Eclectic bundle of good news nuggets to get the weekend off to an upbeat start.
The founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, once said that the idea of women competing was “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect”. Eileen Gu, the American-born Chinese freestyle skier who dazzled at this year’s Winter Olympics, might beg to differ. So might her roughly 30 ad-sponsors, from Louis Vuitton to Visa. Ms Gu won three medals at the Beijing games. Of the 2,900 athletes this year, 45 percent were women - the largest share of athletes since the Winter Olympics began in 1924. At those first games in Chamonix, only 4 percent of competitors were female.
Dutch food scientists have created a bright turquoise soda made from a kind of algae which absorbs more carbon than it emits through the production process. Sustainability aside, the soda is made from a superfood called spirulina which offers tremendous health benefits. The producers are counting this magical ingredient (plus the taste of ginger and lemon) to be the chief driver of sales. Called Ful, the curious vivid blue colour is a gamble which the creators, looking to accelerate a transition to net zero emissions in their home country, are willing to take. The drink is also a source of vitamin C, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, chlorophyll, and a rare source of chelating agents which remove heavy metals from the blood.
In October, Austria introduced the Klima Ticket ('Climate Ticket') giving it citizens unlimited access to every form of public transportation in the country: all buses, undergrounds, trams and local, regional and national trains - private and public. It costs just 1,095 euros ($1,240) per year and it's the Alpine nation's belief that this initiative will help get people out of their cars and into the more environmentally beneficial national transport systems. Klima Ticket sales have already significantly exceeded expectations. The Austrian government’s mobility master plan lays out a goal to make mobility in the country climate-neutral by 2040. Switzerland introduced the same initiative in 1998 and the Swiss now make 40 percent of all journeys on public transport, compared to just 10 percent in Germany and Austria.
Roman Glass Bowl
The Romans were excellent craftsmen, and a fabulous testament to their skill was recently unearthed in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. The near flawless 2,000 year old blue ruffled-glass bowl deserves a special place in a museum, say local archeologists. Nijmegen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, and while the locals practiced agriculture, the city itself was founded as a Roman fort and trading post. The bowl was made by allowing molten glass to cool around a mould, and the dramatic stripes were formed while the glass was cooling. It’s the presence of metal oxides within the glass that gives it such a deep blue coloration.
The Queen’s staff may be gearing up to celebrate her 70 years as Britain’s longest-serving monarch but she’s had something a little more saucy on her mind. Her Majesty, 95, has launched The Queen’s Tomato Sauce, a brand of posh tomato sauce and an accompanying brown one for those aficionados of the great British fry up. It is billed as perfect for any time of the day and has gone on sale at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Flavoured with dates, apple juice and spices it comes in a jar with the Royal Estate label. For years we’ve wondered why the Queen always has a handbag when she doesn’t carry cash. Could it be it’s actually for a secret bottle of sauce to spice up those formal dinners?
The US has been late to the renewables party, with domestic investment in green energy lagging way behind other nations – but not for much longer. This week, the US held the largest auction of offshore wind development rights in the country’s history. The sale of areas off the coast of New York and New Jersey attracted a record $1.5bn (£1.1bn) in bids, representing a major vote of confidence in the US’s burgeoning green energy sector.
World leaders will come together online and in Nairobi, Kenya, next week, in what is described as a “critical moment” in progress towards the first ever global treaty to combat plastic waste. Inger Andersen, director of the UN Environment Programme, said an agreement at the UN environment assembly could be the most important multilateral pact since the Paris climate accord in 2015. Public disgust and impatience over the growing mountain of plastic waste has led to an unprecedented “degree of focus” that could see member states agreeing a blueprint for a legally binding treaty to control plastics “from source to sea”, she said.
Quote of the Day
"One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor."
On this Day
26 February 1919: The U.S. Congress established Grand Canyon National Park in northwestern Arizona.
Dive in Deeper
Using a new wingsuit design to fly closer to the great pyramids of Giza than any before.