Good News This Week: April 13, 2024 - Turtles, Dogs, & Bicycles

A photo collage of a sea turtle, a man riding a bicycle, a chemical plant, a dog on top of a giant rock, and a flatlay image of the Goodnewspaper

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

Georgia just made history with the state’s largest-ever release of endangered sea turtles

Last week, conservationists and marine biologists marked their largest sea turtle release in Georgia’s history, as 33 Kemp’s ridley turtles and one green sea turtle were released off of Jekyll Island.

But these turtles aren’t native Southerners; in a “remarkable cross-organization collaboration,” they were brought from aquariums up north, where they were undergoing rehabilitation for hypothermia-related conditions.

This happens every fall and winter, as hundreds of cold-stunned sea turtles — many of which are endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles — wash up on the beaches of Cape Cod.

Why is this good news? Not only is it exciting to see a crew of turtles return to their rightful home under the sea (after being cared for by incredible helpers!), but it’s also exciting because the Kemp’s ridley turtle is the most endangered turtle species in the world — and these kinds of conservation efforts are critical to their survival.

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Graduation rates for students with disabilities are improving in several U.S. states

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals significant improvements in graduation rates for students with disabilities in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationwide, the graduation rate for students with disabilities was 71% for the 2019-2020 school year, up from 65% five years prior, during the 2014-2015 school year.

Taking a closer look, the graduation rate gap is shrinking in most states, with Oklahoma, Nevada, Florida, and Louisiana have seen some of the most dramatic improvements between 2014 and 2019.

Still, more progress is desperately needed. In some states, the graduation gap between students with disabilities and the statewide average is as high as 25%.

In Mississippi, where the disparity is greatest, nearly half of students receiving inclusive education don't graduate. Experts and parents say systemic problems contribute, pointing to inadequately trained teachers, low expectations, and a lack of training in skill areas like communication.

Both federal and state policies are at work to continue improving these graduation rates.

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In a transportation revolution, bicyclists now outnumber motorists in Paris

Using GPS trackers, Europe’s largest urban planning and environmental agency recorded the movements of 3,337 Parisians between the ages of 16 and 80 years old.

Whereas transportation in the suburbs happens primarily by car, the number of people traveling by bike into the city center “far exceeds” the number of motorists. That’s a massive change from even just five years ago.

The shift is thanks to a number of anti-car measures like reducing the number of parking spaces, restricting SUV access, closing roads to cars, and more. Paris is also implementing “15-minute city” concepts, ensuring key amenities are close by, which reduces the need to drive.

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More good news about bicycling:

The EPA just finalized limits to reduce toxic pollution and protect communities around U.S. chemical plants

Impacting more than 200 chemical plants in the U.S. — a​​nd the communities around them — the EPA just announced a new rule to reduce toxic emissions linked to cancer-causing pollutants.

Under the new rule, toxic pollutants will be lowered by 6,200 tons per year, and emissions from ethylene oxide (used to make antifreeze, pesticides, and more) and chloroprene (synthetic rubber for shoes and wetsuits) will be reduced by 80%.

The guidelines around air pollution at chemical plants haven’t been updated since 2006, and will also require six toxic air pollutants to be tracked with much more detailed monitoring, as well as stronger monitoring at plants around leaks.

Why is this good news? While air pollution air isn’t good for anyone, this news is a win for environmental justice, too. Communities directly around these chemical plants bear the brunt of the negative health impacts of polluted air. With fewer toxic pollutants in the air, cancer diagnoses will drop, and “there will be lives saved.”

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Global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years since 1990 thanks largely to declining deaths from diarrhea and stroke

According to a new study, over the past three decades, global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years. This incredible progress is thanks to a decrease in the number of people dying from some of the leading causes of death like diarrhea and lower respiratory infections.

The region with the largest increase in life expectancy, 10.7 years, was eastern sub-Saharan Africa, due to control of diarrheal diseases.

While the study had plenty of hopeful progress to report, it also detailed the impact of COVID-19, which replaced stroke as the second-leading cause of death globally.

While COVID-19 limited progress — especially in certain areas like Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa — progress in other causes of death still resulted in a higher life expectancy over the three-decade period.

Sharp drops in death from enteric diseases like diarrhea and typhoid increased life expectancy by 1.1 years, and from lower respiratory infections like tuberculosis by 0.9 years. There was also a lot of global health progress in preventing deaths from causes like stroke, neonatal disorders, heart disease, and cancer.

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An ‘overly playful’ dog who failed the police academy is now heroically rescuing people after the earthquake in Taiwan

After failing to become a drug-sniffing dog because he was “overly friendly and playful,” a labrador retriever named Roger found his new purpose: rescuing people in the aftermath of earthquakes.

And after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan last week, the strongest in 25 years, Roger was sent out on his seventh mission. The quake triggered deadly landslides and caused buildings to partially collapse.

