Good News This Week: July 6, 2024 - Drones, Butterflies, & Pampas Cats

A photo collage of a bar chart regarding deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a solar wind farm, a drone show, and a Pampas cat

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 —

Portugal just received approval to build its largest-ever wind farm, complete with environmental safeguards

Portugal’s government just gave environmental approval for the country to build its largest-ever wind farm — once completed it will support the energy consumption of 128,000 homes every year.

The wind farm will join forces with one of Europe’s largest hydroelectric projects, making it a true (and literal) powerhouse.

The company behind the project says it also plans to introduce environmental safeguards around the wind farm, including no new road construction, planting native species and fruit trees, managing forests, restoring ponds, and installing bat nest boxes.

Why is this good news? While construction won’t happen for this wind farm until early next year — any and all projects that take the world a (large or small!) step closer to a decarbonized grid and net-zero carbon emissions is worth celebrating. Especially in this case, since it’s adding on to an existing, massive clean energy facility.

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Violent crime in the U.S. declined by over 15% in the first three months of 2024 — and the murder rate could see its largest annual decline ever

New statistics show that in the first three months of the year, violent crime dropped by 15.2% in the United States compared to the same time period in 2023. Murders declined by 26.4%, aggravated assaults by 12.5%, and robberies by 17.8%.

These declines held true in every region in the U.S. — and this latest data shows that the “historic decline” in violent crime we saw in 2023 is continuing this year.

Additionally, if the decline in the murder rate continues at its current pace, the U.S. could be on track to see its largest-ever annual decline.

Compared to 2023, murders in the first five months of the year have dropped by more than 40% in cities like New Orleans, Boston, Baltimore, and more.

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Despite a rise in fires, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is at its lowest level since March 2018

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continued to plummet in May, reaching the lowest level since March 2018. Deforestation that month was around 501 square kilometers — or about 147 times the size of Central Park in New York City.

That may sound like a lot (it is!), but it represents a 54% decline from the same time last year. Year to date, 1,182 square kilometers of the rainforest have been cleared — down 40% from this point in 2023.

This good progress is despite the simultaneous rise in forest fires due to extreme drought.

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More good news for the Amazon:

Downtown Denver joins a growing list of U.S. cities opting for a drone show instead of fireworks for the 4th of July

Instead of fireworks, Denver’s annual 4th of July celebration, Indy Eve will feature a drone show instead of fireworks. It will also feature two different projected light shows.

Also featured in the local celebration will be small businesses, food trucks, DJs, and a live performance from the Colorado Symphony Brass & Percussion Ensemble.

Recognizing the impacts of fireworks on veterans with PTSD, wildlife, air pollution, litter, and more — the city is part of a growing movement of communities reimagining what Independence Day celebrations can look like.

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More drones doing good:

Collaborative conservation efforts are helping save one of the most endangered wildcats in the world

Endemic to grasslands in southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina, the Muñoa’s Pampas cat is one of the most endangered felines in the world.

With fewer than 100 left in the wild, experts warn it could go extinct within 10 years as its natural habitat is cleared for agriculture.

Still, extensive conservation efforts are underway to save the species, like adopting ranching methods that preserve the grasslands, creating a captive-breeding program, and developing a tri-national conservation agreement.

What’s the nuance? Extreme flooding in the region has paused many of these efforts, once again reminding us of the intersecting issues that climate change brings. Still, experts are hard at work shifting their efforts to protect this endangered species.

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A biologist single-handedly brought a struggling butterfly species back to San Francisco

Although the California pipevine butterfly was still common near the coast and in the Sierra foothills, they had all but disappeared from San Francisco. In the city, the species’ host plant — the California Pipevine — was extremely sparse.

Native butterflies have “really tight relationships with native plants” — some literally feed on a single native plant. Such is the case with the pipevine butterfly.

Wanting to see them back in his hometown, Tim Wong found the plant in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park and was allowed to take home a few clippings of the plant.

Then, he sourced 20 California pipevine swallowtail caterpillars and brought them to feed on their favorite plant in his garden. They began pupating, forming a chrysalis, hatching, and laying eggs — fully supported in their new backyard habitat.

