An overlooked climate ally was identified, Belize was declared malaria-free, and the world’s most liveable cities were revealed, plus more good news
This week’s good news roundup
Embracing regenerative agriculture could keep global warming to within 1.5C. That’s according to research shared with the Guardian newspaper, which touts soil as an overlooked super ally in the race to slash emissions.
Like forests, soil locks carbon away. But intensive agriculture can turn this carbon sink into a source. Enter Downforce Technologies, a UK-based soil data firm. It attempted to quantify the climate benefits of deploying alternative farming methods on half the world’s soil.
“We calculated that implementing better farming techniques [for example, crop rotation, planting cover crops] could result in a staggering storage of 31 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annually, bringing us closer to bridging the 32 gigatonnes gap required to meet the crucial 1.5C target,” the firm said.
The findings chime with research by the Rodale Institute, a US non-profit. Its data suggests that embracing regenerative agriculture could draw 150 per cent of global emissions into the ground every year.
Some critics say that regenerative farming leads to lower yields. But Eduard Müller, a scientist pioneering the technique in Costa Rica, told Positive News the opposite is true. “Plus, we are able to regenerate biodiversity very quickly,” he said.
Image: Heather Gill
Belize’s decades-long battle against malaria has been won, with the World Health Organization (WHO) certifying the Latin American country malaria-free.
The WHO attributed Belize’s success to strong surveillance of malaria, good access to diagnosis, and effective control methods, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Trained community health workers have also played a vital role in diagnosis and treatment, it said.
The WHO has certified 42 countries malaria-free. Meanwhile, a new vaccine believed to offer up to 80 per cent protection from the disease could save thousands of lives annually, according to experts.
They are used for mere minutes and create an ecological headache that lasts years. But as of this week, those thin plastic bags used for fruit and veg in supermarkets have been outlawed in New Zealand.
The move is expected to prevent 150m plastic bags from accumulating annually. It follows a ban on regular plastic bags in 2019, which is estimated to have prevented 1bn single-use bags from being used.
Critics claim that the ban could increase the use of paper bags. The government said it would encourage shoppers to bring their own bags, as they do already for other goods.
Image: Engin Akyurt
What happens at sea, often stays at sea. The sheer vastness of the ocean makes monitoring activity – both legal and otherwise – difficult, leaving a data blind spot that hampers conservation. But not for much longer.
A project to generate a real-time, open-source map of all industrial activity at sea has received a $60m (£47m) funding boost to help it come online within five years. Developed by Global Fishing Watch, a US-based charity tackling overfishing, the project will use GPS data, satellite imagery and AI to provide real-time monitoring of the ocean.
“Today, anyone can freely access satellite imagery to explore every road and building on land with just a few clicks of a mouse. We want to do the same for the ocean: create a complete, dynamic map of all industrial activity at sea that’s free for anyone to view and use,” said David Kroodsma, the charity’s director of research. “Our initiative is audacious. Its potential is hugely exciting.”
Find out how big data is helping to save species here.
Image: Global Fishing Watch
The Netherlands has become the latest European nation to recognise that sex without consent is rape. Many will wonder what took it so long.
The Dutch House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to update the law by introducing a consent-based definition of rape. The amendment is expected to be voted into law by the Senate within nine months.
“The Netherlands has taken an important step towards combatting widespread sexual violence and improving access to justice for survivors,” said Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International Netherlands. “It makes the Netherlands the 17th country out of 31 European states… to recognise that sex without consent is rape.”
Image: Rifad Lafir
Playing tennis while adhering to Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code has for many years been a source of anxiety for female players on their periods. But no longer.
In a small win for feminism, Wimbledon has relaxed its controversial dress code. For the first time this week, some players took to court in dark underwear.
“When I heard this, I was really happy because last year I went on the pill to stop myself bleeding because I knew we had to wear white under-shorts, and I didn’t want to face any embarrassment,” Heather Watson, former British number one, told Sky News.
Image: Kirayonak Yuliya/Shutterstock
Life is broadly improving in most major cities. That’s according to the latest Global Liveability Index, which just recorded its highest average score for 15 years.
Every year the Economist Intelligence Unit assesses 172 cities across five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
Once again, Vienna ranked highest. See if your city made it into the top 10 here.
What if everything turns out alright? That’s the thrust of the new issue of Positive News magazine, which launched this week.
In it, we explore the power of imagining a better future. We’ve also imagined what positive headlines from 2050 might look like and talked to experts about how these changes could come to pass.
That’s not all. The new issue also features a bank robber turned triathlete, whose lived experience is helping disadvantaged kids, as well as Zimbabwe’s friendship benches (coming to London soon), which are helping tackle poor mental health.
Get your copy here.
Image: Positive News
Main image: Gregory Hayes
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