Global round up of good news nuggets to help ensure the day gets off to a bright start.
Mila Kunis is among the celebrities this year who are stepping up to help the people of Ukraine amid the war with Russia. The actress, who was born in Ukraine, launched a GoFundMe to support Ukrainian refugees. The goal was to donate $3 million themselves and raise at least $30 million.
After raising awareness about the cause online, the Hollywood star was quickly able to collect more than $37 million. And their work continues. "We can't become desensitized," Kunis says. "Helping - not even asking, just doing - should be our standard norm."
With their striking long beaks and elegant white plumage, the spoonbill looks like it belongs somewhere far more exotic than the windswept saltmarshes of the UK. But the large wading bird is enjoying a boom in numbers as landowners across the country improve wetland habitats and tree cover. Once common across England and Wales, the spoonbill was hunted to local extinction about 300 years ago. But in 2010, a colony was discovered on the saltmarshes in north Norfolk, thought to have made the journey over from the Netherlands and France. With careful conservation efforts in the last decade, this year they counted a record 77 young from 43 pairs of spoonbills.
Vertical farms are popping up in more and more locations around the world, and the latest may come as a surprise. Taiwan is installing them in unused underground Metro stations. These vertical hydroponic farms are highly efficient, and grow lettuce under LED lighting to eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides. The one located at Nanjing-Fushing Station in Taipei has a full market where passersby on an upper level can shop for fresh produce and other items. Taiwan is also using the farms as a way to bring more young people, who are reluctant to go into the traditional farming industry, into the field.
EU Return Scheme
The EU has already banned many single-use plastics, and is now set to introduce mandatory return schemes for plastic bottles as part of the European Commission’s circular economy proposals. Miniature shampoo bottles in hotels are among the items facing the axe under the legislation, which aims to reduce waste by 15 percent this decade. Without action, plastic pollution would increase by 19 percent over the same period, the commission said.
Pyramid Wind Turbine
Floating wind turbines are crucial to the future of offshore wind, and to bring energy costs down they could do with some radically different thinking. French company Eolink is starting to build a full-scale demonstrator of its innovative pyramid-shaped floating wind turbine, which reduces materials and weight by more than 30 percent, and promises a big saving in energy costs.
US Offshore Wind
The Biden administration will hold the nation’s first-ever lease auction for commercial-scale floating wind energy leases today. The five deep-water lease tracts in two areas about 25 miles off the California coast have the potential to generate 4.5 GW of electricity, enough to power 1.5 million homes. Global interest in the lease sales is strong with 43 companies approved to bid.
COP15 is starting today in Montreal - hot on the heels of the UN’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt last month. If you’ve heard significantly less about the former, that’s part of the problem. COP15 is about tackling the world’s biodiversity crisis - which tends to get far less attention than climate change. So much so that experts like UK ecologist Alex Morss have described it as the “Cinderella sister” to the climate crisis. The two are intimately linked, and biodiversity’s moment in the spotlight is long overdue. At this once-a-decade COP, 21 targets are being negotiated that will make up the final global biodiversity framework. One draft target has received a lot of attention in particular: a commitment to protect 30 percent of land and sea by the end of the decade - known as ‘30 by 30’. The pledge has gained wide support from at least 110 nations, including the US - a big boost from 70 nations a year ago. Let's hope the conference produces lots more good news.
Following the launch of a student-led campaign, three more UK universities have answered the call to ban fossil fuel companies from recruiting on campus. “It is vital that our universities show with actions, not words that they are taking the side of climate justice, and not of the industries driving us deeper into a climate crisis that is harming the least responsible first and worst,” says Climate Campaigns at People & Planet. The campaign’s first victory came in September, when Birkbeck, University of London said its career services “will not hold relationships of any kind with oil, gas or mining companies,” the Guardian reported at the time.
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"Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is." Winston Churchill
On this Day
7 December 1787: Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
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