Good News This Week: August 5, 2023 - Billie Eilish, Mangroves, & Drones

A photo collage of a Robyn Warren and three of her female students, people planting mangroves, an aerial view of the Klamath River, two people harvesting from a garden, and a close-up photo of Billie Eilish performing

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 —

A Philadelphia fitness coach is fostering a more inclusive wellness industry with fan-themed classes and activities

When Robyn Warren was a health and physical education teacher in the New York City public school system, she realized that engaging her students through fan-inspired twists made them a lot more excited about wellness.

Now, through her health coaching and wellness brand Geek Girl Strong, she found her own superpower: Helping geeks and nerds like herself evolve their relationships with their bodies and wellness.

With a focus on girls, women, and non-binary clients, Warren hosts Fangirl Health Club fitness classes, the Fangirl Walking Club, virtual dance classes, and more. And her social media feeds are filled with engaging (as in, actually fun!) challenges that include helpful modifications for anyone at any place in their fitness journey.

Why is this good news? The health, fitness, and wellness industry can be toxic, fatphobic, and build unhealthy habits — especially for women, girls, and non-binary folks. With her approach, Warren encourages joyful movement and meaningful lifestyle shifts; not just weight loss or diet overhauls.

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After soaring past its goal to install 100,000 heat pumps by 2025, Maine is looking to install 175,000 more by 2027

Back in 2019, Maine set a goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps by 2025. Recently, the state’s governor announced that they beat that goal by two years: they’d already installed over 104,000 heat pumps in homes and businesses.

And they announced a new goal: installing 175,000 more by 2027.

Electric heat pumps are basically like reversible air conditioners and can be up to four times as efficient as gas furnaces. They’re essential in removing fossil fuels from heating buildings.

A main criticism of the technology is that they don’t work in cold climates, and are therefore only a solution in areas with warmer winters. If you’ve ever been to Maine in the dead of winter (or see where it's located on a map), you know they’ll be enthusiastically busting that myth.

Maine is also setting the standard for the rest of the country, which needs widespread adoption of heat pumps (aided by incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act) in order to reach net zero by 2050.

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The largest landfill in Latin America has now been restored into a thriving mangrove ecosystem

Between 1968 and 1996, an estimated 80 million tons of garbage were dumped into the largest landfill in Latin America, polluting the bay nearby as well as surrounding rivers.

First attempting to limit the amount of pollution dumped there, the city later officially shut the landfill down in 2012. Then, it began efforts to recover and restore the area to a thriving mangrove ecosystem — removing garbage, building a drainage system, and replanting mangroves.

And it’s working: just a decade later, the mangrove is thriving with crabs, snails, fish, birds, and more.

Why is this good news? Beyond restoring this local ecosystem, mangroves in particular are incredible in the fight against climate change because of their immense capacity to capture and store large amounts of carbon dioxide. Experts say they can store more carbon than a tropical rainforest.

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In partnership with Native tribes, the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history is now underway

In 1918 a power company built four dams along the Klamath River near the California-Oregon border to generate electricity. The dams both stopped the natural flow of the river — and the lifecycle of salmon who lay eggs there.

The salmon are also culturally and spiritually significant for a number of Native tribes that once depended on them as a food source. Those same tribes have been advocating for the dams’ removal for years, and have been collecting nearly 17 billion native seeds for the past five years to replant once the river has been restored.

The demolition of these dams is part of a larger, national movement to restore rivers, habitats for fish, and the ecosystems that support surrounding wildlife. As of February, more than 2,000 dams have been removed across the country.

Why is this good news? While they can serve as a power source, dams disrupt natural ecosystems — the impact of which is long-term and far-reaching. With Native tribes leading the way, proactively planting, monitoring, and tending to native seeds, the area has a very good chance of being fully restored.

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At the site of a former coal mine, a 1-acre garden is helping feed about 2,000 Texans every month

A 35,000-acre coal mine in Freestone County, Texas is undergoing an environmental restoration project — and 1 acre of that has been transformed into a thriving garden that has yielded about 10,000 pounds of produce for six area food pantries since April 2022.

The NRG Dewey Prairie Garden feeds about 2,000 people per month in the surrounding counties. It’s managed by Texan by Nature, which was founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, and they've already set aside 9 more acres to expand it. They hope it shows the larger community there can be a second chance given to the land.

And as part of the larger reclamation project for the entire mine, 5,590 acres have been fully restored so far, including 3,500 acres replanted with native grasses, and 700 acres converted to wetlands.

Why is this good news? Aside from being a much better, cleaner, healthier way to utilize this land, the people and families who live in the three counties surrounding the garden have access to very few grocery stores, so they depend on the local pantries — and the items they receive from the garden — for fresh produce.

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Billie Eilish performed a solar-powered Lollapalooza set last night

Billie Eilish has long prioritized environmental justice in her work. The latest of which: her headlining Lollapalooza set was be a solar-powered show! Done in partnership with the environmental nonprofit REVERB, they made it happen through a temporary onsite “solar farm” at the festival.

