Good News This Week: September 23, 2023 - Lunches, Voters, & Climate Initiatives

A photo collage of a woman holding a bowl of food, a crowd of protestors, a screenshot of John Green's YouTube video, a man holding a solar panel, and 'I Voted' stickers

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 —

Local creatives, businesses, and community members are coming together to feed unhoused folks in Austin

Like many community service projects and social good enterprises, Free Lunch ATX was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. What started out with Rice Krispie treats has since evolved into a menu of daily meal options and consistent, reliable support for Austin’s homeless community.

In addition to support from local businesses and restaurants, as well as volunteers from the surrounding community, Free Lunch ATX is supported through subscribers to their quarterly “zine” — a collaborative effort that showcases local photography, musicians, and even recipes from local chefs.

And their operations have grown to include a small edible garden, Free Fridge ATX — where anyone in the community can drop off meals and other food items, and more.

Why is this good news? In addition to putting the power of community organizing on clear display, Free Lunch ATX’s operations always center the dignity and integrity of the community they serve — it provides “more than just sustenance; it's about nourishing their spirits and fostering a sense of dignity and autonomy.”

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Solar panel installations are already on track to break both global and U.S. records this year

Thanks to a “perfect storm” of policy, incentives, and plummetting costs, new solar panel installations are breaking records not only in the U.S. — but around the world. And it won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

According to the latest report from BloombergNEF, global solar installations are expected to increase by 56% in 2023. The majority of that growth comes from China, which is expected to make up half of new solar projects by 2024, with the U.S., South America, and the EU growing quickly behind them.

China is expected to cross the 500-gigawatt mark of installed capacity by the end of the year, and double that to 1 terawatt by the end of 2026. Total solar capacity in the U.S. is nearly 160 gigawatts today, and will grow to about 209 in 2026.

So, while we need to continue to work much faster in the U.S. and around the world to meet global carbon reduction targets through the energy transition — this is a very good progress report.

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To kick off a global climate summit, an estimated 75,000 people gathered in New York City to protest and demand an end to fossil fuels

This week is Climate Week in New York City, and climate activists around the world are making their voices heard about what they’d like to see happen this week.

An estimated 75,000 people — led and organized by students and young peopleflooded the streets of Manhattan for the March to End Fossil Fuels. Specifically, protesters called on President Joe Biden to end new fossil fuel projects, phase out existing ones, and declare a climate emergency.

The grassroots pressure was met with pressure from a global entity: the UN, which is hosting a special climate summit to pressure world leaders to do more to cut emissions. And while the tens of thousands marched in Manhattan — millions more were marching worldwide, too.

Why is this good news? A new UN report found countries are falling short of meeting the emissions reduction targets needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels — the amount needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

While young people shouldn’t have to take their future into their own hands in this way — in doing so, they’re holding leaders accountable and demanding real, meaningful change.

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In response to a week-long pressure campaign from John Green and activists, Danaher just lowered the cost of life-saving tuberculosis tests

Danaher and Cepheid have just announced plans to lower the cost of their life-saving tuberculosis tests. The announcement comes in collaboration with global health organizations The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Stop TB Partnership, and USAID.

It also comes exactly one week after John Green and his online community, Nerdfighteria built on the longtime advocacy work of these organizations and launched an online pressure campaign to get the companies to lower the price of the tests.

While they didn't achieve the 50% reduction in cost they initially called for, Green and activists are celebrating that Danaher announced a 20% cost reduction in its Xpert testing cartridges, from $9.98 per test to $7.97, and that it will provide The Global Fund with ‘at-cost’ TB tests for low- and middle-income countries.

What’s the nuance? While the activists and organizations acknowledged this important, key step that will give millions of people access to life-saving testing and treatment, more needs to be done. For example, the price reduction doesn’t apply to the test cartridges that identify the most deadly strains of tuberculosis.

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The White House just unveiled the American Climate Corps program, which will provide climate jobs for 20,000 people in its first year

Modeled after a program that provided jobs for millions during the Great Depression, the White House just unveiled a new jobs training program that it says will provide jobs for 20,000 people in just its first year.

This time: the jobs are all climate-related. Workers in the American Climate Corps would be trained for jobs including restoring land, improving community resilience to natural disasters, and clean energy deployment. All program participants will be paid, and most jobs don’t require previous experience.

The creation of the climate corps makes good on an executive order President Joe Biden signed during his first week in office. It was also a key demand for the administration from activists and environmental groups, like the youth-led Sunrise Movement.

Why is this good news? The work that both adapting to and preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis (in the U.S. and around the world) is extensive — it’s going to take a lot of people, and it needs to happen quickly. The American Climate Corps acknowledges this reality, and puts a necessary focus on the urgency of getting people, especially young people, into these jobs.

