Good News Tuesday

Updated: Apr 8

Today's bite sized chunks of good news nuggets from around the globe.


Terraced rice paddy field in Vietnam.
Rice Yields

A new study proves that inviting fish, crabs, and turtles into rice paddies reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and even increases rice yields. This could be a major boon, since half the world now regularly consumes rice, which has driven the spread of monocrop fields that require heavy applications of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to boost yields and deliver on this global demand. The good news is that this new study shows that in paddies stocked with tilapia, crabs, or soft-shelled turtles, rice yields were 12 percent higher than yields from paddies without this animal menagerie; and removed the need for fertilizers etc. The researchers attributed this increased yield to the animals’ natural behaviour - particularly their penchant for deweeding, and depositing nutrient-rich faeces, traits that also happen to deliver big sustainability benefits.


Plogging

'Plogging' could soon become a common sight on the streets of Bristol, England, thanks to an Indian environmentalist with a passion for litter picking who has just moved to the city to attend Bristol University. Back home in the Indian city of Pune, Vivek Gurav is something of a social media star thanks to his work running the city’s plogging club. Plogging is an amalgam of 'jogging' and 'litter picking'. It’s that simple: ploggers go for a run and pick up litter en-route. It started as an organised activity in Sweden and has since spread around the world. Vivek has been plogging daily for a month to learn about the city and swears by plogging’s health benefits. “Plogging makes it a full workout,” he said. “You are bending, you are squatting, and you are running at different paces. That's a cardiovascular routine.”


Wireless Charging

Volvo will put a wireless EV charging system through its paces as part of a program to test alternative charging options. A small fleet of electric Volvo XC40 Recharge cars will be used as taxis in Gothenburg, Sweden in a three-year pilot. Charging pads will be embedded in the ground at two taxi ranks so batteries can be automatically topped up. The concept of building charging tech into roads is hardly new, but it hasn’t exactly taken off yet. Still, researchers and engineers are working on other ways to charge EVs as they drive, so at some point in the future, drivers may never need to visit a typical charging station.


Meanwhile, electric car sales are booming in the UK. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders just released the February 2022 numbers, and it shows EVs are taking a 17.7 percent market share. Furthermore, hybrid electric vehicles took another 19.5 percent of market share.


Ants working together to heal a Cecropia tree.
Azteca Ants

Ants have been seen healing wounded trees in Panama - behaviour that is believed to never have been observed before. When holes were drilled into Cecropia tree trunks, the ants emerged from their homes to patch up the wounds, significantly reducing the size of the holes within a couple of hours and leaving them completely healed within 24 hours, reports Science Alert. Azteca ants and Cecropia trees are known to have a symbiotic relationship, with the ants using their trees as homes. William Wcislo, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, says that while there are many examples of insects and other animals repairing their homes if damaged, only a few of these use other living species as housing: "To my knowledge, this is the first time home repair behaviour has been shown to fix living partners."


Food and Water

Scientists in Saudi Arabia have successfully piloted new solar technology, which is able to draw moisture from the air in sufficient quantities to grow plants, while also producing electricity. The technique works in environments including deserts, and could offer a sustainable, relatively low-cost means of improving food and water security for people living in arid environments, the researchers said. The method is based on using a water-absorbing hydrogel underneath the photovoltaic solar panels which helps them stay cool and increases their efficiency, the team said.


Anything Goes

Sutton Foster and Robert Lindsay top the cast for this tale of sailors and crooks aboard the SS American, directed by Kathleen Marshall, but watch out for the scene-stealing Carly Mercedes Dyer as gangster’s moll Erma. The Barbican’s irresistible revival of Cole Porter’s shipshape showstopper is available on BBC iPlayer all year, which is just as well: you’ll probably want to watch it more than once. Like the song says: it’s de-lovely.

 
Quote of the Day

"My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger." Billy Connolly

 
On this Day

Uluru Rock jutting up from the Australian landscape.

8 March 2017: Aboriginal DNA study by University of Adelaide shows Aboriginal population dates back 50,000 years from one migration.

 

Dive in Deeper


Plan Bee 


Numerous studies show the importance of towns and cities for pollinators and there's lots of helpful advice on how city dwellers can help in attracting and sustaining bees and other insects in urban areas. Read on...


App to Reduce Meat Consumption


If you're interested in reducing your meat consumption and would like a helping hand, there's a new free programme that you might be interested in. It has helped frequent meat eaters to halve their consumption in just over nine weeks, a trial has found. Read on...

 
Warthog Visits Spa

This warthog enjoys a visit to the mongoose spa.