What better way to start the week with a global collection of good news nuggets?
In case you missed it, lawmakers in the US House of Representatives voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on Friday - the final obstacle in the bill’s path to Joe Biden’s desk. The bill’s $369 billion for clean energy and energy security is forecast to reduce US emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade, provided the private sector and other parts of the economy continue to reduce emissions at a reliable rate. Every House Democrat voted for the bill. Republicans unanimously opposed it. Whilst it's not as positively far reaching as Biden had originally hoped, it's still spectacularly good news for the planet.
Symbol of Hope
A mother stork nesting her two chicks has become a ‘symbol of hope’ for the country. The new nest was photographed on the outskirts of Kyiv - months after Mad Vlad's invasion interrupted the normal arrival of the majestic species for annual mating here. Storks are a ‘sacred’ bird in Ukraine, where they nest every spring after wintering in Africa. “She has come to symbolize not merely a mother’s devotion to her young but also the great love and devotion of Ukrainians to their motherland and a readiness not to leave,” said Oleg Dudkin of the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds.
The first of this week's collection of Barry Cryer jokes: A man owns a parrot that can't stop swearing. So he says to him, 'If you don't stop swearing, I'll put you in the fridge.' The parrot keeps on swearing. So he puts it in the fridge. Five minutes later, he takes the parrot out of the fridge, and says to it, 'Are you going to stop swearing?' 'Yes,' says the parrot. 'But what did that chicken do?'
Solar and wind power can grow enough to limit global warming to 1.5C if the 10-year average growth rate of 20 percent can be maintained to 2030, according to a new report. Solar generation rose 23 percent globally in 2021, while wind supply gained 14 percent over the same period. Together, both renewable sources accounted for 10.3 percent of total global electricity generation, up 1 percent from 2020. The Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam had the fastest growth rates for renewable sources. "If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal," think-tank Ember said in its report.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold off $32 billion worth of stock in his electric vehicle firm since November last year, Bloomberg reports. His latest sale came earlier this month after the CEO had claimed in April that he did not plan to offload any more Tesla shares. Maybe he's loading up on cash in case he's forced to buy Twitter?
Environmentalists who took legal action to prevent a toxic waste dump in an ancient pocket of Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest are celebrating a federal court win. Chinese mining company MMG gained approval to open a tailings dam on the island's west coast. Federal court justice Mark Moshinsky upheld a Tasmanian NGO’s objection to the project on the grounds that the endangered Tasmanian masked owl was not properly considered before approval was granted.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a major tree planting drive in the capital. Around a fifth of London is under tree canopy, but now Khan has pledged £3.1m ($3.8m) to further enhance the city’s “urban forest”. The funding will be targeted at areas where there are fewer trees, typically deprived neighbourhoods. As well as sucking CO2 out of the air, trees help cool down cities, countering the so called ‘urban heat island’ effect.
Cooking Oil for Cars
Using cooking oil being to power diesel engines has been illegal in France - until now. It's parliament has agreed a €20 billion ($20.6bn) package in response to rising inflation and potential energy shortages this winter. Although it still need to pass through the Senate, it will allow and endorse the use of frying oil as fuel for vehicles. Not only could this provide relief for French wallets amid rising fuel prices, it could help limit pollution from diesel engines.
Sustainable Air Travel
Forget fossil fuel travel - airplanes could one day run on sugar-munching bacteria. Currently, jet fuel is created by burning fossil fuels like oil and gas, generating a mammoth carbon footprint. But a tiny common soil bacteria could change all this. The ‘streptomyces’ bacteria creates an ‘explosive’ molecule when it eats sugar and researchers claim it could be used as alternative plane fuel. “If we can make this fuel with biology there’s no excuses to make it with oil,” says Pablo Cruz-Morales, a microbiologist at the Technical University of Denmark. Clearly there's a long way to go yet, but this is yet another demonstration of our ingenuity at solving problems and giving cause for optimism.
Quote of the Day
"Almost everybody can stay excited for 2 or 3 months. A few people can stay excited for 2 or 3 years. But a winner will stay excited for however long it takes to win."
On this Day
15 August 1914: After 10 years of construction, the Panama Canal opens to ships.
Remarkable display of the Northern Lights dancing in Scotland's the night sky.