Good News This Week: May 18, 2024 - Bison, Fundraisers, & Maternal Heath

A photo collage of a bison, an aerial view of a wide field, Narcan's packaging, a person wearing a hard hat looking at an electric grid from a distance, and a poster advocating for violence against women

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 —

The European Union just passed “groundbreaking” first-ever legislation to combat violence against women

In a “groundbreaking moment” for women’s rights, the EU’s first law to combat violence against women was just officially adopted by member states. The states now each have three years to add them to national law.

The legislation will help protect women in the EU from gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and online harassment. Victims of domestic abuse will also be more easily able to report crimes.

While some hoped the law would go further — it notably did not include an agreed-upon definition for rape — they acknowledged it was still “a good starting point.”

→ ​​Read more

More good news for women:

A comedian’s calls to action have inspired Lizzo, John and Hank Green, and others to donate in support of Gaza relief

In a recent TikTok video, Lizzo shared about a GoFundMe page for Doctor Ismail, who lives in Gaza and has been helping folks there — and now needs help getting his family safely out.

Lizzo said that she donated — a listing showed an £8,000 (or a little over $10,000) donation on the GoFundMe page — and pled for “fellow rich people with money” to do so, too.

Doctor Ismail’s fundraiser is one of hundreds of campaigns amplified by Operation Olive Branch, a digital volunteer effort organizing and supporting fundraising campaigns that help displaced Palestinians.

Lizzo’s video comes amid an ongoing project on TikTok which aims to get content creators involved in these grassroots fundraising efforts.

Led by comedian Erin Hattamer, the “Pass The Hat” movement matches creators with Palestinian families through Operation Olive Branch, encouraging them to donate or spread the word about people in need.

The fundraiser Lizzo shared has also been supported and shared by popular authors and creators Hank and John Green, who pledged to double their efforts by matching every dollar donated to Ismail’s campaign with donations to Save the Children.

Read more

Queensland, Australia was just declared drought-free for the first time in over a decade

For the first time in 11 years, all of Queensland, Australia has officially been declared drought-free, with the last two shires’ drought status revoked.

Recent increases in rainfall and flooding have filled the region’s waterways with more water than usual, and while farmers are apprehensive about a looming dry season — they’re celebrating the (literal) change of scenery.

The land has truly transformed from dry and desolate to bright green grass peppered with wildflowers, shrubs, and weeds next to waterways, creeks, and rivers filled to the brim.

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More good news like this:

Global maternal deaths have halved in the last 35 years

In the last 35 years, the estimated annual number of women who died from pregnancy-related causes has been halved. In 1985, there were an estimated 595,000 maternal deaths around the world — ​​in 2020, that number was 301,000.

The world has, and continues to make incredible progress in reducing maternal mortality globally thanks to improvements in maternal health care, safer deliveries, good nutrition, and hygiene and sanitation.

While it’s important that we celebrate and mark this incredible progress — it’s equally important to acknowledge that we could be doing a lot better.

In 2015, the EU had the lowest maternal mortality, with 8 people dying per 100,000 births — if all countries shared this level, only 11,000 people would die annually.

Still, it’s so significantly better from where we’ve been — if conditions were the same as in 1800, around 1.26 million people would die from pregnancy every year.

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The biggest changes in over a decade, new electric grid rules could help even further boost wind and solar energy

The U.S. still has an incredibly dated electricity network, and very few high-voltage power lines are currently being installed. This poses major risks for more blackouts during extreme weather and makes the clean energy transition more challenging.

And it happens because grid operators make repairs and upgrades as needed, rather than proactively addressing long-term needs to prepare for the future.

But new rules were just approved by regulators that require operators to look 20 years ahead, accounting for changes in the energy mix, risks of extreme weather, growing wind and solar power, and more.

Why is this good news? Aside from shifting from short-term to long-term thinking in building infrastructure, these changes are desperately needed.

Right now, there are more than 11,000 approved wind, solar, and battery projects (not to mention a whole bunch of existing buildings to be added to the grid) — but there isn’t enough grid capacity for them. And we need them to meet national and global climate goals.

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For the first time in five years, overdose deaths dropped in the U.S. in 2023

In 2023, there were an estimated 107,543 drug overdoses, which was down 3% from 2022 with 111,029. While the figures are preliminary, the decline in deaths is expected to hold true. Opioid deaths, particularly fentanyl, fell by 3.7 percent.

And while no specific reasons were given for the drop, one that experts point to is the wider availability of naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. There were 22 million doses of Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray, distributed in the U.S. and Canada in 2023.

Additionally, fentanyl test strips grew in popularity, and communities started programs to hand out sterile syringes.