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Pennsylvania just announced it will become the 24th state to implement automatic voter registration

According to Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, there are 1.7 million eligible in the state — who are not registered. Hoping to improve that number, the state announced it will become the latest to implement automatic voter registration at its Department of Motor Vehicles.

Now, unless they opt-out, everyone who goes to the DMV to get a new or renewed driver’s license will automatically also be registered to vote. Since the National Voter Registration Act in 1993, states have been required to offer voter registration at the DMV — but only 24 states (now including Pennsylvania) do it automatically.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of state estimates that in the first year of the program alone, tens of thousands of new voters would be registered.

Why is this good news? In a 2021 study, researchers found that automatic voter registration increased registrations, as well as the number of people actually voting by more than 1%. Voting is essential to a healthy, thriving democracy, and when states have additional steps, processes, or paperwork required to vote, it discourages voter participation. This move by Pennsylvania encourages it.

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Young activists have been pushing for a Climate Corps in the U.S. for over 3 years — and they just got it

On Wednesday, President Biden announced the American Climate Corps, a new climate jobs training program designed to help young people find jobs in the green economy — 20,000 jobs in its first year, all in climate-related fields.

The news is good progress in the fight against climate change, and it’s been years in the making, largely thanks to young people and environmental organizations who never gave up on it. The concept of the corps has been picked up by elected officials like Washington governor Jay Inslee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and President Joe Biden — and activists kept the pressure on.

It was introduced (and eventually cut from) legislation in 2021, and just this month, in September 2023, young activists ramped up their efforts yet again. They rallied over 50 other national climate organizations to send a letter to the Biden administration, calling for the establishment of the Climate Corps.

It didn't happen overnight — but thanks to their efforts, it did happen.

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More good news of the week —

A large energy company just partnered with a solar panel recycling company to recycle its end-of-life panels. Plus, SOLARCYCLE’s recycling technology extracts of 95% of the value from recycled panels — the industry standard, which is currently below 50%.

A partnership between Philadelphia and local organizations is using freshwater mussels to clean the city’s water. A single freshwater mussel can filter up to 15 gallons of water each day, removing pollutants like nitrogen, bacteria, and some metals.

At the G20 summit, India launched a global biofuel alliance to help boost the use of cleaner fuels. The U.S. and Brazil are also founding members, the alliance would help accelerate global efforts to meet net zero emissions targets.

In a “heroic rescue,” about 40 people in Berlin lifted a bus to save a young man trapped under a wheel. An 18-year-old fell down while running to catch the bus as it pulled away, and passengers and passersby quickly came together to help.

A volunteer seaweed removal program has led to up to 600% coral regrowth off the coast of Magnetic Island in Australia. Volunteer citizen scientists have been helping remove macroalgae at two reef sites since 2018, and it’s led to significant regrowth compared to sites where no macroalgae were removed.

California is suing major oil companies for downplaying the risks of fossil fuels for people and the planet. If the state wins, the companies will also have to pay into a fund to cover the cost of recovery efforts after devastating storms and fires.

Olivia Hill made history as the first openly transgender person ever elected to Nashville’s Metro Council. Four other women were elected to the council in the recent runoff election, so more women will serve on Nashville's next Metro Council than ever before, too.

Oregon just received $58 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to plant trees in neighborhoods to reduce the risk of extreme heat. It’s part of a larger project from the Department of Agriculture giving out more than $1 billion to 385 projects nationwide.

A new study found that switching to working from home can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by 50%. The study also found that hybrid schedules where people work remotely for two to four days a week could also cut emissions by 11 to 29%.

The largest urban heat island in Dallas will be turned into a large, dedicated green space, including a 10-acre park. The Texas Trees Foundation used data from temperature sensors to redesign the area for optimal human health and thermal comfort.

India’s parliament approved a landmark bill to reserve one-third of seats for women in its lower house and state assemblies. The bill is aimed at boosting the participation of women in government, which has been disproportionately low for decades.

Bhutan just announced a “milestone achievement” after seeing a 39.5% increase in its snow leopard population. Snow leopards are a protected species threatened by habitat loss, poaching, climate change, and more — but conservation efforts are having a positive impact.

An Instagram post from Taylor Swift drove record-breaking web traffic to the voter registration website. On National Voter Registration Day, said it registered over 35,000 new voters, a 23% jump from last year — as well as a 115% increase in 18-year-olds registering.

A new U.S. mapping project is helping protect communities from the risks of extreme heat. The NOAA’s heat maps combine satellite imagery, air temperature, and humidity data collected by volunteers to help implement cooling solutions based on each community’s needs.

Nearly 70 countries just signed the first-ever treaty to protect the international high seas. While they still need to also ratify it, the United States, China, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, and more raised hopes that the UN High Seas Treaty will come into force soon and protect threatened ecosystems.

Article Details

September 23, 2023 5:00 PM
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