Good News This Week: February 3, 2024 - Tents, PSAs, & Gaming

A photo collage of comedian Tim Robinson, a kid playing a game in a hospital room, a screenshot from a Boston Bike Pass TikTok, a screenshot from Dan Howell's and Phil Lester's birthday livestream, and a flatlay photo 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 —

Tim Robinson is confronting climate change with a hilarious PSA

Beloved comedian Tim Robinson has brought his unique comedic style to the forefront of climate change awareness in a humorous PSA produced by Yellow Dot Studios.

Best known for his work on "Saturday Night Live" and the quirky Netflix hit "I Think You Should Leave," Robinson takes on the challenging task of injecting humor into a topic that often lacks levity: climate change.

In the sketch, Robinson assumes the role of a boisterous TV show host named Ted Rack who expresses frustration with scientists delivering complex and dire messages about the environment.

The sketch features Robinson transforming an ocean and climate scientist, Henri F. Drake from the University of California, Irvine, into a more down-to-earth and engaging character. This includes outfitting Drake in a blue sports jersey adorned with the number 69, all in the pursuit of making climate change more relatable and, dare we say, amusing.

The parody not only mocks the concept of "dumbing down" scientific realities but also succeeds in making the critical topic of climate change more engaging and comprehensible to a broader audience.

Yellow Dot Studios, the nonprofit production studio behind the video, leverages entertainment to combat climate disinformation and inaction by creating memorable and scientifically accurate videos about climate change.

Through their initiative, Yellow Dot Studios aims to shine a light on the urgency of climate issues, responsible parties involved, and scientifically proven solutions.

Viewers of Robinson's climate change PSA are directed to a hashtag and accompanying webpage: #ImWithScience. This serves as a hub for resources where individuals can access climate news, contact their representatives, or join advocacy groups in their communities.

Why is this good news? In the midst of growing concerns about the environment, Tim Robinson's ability to infuse humor into such a serious issue has not only entertained but also sparked meaningful conversations about the need for collective action. As one YouTube commenter aptly put it, "People need to take climate change more seriously, but the messaging we’re getting about it is complicated, confusing, and scary. Tim’s ability to demonstrate empathy for so many audiences is amazing."

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A significant majority of U.S. workers are experiencing historically strong real wage growth

Real pay hikes have returned. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, nearly 60% of workers are now making more money, adjusted for inflation, than they were a year ago, and 41% have experienced a real wage increase of over 5%.

The recovery from the COVID-19 recession is notably characterized by historically robust real wage growth, positioning it as the second-highest among recoveries from post-1980 recessions.

The unique aspect of this recovery lies in the combination of substantial wage growth with a reduction in the unemployment rate — a phenomenon not witnessed in other recent recessions.

The analysis also suggests that there has not only been an improvement from the pandemic-induced economic downturn but also a scenario where most individual workers are earning more today than they were before the onset of the pandemic.

Sustained efforts from policymakers will be needed to nurture and strengthen this positive momentum, through measures such as raising wages and mitigating the cost of living to further enhance the economic well-being of workers.

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A nonprofit is bringing joy and normalcy to hospitalized children by providing positive gaming experiences during medical treatment

A nonprofit called Gamers Outreach has undertaken an innovative initiative to enhance the lives of hospitalized children by introducing the GO Kart, a portable gaming kiosk designed to provide young patients with access to top-of-the-line technology and video games.

Recognizing the challenges and isolation that come with hospitalization, Gamers Outreach aims to restore a sense of joy and normalcy to children's lives, allowing them to engage in activities that bring the joy and explorative spirit of childhood, such as playing popular games such as Fortnite or Animal Crossing.

The GO Kart is a carefully crafted solution that addresses the unique needs of pediatric hospital environments. It’s portable, easy to sanitize, and deployable by hospital staff, ensuring that children have a dedicated space to immerse themselves in the world of gaming.

Each GO Kart is equipped to accommodate modern gaming consoles, including the Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 5, enabling young patients to stay connected with the latest gaming trends.

In addition to the GO Kart initiative, Gamers Outreach runs the Player 2 program, which empowers a group of video game-loving volunteers to distribute and manage games. These volunteers also spend time playing with patients, further enhancing the positive impact of the gaming experience.

Gamers Outreach has garnered support from partners like Xbox, and it organizes annual fundraising events, such as the Gamers For Giving streamathon and LAN party, to sustain its programs.

In its 15th anniversary fundraiser in 2023, the Gamers Outreach community raised over $535,000, contributing to equipment improvements and the creation of new GO Karts.

These funds alone are expected to provide an estimated 290,000 gaming experiences, supporting the organization's commitment to offering children undergoing treatment a chance to be themselves and find solace in the unique world of video games.

Why is this good news? Hospitalization can be a daunting experience for children, often involving isolation and medical procedures. Gamers Outreach uses technology and gaming to bring joy, normalcy, and a sense of community to children facing medical challenges, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being and recovery.

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Boston’s Mayor is commuting with residents to learn how to improve public transit

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has launched a unique social media campaign aimed at gaining firsthand insights into the experiences of Bostonians using the city's transportation system.

