Renewables came to the rescue in the UK, cancer rates plummeted in the US, and Wales netted a win for gender equality, plus more good news
This week’s good news roundup
Green energy has overtaken gas as the UK’s leading source of electricity this winter, sparing the country from an even worse energy crisis. That’s according to analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which said offshore wind was leading the charge.
“Wind has chosen a good year to overtake gas given how expensive gas has become and questions around its security of supply,” said Jess Ralston, head of energy at ECIU.
According to the ECIU, power generated by renewables reached 34TWh (terawatt hours) between 1 October 2022 and 13 January 2023 – 2TWh more than gas produced. Generating the same amount of power using gas-burning power plants, it claimed, would have required the equivalent of 7.4m homes’ gas use for the entire winter.
However, the ECIU warned that investment in energy infrastructure and battery technology to store surplus green energy was lagging. “Speeding up investment in our power grid will enable more of this cheap, natural energy to flow to homes, so bringing down bills,” said Ralston.
Image: Esse de Meulenaere
There was some encouraging health news from the US this week, where cancer death rates have reportedly fallen by a third since 1991.
That’s according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), which attributes the decline to early detection, improved treatments and less smoking.
The ACS recorded an “astounding” 65 per cent reduction in cervical cancer rates among women aged 20-24, who were the first to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
However, prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the US, increased by 3 per cent per year from 2014 to 2019, after two decades of decline. The ACS has since launched a project to improve outcomes.
Image: Gian Cescon
Ethnic segregation is on the wane in England and Wales as neighbourhoods become more mixed, according to analysis of the 2021 census.
The findings, published in The Geographical Journal, confirm the steady decline in segregation noted in all censuses since 1991.
“Residential segregation of all ethnic groups is declining,” the study concluded. “At the local level, many more neighbourhoods are ethnically diverse, and diversity has been spreading out to new locales.”
The authors of the study said their work provided a nuanced picture of the latest census, challenging the damaging “minority-majority” rhetoric that followed its publication.
Image: Clem Onojeghuo
“Tax the ultra-rich and do it now.” That was the plea from more than 200 members of the world’s super-wealthy, who this week signed an open letter calling for higher taxes to tackle inequality.
The coterie of 205 millionaires and billionaires, including actor Mark Ruffalo (pictured) and Disney heiress Abigail Disney, signed the letter ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
It comes as research from Oxfam revealed that almost two-thirds of the new wealth amassed since the start of the pandemic has gone to the richest 1 per cent.
“There’s only so much stress any society can take, only so many times mothers and fathers will watch their children go hungry while the ultra rich contemplate their growing wealth,” read the letter. “The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra rich, and you have to start now.”
Image: Gage Skidmore
This week brought fresh evidence of nature’s positive impact on public health. A study of 7,000 people in Helsinki, Finland, revealed a correlation between exposure to nature and lower use of prescription drugs, such as antidepressants.
Interestingly, the benefits of being in nature appeared to be strongest among those with the lowest household incomes, underscoring the need to improve public access to green spaces.
The research – conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, and published in the BMJ Journal – adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests spending time in nature is good for us.
It also chimes with anecdotal evidence from within the Positive News community: when we asked readers to share their tips for boosting mental health in winter, spending time in nature was the dominant theme.
Image: James Wheeler
Anyone who plays for the Welsh national football side will receive equal pay, regardless of their gender, it was announced this week.
The Welsh Football Association agreed to a landmark deal guaranteeing pay parity on Wednesday. It is understood that the men’s side accepted a 25 per cent pay cut, while the women’s team received a 25 per cent pay rise.
In a joint statement, the men’s and women’s teams said: “We hope that this will allow future generations of boys and girls to see that there is equality across Welsh international football, which is important for society as a whole.”
Image: Sophie Ingle playing for Wales. Credit: Oharriesfaw
Think of Birmingham and what springs to mind? Probably not blossom-filled orchards. But once upon a time, England’s second city was surrounded by fruit trees, earning it the moniker “the town ringed by blossom”.
That nickname fell out of favour as the trees were torn up to make way for houses and factories. But this week, a project launched to bring blossom back to ‘Brum’.
On Tuesday, the first of 600 fruit trees were planted along the number 11 bus route, which loops around the city and is believed to be the longest bus route in Europe.
“Blossom is not only beautiful, it’s also vital for the wellbeing of our environment – and for us,” said Lucy Reid of the National Trust, which launched the project.
Read the full story here.
Image: Korng Sok
There’s been surprisingly little research into how often people with desk jobs should take a break and stretch their legs.
One thing we do know is that sitting for prolonged periods has been linked with a greater chance of developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
But help could be on hand. Researchers in the US have been working to identify “the least amount of walking one could do to offset the harmful health effects of sitting” – and this week published their findings.
Read the full story here.
Image: Christin Hume
Main image: Yurii Sliusar/iStock
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