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Accessibility, Microgrids, & Wind Farms - Good News This Week: March 18th 2023

A photo collage of activists, a TikTok video, Chloe Hayden at Harry Styles's concert, a wind turbine, 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 —

In an analysis of over 150 countries, researchers found that those with more gender equality also had a longer life expectancy

In what’s believed to be the first study to analyze the relationship between the gender gap and life expectancy, a recent study found that in countries with more gender equality, both men and women are more likely to live longer.

Researchers used a gender gap index developed by the World Economic Forum to estimate the gender quality of 156 countries from 2010 to 2021. The index focuses on equality in four areas: health, economic opportunities, education, and political leadership.

And while all play a role in creating positive life expectancy outcomes, one stood out as having the most significant impact: education. Girls’ access to education has incredible long-term effects not only on their own health but the health of their entire community.

Why is this good news? This latest study adds to an ever-increasing amount of research that shows advances in women’s rights benefit everyone — in this case, it’s better for everyone’s long-term health!

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A new report found that the global decline of democracy has hit a “possible turning point” toward recovery

For the past 17 years, democracy has been declining globally, but that decline has slowed in recent years and reached what researchers believe to be a turning point.

The report noted specifically some contentious elections last year, like those in Colombia, Kenya, and Malaysia that ended in peaceful transfers of power. And in scoring countries’ political and civil rights of citizens, 35 countries declined and 34 improved ​​— the narrowest gap since 2005.

The report’s findings give us a glimmer of hope after a decade of rising authoritarianism and eroding democracies around the world. While no political system is perfect — and corruption can (and does) exist in any of them — one that prioritizes the voice of its citizens in choosing leaders and lawmakers (from the local level to national!) is one we can celebrate.

We’re glad to see it gaining more ground for the benefit of people around the world.

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An Instagram and TikTok creator is fighting climate doom by filling social media with good climate news

Alaina Wood — or as she’s better known on Instagram and TikTok, the Garbage Queen — isn’t just a climate communicator, she’s also a sustainability scientist out to make the world a better and greener place.

With a background in waste and water, Wood uses her expertise to help explain climate concepts, science, policy, and news. And in her social media videos and newsletter, she directs folks to the solutions to the climate crisis and empowers them to take action, too.

She also doesn’t shy away from acknowledging when the climate news is not so good. On Monday, for example, a new, hugely contested oil drilling project in Alaska, the Willow Project was approved by the Biden Administration, inviting a whole slew of negative consequences for both the planet and people.

But even in those instances, Wood is in our feeds to combat the climate doom that says “it’s all over now” with not a more hopeful reality — and a scientifically accurate one: it’s not too late to solve the climate crisis and there’s so much good progress happening.

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Some recent good climate news:

After a disability rights advocate shared her negative experience, Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium announced new accessibility plans and protocols

At a recent Harry Styles concert in Melbourne, disability rights advocate Chloe Hayden, who is also autistic, was dismissed by staff and denied access to Marvel Stadium’s sensory room. She was one of several concert attendees who had the same experience.

A sensory room is a quiet and secure space for people with sensitivity to overstimulation and noise. Hayden made public comments on social media about her experience, calling out the venue for ableism, and sharing details about how she was treated by staff.

In response, Marvel Stadium invited Hadyen to meet with them in person to hear feedback and recently announced they’d be building a second sensory room and retraining its staff on accessibility protocols.

What’s the nuance? It shouldn’t take a negative experience like this for a venue, business, restaurant, or any other establishment to have proper accessibility protocols in place.

At the same time, we’re glad Hayden both was able and felt empowered to use her voice (and was supported by a chorus of others backing her up!) and fight for these important changes. They will undoubtedly help someone else in the future.

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Amidst attacks from Russia, Ukraine just completed the first 114 MW of a 500 MW wind farm

As Ukraine enters its second year defending itself against Russia — it’s letting its opposition show in another way: by embracing a green, clean energy future. Despite the challenges of an ongoing war, the country just completed the first 114 MW of a 500 MW wind farm project.

The wind farm will begin operating this spring, and while it’s been difficult, the installation company’s employees have displayed “high levels of professionalism and bravery,” even wearing body armor to complete construction.

Currently, Ukraine has about 10 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, and a goal of reaching 30 GW by 2030. When they reach that goal, 50% of the country’s power will come from renewable sources.

Why is this good news? One of Russia’s main sources of power (both literally and figuratively) on the global stage is fossil fuels. Ukraine fighting for not just its independence as a country, but for its energy independence is a poetic way to fight back, too.

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A mechanic is modifying motorcycles so veterans and others with disabilities can continue riding

For those who come to Sharine Milne for help, motorcycling is a passion and a way of life — but a disability has hindered their ability to continue riding. Milne is here to get them back on the road.

Assessing the physical needs of her customer — from an amputated leg to accommodating a service animal — Milne gets to work making modifications, which can take anywhere from a day to 18 months.

She takes special care to ensure the modifications look like a “natural extension of the bike” so drivers can experience a “sense of normalcy” rather than sticking out. And she says that the entire process has helped her customers share their stories and come to terms with their past trauma.

