Good News This Week: July 1, 2023 - Lakes, Bees, & Gender Equality

A photo collage of Lake Oroville, square images of a number of diverse individuals, a screenshot of a map, two women posing with hygiene products, and honeybees

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 —

Making a ‘remarkable recovery,’ California’s Lake Oroville is back to 100% capacity for the first time since 2019

California’s Lake Oroville is the state’s second-largest reservoir, and like others in the drought-stricken state, has been at critically low levels of water for the past few years. In 2021, it was at just 24% of its total capacity — so low, that a major hydroelectric power plant had to be shut down for the first time since it first opened in 1967.

Now, after an unusually wet spring, the reservoir has made a “remarkable recovery,” according to the California Department of Water Resources. Lake Oroville is now at 100% of it’s total capacity, and at 127% of the levels it should be at this point in the year.

Why is this good news? A so-called “megadrought” has fueled the emptying of reservoirs in California, like Lake Oroville — which the state depends on to fuel its hydroelectric power plants (which provide around 13% of the state’s electricity), and provide water to millions of Californians.

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The latest gender gap report found the world is making slight, but important progress toward closing the gender gap

Since 2006, the World Economic Forum has assessed gender parity in more than 100 countries around the world, now looking at 145 total. Since last year, the global gender gap improved — reaching 68.4% closed, an improvement of 0.3 percentage points over the prior year.

When looking at just the original 102 countries the first-ever gender gap report assessed, the gender gap would be 68.6% closed. According to the World Economic Forum, if this current rate of progress continues, it will take 131 years to reach full gender parity globally.

You may read that and wonder why we’re celebrating a 0.3 percentage point improvement and 131-year outlook in the Goodnewsletter. It’s because this portion of the newsletter (and truthfully, most of the good news we celebrate) is all about progress — no matter how seemingly “small.” And often the most important progress we make in the world happens imperceptibly slowly — but it’s important progress nonetheless!

We can also be inspired by those countries that are much further along, like Iceland, which has now reached 91.2% closed and has held its place at the top of the closed gender gap list for 14th year in a row. The next eight countries on the list have closed at least 80% of their gap: Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, and Lithuania.

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An organization created the world’s first livestream map to track the global fishing fleet, fight overfishing, and save the ocean

Sushi, smoked salmon, or a tuna salad sandwich: Until now, it’s been impossible to know if the food on your plate has been caught illegally. But researchers have a pretty good idea — and Global Fishing Watch is adding some much-needed transparency to the fishing industry.

The organization uses cutting-edge technology to create the world’s first livestream map monitoring the global fishing fleet — and made it public and freely available to the entire world. This map finally allows us to trace and track fishing and other activity in our oceans better than ever before, all in one place.

In North Korea, for example, some fishing vessels will turn off GPS tracking and go out onto the waters unregistered. Global Fishing Watch tracked these “dark vessels,” found they were pillaging one billion dollars worth of squid every year, and reported it to authorities who responded accordingly. Now, illegal fishing in that area has gone down by 75%.

Why is this good news? Illegal fishing accounts for up to $23.5 billion worth of seafood every year — or one out of every five fish taken from the ocean. It also accounts for major environmental and human threats. A key driver of global overfishing, illegal fishing threatens marine ecosystems, increases food insecurity and regional economic instability, and is linked to huge human rights violations.

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Queer activists are hosting a multi-faith “day of prayer” for the safety, well-being, and flourishing of LGBTQ+ youth

Beloved Arise is the first national organization for queer youth of faith, building relationships, offering support, and inspiring youth to embrace their truest selves. It takes a multi-faith, inclusive approach to its variety of programming, like youth groups, ambassadorships, campus groups, mental health resources, and more.

One of its major initiatives is Queer Youth of Faith Day. This multi-faith national holiday occurs on June 30 to round out Pride Month and unite in prayer for the “safety, well-being, and flourishing” of LGBTQ+ youth.

The organization’s goal is to connect 1.8 million people for the event  t​​o represent the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth who will seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S.

Why is this good news? While many of us see a clear, preconceived distinction between faith communities and LGBTQ+ communities — one in five LGBTQ+ youth says that their spirituality is important to them. But while many young LGBTQ+ people find community and connection to their faith, they also experience ostracization, shame, and bullying in their homes and social circles.

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A new ‘hygiene locator’ tool is helping get free soap, deodorant, tampons, and more to people who need it

Amidst the compounding systemic injustices that keep Americans in poverty is one that doesn’t always get much attention: hygiene insecurity, or the inability to afford everyday hygiene products like shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap, toilet paper, or menstrual products.

Hygiene insecurity has a major impact on the (physical and mental) health and wellbeing of folks who are already dealing with unjust obstacles in their daily lives. And while there are currently no national public programs that provide support for this specific (yet universal) need, the nonprofit Simply the Basics is stepping in to help.

The organization has recently announced its brand new Hygiene Locator map and database: a digital network of hygiene services that connects people in need of support to organizations in their area that provide necessary hygiene supplies free of charge.

Why is this good news? Living with limited income (and therefore being unable to afford basic needs like food or hygiene) is associated with a 275% higher risk of anxiety and a 253% higher risk of depression. And a Feeding America survey found that one in three low-income families found it difficult to afford basic household necessities in the past year.

