Good News This Week: December 16, 2023 - Sesame Street, Seeds, & Shelters

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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 —

Sesame Street Muppets are helping young children understand opioid addiction

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, is taking a proactive approach to address the emotional challenges faced by young children whose parents misuse opioids.

With more than 4% of children in the United States living in households where a parent misuses opioids, the need to provide resources for understanding and coping with addiction is crucial. Many of these children experience confusion and anxiety, unsure of how to navigate the complexities of their parents' struggles with addiction.

Sesame Workshop has developed a series of materials specifically tailored for children aged 1 to 6 whose parents may be affected by addiction. These resources include videos, storybooks, and coloring books featuring beloved Muppets such as Elmo and Karli. Karli, a Muppet whose mother is undergoing treatment for addiction, serves as a relatable character for children going through similar experiences.

The materials aim to facilitate conversations between parents, caregivers, social workers, and therapists, offering developmentally appropriate tools to guide children through the emotional aspects of addiction. Early intervention is a key focus, recognizing that addressing trauma in early childhood can positively impact cognitive, emotional, and social development.

A recent grant from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts allows Sesame Workshop to expand these resources further, providing additional videos, stories, and materials centered around addiction, treatment, and healing. The free materials are accessible online, offering a valuable support system for families navigating the complexities of addiction.

Why is this good news? By personifying the challenges faced by children through characters like Karli, Sesame Workshop hopes to reduce the stigma associated with addiction, foster empathy and understanding, and empower children to express their emotions. The initiative aligns with Sesame Workshop's commitment to addressing tough topics for young audiences, having previously tackled issues such as death, grief, divorce, bullying, and military deployment. Through this new focus on addiction, Sesame Workshop aims to create a supportive environment for children, helping them build emotional resilience both in the present and for their future well-being.

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Many countries have reduced their CO₂ emissions

Several countries have successfully reduced their domestic emissions in recent decades. Domestic emissions in the UK have roughly halved since 1970, while emissions in the European Union have fallen by more than one-quarter.

Although some of the reduction is attributed to the offshoring of emissions through the import of CO2-intensive goods, there is still a significant decline in emissions when accounting for trade. Many of these countries have experienced a notable decrease in consumption-based CO2 emissions — even as their economies have grown.

The fact that some countries have managed to reduce emissions while simultaneously growing their economies suggests a potential decoupling of economic growth from environmental harm — and challenges the notion that economic development must come at the cost of increased emissions.

Lowering greenhouse gas emissions is crucial in addressing global warming and its associated environmental impacts. The ability of countries to reduce emissions while maintaining economic growth reflects progress in addressing the challenges of climate change and indicates a potential path toward a more sustainable future.

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Indigenous advocacy has led to the largest dam removal project in U.S. history

The removal of four dams along California's Klamath River represents the most extensive dam removal initiative in U.S. history, a project driven by Indigenous advocacy efforts to address the decline of salmon populations.

The dams, constructed between 1918 and 1962, disrupted fish migration routes, contributing to a significant reduction in the river's salmon runs and affecting the traditional practices of Indigenous communities like the Yurok Tribe. Indigenous advocacy has spanned decades and gained momentum after 2002, when as many as 70,000 salmon perished due to the dams' impact on water conditions.

Demolition of the first dam was initiated in June and completed in November, marking a pivotal moment for the Klamath River ecosystem. Indigenous leaders emphasize that dam removal is a crucial step in revitalizing the river and its surroundings, offering benefits to both the ecosystem and the fishery for generations to come.

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), a nonprofit overseeing the dam removals, played a pivotal role in bringing together state governments, Indigenous communities, and environmental advocates to facilitate this historic project.

As the project continues with the demolition of the remaining three dams, the focus shifts to the long-term benefits, including better water quality, improved conditions for fish and other species, and the potential revival of traditional Indigenous fishing practices.

Why is this good news? The dam removal project addresses environmental challenges associated with stagnant reservoirs, water warming due to climate change, and pollution from wildfires, flash floods, and roadway debris. The uninterrupted flow of the river is expected to flush out sediment and improve water quality, contributing to the healing of both the ecosystem and the people who rely on it. This monumental effort not only signifies a triumph for environmental conservation and Indigenous rights but also underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to address complex ecological challenges and restore balance to ecosystems affected by human activities.

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After building a new shelter, Reno cut its unhoused population in half

Reno, Nevada has emerged as a success story in tackling homelessness, witnessing a significant 58% reduction in its unsheltered homeless population since the establishment of the Nevada Cares Campus in 2021.

In collaboration with neighboring Sparks, Nevada and Washoe County, the city's innovative approach involves a sprawling tent and satellite sleeping pods, collectively providing shelter for more than 600 people.

