Good News This Week: March 23, 2024 - Parks, Turbines, & AI

A photo collage of bicycles parked under a bike shed, a woman with Down syndrome posing for the camera, an close-up shot of a wind turbine’s wheel, a robot figure with part of the European Union flag as its background, and a close-up shot of a man wearing a life vest while rowing a boat

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 —

Wind turbines are being recycled into bike shelters, high-speed rail lines, power line poles, and roofs

Like many good things in life, wind turbines don’t last forever. But while 85% of an existing turbine is recyclable, disposing of retired turbine blades presents more of a challenge because they’re made of materials that can’t easily be recycled.

In order to not add a new waste problem to a sustainable solution, the renewable energy industry is getting creative. And as it turns out: life-expired wind turbine blades have lots of potential uses because the very materials that make them hard to recycle also make them durable and strong.

Engineers are already using them to build bicycle shelters, bridges, reinforce concrete, and more.

Why is this good news? Sustainable solutions aren’t truly sustainable if they create new long-term waste issues, and it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be 2 million tonnes of wind turbine waste needing safe disposal.

It’s very good news that folks are investing the time and energy to think about the entire lifespan of materials we use to capture wind energy — ​​including solutions for when blades can no longer be used for their primary purpose.​

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A viral Down syndrome ad campaign fiercely punches back against harmful misconceptions

“Hey bartender. You assume that I cannot drink a margarita, so you don’t serve me a margarita, so I don’t drink a margarita,” says actress Madison Tevlin in the new viral ad campaign ASSUME THAT I CAN. “Your assumption becomes reality.”

The ad goes on to lay out all of the limitations placed on people with Down syndrome that occur when parents, teachers, and peers operate on outdated assumptions — and what happens when those limits stop.

The series of PSAs — truly a global collaborative effort — are tied to World Down Syndrome Day coming up on March 21.

Why is this good news? Down syndrome impacts each individual on a spectrum of cognitive and social levels, but instead of being given a range of support and accommodation, people with Down syndrome are often drastically underestimated, infantilized, and even ridiculed based on other’s lowest assumptions.

This campaign writes a new, better narrative for viewers to adopt.

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Women are more involved and represented in politics than ever before

Women in the 18th and 19th did not have the right to vote or hold legislative office, and only those of royal descent led their countries — that changed significantly and dramatically throughout the 20th century.

When Kuwait extended the right to vote to women in 2006, women could officially vote in every country in the world — except those with no universal right to vote for anyone.

Another key marker of political equality is representation in political office, which women were excluded from through the early 20th century. That shifted over time until by the early 2000s, a handful of countries achieved between 40 and 50% women parliamentarian representation.

And while there were no women leading countries through the middle of the 20th century, that has changed significantly recently — more than a third of countries have now had a woman leader (and more than a quarter have been democratically elected).

While we still have a long way to go before we achieve political equality — some of the best progress throughout history has happened over decades and centuries. And this progress is worth celebrating — especially during Women’s History Month!

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The first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S. is now open and powering 70,000 homes in New York

Achieving a major milestone for clean energy in the U.S., South Fork Wind is officially complete and all 12 of its turbines are producing enough electricity to power around 70,000 homes in New York.

Construction on this first utility-scale offshore wind farm started last year, amidst setbacks for the industry overall. New York also has a goal to build 9 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035, which would meet about 30% of the state’s electricity demand.

It’s the most ambitious goal in the country, which just got one step closer to reality. Or as one expert put it: “Now the question is no longer if we can, but how fast we can.”

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More good clean energy news:

The European Union Parliament just passed the world’s first regulations to mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence

While countries like China and the U.S. have implemented some AI laws, the European Union just passed the “first and only set of binding requirements to mitigate AI risks” in the world.

The AI Act classifies AI products according to risk and imposes rules based on the product’s capacity to harm society. Those that have a higher risk, have stricter rules.

As AI sees exponential growth and profits, it has also raised valid concerns around things like bias and privacy. The creators of the law say it will make AI more “human-centric” — and is just the start of what regulations around the technology could look like.

Why is this good news? While the risks surrounding the most concerning uses for AI are valid, that shouldn’t stop the technology from being used for good — like to eliminate the world’s deadliest infectious disease, help with wildfire recovery, and save ecosystems critical to mitigating the climate crisis.

These new rules will help protect those beneficial, life-saving use cases — and prevent potential bad actors from using the tech to cause harm.

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California’s Yurok Tribe just became the first Native people to manage land with the National Park Service

Under a historic “memorandum of understanding” signed this week, the Yurok Tribe of California officially became the first Native people to manage tribal land with the National Park Service.

