Tuesday's Reasons for Optimism

Updated: Jul 20

A handful of optimistic news nuggets to brighten the day.


Nzambi Matee
Upcycling Plastic

A 30-year-old Kenyan engineer named Nzambi Matee has come up with a promising way to upcycle plastic trash that would've otherwise landed in landfills - by pressing it, with the addition of sand, into sturdy bricks and paving stones. Her Nairobi-based company, Gjenge Makers, produces a variety of different paving stones, which are already being put to use to line sidewalks, driveways and roads. According to the engineer, the plastic pavers are seven times stronger, 15 percent cheaper to produce and lighter than concrete. And the venture is just getting started, with the company now investigating ways to construct affordable housing from similar materials.


New Direction

Australia’s new government is putting climate change at the top of its legislative agenda. A bill will be introduced to commit Australia to reducing its emissions by 43 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (the previous administration's target was 26 percent) and another bill will abolish import tariffs and taxes for electric vehicles. Only 1.5 percent of cars sold in Australia are electric or plug-in hybrid, and passenger cars account for almost 10 percent of the nation’s emissions. The government’s fleet will be converted to 75 percent no-emission vehicles, bolstering a second-hand EV market as government vehicles are sold after three years.

 

Climate Friendly U-Turn Down Under: This is probably the biggest story yet in Australia’s still fledgling green energy transition.

 
Beating Malaria

Global efforts to fight malaria have yielded impressive results. An estimated 10.6 million malaria deaths and 1.7 billion cases were averted between 2000 to 2020, says WHO. 26 countries reported fewer than 100 cases in 2020, up from just six in 2000. Since 2015, nine countries have been certified as malaria-free. At the front of the pack is India, where malaria cases have fallen by an astonishing 86 percent since 2015 thanks to an increase in government resources and the tireless efforts of NGOs.

 
Gumusservi

Moonlight shining on water.

As in: To see a silvery trail of gumusservi alone in the quiet of night is paradise on earth.

 

Reunited at Last

Canadian rock legend Randy Bachman’s long search has come to an end with him being reunited with a cherished Gretsch guitar 45 years after it was stolen from a Toronto hotel. “I cried for three days - it was part of me”, he said on a recent radio show. “It was very, very upsetting.” A Canadian fan who heard the story launched an internet search using a small spot in the guitar’s wood grain visible in old images as a “digital fingerprint” and tracked the instrument down to a vintage guitar shop site in Tokyo. A delighted Bachman said “I am never ever going to take it out of my house again.”

Want to refresh your memory of Bachman Turner Overdrive's 1974 worldwide hit? Click here


Gender Equality

In a landmark deal for gender equality, the EU has agreed to mandatory quotas to ensure women occupy at least 40 percent of seats on corporate boards by mid-2026. The directive applies to companies with at least 250 employees and fines may be issued for failure to comply.


Ecuadorian Amazon

The Cofán community in the Ecuadorian Amazon have successfully saved 32,000 hectares of their ancestral land from 52 mining projects after winning a series of landmark cases. The community established Ecuador's first indigenous guard to defend their land in 2017 and the government must now consult them before greenlighting any proposals that threaten their way of life.


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Quote of the Day

“Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” Bill Watterson

 
On this Day

5 July 1975: Arthur Ashe defeated Jimmy Connors in four sets of tennis at the 89th Wimbledon Championships.

 

Dive in Deeper


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Optimists experience many benefits. So how can the rest of us foster optimism? Read on...


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Few people disagree with 'freedom of the press' but should it be able to peddle baseless lies with impunity? The court will soon decide. Read on...

 
Dance Mood Booster

300 movie dance scenes cleverly spliced together to On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez.