Heat Officers, Pets, & Solar Power - Good News This Week: January 21st 2023

A photo collage of a solar panel, a motorcycle and car, a building, and Dr. Kwane Stewart with a dog

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 —

Federal incentives are (finally) helping make solar power accessible and more affordable

In 2021, the Biden Administration released a set of ambitious clean energy goals. Though they might seem out of reach, one of the fastest and easiest pathways to reaching the targets is through solar power (and we’re not talking about Lorde’s third studio album).

Thanks to federal policies like the Solar Investment Tax Credit, rapidly declining solar costs, and increasing demand across the private and public sectors, there is now enough solar capacity to power over 20 million American homes.

What's the nuance? The process of getting rooftop solar is perhaps the biggest hindrance to everyday people taking advantage of these incentives — and it's honestly still a bit expensive for the average person to take on (Megan here, speaking from experience!).

The nonprofit Solar United Neighbors is stepping in to help people navigate the purchasing and installation process through community-based solar cooperatives. And luckily, the price of solar continues to defy expectations and fall increasingly rapidly.

→ Read more

The death rate from cancer in the U.S. has fallen by 33% since 1991, with an estimated 3.8 million deaths averted

A new report shows the rate of cancer deaths in the U.S. has steadily and continually declined over the last three decades, falling by a total of 33% since 1991. That equates to an estimated 3.8 million lives saved.

The report credits advancements in treatment, earlier screenings and detection, and less smoking with the decline in deaths. Notably, there was a 65% drop in cervical cancer rates among women in their early 20s from 2012 to 2019, which coincides with when HPV vaccines were rolled out.

How can we keep the progress going? The report estimated there could be nearly 2 million new cancer cases in the U.S. in 2023, along with more than 600,000 deaths — still a heartbreakingly high number of individuals, families, and communities impacted by this disease.

The report detailed how the rate of cancer cases and deaths rose rapidly in the 20th century largely due to lung cancer from smoking. Public information campaigns about the dangers of smoking were rolled out, and now we’re seeing their benefit!

While it’s largely in the hands of incredible scientists to develop new, better treatments (like vaccines!), each of us can continue to fight for better access to screenings and early detection (like healthcare for all!).

→ Read more

Uganda’s worst Ebola outbreak in two decades is now officially over

Just four months ago, the first cases of Uganda’s worst ebola outbreak in two decades were reported. The country quickly implemented control measures like lockdowns, contact tracing, and more. After repoting no new infections in more than forty days, it officially declared an end to the outbreak.

Unfortunately, since the outbreak began in September, 56 people died from the virus, and there were 142 confirmed infections. Uganda’s health minister said the key to ending the outbreak was “our communities who understood the importance of doing what was needed to end the outbreak, and took action.”

→ Read more

Who else is helping end Ebola?

Brooklyn took an approach to stopping gun violence that doesn't involve police or incarceration — and it’s working

The Brownsville neighborhood in east Brooklyn used to be a hub for drug use and violence. It was a poorly-lit dead-end road with no overlooking windows, little car traffic, and historically suffered from some of the highest rates of gun violence and violent crime in the city.

Now, it’s home to a public plaza with tables and chairs, lush plants and trees, plenty of lighting and a colorful mural reading “Brownsville Stronger Together.”

As Brownsville, so Brooklyn. The borough addressed the pandemic-era surge in gun violence with a strategy that would have once been a nonstarter: using police and incarceration as a last resort. And it’s working — while crime is on the rise in the rest of New York City, it’s continued to decrease in Brooklyn.

→ Read more

What are some other ways to prevent gun violence without involving law enforcement?

  1. Gun buyback programs. Technically these do involve law enforcement (but they don't have to!), so it's important that they’re hosted with trust and transparency, but buybacks not only help reduce the sheer number of guns in communities — they’re massively popular.
  2. Suing gun manufacturers. This is about accountability for those who have contributed most to ongoing gun violence in our communities, largely by lobbying against gun safety and control measures that a majority of the public support.
  3. Advocate for safe storage in your circle of influence. Among other ways to individually take action to prevent gun violence, this approach helps normalize conversations around gun safety and responsible gun ownership.