The Yurok had 90% of its land taken in the mid-1800s during the gold rush, and it will now get 125 acres of land — named ’O Rew in the Yurok language — back. It will be a new gateway to the iconic Redwood national and state parks.

The historic agreement is a step in righting those historic wrongs, and “starts the process of changing the narrative about how, by whom and for whom we steward natural lands.”

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More good news by and for Indigenous people:

A Dallas-based business owner is helping millions of refugees and other underserved people get essential healthcare

Just two weeks after seeing a news report about Cambodian refugees escaping the Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” 45 years ago, Ron Post raised $250,000 and had 28 volunteers ready to set off for Thailand to help in a refugee camp.

The sight of the emaciated body of a teenage girl at the refugee camp on the news moved him into action — and despite having no medical background, Post wanted to help. That was the start of Medical Teams International, which now serves approximately 3 million refugees at eight different camps.

Medical Teams also has free mobile clinics providing care for about 25,000 people each year — including underserved folks in Oregon and Washington. The clinics are completely free, and licensed doctors, dentists, and nurses volunteer their time to provide care.

They’ve been operating the mobile clinics since the 80s, and most recently in 2021, provided mobile COVID-19 vaccination and testing services specifically in rural communities.

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More good news of the week —

A YouTube creator created a way to recycle the “printer poop” from 3D printers. The power of 3D printing has been used to do a lot of good, from extend the lifespan of damaged goods, personalize toys for children with disabilities, or even build schools and bridges.

After realizing New Orleans had no way to recycle glass, a college student founded the city's first glass recycling plant. Glass half full collects glass and converts it to beach-like sand which is then used for disaster relief, eco-construction, and more.

At a prison in Panama, a new recycling program is helping clean up the facility and rehabilitate inmates. Incarcerated folks at La Joyita participate in EcoSólidos to collect, separate, recycle, and sell waste — and earn reduced sentences.

Keeping it out of landfills, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit is helping the East Coast recycle textile waste. FabScrap has partnered with Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and more and saved around one million pounds of fabric from the landfill.

A Volkswagen-partnered battery maker just pioneered a new way to recycle batteries. 24M Technologies’ process reduces production costs by up to 40% and improves the batteries’ energy density, safety, and recyclability.

YouTubers Rhett & Link got colonoscopies together to spread colon cancer awareness. The “Good Mythical Morning” hosts were their usual comedic selves as they underwent the procedure to help educate fans.

Three million shipwrecks around the world have become helpful habitats for underwater life — from microbes to sharks. Shipwrecks conjure tales of sunken treasure and unsolved mysteries — but can also be biological treasures for thriving underwater communities.

Hundreds of people lined up for a free adoption event after nearly 200 dogs were found at a Florida home. The animals had not been neglected, but their elderly owner could no longer take care of them and agreed to put them up for adoption.

Backed by Serena Williams, a new at-home cervical cancer test aims to replace traditional pap smears. With promising trial results and pending FDA approval, the Teal Wand aims to empower women with greater control over their health care.

To help limit the “excesses” created by fast fashion, France's lower house just passed an environmental surcharge law. Key measures in the package aimed at curbing the negative impact of fast fashion on the planet include a ban on advertising for the cheapest textiles and an environmental charge on low-cost items.

A new tick-killing pill could be a major breakthrough in preventing Lyme disease. A new, early-stage trial showed that it can kill ticks on people 24 hours after taking the drug, with the effects lasting for up to 30 days.

A new activist campaign is calling on the Met Gala to be inclusive of attendees in wheelchairs. #YourMoveMET calls on event organizers, including Anna Wintour and Zendaya, to reimagine the Gala to include attendees who use wheelchairs with intention.

Canada will no longer use a devastating poison to kill “land predators,” like wolves, bears, and coyotes. Strychnine causes the animals that consume it to die slow and painful deaths, and ending its use will help protect wildlife in the entire ecosystem.

A new project in Massachusetts is testing a future for gas utilities without fossil fuels. Environmentalists hope the country's first gas utility-led networked geothermal system can be a model for other gas utilities to wean themselves off of fossil fuels.

Women veterans are receiving more benefits and care from VA than ever before. Progress in the department is attributed to legislative measures and ongoing initiatives such as the PACT Act and the new Women's Health Research Collaborative.

EU countries just backed a new law to enforce stricter checks on forced labor and environmental damage. The European Supply Chain Act will apply to companies with over 1,000 employees and annual revenues of over $490 million.

The EPA is imposing the strictest limits on greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles in U.S. history. It’s the Biden-Harris administration’s biggest climate move yet, and will further solidify and accelerate the EV transition.

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March 23, 2024 5:00 AM
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