Image for What went right this week: the Great Pacific garbage patch cleanup, plus more

What went right this week: the Great Pacific garbage patch cleanup, plus more

A project to clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch reached a milestone, the global tiger population stabilised, and Botswana was hailed for its HIV success, plus more positive news

A project to clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch reached a milestone, the global tiger population stabilised, and Botswana was hailed for its HIV success, plus more positive news

This week’s Positive News roundup

Positive news
The great garbage patch cleanup hit a milestone

It has become emblematic of our throwaway society, a grim testament to the pitfalls of single-use plastic. But this week, efforts to clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch reached a milestone: 100,000kg of plastic removed so far. 

Admittedly, it’s small fry. Strewn across an area twice the size of Texas, the floating mass of rubbish is 1,000 times larger than what has been landed so far. But the Dutch nonprofit behind the project, The Ocean Cleanup, said it was preparing to scale up. 

“We are ready to move on to our new and expanded system, which is expected to capture plastic at a rate potentially 10 times higher,” said Boyan Slat, its CEO.  

The Ocean Cleanup uses computer modelling to predict where large concentrations of rubbish will accumulate, and skims it from the sea using giant booms. The nonprofit deploys similar technology at river mouths to stop plastic entering oceans in the first place.

Image: The Ocean Cleanup

Speaking of cleaning up the ocean…

Surfers in the UK are offering free wooden bellyboards to tourists in a bid to cut plastic pollution. 

The tattered remains of polystyrene boards have become a depressingly familiar sight at seaside hotspots. 

It prompted a group of Cornish surfers to develop an alternative made of wood, which can be rented for free at 140 beaches across the UK. 

Read the full story here. 

Image: Luke Gartside

Positive news
Botswana was hailed for HIV progress

Botswana is making ‘historic’ progress against HIV, health experts announced this week. 

Data suggests that Botswana has achieved UNAids’ 95-95-95 target: that 95 per cent of people with HIV know they have it, 95 per cent of those people are on treatment, and 95 per cent of those on treatment are virally suppressed.

“Botswana is making historic new progress against HIV,”Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the International AIDS Society, told a press briefing ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Montreal. 

However, speakers at the conference will warn that efforts to defeat HIV globally have stalled during the pandemic, and that rates are rising in places where they were falling.  

Image: Wayne Lee Sing

Positive news
There was good news for tigers

Once a poster child for endangered species, the tiger has clawed itself back from the brink, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Its latest census of the big cats put the global population at between 3,726 and 5,578 – 40 per cent more than the last assessment in 2015. 

The IUCN said the rise is partly due to improvements in monitoring, meaning there are more tigers than previously thought. But it also said the population appears to be stabilising or even increasing following concerted conservation efforts. 

“Tiger population recovery shows us that solving complex conservation challenges is possible,” said Dr Jon Paul Rodríguez, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “We need to learn from these conservation successes, share them with the public, and increase our investment in evidence-based conservation action.”

Image: Ranae Smith

Positive news
Sticking with big cats…

Cheetahs are to prowl India again for the first time in 70 years. Eight of the big cats are to be flown in from Namibia in August. They will be released in Kuno-Palpur national park in the state of Madhya Pradesh. 

India’s last remaining Asiatic cheetahs are believed to have been shot in the 1940s, before officially being declared extinct in 1952. 

Their return is a cause for celebration, but there are concerns. Namibia’s cheetahs are a different subspecies to the ones driven out of India, and will be used to living in a slightly different climate. The Indian Express has published a good story about the reintroduction here. 

Image: Sammy Wong

Positive news
Slovenia ruled same-sex union ban unconstitutional

LGBTQ+ campaigners are triumphant after a court in Slovenia said bans on same-sex couples getting married and adopting were unconstitutional. 

The government now has six months to amend the law to reflect the ruling, reported EuroNews. 

Judges said the decision “does not diminish the importance of traditional marriage as a union of a man and a woman. All it means is that same-sex partners can now marry just like heterosexual partners can.”

Image: Teddy Osterblom

Positive news
Toyota started selling cargo bikes in France

In a further sign that cars may have reached the end of the road in cities, Toyota has announced that it will start selling cargo bikes in France. 

The vehicle manufacturer has partnered with Douze Cycles, a French cargo bike maker, and will soon start selling the cycles in car showrooms.

Studies have shown that the fastest (and greenest) way to deliver goods across a city is by cargo bike. “The cargo bike will become a major player in city centre mobility,” predicted Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux of Douze Cycles.

Image: Douze Cycles

Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm set sail

When it goes live next year, Seagreen wind farm will break records: Scotland’s largest, the world’s deepest. And this week the scale of the project was revealed as photos emerged of the foundations at dock before they were towed out to the North Sea.  

The same height as Big Ben, they will host turbines that will stand almost as high as The Shard building in London. SSE, one of the firms behind the project, said the £3bn wind farm will produce enough energy to power 1.6m homes. 

“We are entering a golden age for clean energy in this country,” said Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s chief executive. “Seagreen shows that net zero isn’t just about climate change. It’s about creating jobs, delivering major clean infrastructure, regenerating rural communities and ultimately helping us secure our own energy future.”

Image: Stuart Nicol

Spain launched beach body positivity campaign

As the holiday kicks off, Spain has launched a body positivity campaign, declaring all shapes and sizes are welcome on its beaches. 

The campaign features illustrations of women of diverse body sizes with the caption “the summer is also ours”. 

“All bodies are valid and we have the right to enjoy life as we are, without guilt or shame,” Irene Montero, minister for equality, tweeted.

However, the campaign has since been accused of using images of models without their consent.  

Image: Instituto de las Mujeres

Positive news
And in case you missed it…

In a bizarre lightbulb moment, scientists have stumbled on a new way of catching scallops: underwater disco lights. 

The LEDs were intended to lure crabs, but instead brought scallops flocking. 

The discovery is potentially positive news as commercial scallop fishing devastates the environment because it involves dredging the seafloor. 

Get more on the story here.

Image: Dimitris Vetsikas
Main image: The Ocean Cleanup

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What went right previously