Good News This Week: May 11, 2024 - Dogs, Batteries, & Elmo

A photo collage of Elmo, a mound of salt grain, a bear cub, a man in a tractor, and a woman on a wheelchair

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 —

Materials used for the 2024 NFL Draft are being repurposed to build a dog rescue shelter in Detroit

Turf, fencing, set pieces, and other materials used for the 2024 NFL Draft, hosted in Detroit, are being donated to local nonprofit organizations — including a local animal shelter, Detroit Dog Rescue.

Stage materials from the draft will be repurposed to help build the dog rescue’s free and low-cost spay and neuter clinic at an existing building, as well as its backyard and “decompression” spaces for dogs.

The city said there was an entire sustainability plan in place between the NFL and the city to reduce waste and repurpose materials from the event, which moves locations each year.

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More good news about repurposing and reusing:

If the current rate of clean technology adoption continues, global greenhouse gas emissions will have already peaked in 2023

An analysis of several recent studies looking at clean energy adoption and greenhouse gas emissions shows that if the current, accelerated rates of growth continue — the worst of our impact on the planet could officially be behind us.

Authors of one study wrote that there’s “a 70% chance that emissions start falling in 2024 if current clean technology growth trends continue and some progress is made to cut non-CO2 emissions.”

Their most ambitious projection put emissions peaking in 2023 and then on “a long, sustained decline.” And those findings, while a “rare” piece of good news in the climate space (unless you’re an avid Good Good Good reader), align with similar studies.

The world has also potentially reached a climate “tipping point” — even if the current pace doesn’t continue, emissions are projected to plateau by the end of the decade before eventually beginning to decline.

While we still have work to do to reach key emissions reduction targets by 2030 and 2050 — this news should encourage all of us to continue taking climate action — individually, and collectively. We have what we need to reach those targets.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park just expanded its adaptive excursions, helping disabled visitors bike, camp, and kayak

After launching its free adaptive programming last year with four events, this year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is offering even more: three hikes, two mountain bike rides, one kayak trip, and one night of camping.

Adaptive excursions like these are made possible by programs with experts who provide equipment and knowledge to park-goers, like Catalyst Sports, whose programs help make the outdoors more accessible.

The Smokies’ expanded accessible events are part of a larger movement by the National Park Service to make its parks more accessible to people of all abilities.

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More good news for accessibility:

The first-ever commercial-scale production of sodium-ion batteries in the U.S. just launched

Renewable energy sources are exceeding production expectations (it’s only continuing to grow and set records!), but that sustainable endeaver comes with a dirty downfall: lithium.

It’s a known issue in the clean energy space, as lithium mining has industry-wide issues of worker negligence, geopolitical disruption, and destructive environmental impacts of its own. And lithium batteries control more than 90% of the global grid battery storage market.

Fortunately, this past week, Natron Energy launched its first-ever commercial-scale production of sodium-ion batteries in the U.S. These kinds of batteries provide more power, recharge faster, last longer, and have a “completely safe and stable chemistry.”

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This tech would make these good headlines even better:

Elmo is “checking in” again as part of a new mental health initiative on “Sesame Street”

Back in January, beloved “Sesame Street” Muppet Elmo logged on to social media platforms to see how folks were faring at the start of 2024: “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?”

With responses about break-ups, unemployment, rent increases, and more, Elmo’s mental health check-in opened up a national conversation about mental health and how important it is to look out for one another.

For Mental Health Awareness Month, “Sesame Street” and its nonprofit Sesame Workshop want to “check in” on everyone again — this time they’re doing it with mental health-themed episodes and free resources for kids.

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More good mental health news:

Once unhoused himself, a man in England has provided housing for hundreds of others right in his home since 2020

With a long criminal record for “mostly petty stuff,” Stuart Potts spent much of his life up until now in and out of prison — a​​nd for a period, he lived in a tent by a canal in Manchester, England.

That background gives him a uniquely personal understanding of other folks experiencing homelessness — and has led him to do what he can to help make a difference.

Alongside a healthy criticism of systems and cynicism toward authority figures who “lack compassion” — Potts has just as many heartwarming stories to tell about someone helping him out when they didn’t have to. Now, he’s doing the same.​​

From his one-bedroom flat, he’s let “hundreds” of people experiencing homelessness come and stay for free with just a few ground rules: no hard drugs or violence, and everyone helps with housework.

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The second-largest in the U.S., a San Francisco-sized piece of land has just been preserved, protecting critical wildlife habitat

On 27,512 acres in San Louis Obispo County, California rests Camatta Ranch, a cattle ranch that just completed the second biggest land conservation easement in the country.

The land, equivalent to the size of San Francisco, is “filled with rolling hills, green grass, oak woodlands and really important wildlife habitat.” While the land is privately owned and open for nature tours, it will also now be protected against any future development.

Owned for six generations by the Morrison family, it was important to them to ensure it stayed protected for the hundreds of animals that call it home: golden eagles, bald eagles, mountain lions, red-tailed hawks, and even bison.

