Good News This Week: March 16, 2024 - Shoes, Birds, & Lanternflies

A photo collage consisting of a close-up shot of a scientist holding up 3D-printed human skin, a MakeNukesHistory.org outdoor ad related to the Oppenheimer movie, a portrait shot of the 2024 Paris Olympics mascot, a shot of a ship named 'Open Arms', and a close-up shot of Yeezy Foam Runners

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 —

In a historic first, scientists just successfully 3D-printed human skin tissue into open wounds

In a historic first, scientists at Pennsylvania State University have successfully 3D-printed living human skin tissue directly into the open wounds of rats.

While it doesn’t sound very pretty, this bioengineering milestone could pave the way for major innovations in reconstructive surgery — or even human hair treatments.

The idea of bioprinted skin is not new — scientists have previously 3D-printed thin layers of skin — but Ozbolat’s team shares that they are the first to print a full “living system of multiple skin layers.”

Why is this good news? Current methods of skin and hair reconstruction — like skin grafts — often result in scars, meaning this discovery could lead to a more seamless treatment for humans.

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Thanks to ‘systematic progress’ in the 2010s, some European Union countries have already hit their 2023 sustainable energy goals

While every single member of the European Union have made progress toward reaching 2030 sustainable energy goals, several countries have already reached their targets.

The goals are in alignment with the United Nations’ seventh sustainable development goal of providing access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” by 2030.

New research from Polish economists found that Sweden was the closest overall to achieving the goal — then Denmark, Estonia, and Austria. Significant progress was shown in Cyprus, Latvia, and Belgium — and the most improved was Malta.

Several countries had also already reached 2030 targets in at least one of the indicators — and they did so back in 2021. For example, Spain, Malta, and Portugal have already reached the target average amount of energy consumed per person in a household; and Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg hit the energy productivity target — which looks at the size of an economy compared to its energy consumption.

The achievements are thanks to “systemic progress” that happened decades ago across EU member states.

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The Oscars attention for ‘Oppenheimer’ led activists to create a new campaign to advocate for nuclear disarmament

This weekend, ‘Oppenheimer’ both took home seven Academy Awards and renewed a cultural conversation about nuclear weapons.

Prior to the big awards show this weekend, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a global nonpartisan nonprofit aimed at reducing nuclear threats on humanity, launched a new public service campaign: Make Nukes History.

Beyond spreading awareness, the campaign includes a quiz for folks to “test their knowledge on nukes,” as well as an action guide, which prompts supporters to learn more, support communities harmed by nukes, and ensure they are registered to vote.

Why is this good news? Today, 13,000 nuclear weapons are held by nine countries — with some being 80 times more powerful than the ones created by Oppenheimer and his team. This campaign aims to empower people to make that reality history with a simple message: Oppenheimer may have started this, but we can end it.

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A man is recording every bird in Ireland — and raising awareness about Ireland’s ecological crisis

Seán Ronayne was interested in birds from an extremely young age. Now, his “total immersive obsession” with birds and bird songs has made him Ireland’s most well-known ornithologist.

He’s on a mission to record the sound of every bird species in Ireland — he’s collected 10,000 recordings so far, identifying 194 of the more common species.

He’s also a passionate advocate for biodiversity and ecological awareness — an important topic in Ireland right now, as it’s “one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe.” According to Ronayne, the country has lost 90% of its wetlands, and is left with just 1% of native tree cover.

It puts Ronayne’s work at an important intersection: documenting the country’s native birds as their habitats dwindle — 63% of them are at risk of extinction.

Ronayne said “the response to what I am doing has made me more optimistic,” and that people largely “want to be guided” to make a positive difference.

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For the first time in history, the Olympics will achieve gender parity at Paris 2024

This year’s Olympics in Paris will be the first in history to achieve numerical gender parity on the field of play — meaning there will be an equal number of female and male athletes participating in the largest sporting event in the world.

Out of the 10,500 athletes participating in the Games, there will be 5,250 men and 5,250 women. There will also be a more even distribution of medal events, with 152 women’s events, 157 men’s events, and 20 mixed-gender events. That means over half of all medal events will be open to female athletes.

Additionally, the IOC is changing up the arrangement of some events, and hiring more female staff in broadcasting positions, including 35 new female commentators to raise the percentage of women in that role to nearly 40%.

What’s the nuance? While the 50-50 gender split of the 2024 Games is an enormous achievement (made possible by a number of decades-long initiatives), the number of players on the field doesn't mean that gender equality has been achieved: women are still far underrepresented in media, recognized as “wives, mothers, females” before “athlete,” and more.

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The first aid ship carrying 200 tons of food supplies is now on its way to Palestinians in Gaza

The first in what could become a “maritime highway” bringing continuous aid to people in need in Gaza, a ship filled with 200 tons of food from Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen is now on its way across the Mediterranean Sea from Cyprus.

Since Gaza has no functioning port, workers with World Central Kitchen are building a jetty to receive the aid once it arrives. If the delivery is successful, World Central Kitchen has 500 more tons ready to follow.

