What better way to start the week than with an uplifting bundle of positive news nuggets?
Sascha Fonseca’s spectacular camera trap image of a snow leopard at sunset, perfectly posed against the mountains of Ladakh in northern India, has been voted as the winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award. "I've photographed other big cats, but the 'ghost of the mountain' is in its own category," says Fonseca. A record 60,466 nature photography fans voted and the image will be displayed in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at London's Natural History Museum until 2 July.
The Wojcicki Sisters
For International Women's Day last week, Mattel released a series of one-of-a-kind dolls honoring women STEM trailblazers from around the world. Among them are the Wojcicki sisters - Susan, a longtime CEO of YouTube; Anne, CEO of at-home DNA testing company 23andME; and Janet, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. (Wow, their family gatherings must be on another level.)
New legislation banning child marriage has come into force in England and Wales, a major step forward for women's rights. Girls younger than 18 can no longer get married or have a civil partnership even if their parents give consent. Previously, religious marriages were legally permitted to occur at any age.
Throughout the rich world, young people are driving less, or choosing not to own a car at all, says the Economist. In the US, the proportion of people with licences is falling for every age group under 40. It's essentially just baby boomers (namely, people celebrating birthdays between the ages of 59 and 77) who are now responsible for increasing traffic. A similar trend is well-established in Europe.
Good news from Australia proving that conservation projects and increased awareness are crucial in supporting biodiversity! A large research project studying endangered species has recently tallied 29 recovered species - 15 mammals, 8 birds, 4 frogs, a reptile, and a fish who are no longer in genuine need for protection and can be safely de-listed from the country’s endangered species list. Given that Australia’s Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act currently lists 446 species of animals in genuine need of protection, the results are truly encouraging. But that's not all from Down Under...
A new species of gecko that “looks like a little dragon”, with a beaky face and spiny leaf-shaped tail, has been discovered on an uninhabited Queensland island. Assoc Prof Conrad Hoskin, a terrestrial ecologist at James Cook University, came across the lizard during a four-day survey of the island, in “deep bouldery habitat covered in fig trees and ferns”. He said: “It’s super exciting – it’s every biologist’s dream to find a new species.” Hoskin has named the animal Phyllurus fimbriatus, the Scawfell Island leaf-tailed gecko, with its scientific name referring to the fringe of spines around the lizard’s tail.
EPA Good News
The US Environmental Protection Agency has reinstated an Obama-era rule on mercury and other toxic chemicals that are emitted from coal-fired power plants. "Controlling these emissions improves public health by reducing fatal heart attacks, reducing cancer risks, avoiding neurodevelopmental delays in children, and helping protect our environment," the EPA said in a statement. The standards, first adopted in 2016, reduced mercury, acid gas and non-mercury metal emissions by over 80 percent but, guess what, were removed by the Trump administration at the request of the coal industry in 2020.
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"The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity."
Sir Alexander Fleming
On this Day
13 March 1781: English astronomer William Herschel observed the seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus - first described by him as “a curious either nebulous star or perhaps a comet” and named for the father of the god Saturn.
Pharrell Williams - Happy: Is this the ultimate Monday morning pick-me-up?