Wrapping up the week with an eclectic bundle of good news nuggets.
Forcefully evicted from their ancestral land in the 1970s by the Tanzanian government, a Maasai community has made good on its promise to reclaim the territory. The Simanjiro plains are a vast grassland spanning 200,000 acres of Northern Tanzania. For centuries, Maasai tribesmen – a semi-nomadic people who live by herding goats and cattle – have coexisted peacefully on the land alongside the rich wildlife, including wildebeest, lions and elephants, that it supports. Until it was taken from them. Now, for the first time in history, after a lengthy legal battle, the Tanzanian government has guaranteed the Maasai people the rights to the Simanjiro plains by law, ensuring their stewardship for future generations. After their success, the Maasai community is aiming to replicate this model of ownership throughout Tanzania, with 700,000 acres of communal grazing lands now slated for community-based land titling in the next few years.
A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that the cancer death rate in the U.S. has fallen by 32 percent since 1991. That translates to 3.5 million fewer cancer deaths during that period. The study credits new treatments, better access to screening and fewer people smoking.
A never-ending treasure hunt in a small Australian town has given new lives to hundreds of books, and new smiles to as many children. Mother of five, Samantha Dixon, came up with the idea of hiding books in shop windows, among shrubs, in parks, or around town, in waterproof bags for children to find. Inside the bag is the book and a sheet that says: “You are the lucky finder of this book. Read it, enjoy it, and then re-hide it for someone else to enjoy. Please reuse this bag. Add your name inside the cover and let’s see how many can find it!” Dixon told ABC News Australia: “It’s lovely to watch the little kids’ faces when they find the books, and it’s just a little bit more magical. I enjoy the fact these books are being read and are not just being left on the shelves and that kids are outside finding them and not on their screens.”
A study published in the journal Nature found that if 10 percent of the planet’s hydropower reservoirs were covered with floating solar panels, 4,000 gigawatts of electricity could be generated - as much as all the fossil fuel power plants in the world. Also, floating solar farms reduce evaporation and leave land for use in farming.
Solar Farm Moves Like a Sun Flower: A new solar power farm floating on the waters of a large lake in the Netherlands is stalking the sun’s movements to make the most out of its energy capabilities - and radically improving conversion efficiency. More...
Swim, Baby, Swim
Offshore oil rigs are ugly symbols of environmental destruction, dredging up climate-altering fossil fuels and occasionally spilling oil everywhere. So each one that is decommissioned is a win for the climate - and, as it turns out, for the marine ecosystems that live right beneath them. That’s because abandoned offshore oil rigs, properly maintained, often evolve into artificial reefs to become some of the world’s most productive fish habitats. Scientists say their sub-sea pylons make perfect resting, feeding and breeding grounds for fish that are often drifting by looking for just such a place. For some species the rigs are even better than natural reefs. One study found 400,000 critically endangered bocaccio rockfish at six reef platforms off the coast of California. “We didn’t see that at natural reefs,” said one researcher.
Denmark's Bulk Carbon Storage Plan: Denmark is to reverse the direction of an oil rig and pump in millions of tons of liquefied CO2 to keep it permanently out of our atmosphere. It's a clever idea. Read on...
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a system which can convert two waste streams into sustainable fuels at the same time - the first time this has been achieved in a solar-powered reactor. Converting plastics and greenhouse gases - two of the biggest threats facing the natural world - into useful and valuable products using solar energy is an important step in the transition to a more sustainable, circular economy, reports Environmental News Network
"The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave." Ronald Reagan
On this Day
13 January 1908: Henri Farman becomes the first person to fly an observed circuit of more than 1km, winning the Grand Prix d'Aviation in France.
The bands of HM Royal Marines perform the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline, at London's Royal Albert Hall.