What better way to start the week than with a collection of positive news nuggets?
The results of the latest Australian census are in. One headline finding is that the number of people identifying as Aboriginal has jumped by 25 percent since 2016. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said births partially contributed to the growth, but the clearly good news is that people are also becoming more comfortable with identifying as Aboriginal. It follows moves to repair relations between the state and Australia’s indigenous communities.
Universal Flu Vaccine
Scientists are moving closer to creating a universal flu vaccine. The National Institutes of Health in Maryland has announced that a universal flu vaccine has moved to Phase I clinical trials, where scientists will test for human safety and appropriate dosage sizes. It could be an "invaluable public health tool" says Anthony Fauci.
During World War II, Joan Hendrik Smidt van Gelder tried to keep his collection of Dutch Old Master paintings safe from the Germans. But in 1945, Nazis looted his artworks, including a 1683 piece by Caspar Netscher called Portrait of Steven Wolters. Now, over 75 years later, the painting has been returned to his daughter, Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, who is 101. She plans to sell the it at auction next month through Sotheby’s in London and give the proceeds (expected to be $60,000) to her grandchildren. A happy windfall!
There could be as many as 2 million ancient trees in England, which is ten times more than previously thought. That’s according to research published this week by the University of Nottingham. Hitherto, only 180,000 ancient trees had been mapped in England. However, the university’s modelling suggests there are hundreds of thousands more yet to be discovered. The Woodland Trust described the research as "like a map for buried treasure."
Schiphol airport in the Netherlands is to permanently cut the number of flights in a bid to reduce noise and air pollution. Campaigners described the decision as a “historic breakthrough” that could help curb emissions from the aviation industry. From the end of 2023, Schiphol, the third busiest in Europe in terms of passenger traffic, will limit the maximum number of flights each year to 440,000, 12 percent less than in 2019. The flight cuts aim to restore “the balance between a well-operating international airport, the business climate, and the interests of a better and healthier living environment,” said the Dutch transport minister.
To dance without skill but with great enjoyment.
Climate lawsuits are surging globally, with governments, oil firms and other polluters increasingly finding themselves in court for failing to act on the climate crisis. Data published by the London School of Economics reveals that climate-related lawsuits have doubled since 2016. Litigation has become an important tool for campaigners, with some high-profile successes. In landmark cases last year, a Dutch court ordered Shell to slash its emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and the French state was convicted of failing to meet climate targets. “Climate litigation cases have played an important role in the movement towards the phase-out of fossil fuels,” the LSE report noted.
Direct Air Capture
Work has begun in Iceland on the world’s biggest “direct air capture” facility for removing carbon dioxide from the air. The project, named Mammoth, is expected to take up to two years to build and then remove 36,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Quote of the Day
"Once you have learned to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know." Professor Neil Postman
On this Day
4 July 1862: Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) creates Alice in Wonderland for Alice Liddell on a family boat trip on the river Isis (a tributary of the Thames) in Oxford. And, of course, much more famously, 4 July 1776 is the day of the Declaration of Independence. Happy holiday everyone!
Dive in Deeper
World's Biggest Flower
David Attenborough reveals a record-breaking plant at Kew Gardens: a Titan Arum.