Good News This Week: February 24, 2024 - Rhinos, Space, & Transplants

A photo collage of Bert Janssen posing for the camera, a close-up shot of a rhino, an 'Everywhere Is Queer' logo, a portrait photo of Bridgit Mendler, and a flatlay photo of he 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 —

The longest-surviving heart transplant patient was just recognized by Guinness World Records

From the Netherlands, 57-year-old Bert Janssen has survived almost 40 years with the donor heart he received in June 1984. The transplant was a part of his treatment for cardiomyopathy, which impacts the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.

And Janssen was just recognized by Guinness World Records for being the “Longest surviving heart transplant patient.”

Given that it was a relatively new medical innovation at the time, Janssen’s transplant was just the 107th ever at the hospital. The doctor who performed it has since done thousands of transplants.

In reflecting on the recognition and achievement, Janssen said, “What I think is most important is that I set a benchmark for others. It is now officially proven that it is possible to come this far while having a donor heart.

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Teen smoking rates in the U.S. have dropped dramatically in the last 30 years — less than 1% of teens today say they smoke daily

Researchers have found that the number of American teens who smoke or have even tried smoking has dropped dramatically compared to a generation ago — 0.6% of teens reported smoking daily in 2021, down from 9.8% in 1991.

Even more encouragingly, fewer teens are interested in even trying smoking. In 1991, 70% of teens reported having “ever” smoked — that number dropped to less than 18% by 2021.

Smoking-related illness is still responsible for one in every five U.S. deaths, killing about half a million people annually — so that dramatic decline in young people smoking cigarettes is hopeful progress that those numbers will likely decrease, too.

This positive public health achievement is thanks to longtime advocacy work to ensure people understand the health risks associated with smoking — efforts that appear to be making a significant difference.

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Kenya just introduced 21 rhinos to a plateau decades after poaching wiped them out — it was the country’s largest relocation ever

Decades ago, poaching wiped out the eastern black rhino population in a Kenyan plateau. Now, conservationists in the country are celebrating as 21 of the rhinos were just relocated to the area — now home to the Loisaba Conservancy. It was the country’s largest relocation ever.

As part of an effort to return a healthy population of the critically endangered animals to the region again, the rhinos were relocated from three parks that were becoming overcrowded. The animals are solitary and prefer to have lots of space to roam and breed.

Kenya in particular has seen progress in increasing its black rhino population, which fell to below 300 in the mid-1980s from around 20,000 in the 1970s. Kenya has the third largest population with around 1,000 black rhinos, behind South Africa and Namibia.

Why is this good news? There are currently just over 6,400 wild black rhinos left in the world — all in Africa. By relocating this group of rhinos so they have more space, conservationists are hopeful they’ll be able to increase their numbers even more and bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

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A brand new, free app provides a directory of LGBTQ-owned businesses across the U.S.

When Charlie Sprinkman took off on a 50-state road trip across America, their biggest anxiety was one that most LGBTQ+ folks experience: finding spaces that feel safe and affirming of who they are.

This led to a personal passion project: Everywhere Is Queer, a public resource with a searchable map and directory of LGBTQ+-owned businesses and services. The project started as a simple website, continually growing its reach as queer business owners added their pins to the map.

And it just got even bigger: Everywhere Is Queer is now officially available as a free app in the Apple Store and Google Play. In the app, there’s also an entire Online Business section, for users who are looking for LGBTQ+ businesses without brick-and-mortar locations.

Why is this good news? In a world that is increasingly hostile to queer and trans folks (whether through health care-denying legislation or even violence), knowing that a place is safe is fundamental to growing community, economic power — and acceptance.

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A new space startup from former Disney Channel star Bridgit Mendler is building a “data highway” that could help save the planet

You may recognize Bridgit Mendler’s name from the Disney channel, but in her new role as CEO of her startup, Northwood Space, she’ll be helping revolutionize the way we collect vital satellite data.

The implications of that work could have incredible, far-reaching impacts on how we track and solve the climate crisis — because one of the most important functions of satellites is monitoring Earth’s resources and ecosystems.

From hundreds of miles away, satellites can help climate scientists monitor the ozone layer, track rising water levels, observe changing ice and permafrost conditions, and even map air quality around the world. And Northwood is going to help make it easier to get that data, making way for both planet-saving innovation and climate justice.

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More good space news:

A multi-million dollar collaborative purchase will protect nearly 8,000 acres of ‘America’s Amazon’ in southern Alabama

Thanks to a $15 million collaboration between The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, Patagonia, and an undisclosed donor, 7,990 acres of sensitive and ecologically important land will be protected and preserved forever.

