Good News This Week: July 8, 2023 - Corals, Microwaves, & Cancer Awareness

A photo collage of a coral reef, a plastic bag with vegetable leaves, a female patient and doctor, and solar panels

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 largest data set ever collected is now showing us how coral reefs can survive climate change

Over the course of two years, the Tara Pacific expedition searched the entire Pacific Ocean to understand the conditions needed for coral to survive — and it collected the largest-ever genetic inventory of any marine system.

The expedition’s team of 70 scientists collected around 58,000 samples from the 100 coral reefs they researched — and their first findings were just published. It’s freely available and will help the world uncover ways to help corals survive climate change.

Their research included three key findings: global biodiversity is ten times higher than we previously thought, the impact of the environment on evolutionary adaptation is specific to each coral species, and certain genes that are important for the coral’s survival are duplicated.

Why is this good news? Aside from the findings being freely available to the public, which will spur further research and discovery in how we can help protect and preserve coral reefs, understanding more about the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem on Earth is critical to their survival — and humanity’s.

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Global solar panel installation grew by 50% in 2022 — and is projected to continue increasing annually

According to Solar Power Europe, 239 total GW of new solar capacity was installed in 2022 — 118 GW of rooftop solar, and 121 GW of utility-scale solar. That’s equivalent to a 45% growth rate overall (and a 50% growth rate of rooftop solar specifically), it’s the highest growth rate since 2016.

Installations in China drove the record growth, with nearly 100 GW added in a single year — a 72% growth rate. The U.S. installed the next-highest amount of solar capacity with 21.9 total GW. Brazil saw the largest year-over-year growth: 5.3 GW installed was a 193% increase over 2021.

And this rate of growth is expected to continue in the coming years (as solar panel costs continue to fall, too), and experts predict “the world could be installing 1 TW of solar annually by the end of the decade,” and even hit up to 800 GW per year  hitting up to 800 GW per year” by 2027.

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The number of people who die after a breast cancer diagnosis has decreased by two-thirds since the 1990s

A 10-year study of more than half a million women in England found those diagnosed from 1993 to 1999 had a 14.4% risk of dying within 5 years. That risk fell to 4.9% for women diagnosed from 2010 to 2015.

It also found that the risk of death decreased across nearly all age groups, both for women who were diagnosed through screening and those who were not screened.

The reason for the huge increase in the number of breast cancer survivors is unclear, though it could be due to increased awareness of breast cancer since the 1990s, screenings offered routinely and regularly to more women (which results in earlier diagnoses), and better treatment options.

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More good global health news:

New Zealand just became the first country in the world to ban single-use plastic produce bags at grocery stores

Building on a ban of single-use plastic shopping bags from 2019, New Zealand just also became the first country in the world to ban single-use plastic produce bags at grocery stores. The ban went into effect on July 1 and includes recyclable, biodegradable, and plant-based plastics bags.

Instead, customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable mesh, paper, or fabric produce bags to carry and store produce in. The new ban is estimated to eliminate 150 million plastic produce bags from circulation each year.

New Zealand has also banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of single-use plates, bowls, and cutlery. Additionally, stores can only offer single-use plastic straws to people who need them due to a disability or other health requirement.

Why is this good news? Single-use plastic bags cause major harm to the environment in a number of ways, including clogging storm drains, polluting landscapes and oceans, and killing wildlife. Not to mention, most of them are made with petroleum, so they cause double the damage by furthering our reliance on fossil fuels.

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Using the same technology in your microwave, researchers found a way to more easily recycle solar panels

Thanks to rapidly declining costs, solar panel installations are popping up everywhere — from homes to canals and open fields. And while this spells very good news for the clean energy transition, one of the major drawbacks is what to do with the panels at end-of-life.

While it’s getting longer, the lifespan of solar panels installed in recent years could be just a few decades — leaving the world with a major waste problem. And it’s something researchers are thinking a lot about, since current recycling methods are expensive and difficult.