What’s even better: The land is also home to black bears, which were once threatened but have been bouncing back due to conservation efforts like these and were taken off the endangered species list in 2016.

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A study found that restoring coastal habitat boosts wildlife numbers by 61%

Pollution, coastal development, climate change, and many other human impacts have degraded or destroyed swathes of mangrove forests, saltmarshes, seagrass meadows, macroalgae (seaweed) forests, and coral and shellfish reefs.

Healthy coastal habitats are the gift that keeps on giving. We need them back, so there’s a lot of enthusiasm for restoring these habitats. But we want to recover more than just the habitats — we want the animals they support too.

In a new analysis of restoration projects, compared to degraded sites, restored habitats have much larger and more diverse animal populations.

And that’s in line with other, similar research on the subject!)

Overall, researchers found animal populations in restored coastal habitats were 61% larger and 35% more diverse than in unrestored, degraded sites.

For example, after oyster reefs were restored in Pumicestone Passage, Queensland, fish numbers increased by more than ten times and the number of fish species increased almost fourfold.

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More good news of the week —

Researchers made the first discovery of endangered blue whales near Seychelles in decades. Whalers illegally killed 500 blue whales in the area between 1963 and 1966, so researchers did not expect to see any during their expedition.

A city council member was just nominated to be the first Black mayor in Northern Ireland's history. Lilian Seenoi-Barr said she was “deeply honored” to make history for Derry City and Strabane District Council.

PBS Kids added American Sign Language interpreters to six of its children’s shows. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing can now watch shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Arthur” — which are already available to stream for free.

A give-back, pajama-party alternative to the Met, the second-annual Debt Gala raised funds to forgive medical debt. The comedy-fashion fundraiser’s ticket sales proceeds go to organizations that relieve medical debt for people across the country.

In response to a K-pop protest over climate concerns, Hyundai ended its aluminum deal with a major coal supporter. The carmaker will no longer get aluminum from Adaro Minerals, which plans to build 2.2 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants to power its aluminum smelter.

Setting a “deliberately ambitious” goal, a major European train line is going all-electric by 2030. In the Netherlands, Eurostar’s trains have been running entirely on wind power for years — since 2017.

A groundbreaking at-home cervical cancer screening test just received ‘breakthrough’ status from the FDA. Self-collect screening methods like the Teal Wand have put Australia on track to completely eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern by 2035.

A woman-owned startup just launched a line of sustainable PPE products designed specifically for women in STEM. ArmorSui’s products include gender-inclusive lab coats, reusable isolation gowns, and fire-resistant hijabs.

A South Korean research team created self-cleaning solar panels that maximize efficiency through wind energy. Solar energy is vital for a sustainable future, but dust and other environmental factors dramatically reduce panel efficiency — this tech could fix that limitation.

To be more inclusive, Boy Scouts of America announced it is changing its name to Scouting America. The organization’s president said it wants “any youth in America to feel very, very welcome to come into our programs.”

Setting a new sustainability benchmark in marine logistics, a fully-electric, 10,000-ton container ship just began service in China. The new Green Water 01 vessel can save 8,600 pounds of fuel for every 100 nautical miles traveled, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 12.4 tons.

[Related: This news aligns with a larger trend toward sustainability in the cargo shipping industry.]

A new UN-led panel is creating guidelines to prevent environmental damage and human rights abuses with “critical mineral” mining. Used in low-carbon technology, mining for minerals like lithium, copper, and cobalt have led to a susrge in illegal labor and human rights violations.

Pelicans were just seen nesting on Hat Island in Utah for the first time since 1943. The island is a designated wildlife management area, serving as an important nesting area for American white pelicans due to its isolation and protection for the birds.

A former animal testing lab was transformed into an animal sanctuary. A lifelong dream of its founder, the 30-acre property will become a rehab center and sanctuary for animals that had spent much of their lives in cages.

Scientists finally pinpointed a fungal virus that’s been harming frogs and toads. The novel virus has impacted over 500 amphibian species, and the discovery could revolutionize conservation for frogs and toads.

A “mega-rare” bird was just spotted in Oregon for the first time in U.S. history. A photographer unknowingly captured a photo of the blue rock thrush and shocked the birding world when he posted it on social media.

A recent Cambodian mangrove expedition uncovered a trove of 700 animal species. The expedition further highlighted mangroves’ crucial role in biodiversity conservation amid widespread loss.

The hake population in the waters of Northwestern Europe has recovered spectacularly over the past 20 years. In what could signal more good news for overall ocean health, hake fish had nearly disappeared from the area due to overfishing.

The National Park Service is reintroducing grizzly bears and no longer removing wild horses from parks. The NPS canceled plans to remove 200 historically significant wild horses and will reintroduce threatened grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem.

In a milestone for the critically endangered species, a California condor recently hatched in San Diego. The new arrival was the 250th hatched at the San Diego Zoo thanks to the conservation efforts of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

Article Details

May 11, 2024 5:30 AM
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