Good News This Week: March 9, 2024 - Grannies, Parrots, & Buses

A photo collage of a portrait shot of a parrot, the side of the front part of a school bus, an image of the back of a birth control packaging box, two medical images of a brain, and a flatlay image of the Goodnewspaper

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 huge conservation victory, a critically endangered parrot has reached its highest numbers in 15 years

In 2016, only three wild female orange-bellied parrots returned to their breeding ground in Tasmania after migrating to Australia. This year, 80 of the critically endangered parrots have returned — the most in 15 years.

Despite decades of breeding programs and other conservation efforts, the bird was almost declared functionally extinct. The birds face a number of threats, including habitat loss due to agriculture and urban development, invasive predators, and fewer burn-offs managed by Tasmanian Aboriginal people (which would typically provide a vital food source).

The teams of conservationists and volunteers that have worked to protect and bring the parrots back are celebrating this hopeful turn — and continuing to work to improve juvenile mortality rates.

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More good animal news:

The number of people paralyzed by polio has declined by 99% in the last four decades

Polio is an infectious disease that is particularly devastating in children — once the poliovirus invades the nervous system, it can cause irreversible paralysis within hours. It can spread through contaminated water and food, especially in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene systems.

In the first half of the 20th century, millions of people around the world were impacted by polio. In the 1980s alone, 2.9 million people — most of them children — were paralyzed by it.

As part of a global effort to turn things around (and with funding from public tax dollars), scientists worked tirelessly to create a vaccine, and in 1955 the development of the first working vaccine was announced.

In the decades since, thanks to a global vaccination campaign, polio has been nearly eradicated from the globe — it’s now only endemic in two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Full eradication is achievable within this generation.

To put it in even clearer perspective: In 1980, only 1 out of 5 of the world’s infants received the polio vaccine — today, that ratio is flipped and 1 out of five are not vaccinated. As a result, millions of children have gone on to live happy, healthy lives.

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Electric school buses performed better during extreme cold winter school months than diesel buses

In one of the coldest towns in the U.S., Kremmling, Colorado, electric school buses have been proving they’ve got more than what it takes to get students to school in even extremely cold temperatures.

The town frequently sees 30-below temperatures during the morning school commute, due to high altitudes and northern winds.

Just like gas and diesel vehicles, electric vehicles see shorter ranges in extreme weather conditions — but sometimes, a diesel vehicle won’t start at all. The electric buses can hold their charge and start up even in the coldest weather.

Why is this good news? School buses have been shown to have a devastating impact on air quality, especially in the areas they’re designed for: children and neighborhoods. This new data showing that the buses can stand up to even the most extreme temperatures is just another reason to accelerate the shift to EV buses in school districts around the country.

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Starting this month, birth control will be available without a prescription at drugstores across the U.S.

Approved by the FDA last summer, the first oral contraceptive pill to be available over the counter has now shipped to drugstores and supermarkets across the U.S. Opill will be available for purchase later this month, both online and in the family planning aisle in physical retailers, like Walgreens, Target, and CVS.

Opill is a daily progestin-only pill, is 98% effective, and has “an extremely high safety profile.” The drug itself has been around for decades, but this is the first time it will be available for purchase without a prescription.

While this alone will dramatically improve access to reproductive health care, Perrigo, which manufactures Opill, also has a patient assistance program for people who don't have insurance or can’t afford to purchase it.

Why is this good news? Opill is now the most effective form of contraception available over the counter, which will help both people who face hurdles in visiting a doctor to get a prescription — as well as for those without insurance. Improved access to contraception has been shown to reduce unplanned pregnancies and is one way to safely reduce abortions without removing access.

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New AI breakthroughs are helping doctors make life-saving cancer and heart defect diagnoses faster than ever before

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are changing the tide in a new chapter of health care: one that is centered on patient-first care. One includes a new visual-mapping AI model that can accurately identify diseases and tumors in medical images.

The researchers trained their model by feeding it thousands of images and giving it diagnosis tasks. In a variety of challenges, the AI was able to flag early signs of tumors, detect heart conditions in X-rays, and identify macular degeneration.

It may sound too good to be true, but these kinds of models have already proven themselves: they’ve already detected hidden heart conditions, autism at a younger age, and acute ear infections in babies and young children.

Why is this good news? Over over again, stories circulate from patients who go years (sometimes decades) without a proper health diagnosis, despite tirelessly advocating for their pain — especially among women of color.

While there are legitimate concerns surrounding the technology, this is one example of using AI to make a difference — and save lots of lives.

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An airline pilot started a nonprofit to help students of color pursue careers in aviation

While serving as a pilot in the U.S. Navy, Courtland Savage noticed a lack of diversity in the aviation industry — he was one of two African Americans in his squadron.

Inspired to help bring more diversity to aviation, he launched a nonprofit organization after leaving the Navy and getting a job as a commercial airline pilot.