In a recent TikTok video, Mayor Wu kicked off the initiative by commuting with a local teacher named Becky, showcasing her commitment to understanding the daily challenges faced by residents and identifying potential areas for improvement in the public transit network.

Becky, a ninth-grade teacher, becomes the focal point of the video as she shares details about her daily commute, including tracking the 501 bus on her phone, waiting in unheated bus shelters, and enjoying the sunrise during her bus rides.

During the commute, Mayor Wu engages in a candid conversation with Becky, exploring the impact of public transportation on students' daily lives. Becky reveals that a majority of her students rely on public transit, facing challenges such as missed buses and exposure to the cold while waiting. The exchange sheds light on the broader issues faced by Bostonians in their daily commutes.

Before parting ways, Mayor Wu asks Becky about her ideal improvements to the city's public transportation system, hypothetically asking what changes she would make with a magic wand. Becky expresses a desire for more buses, especially express services, reliable trains that don't face frequent disruptions, and heated bus stops to address the cold weather.

Mayor Wu's genuine enthusiasm for gathering feedback from residents is evident in the video, reflecting her commitment to actively engaging with the community. Her TikTok page features various informative videos, ranging from details about speed humps in streets to tips on maximizing the use of a Boston Bike Pass, demonstrating her multifaceted approach to addressing urban issues.

Why is this good news? The positive response to Mayor Wu's TikTok video indicates strong support from constituents who appreciate her hands-on approach to understanding and addressing commuting issues. Commenters emphasize that real change can occur when elected officials genuinely empathize with residents' experiences.

As Mayor Wu continues to engage with Bostonians through social media and other platforms, her commitment to understanding the needs and challenges of the community appears to resonate with citizens, reinforcing the potential for positive change under her leadership.

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Gaming YouTubers raised money for Palestinian aid during a birthday livestream

YouTube content creators Dan Howell and Phil Lester used Phil’s birthday as an opportunity to do good by hosting a livestream on their gaming channel, DanAndPhilGAMES, to celebrate Phil’s birthday and raise funds for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).

With their dedicated fan base of over 2.8 million subscribers, the duo set out on a mission to combine entertainment and philanthropy during the two-hour broadcast.

From the very start of the livestream, the YouTubers emphasized the importance of the fundraising effort, addressing the dire situation in Gaza and highlighting the essential aid services provided by PCRF.

The response from their community was swift and generous, with donations pouring in even before they could officially launch the planned activities. Within the first three minutes, the fundraising total had already reached an impressive $9,000. The overwhelming support surpassed their expectations, showcasing the dedication of their fans.

The livestream unfolded with a mix of entertaining segments. Lester shared birthday gifts, answered audience questions, and played games. The donations continued to flow, ranging from substantial figures to numerous $5 donations.

By the end of the two-hour livestream, Lester blew out the candles on his birthday cake, and the duo had successfully raised an impressive total of $83,000 for PCRF. Lester, moved by the outpouring of support, said, “Guys, I could cry. That’s so incredible.”

Why is this good news? Within just 19 hours after the livestream, the duo’s channel had raised more than $99,000 for PCRF, underscoring the collaborative effort between the YouTubers and their fanbase. Fans took to social media to express their gratitude and pride in contributing to the initiative, recognizing the meaningful impact made during this altruistic birthday celebration.

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A sustainable subscription service will pick up and responsibly dispose of your hard-to-recycle waste

A startup called Ridwell all began when Ryan Metzger ran into the challenge of disposing of a bag of dead batteries in 2018.

Metzger, accompanied by his son Owen, embarked on a mission to responsibly manage accumulated waste, including styrofoam, plastic clothing hangers, and light bulbs. Recognizing the shared dilemma faced by his neighbors, Metzger initiated a recycling carpool in his Seattle neighborhood to collect items that might otherwise end up in landfills.

With growing demand for responsible waste disposal solutions, Metzger founded Ridwell, driven by the simple mission to "make it simple to get rid of your stuff responsibly."

The startup now operates in numerous cities across seven states, catering to over 90,000 users. The service, available for a monthly fee ranging from $14 to $24, offers subscribers reusable canvas bags, a designated bin, and the convenience of having recyclables picked up from their doorstep every two weeks.

The collected waste is then transported by Ridwell drivers to specialized recyclers or donated to vetted partners. The company ensures users know precisely where their materials end up, redefining transparency in the waste industry.

Regular updates, local and regional audits, and highlights of partner organizations are featured on Ridwell's website, emphasizing the tangible impact of diverting waste from landfills.

As of January 2024, Ridwell has achieved an impressive 97% rate of material reuse or recycling, resulting in the prevention of 15 million pounds of waste from entering landfills.

Why is this good news? Ridwell's success is indicative of a growing trend where consumers actively participate in waste diversion efforts. Many users acknowledge subscribing to Ridwell as a way to alleviate climate anxiety and contribute to a sustainable future for their children.

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Portland charities joined forces to donate 1,500 tents to unhoused locals affected by a severe ice storm

After a severe ice storm swept through Portland, Oregon — causing temperatures to plummet below freezing — the Mental Health Association of Portland and the Congregation of Shir Tikvah collaborated to provide aid to the unhoused population.