The acreage is located at the top of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in southern Alabama, which is often referred to as “America’s Amazon” because of its extraordinary biodiversity and wildlife.

The area being protected is home to streams, swamps, and ox-bow lakes which are in turn home to an incredible variety of fish, bird, reptile, and amphibian species. According to the Nature Conservancy, the number of species that live in the area makes it one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

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More good conservation news:

After a 16-year fight, actor Christian Bale just broke ground on his housing project designed for siblings in foster care

For the past 16 years, actor Christian Bale has been using his celebrity for good and working to bring a vision to life: a housing project designed and built specifically for siblings aging out of the foster care system.

The project, called Together California, just broke ground in Los Angeles County, and will eventually include a dozen homes and a community center — all to keep siblings in the foster care system together.

Bale was inspired to build the community after he learned about the number of foster children in the county — and how many siblings had to be separated.

According to Together California’s website, this project helps address three major problems at once: Los Angeles County has more children in foster care than anywhere else in the U.S.; children who have gone through the foster care system are 50% more likely to experience homelessness at some point; and there’s a 75% chance that foster children will be separated from their siblings.

It’s also an excellent, encouraging reminder that good things sometimes take more time than we hope.

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More good news of the week —

John and Hank Green’s online community raised a record-breaking $3.4 million for charity in a 48-hour livestream. The brothers’ annual fundraiser, “Project for Awesome”, once again delivered hilarious antics and a whole lot of good for nonprofit organizations.

Denver will now pay residents who commute on bikes to meet the city’s climate goals. Participants can receive mile reimbursement and training and coaching stipends, aiming to encourage biking over driving and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the world’s largest banks, Barclays announced it will no longer directly finance new oil and gas projects. The decision means a lot of money will be unavailable to the fossil fuel industry: in 2022 the bank provided just under $16.5 billion, and in 2019 and 2020, over $30 billion.

Networks of crafters around the world are creating crocheted coral reefs to advocate for climate action. The wildly detailed (and seriously beautiful) “craftivism” project was started by two sisters and has been supported by over 25,000 volunteer crocheters.

As people are struggling to find affordable housing, cities are changing their zoning rules to allow for more to be built. Realizing their own rules made it too hard and expensive to build much-needed housing inventory, new rules allow for multifamily homes in more neighborhoods, encourage more density near transit, streamline permitting processes, and more.

An innovative new blood test could actually help pharmacists and patients monitor their health. Overcoming the shadow cast by Theranos, the new MiniDraw diagnostic devices could let pharmacists — and maybe even patients themselves — manage blood testing needs and monitor health conditions.

or the first time ever, a 13-year-old child was just cured of a deadly form of brain cancer. Lucas was first diagnosed with brainstem glioma when he was six, and thanks to the treatment from a trial he participated in, there is no sign of the tumor.

The founder of Bob's Red Mill just passed away and left his company to its over 700 employees. Joining a select group of business owners doing good, Bob Moore had begun transferring ownership in 2010, saying that sharing profits and ownership would “make things more fair and more benevolent.”

Michigan just became the first state in almost 60 years to repeal its “Right-to-Work” anti-union law. These laws hurt labor unions by allowing workers to opt out of union dues while still reaping the benefits of unionization.

A new education platform helps teach kids about climate change and combat climate anxiety with lessons, games, shorts, and more. From the creators of other notable children’s programming, kids themselves are behind the “eco-tainment platform” — which (naturally) features a chicken named Potato.

The biggest breakthrough in two decades, scientists developed a new drug that has improved treatment for asbestos-linked cancer. Used alongside chemotherapy, the drug quadrupled three-year survival rates for mesothelioma, a notoriously hard-to-treat cancer.

The Biden-Harris administration just canceled another $1.2 billion in student loan debt for around 154,000 borrowers. This latest amount brings the total amount of student debt canceled by the administration to $138 billion, impacting nearly 3.9 million borrowers.

A company that recycles glass to build solar panels is building a new $344 million factory in Georgia to increase production. Solarcycle’s automated recycling process can extract materials worth 95% of a solar panel’s value, including silver, silicon, copper, and aluminum.

Drag queen and environmentalist Pattie Gonia just dropped a new anthem about the resilience of the queer community. The song draws parallels to the way birds sing to each other in the morning after making it through the night.

The USDA Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy is getting a $500 million boost to help confront the ongoing wildfire crisis. The funding will help support the service’s work to reduce the risk of wildfires for communities, critical infrastructure, and natural resources.

Article Details

February 24, 2024 5:00 AM
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