A California-based nonprofit provides free pet care for people experiencing homelessness or housing vulnerability

For over a decade, Dr. Kwane Stewart provided free veterinary care, treatment, and support to the pets of individuals experiencing homelessness or housing vulnerability.

Then in 2020, he founded an entire nonprofit organization out of the work called Project Street Vet. Stewart walks areas of high homelessness, like Skid Row in Los Angeles, looking for pets and pet parents in need of care.

The organization prioritizes a no-judgment approach, ensuring that pets and people are assisted with no questions asked, providing care like free exams, vaccines, flea and tick medications, supplies, and even emergency help.

What other organizations are helping dog owners in need?

Praline’s Backyard is a cage-free, anxiety-free pet boarding facility that cares for the pets of domestic abuse survivors, and Dogs on Deployment provides military members with a national network of volunteers to care for their pets while they're away on service commitments.

→ Read more

Sierra Leone’s first-ever Heat Officer is helping the country’s capital adjust to (and thrive again in) warming temperatures

The pristine beaches, lush forests, and green landscapes Freetown, Sierra Leone’s new (and first-ever!) Heat Officer Eugenia Kargbo grew up have been replaced with ever-expanding urban development.

To make her city liveable in the face of climate change (and the heat waves, extreme temperatures, and extreme weather events that come with it) — she’s working to bring those spaces back.

Kargbo was inspired to get into public service following a landslide in the capital that killed over 1,100 people, when she realized things really needed to change if Freetown and its residents were going to survive.

She’s got her work cut out for her, but she’s already installed public gardens and canopies over open market vendors — and she’s got her sights set on white-painted roofs to reflect heat, public fountains, and a lot more trees.

→ Read more

More good news of the week —

Argentina approved a law to permanently protect one of the region's last remaining truly wild areas. The land and sea of the Mitre Peninsula have the country’s most important carbon sink, holding more than 30% of the world’s kelp forests.

A critically endangered rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at the Kansas City Zoo. Only 740 eastern black rhinoceroses are left in the wild, and their horn makes them a popular poaching target.

A pop-up clothing market in Chicago is filling the gap for extended sizes large and up. Many retail stores don’t carry extended or plus sizes for people to try on in-store, and the Thick Mall is helping meet that need.

Arizona's governor extended LGBTQ+ employment protections to state employees and contractors. Governor Katie Hobbs signed the legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity on her first day in office.

A motel in Portland is being converted into a temporary shelter for people transitioning into permanent housing. The shelter will fit up to 40 people and is just the kind of housing solution we need to see more of in our communities.

A cellular mapping study could be a breakthrough in both diagnosing and treating endometriosis. Endometriosis impacts an estimated 190 million people (10% of people who menstruate!) globally, causing often chronic and debilitating pain.

The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline has seen a rise both in use and in funding in its first five months. The lifeline has received 1.7 million calls, texts, and chats, reduced its wait time from minutes to seconds, and is working to provide specific care for LGBTQ+ youth and Native communities.

Toyota announced plans to convert older, gas-powered car models into electric vehicles by swapping parts. While an exciting development for converting vehicles that already exist, critics say the company is avoiding a larger issue: its hesitancy to embrace fully-electric vehicles.

For the first time in nearly 45 years, no rhinos were poached in the Indian state of Assam. Between 2000 and 2021, as many as 191 rhinos were poached in Assam, two were killed in both 2020 and 2021, and none were in 2022.

A steel recycler in Portland, Oregon just became the world’s most sustainable company. Steel is considered “one of the world’s dirtiest sectors,” but Schnitzer Steel knocked a literal wind turbine manufacturer out of the top spot (no excuses for the rest of us, eh?).

The “extreme” drought status has been eliminated for most of California. We’re in no way celebrating what it took for it to happen, but we are glad for the state’s residents who have been living in a historic, ongoing drought.

Hawaii is providing free preschool for all three- and four-year-olds. After trying for decades, the state announced a plan to achieve universal preschool by 2032, joining a small group of states to do so.

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January 21, 2023 5:00 AM
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