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Three ‘un-athletic’ women are fighting human trafficking by riding their bikes — and it turned into a whole movement

Sara Belmer, Savannah Lovelace, and Grace Pfeffer started Pedal the Pacific in 2017 as college students looking to make a difference for a cause they cared about: human trafficking.

Documenting their journey on social media, the “hilariously un-athletic” trio started by cycling 1,700 miles of the Pacific coast, from Seattle to San Diego, to raise funds to fight human trafficking. After seven weeks on the road, they raised over $60,000 (six times their original goal) for survivors of trafficking.

After that inaugural ride, teams of young women emerged each year, completing the same journey every summer to raise more awareness and funds in the fight to end trafficking. As of September 2022, Pedal the Pacific’s 61 alumni have raised over $860,000 for leading organizations in the anti-trafficking movement.

Pedal the Pacific focuses on combating domestic trafficking and especially shares information on how vulnerable populations, such as unhoused LGBTQ+ youth, BIPOC women, and immigrants are most at-risk of trafficking.

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After nearly half of colonies died last year, beekeepers helped stabilize the U.S. honeybee population

Honeybees are crucial to our food supply, and pollinate over 100 of the crops we eat, like nuts, vegetables, melons, berries, and more. Large die-offs like these (and by extension, we) keep happening due to a combination of parasites, pesticides, starvation, and climate change.

Despite a year that saw the second-highest death rate on record for honeybee populations — where 48% of colonies were lost — a recent survey found that the number of colonies in the U.S. “remained relatively stable.”

And it’s thanks to the efforts of beekeepers — who went through costly and time-intensive measures to repopulate the colonies, as quickly as they lose them. They were able to maintain the current population by split and restocking existing hives, finding or buying new queens, or even by starting entirely new colonies from scratch.

What’s the nuance? While it’s incredibly good news for all of us that honeybee populations are remaining relatively stable in the U.S. thanks to the efforts of these beekeepers — the future prognosis for the bees is neither really good or really bad, according to the scientists who conducted the survey.

We need to make major systemic changes — from climate change to agriculture — to ensure a sustainable future for honeybees and their keepers.

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More good news of the week —

A new documentary is shining a light on how universal basic income programs are helping people around the country. The film, “It’s Basic” debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and follows five participants in pilot programs in different cities around the U.S.

President Biden signed an executive order to expand and protect access to contraception around the country. The order will help lower out-of-pocket costs and increase ways for people to access contraception, which has been shown to reduce abortions.

In what could signal an end to the practice entirely, Iceland just suspended its annual whale hunt. One of the few countries that still hunt whales, a government report found that the annual hunt does not comply with the country’s animal welfare laws.

Manitou Springs, Colorado was just named the world’s first certified municipal Pollinator District. Pollinator Districts are designed to engage an entire community in conserving and improving habitat for pollinators in all aspects of development and operation.

Connecticut pharmacists can now prescribe certain kinds of birth control without a doctor’s visit. The new legislation is intended to improve access to contraception, especially in rural and underserved areas where access to reproductive care is limited.

Thanks to queer restaurant chain Hamburger Mary’s, Florida’s drag ban was just blocked by a federal judge. The judge said the law was too vague and overbroad and served as “purposeful discrimination” of transgender people.

The Supreme Court rejected a theory that would have given state lawmakers unchecked power over federal elections. “Independent state legislature theory” says that election rules made by state legislatures aren’t subject to judicial review, and came to the Supreme Court through a North Carolina case.

A dog retrieved 155 discs from the woods, and is auctioning them off to raise money for the community disc golf park. You read that right: Daisy the dog is hosting a fundraiser to help maintain her local park in West Virginia.

Chemical and manufacturing giant 3M reached a $10.3 billion settlement over their use of polluting “forever chemicals.” The money will go to kickstart the PFAS clean up process, which impacts the drinking water of 1 in 20 people in the U.S.

A new federal law guarantees a range of workplace arrangements for pregnant and postpartum employees. The   Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect this week and gives workers rights when they’re experiencing morning sickness, postpartum depression, and more.

The Biden administration is restoring Endangered Species Act protections that were removed under the former president. The restored rules will make it easier to designate a protected area, and could help with the recovery of species in areas like the Southeast.

The Church of England announced it will divest from fossil fuels this year. The church announced its plans to divest from Shell over the company’s insufficient plans to align its strategy to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

One doctor is leading the fight against Haiti’s cholera outbreak amidst worsening health and climate crises. Where others see only a grim outlook, Dr. Regine Necessaire sees an opportunity to help, leading a team of 68 in responding to the mounting epidemic.

Ukrainian activists, scientists, and architects are already planning the country’s climate-centered reconstruction. Even before the war has ended, the massive rebuild project is underway and will have as small a carbon footprint as possible and improve the nation’s resilience to impacts of climate change.

The Biden administration announced its plans to invest $40 billion to support broadband installation nationwide. Each state will get at least $100 million as part of the administration’s goal of connecting everyone in the U.S. to high-speed broadband by 2030.

Article Details

July 1, 2023 5:00 AM
A photo collage of a fisherman, vegetables, a Feel Good Fridge from Whirlpool, a chart about blood types, and solar panels

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