Image for What went right this week: shielding children from social media, plus more

What went right this week: shielding children from social media, plus more

Florida shielded children from social media, Scotland passed a ‘momentous’ wildlife bill, and a diet offered climate hope, plus more good news

Florida shielded children from social media, Scotland passed a ‘momentous’ wildlife bill, and a diet offered climate hope, plus more good news

This week’s good news roundup

good news
Florida shielded children from social media

The US state of Florida has passed a law to protect children from social media amid mounting evidence of its negative impact on mental health

On Monday, state governor Ron DeSantis banned children under 14 from having a social media account. “Being buried in those devices all day is not the best way to grow up,” he said. 

Some platforms already have lower age limits, but data suggests that 19% of American children aged 8-12 still use social media daily. 

Florida’s new law, the strictest in the US, obliges platforms to delete the accounts of children under 14. Failing to do so could see them having to pay $10,000 (£7,900) in damages to each child and face fines of $50,000 (£39,600). 

Tech giants have taken to the courts to stop other states from restricting children’s access to social media. In 2023, Arkansas’ plans to introduce a law requiring children to seek parental permission when setting up a social media account was blocked by a federal judge following a case brought by social media platforms.

Image: Danya Gutan

good news
Speaking of safeguarding children …

A controversial scheme that places the children of Italian mafia bosses into foster care is to be expanded after being hailed a “success”. 

The so-called Free to Choose scheme was introduced in Calabria in 2012 in response to young children being primed for a life of violent crime. 

According to the AFP news agency, the policy has seen around 150 children taken from mob families and placed into foster care in secret locations. In some cases, mothers followed the children and testified against mafia bosses. 

Critics question the morality of tearing children away from their families, but supporters say that it frees them from a life of crime. 

Following its reported success, the scheme is set to be rolled out in two other mafia strongholds: Sicily and Naples (pictured). “This is a historic moment in the fight against the mafia,” said Carlo Nordio, Italy’s justice minister. 

Image: DaveLongMedia/iStock

good news
Minimum wage ‘UK’s most successful economic policy’

The minimum wage is the UK’s “single most successful economic policy in a generation”, according to a report, which said it has raised wages for the lowest paid by £6,000 a year. 

The report was published by the Resolution Foundation thinktank on the 25th anniversary of the minimum wage. 

It showed that between 1980 and 1998, hourly pay growth in the UK was twice as fast for the highest earners as it was for the lowest earners (3.1% versus 1.4%. per year), but that since 1999, this trend has reversed. 

“The policy was introduced in the face of fierce opposition,” noted Nye Cominetti, principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, “but now experiences strong cross-party support.”

The UK’s minimum wage is set for one of the biggest ever hikes next week as it rises from £10.42 to £11.44. But the Resolution Foundation warned that other areas of low-paid work – from job intensity to the enforcement of worker rights – have room for improvement. 

Furthermore, the foundation noted that neither of the main parties have agendas for where the minimum wage should go after 2024.

Image: RDNE Stock project

Scotland beefed up its animal welfare laws

Conservationists are celebrating this week after the Scottish government passed a “momentous” bill to beef up animal welfare laws. 

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn Act places strict controls on the country’s controversial grouse shooting industry, including a ban on snares and glue traps. 

Grouse moors are managed to improve conditions for red grouse (pictured) – which hunters pay to shoot – often at the expense of other wildlife. This includes burning swathes of heather, a practice known as muirburn. 

Under the new rules, shooting estates must apply for licenses to burn moors. The bill also gives police more powers to investigate wildlife crime amid evidence linking grouse moors with the illegal killing of raptors. 

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the bill would “bring us another step closer to making Scotland the best place in the world for an animal to call home”. Activists called on the UK government to enact similar legislation in England. 

However, the shooting industry said the bill would damage a sector that supports rural jobs, and claimed that illegal killings of wildlife were rare. 

Image: Caroline Legg

A Californian tribe took custody of ancestral lands

A Native American tribe that had swathes of its territory stolen during California’s gold rush is set to get some of it back as part of a pioneering land deal. 

The Yurok will be the first Native people to manage tribal land alongside the National Park Service. They will help steward a 125-acre site known by the Yuork as ‘O Rew, which is a gateway to redwood forests.   