Wong says it best: “Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do. Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard.

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More good news of the week —

A Wisconsin park just enhanced accessibility with new ‘track chairs’ to help visitors with disabilities enjoy the trails. Earlier this year, the park also introduced water wheelchairs that can float in the water, allowing visitors to enjoy the park’s lake, too.

[Related: National parks are expanding their adaptive excursion offerings so people with disabilities can better enjoy the parks, too.]

After they were forced to close on Sundays due to budget cuts, NYC libraries got funding back to reopen. After months of public outcry and pressure from the City Council, the libraries’ budgets were fully restored and they’ll once again be open to provide important services every day of the week.

​A package of bills in Michigan will help address racial disparities in maternal health care.​ The legislation goes beyond implicit bias training to fix ​racism in maternal health care​ and would require the state to gather data on bias and racism that could occur in care during pregnancy and after birth.

Setting a new standard for sustainable construction and tribal partnerships, Portland’s airport just got a forest-first makeover. The soaring, nine-acre ceiling has lots of natural sunlight streaming in and feels a bit like walking through a forest.

In a historic win for children’s rights, Sierra Leone just banned child marriage. Long fought for by activists, the law criminalizes marrying girls under 18 years of age and prescribes jail terms of up to 15 years for offenders.

Injected just twice a year, a new antiviral drug prevented all cases of HIV in a trial of over 2,000 women. The Phase 3 trial result was better than all existing antivirals tested simultaneously and could lead to greater uptake and HIV treatment than daily pills.

New data shows that renewable sources made up the majority of electricity generation in the EU in 2023. Thanks to the rapid installation of new solar and wind projects, renewables accounted for 44.7% of all electricity production generated in 2023, a 12.4% increase from 2022.

The White House announced a first-of-its-kind strategy to reduce food waste. Food waste expedites climate change, and the government is looking at strategies to extend the food shelf life, create more composting facilities, and urge companies to donate more food.

In its elections tomorrow, Britain is set to elect its most ethnically diverse parliament ever. Regardless of who wins in the general election, a record number of ethnic minority MPs will win seats — for the first time better reflecting the country’s diversity.

Scientists just discovered a new 200-legged animal that’s cleaning up deep sea trash. Like other wild sea cucumbers, this one roams the seafloor looking for a bite to eat at depths ranging from 70 feet to 1,400 feet.

NASA is using powerful satellites to monitor endangered species around the world. The satellites can monitor vegetation health in almost real-time, helping identify potential habitats for endangered species, like tigers, to migrate or be reintroduced to.

Since 1934, USPS Duck Stamps have raised $1.2 billion for wildlife conservation. Doubling as a beloved art tradition, the annual stamp has helped conserve over 6 million acres of wetlands habitat on national wildlife refuges around the country.

Hungarian hogs are helping preserve the UK’s most endangered butterfly habitat. The hogs are also called “living lawnmowers” and are helping create ideal breeding conditions for the High Brown Fritillary butterfly.

A group of teen girls created groundbreaking new AI technology to help reduce wildlife collisions on roadways. A project created by four teen girls in Colorado uses AI and infrared technology to alert drivers of oncoming wildlife.

A “major milestone” for the species, wildcat kittens were just born outside captivity in Scotland. Groups have been working to rescue the cats from extinction in the UK, and it’s potentially the first time they’ve been more outside captivity in the country in more than 5 years.

Conservationists are working to save the giant, ancient crabs that live beneath Rome. The only freshwater crustaceans indigenous to Italy, experts hope to garner appreciation for these giant Roman crabs.

After decades of advocacy work, the world’s largest wildlife crossing is under construction in California. A collaborative effort by wildlife activists, government agencies, and private donors, crews broke ground on the crossing on Earth Day two years ago, and the crossing is on track to open by early 2026.

Bangladesh has seen the highest number of olive ridley turtle eggs this year thanks to extensive conservation action. Breaking a four-year record, the country saw a 43% increase in the number of eggs.

For the first time since 1943, American white pelicans are nesting on a small island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Showing the power of water conservation efforts, their return is promising both for the wetland environment and for the population as a whole.

Article Details

July 6, 2024 5:00 AM
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