Good News Thursday

Updated: Oct 2

Eclectic bundle of good news nuggets to brighten the day.

  • A new electrocatalyst massively improves the commercial viability of green hydrogen. It's great news that researchers from Curtin University in Australia have identified a more efficient and affordable electrocatalyst to make green hydrogen from water. The new material has the potential to enable green hydrogen production at an unprecedented scale. Scientists have typically used precious metal catalysts, such as platinum to accelerate the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The Curtin team found that by adding nickel and cobalt to cheaper catalysts, they could enhance their performance, making them worth exploring as a commercially viable alternative, according to the results published in the journal Nano Energy.

  • African Parks, a South Africa-based conservation group that manages 19 protected areas covering 14.7 million hectares in several African countries, has secured a $100m commitment from the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. The grant, which will be allocated over the next five years, will be split between a $75 million endowment, that will fund organizational needs into perpetuity, and near-term support for parks under African Parks' management, according to a statement put out by the NGO. This long-term funding will contribute to enduring protection for some of the most biodiverse, threatened landscapes on the planet. “This extraordinary gift will help to realize our vision of protecting vast ecosystems and their ecological functions for humanity in perpetuity,”says African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead.

  • First edition of Frankenstein sells for record breaking $1.17m. An ‘exceptionally rare’ first edition of Mary Shelley’s gothic classic has broken the world auction record for a printed work by a woman. The first edition was one of 500 copies of the novel printed in 1818, and the first to be auctioned since 1985. Christie’s initially estimated the copy would sell for between $200,000 (£146,000) and $300,000 (£220,000).

  • Good news from someone who should know: There's nowhere left for Covid to go to mutate into a deadly variant, says Oxford vaccine creator. Viruses tend to become less virulent over time as they spread through a population becoming more immune, according to Dame Sarah Gilbert.

  • Bill Gates - the world’s fourth-richest person - made a sizable climate change commitment this week, announcing he’s raised $1 billion from several large companies to invest in green technologies like direct air capture. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos - the world's richest person - has just pledged $1 billion of his own money to help in the task of preserving and restoring 30 percent of the planet's land and seas.

  • Good news for golf fans: The 43rd Ryder Cup tees off at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin tomorrow - a year later than scheduled due to the pandemic. The three-day match-play team event - which sees the best 12 players from Europe go head-to-head with the best 12 from the United States - is arguably the biggest spectacle on the golfing calendar.

  • Ireland is tackling the continued threat of wildfires by employing dozens of endangered goats. As part of a unique conservation project, 25 critically endangered Old Irish goats have been relocated from the hills to a peninsula that overlooks Dublin City Centre. The goats are tasked with eating overgrown vegetation that fuels wildfires. "We can either maintain this landscape with machinery or goats. The goats will graze whatever comes back up and keep it nice and short," said Fingal county council's biodiversity officer, Hans Visser.

  • Scandinavians have used them for decades, the Dutch too. Now cargo bikes are starting to catch on in the UK, as people realise they’re the fastest way to shuttle goods across a busy city. However, they don’t come cheap, and the high cost of electric-assisted cargo bikes (they retail for about the same price as a second hand family car) puts them out of reach for many people. A new bike sharing scheme in London aims to address that. Launching this month, Cargo Bike Share will make e-cargo bikes available for rent from several docking stations. Cargo Bike Share is funded by the Mayor of London and the Zero Emissions Network, which helps people in Tower Hamlets, Islington and Hackney transition to more environmentally-friendly forms of transport.

  • President Xi Jinping has announced that China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, using his address at the United Nations General Assembly to add to pledges to deal with climate change. Depending on how the policy is implemented, the move could significantly limit the financing of coal plants in the developing world.

  • Fun Fact: If you hate hills, Bolivia is the place for you. According to Civitas, Bolivia holds the title of being the flattest country on the planet. It also holds other records such as having the longest salt flat. The Uyuni salt flats are also the largest lithium reserve in the world.

Dive in Deeper

Seduction Techniques

Enjoy this short BBC film showing the remarkable (and often remarkably odd) seduction techniques used by a variety of different birds.