The initiative also comes out of the Music Decarbonization Project, a campaign that Eilish and REVERB helped launch and fund — and includes other artists you may recognize, like The Lumineers, Dead & Company, and Tame Impala.

The Music Decarbonization Project is a campaign intended to advance climate solutions that directly eliminate carbon emissions created by the music industry. It’s looked at next-generation festival lighting, gathered data from concert-goers to better understand the carbon footprint of travel to and from music events, and more.

Why is this good news?
We’ll let REVERB take this one: “There are real climate solutions available right here, right now. By showcasing this technology with one of the biggest artists in the world, on one of the most revered festival stages, we’re accelerating the necessary transition toward a decarbonized future, for music and beyond.”

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A West Virginia man is using his drone to uncover environmental violations at coal mines so they face consequences

Junior Walk grew up surrounded by the coal industry in West Virginia, even working in it himself doing jobs in security and maintenance. But after seeing the impact of coal on the health of both people and the environment in his community — he’s made it his mission to get it “shut down.”

Today, that looks like using his drone to capture environmental violations by coal mines on video and report them to state regulators. Since 2015, he and the nonprofit he works for, Coal River Mountain Watch, have made dozens of complaints using his videos.

They’ve caught polluted waterways from mining debris, boulders dangerously close to public roadways, and more — their findings have resulted in fines imposed on mining companies. While not big enough to shut the whole thing down (yet), it’s enough to be a consistent nuance to the industry.

And for Walk, even the blowback and criticism from people in his community is worth it to stop this polluting industry.

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More good news of the week —

New research found that if people with a high-meat diet reduced their intake it would be like taking 8 million cars off the road. The new research is the most detailed yet, showing that a big meat-eater's diet produces an average of 10.24 kg of greenhouse gasses a day, compared to 5.37 for low meat-eaters.

After a year of rehabilitation at a local aquarium, a 330-pound loggerhead sea turtle was just released back into the wild. The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island has released 107 sea turtles since opening its rehabilitation center for cold-stunned, sick, and stranded turtles.

To adapt to the climate crisis, Spain is restoring a 1,000-year-old system of network of irrigation canals. Like many parts of the world, Spain has faced extreme heat and extended droughts, leading farmers and communities to lean on the “ancient wisdom” to prepare for the future.

The Garden of the Gods’ new park manager plans to amplify Indigenous voices to honor and steward the park. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Anna Cordova said her upbringing and her Indigenous background have shaped her career along the way.

Scientists developed a game-changing vaccine against the ticks that cause Lyme disease. Rather than combatting the effects of the bacteria or microbe that causes Lyme disease, the vaccine targets the microbiota of the tick itself.

Ahead of Montana Pride, a federal judge temporarily blocked a new law that restricts drag performances. The judge said the way the law was written would “disproportionately harm not only drag performers, but any person who falls outside traditional gender and identity norms.”

Under new energy efficiency rules, most incandescent light bulbs are now officially banned in the U.S. In addition to lasting significantly longer, one expert said, “Going from an incandescent to an LED is like replacing a car that gets 25 miles per gallon with another one that gets 130 m.p.g.”

Katie Ledecky now holds the record for most individual gold medals won at the world swimming championships. Winning six gold medals, she surpassed Michael Phelps’ previous record, and also notched her 16th individual world title — and remains the world record holder in both the 800 and 1,500.

The family of Henrietta Lacks reached a settlement with the biotech company that profited from the non-consensual use of her cells. Lacks’ cells helped achieve medical breakthroughs, allowing researchers to develop vaccines for polio and the coronavirus and treatments for diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s, and the flu.

Seven major carmakers just announced their plans to build a massive electric vehicle charging network across the U.S. General Motors, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and Stellantis announced a multibillion-dollar investment to build “high power” chargers with 30,000 plugs in urban areas and along travel corridors.

For the first time in 243 years, a white-tailed eagle chick was born in England. Once widespread across England, the eagles disappeared due to human activity and the last record of a breeding pair was in 1780.

Halfway through the year, India reached the 70-gigawatt milestone for installing new solar power capacity. India installed 70.10 GW of cumulative solar capacity as of June 30 and an 55.90 GW is now being installed.

The European Union just passed a law mandating electric vehicle fast chargers along all major roadways by 2025. Under the regulations, EV fast charging stations of at least 150kW for cars and vans must be installed every 37 miles along the EU’s main transport corridors.

A Texas school district announced the return of free breakfast and lunch for all students for this school year. The free meals program was discontinued last year due to a lack of funding but is returning to the Pasadena ISD thanks to a new grant.

New studies are now underway to look into treatment for brain fog and other long COVID symptoms. The National Institutes of Health are investing $1.15 billion to help patients who’ve struggled for months or years with ongoing health problems.

Article Details

August 5, 2023 5:00 AM
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