World Central Kitchen has a network of 60 kitchens across Gaza and, has already provided more than 35 million meals to an estimated 1.7 million displaced Palestinians.

Why is this good news? According to the United Nations, one quarter of the population in Gaza (576,000 people) are one step away from famine. The situation is so desperate, deliveries are needed daily — and since land deliveries have been challenging, WCK is hopeful this could lead to more frequent food deliveries and prevent any more deaths from starvation.

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From the sale of Yeezy shoes, Adidas is donating $150 million to anti-hate organizations

After ending its longtime relationship with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, in 2022, Adidas was still left with $1.3 billion worth of Yeezy shoes in warehouses. It decided to sell some of those remaining shoes — and is doing something good with sales.

The company just announced it has already or is planning to donate more than $150 million from the sales of the shoes to organizations fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate.

So far, it’s made donations to the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, which is run by social justice advocate Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother.

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A high schooler invented a solar- and AI-powered trap for invasive lanternflies

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that’s destroyed New Jersey’s local agricultural industry for years. It’s also been found in 17 other states, where it feeds on plant sap, causing the plants to become stressed and making them more susceptible to disease.

Selena Zhang first noticed the moth-like bugs at a local market and wanted to help get rid of them, without the ecologically damaging impacts of other preventative measures — like insecticides (bad for pollinators!) and sticky bands (bad for birds, small animals, and other insects).

After weeks of field observation, hundreds of photos, and with a patio umbrella from her backyard, Zhang created the ArTreeficial: a solar-powered, self-cleaning, artificial intelligence-driven “tree” that lures the spotted lanternfly. It then quickly eliminates the bug using an electronic mesh.

The umbrella structure mimics the tree of heaven, which is a known host plant of the insect. It also emits an incense made from the tree’s essence to lure them, and a double-electric net uses AI to recognize when a lanternfly has landed on the trap.

→ ​​Read more

More good news of the week —

A sign language interpreter taught Mark Ruffalo, Lily Gladstone and other nominees how to sign the titles of Oscar-nominated films. Representation and accessibility are popular for a reason; they drastically improve the experiences of countless movie fans with disabilities.

A new Carnegie Hall concert series is designed specifically for attendees’ mental health. According to a sweeping 2019 World Health Organization report, making and listening to music is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

The world’s largest psychology group just confirmed that gender-affirming care saves lives. The American Psychological Association just issued a near-unanimous resolution saying it was fully supportive of gender-affirming care and equally opposed to bans on the medical practice.

Following its Oscars win, “The Last Repair Shop” documentary short inspired a flood of donations for young musicians in Los Angeles. The city is one of the last in the country to give “free and freely repaired” instruments to its public school students.

Calls for a “green” Ramadan are reviving Islam’s long tradition of sustainability and care for the planet. To encourage Muslims to be more mindful of environmental impact, mosques are increasingly ditching single-use items, with some banning the use of plastics altogether.

“Round up for charity” checkout counter campaigns have raised millions of dollars to support scholarships, cancer research, and more. In 2022 alone, charities raised $749 million nationwide through so-called point-of-sale donations, a 24% jump from 2020 and proof that donations do make a difference.

Thanks to restoration efforts, a study found “full recovery” of reef growth within four years. It also found that efforts to restore coral reefs not only increase coral cover, but they can also bring back important ecosystem functions, and surprisingly fast.

President Biden just called for an unprecedented investment in education, including free preschool. His budget proposal addresses the most pressing post-pandemic education issues, like better mental health care for students and staff and making college affordable and attainable.

Bald eagles were just seen nesting in Toronto for the first time in the city’s recorded history. The birds’ presence is proof of the improving health of the city’s green spaces, since they are highly sensitive to environmental disturbances.

Dylan Mulvaney just dropped a new single for her ‘Days of Girlhood’ TikTok anniversary, with profits benefiting The Trevor Project. The single celebrates the two-year milestone of her transition and honors the painful parts of the past year.

The Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs will now provide access to IVF regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. Under the new policy, anyone who has service-connected infertility can use the program — previously, only married, heterosexual couples using their own sperm and eggs could participate.

Breaking the record as the highest single donation ever, a philanthropist just donated $58 million to the ALS Association. The gift was from the late Hugh Hoffman, who passed away in March of 2023, as a way to ensure other families don’t lose their loved ones to ALS.

John Green just announced a $1 million annual donation to fight tuberculosis in the Phillippines. Tuberculosis, though entirely curable, is still the world’s deadliest disease — 1.6 million people die from it each year because of inaccessible testing and treatment.

A clever photo frame campaign is popping up at local parks and giving nature enthusiasts the opportunity to help protect local wildlife. Chronolog’s 100,000-plus photo submissions have helped improve wildlife conservation efforts by allowing researchers to monitor nature sites from afar.

To help tackle poverty, Flint, Michigan is giving every new mother $7,500 in cash aid over a year. The program is the first of its kind in the country and will help support families in a city with one of the country’s highest rates of child poverty.

Article Details

March 16, 2024 5:00 AM
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