This achievement is particularly noteworthy when contrasted with the struggles of many other Western cities grappling with escalating homelessness during the pandemic. Reno, like many other cities, faces soaring housing costs, with the median home price rising by 30% from $440,000 to $570,000 in 2020.

Reno's strategy goes beyond mere shelter provision — it encompasses a comprehensive model for addressing homelessness. The Nevada Cares Campus serves as a transitional space, not only offering temporary refuge but also actively assisting individuals in finding employment, accessing various services, and eventually facilitating a move into permanent housing.

Why is this good news? While acknowledging the need for more affordable housing, local officials remain optimistic about the progress made and continue their efforts to address homelessness through innovative and collaborative solutions. The success of this model lies not only in providing immediate relief but also in fostering long-term stability and opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness.

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Indigenous communities are championing food sovereignty by reviving ancestral seeds, reintroducing bison herds, and establishing community gardens

Indigenous communities in the United States are championing food sovereignty through initiatives that embrace ancestral seeds and bison herds. The movement seeks to restore and reclaim aspects of Native American food and culture that thrived for thousands of years prior to European colonization.

The focus includes developing community gardens with ancestral seeds, reintroducing bison to reservations, collecting wild fruits and vegetables, and promoting traditional cooking methods.

Montana State University's Indigenous gardens, part of a larger effort around the country, exemplify this approach. The gardens, totaling about an acre, feature crops such as corn, squash, sunflowers, and sweetgrass, some of which have grown for millennia in Native Americans' gardens along the upper Missouri River.

Central to this movement is the reintroduction of bison, with numerous tribes establishing buffalo herds, including all seven reservations in Montana. The Buffalo Nations Food Systems Initiative (BNFSI) is a key player in the initiative, receiving a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to align northern Plains Native American foods with modern palates.

The BNFSI distributes 200 packets of ancestral crop seeds annually to Indigenous people in Montana, aiming to revitalize traditional agriculture. Montana State University is building the country's second Indigenous food lab to further these efforts, focusing on education, training, and the development of recipes that blend ancestral knowledge with contemporary tastes.

Why is this good news? The embrace of food sovereignty by Indigenous communities reflects a multifaceted approach to cultural preservation, health improvement, sustainable practices, economic development, education, and community empowerment. And initiatives like the Buffalo Nations Food Systems Initiative (BNFSI) demonstrate collaborative efforts among Native nations, institutions like Montana State University, and governmental bodies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Volunteers in the Turks and Caicos Islands are combating stony coral tissue loss disease through innovative grassroots efforts

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, a team of volunteers, including a former scuba diving instructor and a certified fish data scientist, are fighting against stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD).

This deadly coral sickness, first identified off the coast of Florida almost a decade ago, has rapidly spread across 28 nations in the Caribbean, impacting the marine environment and threatening the livelihoods of those dependent on the reefs.

The team is part of the TC Reef Fund, a non-governmental organization relying on donations and volunteers to combat SCTLD. They apply antibiotic paste to diseased corals as part of their efforts to halt the spread, and while it doesn't prevent re-infection, it keeps the affected colonies alive long enough for them to reproduce, contributing to the preservation of the reefs.

Turks and Caicos has emerged as a leader in reef restoration research, with initiatives such as coral nurseries and a land-based biobank. This biobank — a first for the Caribbean's British territories — focuses on preserving genetic diversity crucial for the survival of various coral species affected by SCTLD.

Despite challenges — such as unusually warm seas causing widespread coral bleaching in the Caribbean — the TC Reef Fund is dedicated to its mission, using limited resources efficiently, including enlisting local carpenters to create tanks serving as a "coral ark." These tanks house samples of the most susceptible coral species, acting as a safeguard for preserving their genetic diversity.

Why is this good news? We can be hopeful about the future of coral reefs thanks to local initiatives, scientific progress, and collaborative efforts aimed at protecting and restoring reefs, crucial ecosystems for marine biodiversity, and the well-being of coastal communities. Despite facing challenges such as coral bleaching and warm seas, volunteers and researchers remain optimistic about the prospects of winning the battle against SCTLD.

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A disabled climate advocate championed disability rights at COP28

Umesh Balal, a 28-year-old climate advocate from Nepal, made an impact at the COP28 conference in Dubai championing the inclusion of disability rights in the global climate change agenda. As a member of the Indigenous Magar people and an individual with dwarfism, Balal provided a unique and often-overlooked perspective, highlighting the intersectionality of climate and disability issues.

In his role as the youth program manager at the Nepal Water Foundation, Balal focuses on projects that seamlessly blend climate and disability inclusion. Hailing from the Magar tribe in the Himalayan foothills of western Nepal, he has witnessed firsthand the profound impacts of climate change, including his community's forced migration due to an increasingly unstable environment.

