A mood-boosting bundle of positive news nuggets to perk up the day.
Ireland’s Greater Skellig Coast has become the country’s first ever 'Hope Spot' - an area scientifically identified as critically important to marine conservation. The designation will protect roughly 7,000 km2 of Irish coastal waters and is part of a global initiative by Mission Blue, who have designated 148 Hope Spots around the world. Through such designations of special places for conservation it seeks to inspire public awareness and support for a worldwide network of Marine Protected Areas.
Opera houses across Italy have come together to help the government meet the shortfall on a bid to save for the nation a country house lived in by composer Giuseppe Verdi for 50 years. Villa Verdi – close to the town of Busseto in the Emilia-Romagna region where he was born – and his home for 50 years, was put up for sale in October after a long-running squabble among his heirs. Villa Verdi, which was built in 1848 in the hamlet of Sant’Agata di Villanova. Concerts dedicated to Verdi – famous for operas including La Traviata, Aida and Otello – will be held at opera houses in a host of Italian cities until the middle of June, with the proceeds going towards helping the Italian government to buy the home.
Paris has vowed to plant 170,000 trees by 2026, and French volunteers are using a pioneering Japanese tree-planting method to create pocket forests in the French capital. Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki claims densely planted indigenous species, grown in carefully prepared soil at four different heights, grow up to 10 times faster and capture more carbon than standard forests. The city’s first mini-forest, planted in March 2018, is thriving. “Every time we go there we notice more and more insects and birds that weren’t there before,” says Boomforest volunteer Guillaume Dozier. Over the next three years, volunteers will return to the newly planted forest to weed and monitor progress. In a decade, Boomforest hopes it will look like a 100-year-old natural forest.
US Jobs Growth
Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate reaching its lowest point in 54 years. Sustained job growth over the past year pushed down the unemployment rate to 3.4%. Not only that, the median earnings for all workers were 7.4% higher at the end of 2022 compared to a year earlier, outpacing inflation. Black workers, young workers, and people on the bottom of the income scale saw the largest pay increases in the last 12 months. And unemployment is near record lows for Blacks and Hispanics, at 5.4%. “Add that all up, it means we created 12 million jobs since I took office,” said President Biden. “That’s the strongest two years of job growth in history, by a long shot.”
EU Renewable Record
Wind and solar supplied more of the EU’s electricity than any other power source for the first time ever in 2022, new analysis finds. They together provided a record one-fifth of the EU’s electricity in 2022 - a larger share than gas or nuclear, according to a report by the climate thinktank Ember. Solar generation across the EU rose by a record 24 percent in 2022, helping to avoid €10bn in gas costs. Wind and solar growth is expected to continue this year. As a result, fossil fuel power generation could drop by an unprecedented 20 percent in 2023 - double the previous record observed in 2020, the analysis projects.
“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.”
On this Day
7 February 1964: The musical British Invasion began when the Beatles landed in New York City, and two nights later, as Beatlemania stormed America, their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was watched by 73 million viewers.
Vicarious adrenalin rush: Insane high-speed journey on a chunky-tyre bicycle.