Rescue dogs are critical in locating both stranded survivors as well as bodies. In this mission, Roger helped find one of the 13 people tragically lost in the earthquake.

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More good dog news:

In a historic action, the U.S. will require background checks for gun shows and online firearm sales

Closing the dangerous “gun show loophole” in U.S. gun law, the U.S. Justice Department just announced a historic new action to help prevent gun violence in the U.S.

Under the new, firearms sold on the internet and at gun shows will be subject to the same mandatory background checks as licensed gun dealers. Previously, anyone could purchase a gun via these avenues without a background check.

An estimated 22% of guns owned by people in the U.S. were purchased without a background check, and the new rule will require about 23,000 more individuals to be licensed to sell guns.

Why is this good news? The gun show loophole in U.S. gun law puts firearms into the hands of people who would not otherwise be able to purchase a gun at a licensed dealer. Closing this loophole will prevent gun violence and save lives by helping keep guns out of the hands of those who have done or plan to do to harm.

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Storytellers are helping address childhood illiteracy in Pakistan with a “Stories on Wheels” program

In Pakistan, 77% of 10-year-old children are illiterate, and while education is free and compulsory, the country has the second-highest rate of children absent from school due to factors like prohibitively expensive books and uniforms.

But Mohammad Noman, one of two storytellers for the Kahaani Sawaari (Stories on Wheels) program, is helping change that.

Noman pedals an old ice cream cart through city streets, stops to read stories to children, and leaves behind books for them to borrow. The program is working to improve literacy rates in underserved areas of Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan.

Over the course of 18 months, Noman has visited 30 areas of the densely populated Lyari neighborhood of Karachi, which has more than 660,000 residents.

While Noman says the children have changed him, he has inspired them too: he knows of children who were inspired to enroll in schools after attending his reading sessions, and parents have reported a new love for reading among their children.

→ ​​Read more

More good news of the week —

A planetary scientist and astronomer created a for visually impaired folks to experience the solar eclipse, too. In the U.S., over 7 million people are blind or visually impaired and may not be able to experience an eclipse the traditional way.

St. Paul, Minnesota’s public schools are tapping geothermal energy to cut emissions and building costs. New technology and federal incentives have helped convince the district that geothermal is among its best options for achieving its climate goals.

Oregon passed a first-of-its-kind “right to repair” law that bans parts pairing. Going further than other similar laws, Oregon’s prevents companies from implementing schemes that require parts to be verified through encrypted software checks before they will function.

Engaging fans for a good cause, Chappell Roan is using friendship bracelets to raise money for Gaza relief. Fresh off touring with Olivia Rodrigo, Roan encouraged fans to donate friendship bracelets at her tour merch table, reselling them to benefit Mercy-USA for Gaza relief.

Researchers found that using proteins in milk and blood could soon let doctors detect breast cancer earlier — and save lives. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S. and is currently one of the leading causes of cancer deaths.

Canada’s First Nations are breaking ground on historic housing and community development projects. The Indigenous communities are reclaiming their land and defying NIMBYs to build the densest neighborhood in the country.

In a historic ruling, the European Court of Human Rights just ruled that human rights were violated by climate inaction. Taking “climate grannies” to another level, a group of older women in Switzerland won the court’s first-ever climate case victory.

Thanks to two generous donations, an Australian nature foundation just purchased a property to protect endangered native species. Two donations of $100,000 from professors helped Nature Foundation purchase a 200-hectare property home to malleefowl and other rare species in southeast South Australia.

A major insurance provider just announced it would no longer offer coverage for new oil and gas projects. It’s a significant policy shift since Zurich Insurance currently insures fossil fuel infrastructure spanning North Sea drilling to US natural gas terminals.

Dolly Parton’s free children’s book program is now expanding statewide in Virginia. Thanks to Dolly’s Imagination Library program, all children in the state up to the age of 5 will receive one free book a month through the mail.

A new genre of “protopian” shows is portraying a more hopeful future than the dystopias of the past. “A Brief History of the Future” is now airing on PBS, and its creator was inspired by her daughter who said she didn’t have a lot of hope for the future.

Three critically endangered lion cubs were just born at the London Zoo. Asiatic lions can now only be found in Gujarat, India's Gir Forest, and are especially susceptible to a disease epidemic or natural calamity because they only have one habitat.

In a milestone for the critically endangered species, a baby California condor has just hatched in San Diego. There are now approximately 275 free-flying condors in California, Utah, Arizona, and Baja California — thanks largely to the conservation work of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

The EPA just announced new limits on 'forever chemicals' in drinking water. PFAS chemicals have been used for decades to waterproof and stain-proof consumer products and are linked to a myriad of health problems, including cancer.

Thanks to soaring renewables, carbon market emissions in the European Union fell by a record 15.5% in 2023. The largest fall was in the power sector, which saw a 24% drop in emissions compared with 2022 levels thanks to an exponential surge in renewable energy development.

Article Details

April 13, 2024 5:00 AM
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