Today's upbeat news nuggets to help put a spring in your step.
Time in Nature
There's fresh evidence of nature’s positive impact on public health. A study of 7,000 people in Helsinki, Finland, revealed a correlation between exposure to nature and lower use of prescription drugs, such as antidepressants. Interestingly, the benefits of being in nature appeared to be strongest among those with the lowest household incomes, underscoring the need to improve public access to green spaces. The research - conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, and published in the British Medical Journal - adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests spending time in nature is good for us.
Boosting Childrens' Immune Systems: Time in nature is valuable for children’s physical and mental health, so a daycare centre in Finland decided to invest in a playground that replicated the forest floor - with wonderful results.
Efforts to improve air quality in Europe are paying off with fewer people dying early or suffering illness due to air pollution. The European Environmental Agency just published its latest assessment, showing that between 2005 and 2020 the number of early deaths from exposure to PM2.5 fell by 45 percent, and the continent is on track to reach its target of a 55 percent reduction in premature deaths by 2030.
What has two eyes, green skin, and kept your feet dry when you were a child? Anyone born in the UK in the 1980s will recall that whenever the heavens opened, out came a pair of anthropomorphised, amphibious wellington boots. Now, almost forty years later, they’re back. Made by Wellipets, a British brand that launched in 1983 and until recently had closed down, they're bound to put a smile on children's faces again. While the frog boots are only available in children’s sizes, the website suggests sizes 4-8 will hit shelves in the spring, with a men’s range to follow. For those hoping to get a head start, there are several “rare vintage Wellipets” going on eBay for about £50 ($62) a pair.
Echidnas blow bubbles to keep cool! These spiky little creatures are common across Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. Along with the platypus, the echidna is one of Earth’s few monotremes, or mammals that lay eggs. Despite being one of the world’s oldest surviving species, the echidna is also thought to be sensitive to heat - quite an unfortunate trait, given its indigenous digs. However, researchers captured infrared footage of the creatures that revealed an unusual cool-down method. They blow little snot bubbles, which burst on their noses, and the evaporation helps them avoid overheating. Maybe a little gross?
Peace Could Flow
The recent decision to embark upon the rehabilitation of the Jordan River could prove vital to securing peace between Jordan and Israel, says Jewish Insider. Decades of conflict, along with the climate crisis, have turned its once flowing waters into a trickle and with clean up now essential for both sides, cooperation is the only way forward.
Found in a Shed
An oil painting covered in bird droppings found in an upstate New York shed is a rare piece of art expected to fetch up to $3 million in a Sotheby's sale this week. The painting, which depicts a bearded, older man sitting nude on a stool, has been identified as a live study by the famed 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck, the auction house said. The sketch, which is believed to date back to between 1615 and 1618, was a study for Van Dyck's painting, "Saint Jerome with an Angel." Time to clear out your shed too?
"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things - to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals." Sir Edmund Hillary
On this Day
24 January 1848: Carpenter James Wilson Marshall found nuggets of gold in California's American River near the site of a sawmill he was building for John Sutter, ushering in a gold rush.
Cute polar bear cubs lovin' up their mamma.