Wrapping up the week with some bite sized chunks of good news to brighten the day.
20 years ago, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's and decided to launch the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to help fund research for therapies and cures. Impressively, the charity has raised more than $1 billion. Although the Foundation funded therapies have been successful in mitigating the disease, the Foundation's single goal is to eliminate Parkinson's completely. Fox says he is hopeful that biomarkers will be the next big step in possibly preventing the disease. "I just want to get this done," he says about finding a cure. "I'm committed to this. I won't stop until it happens."
The small Spanish town of La Nucía is gaining a green reputation. For over 20 years, the municipality has followed a commendable, strict policy of sustainability. One clever idea they have introduced is: the more residents recycle, the fewer taxes they pay. Owning an electric car is also rewarded with wide availability of free EV charging spots.
Gardens and back yards in California are going to be much quieter soon, as the state enacts a ban on gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers. It's also very good news for the planet as, apparently, an hour using a gas leaf blower makes as much pollution as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry 1100 miles.
Aviation accounts for about 3 percent of all global emissions, so coming up with more sustainable fuel sources would significantly shrink its footprint. Researchers from the University of Georgia think they have a green fuel solution with the development of a fuel based on oil obtained from Brassica carinata. The oilseed crop is a type of mustard plant and could reduce carbon emissions from planes by up to 68 percent. The research team hopes this solution will play a role in the US’ goal of achieving a 20 percent reduction in aviation emissions by 2030 and a zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050.
Love lending a hand? The UK Government’s recent Community Life Survey found that 62 percent of adults in England volunteered their time at least once in the past year. That's good news all round - studies have found that volunteering can reduce your risk of developing age-related diseases, as well as boosting your wellbeing and physical health.
England's Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has made major progress towards the 'holy grail' of snakebite research: a universal snakebite antivenom. Their research suggests that camel antibodies could be a key ingredient because they are heat stable and don't require a cold chain. In theory, this means that the antivenom could be stored outside a fridge - a gamechanger for remote hospitals.
“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch can now be cleaned,” announced Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat, the inventor who’s spent a decade designing systems for waterborne litter collection. Recent tests on his Ocean Cleanup rig called System 002, invented to tackle the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic pollution, were a success, leading Slat to predict that most of the oceanic garbage patches could be removed by 2040. Not content with cleaning up the mess, Boyan Slat's inventive mind has come up with a solution to stop rivers feeding oceans with waste.
The European Commission says it realizes that the coronavirus pandemic forced young people to miss "valuable and formative moments of their youth.” As a recognition of their sacrifice in the name of public health and safety, and to “rekindle mobility in Europe,” the good news is that the Commission recently announced that it would hand out 60,000 free Interrail tickets to European youth so that they can travel throughout Europe.
Reuters reports that a coalition of investors with more than $60 trillion in assets under management is preparing to call on electric utility companies globally to move up their timeline by as much as 15 years to bring their net greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Utilities account for about 40 percent of emissions worldwide, more than any other sector. Many of them have committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, but the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change has called on utilities in developed economies to reach net zero emissions by 2035 and in developing countries by 2040. It will ask them to outline a detailed strategy to get there. $60 trillion in firepower will hopefully be persuasive.
Fun Fact: According to Guinness World Records, "set" has the largest number of meanings of any word in the English language, with 430 different senses listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. No other English word comes close.
Dive in Deeper
Dogon African Dance
This tribe from Mali prefer to be airborne for their wildly difficult dance rituals. Don't try this at home!