Today's extended collection of good news nuggets from around the globe.
There was no time to get a photographer or even a wedding gown when Royce King and his wife, Frankie, got married on his whirlwind, two-day leave in 1944 before he went overseas to fight in World War II. Seventy-seven years later, the couple from Iowa finally have some beautiful wedding photos to cherish. Royce, 98, and Frankie, 97, had a special 77th anniversary thanks to the staff at St. Croix Hospice who help care for the couple. They found a vintage 1940s wedding gown for Frankie, and Royce wore his Air Force uniform as they held an anniversary celebration in their backyard on a beautiful sunny day.
Following similar commitments by Germany (the first country to hand back the Benin bronzes looted by British soldiers in the late nineteenth century) and America's Metropolitan Museum of Art, France's President Emmanuel Macron, says they will also give back to Benin artworks that were taken from the former French colony’s Royal Palaces of Abomey, which has since become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Macron said that 26 works will be returned to Benin at the end of this month in the presence of Benin president Patrice Talon.
More good news from France: the country will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January 2022 in a bid to reduce plastic waste. "We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives. The circular economy law aims at cutting back the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging," the environment ministry said. It estimated that 37 percent of fruit and vegetables are sold with packaging and expects that the measure will prevent more than one billion useless plastic packaging items per year.
A Bosnian husband built a house that rotates 360 degrees in a labour of love for his wife, Ljubica, after she said she wanted to choose what she sees out of the window. The rotating house in Srbac was designed and built by 72-year-old Vojin Kusic, who has no formal architectural or engineering training. The house can rotate a full circle to satisfy his wife's shifting desires as to what she would like to see when she looks out of its windows. At its fastest speed, the spinning house can rotate a full circle in just 22 seconds, and at its slowest it completes the turn in 24 hours.
Dolphins swimming off the coast of Wales have been found to have their own 'Welsh accent': they speak faster than those anywhere else in the world, and do so at a higher frequency than any others across the globe. Experts on the BBC nature series Wonders of the Celtic Deep, which explores the west Wales coastline, made the discovery after a study of 240 bottlenose dolphins.
Birmingham, the second-largest city in the UK, has announced a revolutionary transport plan designed to lower CO2 emissions and make the city more livable by transforming it from a car-centric area into a super-sized low-traffic neighborhood.
Fancy a trip to the Great Wall of China? You won’t need to book tickets. Google’s Arts & Culture team is today launching a new online experience that lets users virtually walk the Great Wall of China. The “Walk the Great Wall of China” experience includes an exclusive 360-degree virtual tour of one of the wall’s best-preserved sections, including 370 images of the Great Wall in total and 35 stories that go into architectural details about the landmark.
VanMoof has just announced a new high-speed electric bicycle model known as the VanMoof V, which will reach speeds of up to 31 mph (50 km/h). The company is referring to it as a “hyperbike,” which makes sense considering it is faster than just about any other e-bike available in the US or Europe. To reach that high top speed of 31 mph (50 km/h), VanMoof has opted for two motors - one on each wheel. The price has already been set at US $3,598, and an invite-only pre-order period has just opened. Invites are going out first to current VanMoof riders, and then others will be added to the waitlist on VanMoof’s website.
Another Italian town is selling off its empty homes for just €1 – this time within striking distance of a number of ski resorts. Pratola Peligna, located in the Apennine Mountains, is the first place in the region of Abruzzo to offer the popular €1 homes scheme. Two hours east of Rome, the town provides access to winter sports in the nearby resorts of Roccaraso and Pescasserol. Available properties can be viewed on the town’s website.
Lumo, a low-cost, low-carbon rail firm is launching an all-electric alternative to flying on the UK’s busiest domestic train route, London to Edinburgh. “This is about cleaner, greener, cheaper travel,” says Helen Wylde, managing director of Lumo, whose service will start running on 25 October and should be roughly as quick as flying. Lumo says that 56 percent of UK flights are between London and Edinburgh, yet on average it was six times more polluting to fly than to take an electric train. The firm hopes its trains provide “a blueprint for low-carbon, affordable long-distance travel in the UK.” A key factor of Lumo’s business plan is affordability - some 60 percent of fares will be £30 ($40) or less. “We shouldn’t be charged a premium for doing the right thing,” adds Wylde.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, the French government has banned short-haul domestic flights where alternatives by train exist. Research by French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir found that planes emit 77 times more CO2 per passenger than trains on journeys lasting under four hours.
Times Square’s biggest billboard will this week display for 10 minutes “subversive” satirical messages criticising Australia for its inaction on the climate crisis. The campaign is the brainchild of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic who raised $140,000 through a fundraising campaign titled jokekeeper, which aims “to ridicule fossil fuel supporting parties in the upcoming federal election”. A further aim of the campaign is to buy space on a billboard in Glasgow ahead of the Cop26 international summit to “say what everyone’s thinking” about Australia’s climate change policy. Whatever it takes, right?
At first glance, the Interface carpet looks like any other: Gray, fibrous squares like you’ve walked across in innumerable office buildings. But this gray fluff is a carbon sink. The “Climate Takeback” technology developed by the Atlanta-based company results in carbon-negative flooring. It’s created with latex made from CO2 captured from smokestack exhaust, using a mix of recycled vinyl and bio waste. Interface claims that carpeting a conference room with its product pulls the equivalent of 12 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. “Stop seeing carbon as the enemy,” the company says, “and start using it as a resource, as a building block to engineer better products.”
The European Union has called for oil, coal and gas in the Arctic to stay in the ground, as it announced aspirations to play a greater role in the world’s northernmost region. The EU, which has three member states with Arctic territory, said there was a “geopolitical necessity” for it to be involved in the region. Earlier this year the Joe Biden suspended oil drilling licences in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, undoing a decision made by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Last year, the US built more utility-scale solar power plants than any other year, creating an added total of 9.6 gigawatts of renewable energy. Researchers from Berkeley Lab report that if not for the pandemic, numbers would have been even higher. Roughly speaking, 1 gigawatt is enough to power 750,000 homes.
Fun Fact: Officially called the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility," Point Nemo is 1,000 miles from any land in any direction. Literally, Point Nemo is in the middle of nowhere. ("Nemo" in Latin means, fittingly, "no one.") The closest people to Point Nemo are astronauts on the International Space Station whenever they pass above the point - 258 miles away. This remote oceanic location is at coordinates 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, about 2,688 kilometers from the nearest land - Ducie Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands, to the north; Motu Nui, one of the Easter Islands, to the northeast; and Maher Island, part of Antarctica, to the south.
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