A team in Australia came up with a relatively simple, common solution: microwave technology. The same tech that warms up your leftovers makes it easier to heat up parts of a solar panel, take it apart, and recover and reuse the materials.

Why is this good news? Without new discoveries and solutions like these, the potential waste associated with end-of-life solar panels could be an environmental disaster — like the harm that the (however small amounts of) toxic metals they're made of could do if they end up in a landfill instead.

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A member of Cherokee Nation is using the tribe’s long-promised place in Congress to help undo decades of harm

One of 573 other federally recognized tribes, Cherokee Nation is the most populous with 450,000 citizens. And the treaty that pushed them off their ancestral lands almost 200 years ago also promised them a non-voting seat in the U.S. House — which was filled for the first time by Kim Teehee.

Teehee was appointed by her tribe’s leaders, and while it’s to-be-determined how her actually taking the seat in Congress will look, she has plans to use it to help shape federal policy for the benefit of tribal nations.

Among her priorities: tackling the epidemic of violence against Native women, saving the Cherokee language from extinction, and protecting funding for health care and housing.

It’s also significant that the first person to represent Cherokee Nation in Congress is a woman, not only because it’s a highly man-dominated chamber, but because empowering women to lead is a cornerstone of the tribe’s culture and history.

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More good news of the week —

Thanks to conservation efforts, Bangladesh had a record number of olive ridley turtle eggs laid on its beaches. This nesting season, researchers found 7,528 eggs at 58 spots on three different islands — 30% more than last year.

A federal judge gave an oil company three years to shut down an oil and gas pipeline that crosses tribal lands.  The Enbrige Line 5 pipeline runs through Wisconsin and is at immediate risk of being exposed by erosion and rupturing on the tribal land.

Thousands of people in prison will be eligible for free college under the Pell Grant program expansion. Next month, about 30,000 more students will be able to receive $130 million in financial aid per year, helping them earn degrees, diplomas, and certificates while behind bars.

To combat climate change, all city buildings in Detroit will be powered by neighborhood solar power. The city announced a unique grassroots plan where neighborhoods and block clubs can apply to host and benefit from solar farms in their area.

Trans fiber artists are using community quilts to bring together queer and trans artists in an act of joyful activism. Due in part to its socially feminized connotation, quilting has long been used as a tool in activism for feminists, racial justice activists, and more.

More than 60% of U.S. unionized railroad workers at major railroads are now covered by new sick leave agreements. The railroads came under fire last year for not agreeing to paid sick leave during negotiations with unions.

Thanks to its solar power supply, Texas has avoided rolling blackouts during the current record-breaking heatwave. A large number of the state’s coal and gas-fired power plants have failed amid record temperatures, while solar has remained reliable.

Believed to be the largest of its kind in Africa, Kenya is launching a new free school meals program. Under the new scheme, 250,000 children living in the country's capital Nairobi will receive a hot meal every day.

New York’s first Narcan vending machine is working, saving lives and intervening in more than 850 overdoses. The vending machine is in Brownsville, which had one of the highest rates of death from overdoses in 2021.

The WHO announced the 12 countries in Africa that will receive the first 18 billion doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine. Malaria is one of the continent’s deadliest diseases, killing nearly half a million children under the age of five every year.

Forty-one countries have now implemented mental health and resiliency training for thousands of healthcare workers. The training teaches them how to avoid and cope with burnout, skills to handle stress, PTSD, and anxiety, and practice self-care.

Toyota says it has invented a battery with a range of 745 miles that charges in just 10 minutes. The breakthrough would allow the carmaker to halve the weight, size and cost of batteries, which could be a major leap forward for electric vehicles.

Article Details

July 8, 2023 5:00 AM
A photo collage of two scientists crouched over a river, school buses lined up in a parking lot, men in a field, a tarpaulin poster that says 'Let's Fix Climate Finance', and a couple holding up a sign that says 'Welcome to the family #CAAdoptAPetDay'

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