Balal's journey into climate advocacy began during his student years, driven by a fascination with biodiversity and environmental science. Residing in a mountainous region deepened his understanding of the adverse effects of climate change on local communities.

Inspired by prominent activists like Greta Thunberg, Balal actively engages in and champions climate issues, contributing to tangible solutions while overcoming climate anxiety. He actively campaigns for disaster preparedness tailored to the needs of disabled individuals, emphasizing the imperative to develop rescue plans catering to their unique vulnerabilities during disasters.

Balal's participation at COP28 signifies a broader call for enhanced engagement of disabled communities in climate discussions. COP28, in Balal's eyes, serves as a moment to advance the disability and climate issues agenda, emphasizing the significance of not merely raising awareness but actively empowering more disabled individuals.

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More good news of the week —

A Vancouver-based tech company has developed revolutionary earbuds that can control various smart devices, navigate virtual worlds, and operate wheelchairs without the need for brain implants, hands, or screens. Named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2023, the company’s earbuds have been tested by quadriplegic former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who hailed the technology as a "game-changer" for people with disabilities.

Detroit is now home to the first stretch of road in the U.S. that can wirelessly charge electric vehicles (EVs) as they travel. This wireless-charging technology, which works whether the vehicle is parked or moving, could address a major concern for EV owners by eliminating the need to stop and plug in regularly.

A German company aims to establish CO2-neutral data centers by placing them inside wind turbines, effectively making the centers almost carbon-neutral. The company estimates that the unused electricity generated by its wind turbines during peak wind hours could potentially power one-third of all German data centers, offering a sustainable solution for the IT industry's high energy consumption.

Researchers at Duke University have developed a new method to enhance CRISPR technologies, allowing them to accurately target nearly every gene in the human genome. The original CRISPR system could only target 12.5% of the genome, but the new method significantly broadens the reach of CRISPR to potentially treat a wider range of diseases.

The federal government is investing $40.8 million in 27 new training centers across the U.S. to prepare students and workers for careers in the clean energy sector. The centers, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aim to train at least 3,000 individuals over a three-year period in energy efficiency, decarbonization, and clean energy manufacturing.

The EU has approved a ban on the destruction of unsold clothing as part of a broader initiative to address the environmental impact of "fast fashion" and reduce waste. The agreement is part of proposed changes to the EU's ecodesign rules, aiming to make products longer-lasting and easier to reuse, repair, and recycle.

A German start-up claims it can convert traditional internal combustion engine cars into electric vehicles in as little as eight hours. Priced between €12,000 and €15,000, the conversion aims to offer a more affordable and sustainable option for consumers looking to go green without purchasing a new EV.

The scimitar-horned oryx, once declared “extinct in the wild,” has been downlisted to "endangered" — marking the first success in a global initiative. The achievement highlights the collaborative power of zoos, aquariums, and botanic gardens in preventing biodiversity loss and calls for urgent support from funders and policymakers.

Finland's "health forest" project, which involves establishing forests next to national health care centers, is enhancing well-being. A joint study showed clinically significant improvements in mental well-being for patients engaged in guided forest treks.

After being rescued from Cape Cod's frigid waters, 52 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were flown to Florida for a holiday vacation, distributed among four aquariums. The turtles will recover in warm water tanks, receiving holiday-themed names during their stay before being released to thrive and reproduce in their natural habitat, contributing to conservation efforts for the endangered species.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Public Benefit Corporation has filed a new drug application with the FDA, seeking approval for using MDMA to treat PTSD, in conjunction with psychotherapy and other supportive services. If approved, MDMA would be rescheduled by the DEA, allowing its prescription for PTSD treatment.

"Foo Fighters" frontman Dave Grohl volunteered for a food rescue charity in Melbourne, spending his day off preparing and smoking pork ribs, pork butt, and beef brisket. Grohl and other volunteers served over 430 meals to unhoused and food-insecure individuals.

A 12-week program in Casper, Wyoming is supporting single moms with mental health support alongside job skills and life skills training. The program aims to help women in poverty secure jobs with local employers.

Yosemite National Park has achieved a sustainability milestone by eliminating the sale of beverages in single-use plastics, replacing them with glass and aluminum bottles. The park's efforts, including the elimination of 100,000 pizza boxes annually, reflect a broader trend in U.S. national parks moving toward plastic-free initiatives, aligning with the federal government's goal to ban single-use plastics on public lands and national parks by 2032.

An experimental cancer vaccine has shown a significant 49% reduction in the risk of death or relapse in patients with deadly melanoma after three years, according to mid-stage trial data. The promising results, which build upon earlier findings, could lead to the vaccine receiving regulatory approvals and launching in some countries as early as 2025, offering a positive development in melanoma treatment.

Article Details

December 16, 2023 6:00 AM
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