Eclectic global collection of positive news nuggets to help perk up the day.
Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop music, has bravely denounced President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine which she said was killing soldiers for illusory aims, burdening ordinary people and turning Russia into a global pariah. Such penetrating criticism from one of Russia's most famous people - known across generations - indicates the level of concern within the broader Russian elite about the war. If someone of her stature is prepared to speak out, surely others will now follow - and turn the domestic tide against Mad Vlad.
Flight of the Condor
In 1986, the last remaining 22 Californian condors were captured from the wild in a drastic attempt to save them from rodenticide and environmental toxins. Happily, in this case, human intervention paid off handsomely. Thanks to the successful collaboration of government agencies, scientists, and indigenous tribes, 537 birds now soar over North America today, 334 of them in the wild.
Ireland's government has begun to pay 2,000 artists a weekly income of 325 euros ($325). During the coronavirus pandemic, venues for the arts were shut down for long stretches, deeply impacting artists' income. In response, Catherine Martin - Ireland's Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media - put together a taskforce to explore how the arts could recover from the "unprecedented damage" caused by the pandemic, and from that group, the Basic Income for the Arts scheme, which will run 3 years at the cost of €25 million, was born. Recipients will take part in a research study that will collect data on the impact of the payment. Demand for the pilot was high: over 9,000 people applied and 2,000 recipients were selected randomly and anonymously. Martin remarked that the pilot program has the "potential to fundamentally transform how we support the arts and creativity".
The sound of rustling leaves or wind in the trees.
Two Wheels Good
Honda, who created the most-produced motor vehicle in history with the Super Cub scooter, is offering 10 new fully-electric motorbikes to ease air pollution in Asia’s megacities. The ubiquity of Honda Motor Company’s scooters and motorcycles across Asia is absolute, with a whopping 400 million sold to date. They are as entrenched a phenomenon as the monsoon rains. Through their guiding principle that ‘the purpose of technology is to help people,’ they’ve motorized three generations of working poor, which they now aim to electrify.
A total of $15 billion of investment into four US gigafactories has been announced in the last two months, enough to more than double the country's entire current production capacity. The announcements, from Panasonic, Honda and Toyota, will increase forecast US battery production capacity by 60 percent by 2025. That's good news because EV adoption in the US is happening for quicker than anyone predicted, with sales projections for 2030 now more than doubling to 53 percent.
Blowin' in the Wind
Global offshore wind is on a tear. 1GW is roughly what it takes to power 700,000 homes, so it's good news that almost 7GW went into operation in the first half of this year, a close to five fold increase on last year. 33 offshore farms started operations, most of them in China, which now has 24.9GW of installed capacity. That's enough for 17.5 million homes. Meanwhile, Europe's doing its best to catch up. Eight EU countries bordering the Baltic Sea have agreed to increase their offshore wind power generation capacity seven-fold by 2030 in order to reduce dependency on Russian energy. Chalk up another one for everyone's favourite climate hero in the Kremlin. And the UK just opened Hornsea, the world's largest offshore wind farm, off the coast of Yorkshire - which, when fully completed, will produce enough energy to power 2 million homes.
Quote of the Day
"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." Lao Tzu
On this Day
20 September 1519: Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan departed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, on a quest to be the first to circumnavigate the globe; although he died during the voyage, the expedition achieved its goal.
Chile under the stars: Beautiful time-lapse video filmed atop the Andes Mountains.