The harsh weather conditions forced individuals to contend with downed power lines, unheated houses, and perilous roads. In an effort to address the urgent needs of those sleeping on icy streets, the two organizations donated and distributed 1,500 tents to unhoused locals.

The donation efforts by these organizations come on the heels of a record-breaking auction held at a Portland Rescue Mission shelter in late December, which raised $50,000.

The funds were directed toward providing essential resources such as hot meals, overnight shelter space, and medical care for those in need. The auction’s success underscores the community’s generosity in supporting their unhoused neighbors.

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More good news of the week —

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the restoration of insect habitats in solar facilities contributed to increased insect abundance and diversity. The research suggests that habitat-friendly solar sites can play a crucial role in conserving biodiversity and mitigating land-use conflicts associated with the conversion of farmland for solar energy production.

Utilities in New York state have submitted plans for 13 pilot projects, driven by a 2022 state law aimed at replacing fossil-gas pipelines with infrastructure supporting clean, carbon-free heat pumps, potentially transforming the gas utility business. The approach, supporting shared networks, could serve as a model for other states pursuing similar decarbonization strategies, allowing gas utilities to transition customers to low-carbon alternatives while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Biden administration plans to impose fees of $900 to $1,500 on every excess ton of methane emissions from oil and gas companies, marking the first federal pricing mechanism on greenhouse gas pollution. The proposed fees, part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce methane emissions, are the second phase of new restrictions, with the EPA also requiring companies to detect and fix methane leaks.

A new study by Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers reveals that sea otters' presence along the central coast led to increased kelp forest canopy, compensating for losses in northern and southern California. The research emphasizes the importance of conserving and recovering southern sea otters as a nature-based solution for restoring kelp forests along the coast.

Chile and Palau have become the first countries to ratify the UN High Seas Treaty, a landmark conservation agreement aimed at protecting international waters. The treaty, adopted last year after nearly two decades of negotiations, mandates the conservation and management of marine life in areas beyond national jurisdictions, addressing threats from overexploitation, deep-sea mining, overfishing, and pollution in the high seas.

Global tobacco use has significantly declined, with one in five people smoking in 2022 compared to one in three in 2000, according to the World Health Organization. The drop is notable, especially given ongoing efforts by the tobacco industry to influence global health policies.

Video doorbell company Ring has announced it will no longer facilitate law enforcement requests for users' footage, shutting down a tool criticized for threatening privacy. While law enforcement agencies can still request footage on the Ring app, users now need to share the footage directly with departments (previously, the company, in partnership with hundreds of law enforcement agencies, allowed them to download footage directly from users).

A groundbreaking fertility achievement offers hope for the critically endangered northern white rhino, with scientists achieving the world's first IVF rhino pregnancy — despite initial success, the surrogate mother tragically died from a bacterial infection 70 days into the pregnancy. The project aims to save the northern white rhino, of which only two remain, by repeating the procedure, ultimately hoping to preserve the species.

The largest study of ocean DNA has revealed a significant abundance of fungi living in the twilight zone of the ocean, which could potentially lead to the discovery of new drugs with properties similar to penicillin. The study compiled more than 317 million marine organism gene groups from samples collected during various expeditions, providing insights into the biodiversity of the ocean's twilight zone and potential applications in drug discovery.

Conservationists in Northern California are embarking on a four-year project to restore the population of the federally endangered Behren’s silverspot butterfly. With a $1.5 million grant, the Mendocino Land Trust plans to plant 35,000 early blue violets (the only food source for Behren’s larvae) and collaborate with various agencies to breed and release 600 butterflies as part of the recovery effort.

FEMA plans to use federal funds to install solar panels on schools, hospitals, and other public buildings rebuilt after disasters, aiming to enhance resilience against future calamities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The change will apply to structures like schools and hospitals, with FEMA reimbursing 75% of the costs for adding solar panels and other energy-related improvements, such as heat pumps and batteries, while state or local officials would cover the remaining 25%.

The scimitar horned oryx, a species declared "Extinct in the Wild," has been downlisted to endangered, marking the first such success in a global initiative. The conservation effort, coordinated by the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and supported by various organizations, reintroduced the oryx to Chad, resulting in a self-sustaining population.

Truck makers are advocating for the development of more charging infrastructure, improvements to the electricity grid, and other measures to support electric or hydrogen-powered trucks. The companies emphasize the importance of government support, pointing out that electric trucks require powerful chargers and upgrades to the grid for widespread adoption.

Scientists have developed a way to recycle single-use plastics using enzymes found in laundry detergents. The chemical recycling process can break down the plastic within 24 hours — which is 84 times faster than industrial methods — and even allows for the production of high-quality reusable materials, offering a possible solution to the environmental challenges posed by plastic waste.

Beauty companies will be required to cover at least 80% of the additional costs for cleaning up microplastic pollution in sewage, according to draft rules agreed upon by the EU. The “polluter pays principle” also introduces requirements to remove nutrients from water, sets standards for micropollutants, and broadens the areas covered by the law.

Article Details

February 3, 2024 5:00 AM
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