If it were a crop, it would be by far the single largest irrigated crop in the country. According to the EPA, lawns and gardens account for 60 percent of household water use in arid areas of the US.

 
Glabella

The smooth prominence of the forehead between the eyebrows.

 
Aerial view of a Humpback whale

Marine biologists, fast asleep on a research vessel off the coast of Brazil, awoke to an announcement from the captain: a "huge animal" was following the ship. The groggy scientists were awed to see three humpback whales riding the ship's wake. For over an hour, they watched the whales swim less than 10 meters behind the ship - behavior that had never before been documented in such large whales. Smaller marine animals, like dolphins, have long been known to ride a boat's "divergent waves", which emanate sideways from vessels, to help them swim with very little effort. These humpback whales were riding on "transverse waves" at the ship's stern, waves that create low-pressure troughs that can pull an animal along. Researchers say the ship's wake likely helped the whales save energy along their annual 4500 km migration from Brazil to Antarctica. While humpback whales are a well-studied species, the encounter was a reminder that there is still an ocean to learn about these giant marine mammals.


Catching Up

A top court in Slovenia has ruled that imposing bans on same-sex couples getting married and adopting children is unconstitutional and has ordered its parliament to amend the law within six months. The ruling makes Slovenia the 18th European country and 31st country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.


Moral Imperative

Faith leaders in America's climate skeptic belts are working to persuade their congregations that climate action is a Christian duty, reports The Guardian. However, if faith leaders want to use the good will they’ve earned in their communities for climate action, their work is cut out for them. A Yale University poll from 2021 found that, for example, only 57 percent of West Virginians believe that climate change is happening, compared with 72 percent nationwide.

But it's good news that faith leaders are trying, and even going so far as to say it's a 'moral imperative'.


Global Findex

Despite the financial turbulence of the past year, The World Bank's Global Findex Database has offered some positive news on the growth of account ownership and uptake of financial services. Some highlights: Account ownership in developing economies increased from 63 to 71 percent; the pandemic accelerated digital adoption of financial services with around 720 million adults in developing economies making a digital merchant payment for the first time;

around half of adults in developing economies can now access emergency money within 30 days if faced with an unexpected expense.

 
Quote of the Day

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

Winnie the Pooh

 
On this Day

Cleveland traffic light in 1914

5 August 1914: In Cleveland, Ohio, the world's first fully electric traffic light was installed; it featured red and green lights.

 
Prescient Headline

Regional newspaper in New Zealand carried this headline in 1912: Coal Consumption Affecting Climate. Read on...


Rewilding: Before and After

A magnificent Scottish glen was once overgrazed by livestock but is now a thriving ecosystem full of wildlife. Read on...

 
Mood Booster

Joyful rendition of Bobby McFerrin's worldwide hit - Don't Worry, Be Happy - performed by singers and musicians from around the globe.