Fly for the Culture helps young Black kids see aviation as a potential career by taking them on introductory flights “to show them what being a pilot is really like.” It also gives them support in direction in taking the next steps to pursue becoming a pilot — or any other career in the aviation industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2023 only 3.6% of aircraft pilots and flight engineers are African American. Savage is helping make that number better reflect the population in the historically underrepresented field.

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With nearly 13 million total businesses, more women are becoming entrepreneurs than ever before

The early 2000s have been a prosperous point in time, particularly for women. Despite an ever-persistent wage gap, and the prevalence of workplace sexism throughout history — more women are starting their own businesses than ever.

Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses climbed 21% to a total of nearly 13 million. And in even better news for representation: businesses owned by Black women saw the highest rate of growth in the number of total women-owned businesses.

More women entrepreneurs is also good for the bottom line: evidence shows that in “full potential” scenarios — in which women participate in the economy identically to men — equity in business would add up to $28 trillion to annual global GDP by 2025.

What’s the nuance? Unless you’re on this street in Philadelphia, women-owned businesses are still in the minority. Due to factors like disparity in education and networking, and lack of access to capital, there are still roughly two male entrepreneurs for every one woman entrepreneur in the U.S.

Still, this positive trend should inspire us to keep going and fighting for more equitable representation.

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More good news of the week —

A museum is hosting a free “Wikipedia Edit-a-thon” to create and edit articles about inspiring women. Less than 20% of English-language biographies on Wikipedia are about women, but the Smithsonian American Women’s History wants to help correct that during Women’s History Month.

The FDA just announced that certain “forever chemicals” will be banned from food product packaging. Studies have shown that packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and take-out pizza boxes were a major source of exposure to some PFAS.

Spain is banning some short-haul domestic flights where there is a train route available. As part of the country’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, flights where there’s a rail alternative that takes less than two and a half hours will no longer be allowed.

“Climate grannies” are fighting for climate action to protect their grandchildren. They have generational wisdom, environmental activism experience, free time — and they're not afraid of getting arrested.

The first of its kind in the Midwest, a new woman-owned sports bar caters exclusively to women’s sports. To help close the gender gap in sports coverage, A Bar of Their Own is the latest in an emerging trend of women's sports bars across the U.S.

The Biden-Harris administration just announced new washer and dryer efficiency standards. The new guidelines will save people $2.2 billion a year in utility costs and eliminate 71 million tons of planet-warming CO2 emissions.

People with Down syndrome are living longer than ever — and programs are growing to support their lifelong care. Although challenges in care persist, new clinics are addressing the evolving healthcare needs of adults with Down syndrome, including early-onset dementia and Alzheimer's.

An architect who designs buildings that emphasize community and social connection just won architecture’s highest honor. Riken Yamamoto was awarded this year’s Pritzker Prize for his designs, like a fire station with a visible atrium to encourage connection between civil servants and those they serve.

A creek in Eastern Oregon just had its first salmon spawn in 30 years. The historic spawning was made possible by the partial removal of a fish weir, which was placed in the creek by the Bureau of Reclamation in the 1990s to trap fish.

Glennon Doyle's nonprofit has raised over $1 million to provide aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Together Rising, which has supported Gaza since 2021, is collaborating with local partners to provide essential supplies to people in need.

In a “revolutionary” move, the EU is now the first international body to criminalize ecosystem destruction. Under the updated environmental crime directive, the most serious cases of environmental damage — like habitat loss and illegal logging — will be punished with tougher penalties and prison sentences.

Japan is launching the world's first satellite designed specifically to combat space pollution. It will test the idea of using biodegradable materials such as wood to see if they can act as environmentally friendly alternatives to the metals satellites are currently built with.

England’s first female professional astronomer was largely ignored for two centuries — but is finally gaining name recognition today. Caroline Herschel made contributions to astronomy that are still important to the field today, but even many astronomers may not recognize her name.

Related: A Wikipedia edit-a-thon is happening today(!) to make sure the contributions of women like Herschel don’t go unrecognized for centuries.

Achieving a major milestone, 10,000 women have now been certified to fight malaria in Rwanda. Malaria is the seventh leading cause of death in the country, which has led to a widespread community effort to protect families and communities.

Zimbabwe’s first team of women-only rangers are fighting both poachers and poverty. The Akashinga unit, a rarity in a field long dominated by men, is working to both save wildlife and empower women by offering ranger jobs that provide good incomes.

A program at Yosemite National Park is helping bring more women into wildland firefighting. Currently, only about 12% of wildland firefighters are women, and women make up less than 5% of National Park Service wildland fire leadership at the park level.

An international team of young women is fighting back against catcalls and street harassment with sidewalk chalk. The chalk art quotes are documented on a growing Instagram account, with the hope of inspiring systemic change to end gender-based violence.

An organization in Africa is working to educate 5 million girls by 2030. CAMFED’s unique model gives young women a comprehensive support system, holistic coaching, and helps facilitate the transition into work opportunities — all right in their school communities.

Article Details

March 9, 2024 5:00 AM
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