Right now, she’s working on adding a carrier to the back of a veteran’s motorcycle so his assistance dog Sasha (who he relies on for “everything”) can come along wherever he goes.

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A town in Puerto Rico just completed a first-of-its-kind solar microgrid project to boost its energy resiliency

In the line of fire for many devastating hurricanes, the mountainous town of Adjuntas in Puerto Rico just celebrated the successful completion of the island’s first-ever cooperatively managed solar microgrid.

The town is now home to a network of about 700 solar panels mounted on seven buildings in the town’s central plaza as well as battery storage units, which together can provide up to 187 kilowatts of power.

In the event of a power outage (which is common on the island), the system can provide enough electricity to power 14 downtown businesses for up to 10 days. In an emergency, those businesses can become hubs for the community.

To make it even better, residents and businesses run the microgrid through a nonprofit, which will also sell electricity generated to the commonwealth. Any money saved by not purchasing power from Puerto Rico’s main power company will be used to maintain the microgrid and fund community projects.

Why is this good news? Solar energy generation and storage solutions continue to prove their weight in daily life and disaster situations. Puerto Rico often finds itself in the path of hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season, and in recent years has been without power for days on end after storms. This solution is good for the planet — and for people.

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More good news of the week —

Researchers have been awarded roughly $300,000 in funding to investigate a new treatment for endometriosis. It could lead to the first-ever non-hormonal and non-surgical treatment for endometriosis – and the first new treatment in 40 years.

A captive-breeding program for an endangered Australian mouse has already proven hugely successful. Less than 12 months into the program, the Pookila mouse has given birth to more than 20 pups.

A breakthrough new drug is effective in fighting all the main types of bone cancer. Current treatments are grueling, and this new one increases survival rates by 50 percent without the need for surgery or chemotherapy.

France announced it is investing €100 billion in its railway infrastructure by 2040. It will help modernize the nation’s aging rail network to deliver more reliable and frequent services.

An Olympian is auctioning off three of his medals to raise money for Indiana’s largest and oldest AIDS service center. Greg Louganis was one of the first high-profile athletes to come out publicly as gay when he did so at the 1994 Gay Games.

Honduras just lifted a decade-long ban on the use and sale of the “morning after pill.” Influenced heavily by Catholicism, the country banned the form of emergency contraception in 2009, saying it would cause abortions.

Daisy Chain, an organization that provides nationwide support for autistic folks in the UK, runs a gardening group for autistic adults. 92% of participants said gardening with their community helped them feel more confident being around others.

Doctors from the National Institutes of Health are hopeful about new treatments for OCD in development. In one small study, researchers found that patients who received a low dose of an FDA-approved anesthetic reported a rapid decrease in symptoms.

Lewis Capaldi’s fans took over singing for him when he started having tics onstage due to his Tourette syndrome. Open about his diagnosis, Capaldi has helped demystify Tourette’s and later commented that his tics happen “when I get like tired, nervous, excited, whatever.”

The EPA just proposed the strongest standards yet for keeping coal plant pollution out of U.S. waterways. Coal plants emit toxins like mercury, arsenic, and chloride that cause cancer in humans and make it harder for wildlife to reproduce.

The Biden Administration announced it would strictly limit the amounts of two “forever chemicals” found in drinking water. A peer-reviewed study found that as many as 200 million people in the U.S. are exposed to PFAS (which have been linked to a range of health impacts even in small doses) in their drinking water.

The UN just signed a deal to purchase and move a stranded oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. The rusting tanker has more than 1 million barrels and poses the threat of massive environmental damage from a possible oil spill or explosion.

University students in the UK are using microorganisms in soil to generate clean energy. The electricity generated could help decontaminate polluted landscapes, and it’s already been used to remote communities in Brazil purify their water supply.

The Department of Energy is giving out $22 million to accelerate equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades. The first phase of the Buildings Upgrade Prize focuses on upgrades to low- and moderate-income homes, small, disadvantaged businesses, and other equity-eligible buildings.

Scientists and experts around the world are pushing for a space junk cleanup treaty. Estimates predict there could be over 100 trillion pieces of old, untracked satellites orbiting the planet that pose a risk both to other satellites and human space exploration.

A Portland woman was sick of watching women’s games on mute at sports bars (if they even played them at all), so she opened her own. Jenny Nguyen raised $50,000 in nine days to open “The Sports Bra,” which shows only women’s sports.

The 2023 NCAA women’s basketball tournament features 11 Black head coaches. There were 12 Black head coaches in last year’s tournament (all women, too!), but it’s still a big win for representation — it’s almost double the six in the 2020 tourney.

The NCAA women’s tournament also announced it sold out of its advertising inventory for the second year in a row. After averaging 634K viewers per game and earning an audience of over 5M for the final, advertisers and ESPN responded accordingly with increased demand and offerings.

The global soccer players' union proposed equal conditions and prize money at the men's and women's World Cups. FIFpro’s letter to FIFA set an equal framework of regulations and conditions for both WCs — including travel, facilities and delegation size — and pay out equal prize money for the competitions.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association says it’s finalizing plans to introduce a professional league this year. It would be the second professional women’s hockey league in North America, the other of which has 7 teams.

Article Details

March 18, 2023 5:00 AM
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