Mid week collection of positive news nuggets from around the globe.
Raise a glass to Made Janur Yasa: As the pandemic ground the tourism industry on Bali to a halt, Yasa sought to do the same to the problem of plastic pollution, by offering rice in exchange for plastic garbage. The reaction was immediate, and compounding, with over 500 tons of plastic collected by over 200 villages on the Indonesian island, for which the organizers have given out over 550 tons of rice. Yasa's objective was to “cleanse the soul of nature” and relieve the economic hardship of his neighbours.
A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society has concluded that the global population of Grauer’s gorillas - the world’s largest gorilla subspecies - has almost doubled from 3,800 individuals to 6,800 individuals. That's great news for rangers, nonprofits, and caretakers who have been working to protect and support this critically endangered animal. Additionally, there is good news for chimpanzee populations, which have held steady over the past twenty years.
Every year, millions of gallons of water are used for fabric dyeing alone, generating around 20 percent of the world’s wastewater. Untreated, it is incredibly polluting, so requires rigorous, lengthy, and costly treatment to make the water reusable. Recently, Ralph Lauren brought together four leading innovators to develop a way to significantly reduce the amount of water, chemicals, and energy needed to colour cotton, and have succeeded in creating a system that requires up to 90 percent fewer processing chemicals, 50 percent less water, 50 percent less dye and 40 percent less energy - all without sacrificing color or quality. The Color on Demand system uses a set of technologies that will enable the recycling and reuse of all the water from the dyeing process, to establish the “world’s first scalable zero wastewater” cotton dyeing system. What did Ralph Lauren do next? The company shared open-source manual detailing the process, so that all clothing companies can achieve the same results.
Art museums across the world are making art accessible to visually impaired visitors. The museums transform versions of well-known paintings into 3D tactile sculptures and place them next to the original masterpieces. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence (Italy), museums in Berlin (Germany), the Belvedere Museum in Vienna (Austria), and the Prado Museum in Madrid (Spain) offer 3D copies of masterpieces that the blind can enjoy.
Offshore wind turbines are shown to do more than just generate clean energy: Scientists off the Scandinavian coast watched underwater turbine foundations gradually transform into artificial reefs, attracting mollusks and small fish that feed on plankton, according to German news channel Deutsche Welle. The effect went right up the food chain to larger fish, seals and dolphins.
In more good news from under the sea: A sword believed to have belonged to a crusader who sailed to the Holy Land almost a millennium ago has been recovered from the Mediterranean seabed thanks to a very observant amateur diver, the Israel Antiquities Authority has said. Though encrusted with marine organisms, the metre-long blade, hilt and handle were distinctive enough to notice after undercurrents apparently shifted sands that had concealed it.
Satellites floating in outer space are game-changing tools for studying animals on Earth. Biologists have been able to track the migration of birds, monitor whale populations, and study penguin poop right from their computers. Now, a team of conservationists wants to look for walruses from space, but they'll need the help of volunteer "walrus detectives" to do so. Could that include you? The World Wildlife Fund and British Antarctic Survey are hoping to recruit half a million eagle-eyed volunteers to help sift through satellite images and count walruses as part of a new research project called Walrus from Space. The goal is to learn how climate change will impact populations of the Atlantic walrus and walrus from Russia's Laptev Sea.
According to Marcius Extavour, executive director of the non-profit Carbon XPrize, cement accounts for 7 percent of global CO2 emissions. CarbonCure claims to have eliminated more than 120,000 tons of CO2 and just won the Carbon XPrize (worth $7.5m), a global competition that challenges participants to develop breakthrough technologies to convert carbon dioxide into usable products. How? They use recycled liquified CO2, captured from factory exhausts, and inject it into fresh concrete during the mixing process. “Once injected, the CO2 undergoes a chemical reaction, converts into a mineral and becomes permanently embedded,” says CarbonCure. Not only does the process reduce emissions by five to eight percent compared with conventional mixes, it makes the concrete stronger.
Brits are about to get a re-vamped motoring show that focuses on non-fossil fuel guzzling cars. Fifth Gear Recharged launches in November (even though electric cars don't have gears?) and, as the show's director says: "In the last 18 months the car world has undergone the most seismic change. Our audience wants to know everything about these new electric cars, which are now being produced at an incredible rate. They also want to know about cars powered by all kinds of alternative energies and we’ll show them.”
Fun Fact: When we breathe in and out of our nose during the day, one nostril does most of the work at a time, with the duties switching every several hours. This nasal cycle is dictated by the same autonomic nervous system that regulates heart rate, digestion, and other unconscious bodily functions and is the reason why - when our nose gets stuffed up - it does so one nostril at a time.
Dive in Deeper
Pomegranates: Since the arrival of Yotam Ottolenghi on the cooking scene, ruby-red pomegranates have become wildly popular. Apart from their delicious flavour, this fruit packs a nutrient-rich punch. Brain health...
No complicated theories, just wise words from one of the greatest brains that ever lived.