The arrangement follows an historic agreement between the Yurok, California State Parks, the National Park Service and Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit. It’s the first step towards transferring the ancestral land back to the Yurok permanently. 

“Together, we are creating a new conservation model that recognises the value of tribal land management,” said Joseph James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe. 

Sam Hodder, president of Save the Redwoods League, said the agreement “starts the process of changing the narrative about how, by whom and for whom we steward natural lands”. 

Evidence suggests that one of the best ways to protect forests is to hand them back to Indigenous communities.

Image: MPSharwood

Renewables blew gas away in the UK

Wind, solar and hydro generated more power in the UK over winter than gas, despite the government blowing cold over renewables. 

That’s according to analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). It said that green energy provided around 40% of power generation over winter, compared to around a third for gas. Despite the good news, the ECIU said that the UK government risked keeping the country hooked on fossil fuels.  

“The government fumbled its last renewables auction securing no new offshore wind farms,” said Jess Ralston, ECIU‘s head of energy. “It has also just delayed the roll out of heat pumps which can run on electricity from British offshore wind, rather than boilers that will increasingly have to run on foreign gas.”

Image: Red Zeppelin

A record number of people have pledged to take part in Veganuary
‘Flexitarian’ diet could keep 1.5C alive – study

The mass adoption of a plant-based ‘flexitarian’ diet could help limit global warming to 1.5C, a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) suggests. 

Until now, existing scientific literature did not single out the contribution of dietary shifts alone in relation to the 1.5C limit, said PIK, which used modelling to simulate climate pathways.  

“The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to dietary shifts – especially methane from ruminant animals raised for their meat and milk – would allow us to extend our current global CO2 budget of 500 gigatons by 125 gigatons, and still stay within the limits of 1.5C with a 50% chance,” said Florian Humpenöder, co-lead author of the study to be published in Science Advances.

According to the EU’s climate service, global warming recently exceeded 1.5C across an entire year due to a combination of human-made climate change and the El Nino weather pattern. 

“A shift in our diets could make a considerable difference if we do not want to crash through the 1.5C limit in the next 10 to 15 years,” said PIK director Johan Rockström. “This calls for globally concerted efforts to support the transition towards sustainable healthy diets.” 

Image: Brooke Lark

Positive news
AI was drafted in to help hedgehogs

They are an iconic British species – and in peril. Can AI help turn the tide for hedgehogs?

Researchers hope so with the launch of a monitoring project that aims to provide insights into hedgehog populations, which have seen significant declines in recent years, but appear to be bouncing back in urban areas). 

The National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme will use AI to identify hedgehogs in footage gathered from camera traps. 

“This new survey will tell us how many hedgehogs there are, as well as where they are present,” said the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. “With this knowledge, we will make effective conservation plans, so that we can reverse the decline of this iconic species.”

Image: Piotr Łaskawski

How can I help stop climate change
Secondhand clothing sales surge

Pre-loved clobber has never been so, well, loved. New data shows that 2023 was a record year for secondhand clothes sales globally, amid concern about fast fashion’s impact on the environment. 

In the US alone, the pre-loved market grew 15 times faster than the broader retail market in 2023, according to the report by Global Data, a retail analytics firm. It put the global resale market at $197bn (£156bn). “Resale is now firmly embedded in the fashion landscape,” said the firm’s MD Neil Saunders said that

The Resale Report was commissioned by Thread Up, an online thrift store, which is in its 12th year. James Reinhart, the company’s CEO, said the findings were “proof of the seismic shift towards a more circular fashion ecosystem”.

The forthcoming edition of Positive News magazine – out on 10 April –profiles some of the style pioneers bringing pre-loved clothing to the masses. Subscribe here to be among the first to get a copy.

Image: Clem Onojeghuo

good news
Nature was brought into sharp focus

An underwater shot of two gannets competing for their dinner off the coast of Scotland has won top honours in an international photography competition. 

Tracy Lund captured the image in waters surrounding the Shetland Islands, which are a breeding ground for the cacophonous seabirds. 

The World Nature Photography Awards was founded in the belief that photography can influence people to see the world from a different perspective and change their own habits for the good of the planet. See all the winners here.

Image: Tracy Lund/World Nature Photography Awards
Main image: Nadezhda1906/iStock

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