What’s the nuance? Experts are cautiously optimistic about these figures because while there was an encouraging decline in the number of opioid overdoses, there was an increase in overdose deaths from cocaine and meth. Plus, even one overdose death is too many.

Still, this important progress is worth celebrating — ​​and it should fuel our continued work to prevent even more overdose deaths (like this!) and see this decline become an ongoing trend.

→ ​​Read more

A new study found that a single bison herd can help store the CO2 equivalent of 40k cars

The world’s soil, oceans, and forests are the biggest known carbon sinks, and scientists have long acknowledged the role that they play in slowing the effects of climate change.

But a new study shows how instrumental animals could be in tamping down on carbon emissions, too.

The study, backed by the Global Rewilding Alliance, calculated that a herd of 170 European bison — roaming on 30 square miles of grasslands — captured the yearly equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions from 54,000 US cars.

Read more

More good news about carbon sinks:

A significant milestone in the clean energy transition, the U.S. just surpassed 5 million solar panel installations

According to new data, the U.S. has officially surpassed 5 million solar installations across the country — 4 million of them were installed in the last eight years.

Prior to that, it took four decades for the U.S. to cross the 1 million installation mark in 2016, with the first grid-connected solar project installed in 1973.

More than half of all solar installations in the country have come online since the start of 2020. Even more significantly, one-quarter of them have been installed in the last 20 months since the Inflation Reduction Act (the largest federal climate policy in U.S. history the country has ever seen) became law.

The data accounts for home, business, and utility-scale solar installations, with homes making up 97% of the total installed.

And this good progress is showing no signs of slowing down: the number of installations is projected to double to 10 million by 2030, and triple to 15 million by 2034.

Read more

More good news of the week —

A growing movement of solar cooperatives is helping lower-income households access renewable energy. While prices are declining, rooftop solar still remains out of reach for those who struggle to afford the high up-front costs.

The first all-electric, zero-emission hospital in the U.S. is now under construction in California. Since hospitals run 24/7, their operations are traditionally very carbon-intensive, but at UCI Health’s new facility, electric boilers and chillers are doing the work.

A UK company is using AI to help people with physically demanding jobs stay in them for longer. AI already helps workers in other professions like doctors, farmers, software developers, and more.

Ms. Rachel is making Cameos for “little ones” to raise money for children in Gaza, Congo, Ukraine, and more. The popular children’s educator announced her “to children, for children” campaign to support Save the Children’s work with children living amidst conflict around the world.

[Good update: The Cameos sold out within hours, raising $50,000!]

Libraries across U.S. are installing “cubicles” for parents who need to study but can't find childcare. Public libraries are introducing desks with built-in play areas for young children, aiming to provide a supportive environment for parents who need to study.

In a groundbreaking 16-minute surgery, a British toddler just had their hearing restored. Opal Sandy was the first person in the world to take part in a pioneering gene therapy trial, in a development that doctors say marks a new era in treating deafness.

New wind turbine “tricks” are helping protect threatened bird species from collisions. Wind energy is essential in the clean energy transition, but it poses a legitimate risk for migratory birds especially — but researchers and engineers have created solutions.

A major battery plant near Los Angeles will be among the largest in the world when it comes online later this year. The storage facility will help protect California’s power grid during the peak summer season and help the state meet its ambitious climate goals.

A Belgian town takes a centuries-old approach to psychiatric care, hosting folks with mental health illnesses in family homes. Altruistic psychiatric care treats those with mental illness not as patients with a diagnosis to be institutionalized, but as individuals deserving of dignity and inclusion.

New York just became the first state to mandate paid time off for people receiving prenatal care. The new law goes into effect in 2025, giving employees 20 hours of paid prenatal care leave without cutting into their existing 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Thanks to a 2022 reform, unhoused people in Ireland will be able to vote in the upcoming election for the first time. The country is setting a new voting access standard in Europe, where the general rule applies: “no address, no vote.”

After developers offered a Texas family millions for their land, they made it a public park instead. The 1,500-acre RGK Ranch will become a park where hikers can take in Hill Country vistas and explore a tributary of Bee Creek that spills over a series of limestone ledges.

Illinois just gave $1.6 million to “justice-focused” community solar projects. The funding will benefit three projects in traditionally under-resourced Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in the greater Chicago area.

Thanks to heavy rains, Los Angeles captured more than 96 billion gallons of stormwater from October to April. The amount of stormwater captured is enough to meet the water demands of about 2.4 million people, or one-quarter of the county.

One in three Americans say they’ve reduced how much plastic they’re using. Women, people in households making more than $50,000 annually, and college graduates were more likely to report a decrease in how often they used single-use plastics.

Article Details

May 18, 2024 5:00 AM
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