Kick starting the weekend with a global round up of good news nuggets.
Employees of a UK insurance firm are to be offered a week of paid time off when their grandchildren are born. Saga, which offers insurance to the over-50s, said it is granting the paid leave to recognise and celebrate the role of grandparents. It is believed to be the first move of its kind for a major UK business.
Food for thought: The conservation nonprofit Rare analyzed a sweeping set of climate-change mitigation strategies for everyday people. It found that getting households to recycle, switch to LED lighting and hybrid vehicles, and add rooftop solar systems would save less than half the carbon emissions combined than would reducing food waste and adopting a plant-based diet.
The US government will be a net zero contributor to the climate crisis by 2050 by slashing the planet-heating emissions from its operations, according to a new executive order signed by Joe Biden. The federal government is the largest land owner, energy consumer and employer in the US and it will “lead by example in tackling the climate crisis”, the White House said, by eliminating greenhouse gases from its activities. Under the order, the government will cut its emissions by 65 percent by the end of this decade, before reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
In the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Europe possesses one of the world's best-preserved treasures. The Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve, created 50 years ago in Portugal’s Madeira archipelago, is home to a unique ecosystem. A newly adopted legal framework makes it the largest protected marine area in Europe and the North Atlantic. The European Biodiversity Strategy sets out that by the end of the decade, the European Union should have 30 percent of its seas classified as protected areas. This new legal framework for this 9,500 hectare (23,500 acre) reserve is one step towards achieving the EU's goals.
After 200 years of absence, the bison is once again a proud resident of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. The Bison Reintroduction Project started in 2014 and now there are 105 of these majestic creatures roaming freely. “The goal is to achieve a population of 250 individuals in five years time,” says Marina Druga, who leads the project. There have been 38 bison calves born in the region, a number which has reinforced hopes about the animal’s future survival. Furthermore, these rewilding efforts also contribute to the wellbeing of the wider ecosystem. In fact, experts believe that the reintroduction of the bison has the potential to benefit some 600 species, from micro-organisms to large carnivores, reports euronews.
Over the next year or so, every household in Wales will be offered a free tree to plant as part of the Welsh government's plans to tackle climate change. Roughly 3.5 million people can either choose a tree of their own to plant, or opt to have a tree planted on their behalf, as part of a scheme being run by the Woodland Trust.
Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that plans to mine for copper and gold in a protected cloud forest are unconstitutional and violate the rights of nature. In a landmark ruling, the court decided that mining permits issued in Los Cedros, a protected area in the north-west of the country, would harm the biodiversity of the forest, which is home to spectacled bears, endangered frogs, dozens of rare orchid species and the brown-headed spider monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. The ruling upheld the rights of nature, which are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the court said they applied across the whole country, not just to protected areas.
Linda Thompson won the 1972 Miss Tennessee USA title. In July of that year she began a relationship with Elvis Presley and moved in with him at Graceland for three years. In an interview, Linda told this amusing story: "There was one time we were walking into the Memphian Theater and he was slightly ahead of me and someone came up to him and said, 'Oh my God, look, it's Elvis. You're Elvis aren't you?' He said, 'Well, yes, I am' and they went crazy. They wanted an autograph and a picture. As I walked up I said, 'Charlie, you're not using that Elvis bit again are you? Come on, you're not telling these people that you're Elvis again are you?' I told the fans, 'He gets it all the time and he's always messing with people'. The fans said, 'We knew you couldn't really be Elvis'..."
On this day: 11 December: Edward VIII, failing to win acceptance for his desire to marry American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson, became the only British sovereign to voluntarily resign the crown, his abdication formally approved this day in 1936. In 1946: UNICEF, a United Nations program devoted to improving the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children, was established. In 1972: Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the last humans to walk on the Moon.
Christmas Cracker: How can you get out of talking to your boss at this year's staff Christmas party? Put him on mute.
Dive in Deeper
How Saturn got its rings
This may sound like a Rudyard Kipling story, but it's actually what scientists believe happened.