Saturday's Good News

Updated: Nov 8

An eclectic bundle of good news stories from around the globe.

  • A team of climbers has made history as the first group of Black women to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s largest free-standing mountain at 5,895m (19,340ft) tall. The group of nine women come from a wide range of backgrounds but were united in a common goal of the bucket-list climb.

  • The U.N. Human Rights Council has finally recognized access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental human right, adding it to others - like food, shelter, and freedom from slavery - laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • While wind turbines play an important role in our transition towards a post-carbon world, they do pose a few environmental concerns. Most of the wind turbines operating today have a lifespan of about 20 years, which means that a large number of these gigantic pieces of machinery will need to be decommissioned soon - but these old blades are nearly impossible to recycle. However, the good news is that there are several research teams and companies looking for innovative and creative solutions to this growing waste challenge. Among these is The Re-Wind Network - a research group in Denmark that is repurposing discarded blades as bike garages. And they have a lot of bikes in Denmark!

  • It has long been suspected but never proved. Until now. Hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, the Vikings reached the “New World”, as the remains of timber buildings on the northern tip of Canada’s Newfoundland testify. Scientists used a new type of dating technique and taking a long-ago solar storm as their reference point have established that the settlement was occupied in AD1021 - all by examining tree rings. This study, published in the journal Nature, made use of the cosmic-ray induced upsurge in atmospheric radiocarbon concentrations during a known solar storm in AD993, which released an enormous pulse of radiation that was absorbed by trees at the time. Three juniper and fir logs that were cut from the Newfoundland settlement date it to exactly a millennium ago, 471 years before Columbus’s first voyage.

  • Mongolia has announced that it will combat desertification by planting a billion trees, starting next week. According to the president’s office, approximately 77 percent of the country has been affected by desertification and land degradation, leaving only 7.9 percent of the country’s total land area covered by forests.

  • A surgical team led by Robert Montgomery, a doctor at the New York University's Langone Health center, successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human recipient last month, marking a scientific breakthrough that could one day yield a massive new supply of organs for severely ill patients. Why is this so important? This is the first time a kidney from a different organism has been transplanted and not been rejected by the human host's immune system.

  • Bosco Verticale - a pair of residential towers situated in the heart of Milan - is home to over 21,000 trees, shrubs and perennial plants. The vegetation converts an average of 44,000 pounds of carbon each year, while providing shade and mitigating noise pollution from the street-level traffic below. The two high-rises are entirely self-sufficient, using renewable energy from solar panels and filtered waste water to sustain the buildings' plant life. They’re also home to 300 non-plant residents - the occupants of the apartments.

  • Twitchers were celebrating this week after an extremely rare owl was photographed in the wild for the first time. A lone Shelley’s eagle owl was spotted in Ghana by biologists from Imperial College London. The sighting raises hopes for the bird’s survival. The Atewa forest, where the owl was photographed, is threatened by illegal logging and mining, but local groups are campaigning to have it declared a national park.

  • In good news for the British car industry, Ford has announced that its vehicle transmission facility at Halewood will be transformed to build electric power units for future Ford passenger and commercial EVs in Europe. The £230 million ($315 million) investment will see a complete revamp to the facility, which is scheduled to begin EV component production in 2024. When complete, the Halewood site will be the first producing EV components for Ford in Europe.

  • In an effort to suggest that New Yorkers should slow down and contemplate their surroundings, and especially to enjoy the sound of the river waters, a towering 80ft (24m) statue of a woman's head with her index finger pressing to her lips now faces lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, inviting the chaotic metropolis to stop, slow down and listen.

  • Where's the line between hoarding worthless old items and retaining valuable vintage ones? But just in case anyone plans to toss out an older relative's memorabilia when the time comes, here's a tip: discard at your own risk. A 1967 Grateful Dead T-shirt was just auctioned off for $17,640 - a record-breaking price for a vintage rock T-shirt.

  • One of the cleanest fuels soon to come to the market uses the emissions it seeks to offset as part of its development process. Carbon transformation firm Twelve produced the first fossil-free jet fuel out of CO2, using electrolysis. The fuel, called E-Jet, was developed with backing from the U.S. Air Force, and it has the potential to become a scalable, efficient method for reducing the aviation industry's environmental impact, which currently accounts for approximately 3 percent of global carbon emissions.

  • In a world first, legislation has passed in New Zealand that requires financial firms to come clean about their exposure to the climate crisis. Under the law, banks, insurers and investment companies will have to disclose the risks and opportunities presented to them by global heating.

  • For this year's Olympics, the Japanese government, thousands of municipalities, schools, and businesses collected small electronic devices for over two years. Thanks to the national efforts, they collected 78,985 tons of smartphones and laptops. The waste was enough to derive 32kg of gold, 3,493kg of silver, and 2,200kg of bronze to produce all 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals

  • A low-cost, low-carbon rail service launched in the UK last week, offering a greener, cheaper, more comfortable alternative to flying on the UK’s busiest domestic route: the 400 miles from London to Edinburgh. Tickets on the all-electric trains cost from £14.90, with free wifi included. Lumo said that its service is “a blueprint for low-carbon, affordable long-distance travel in the UK."

  • Eliminate the word "cost" from the net zero lexicon. The relevant concept is how much we gain. A team of mathematicians at Oxford University has carried out the world’s most comprehensive study of the economic windfall to be had from a turbo-charged decarbonisation based on unstoppable leaps and bounds in known technology. It concluded that the net gain is $26 trillion (£19 trillion), or $14 trillion under cautious assumptions. The faster it happens, the bigger the benefit. It can be achieved in 25 years, beating the global target of 2050. Full article in tomorrow's OGN Sunday Magazine.

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