I spend a lot of time on this blog bemoaning the negatives–and there are certainly plenty of negatives to bemoan and warnings that really must be issued and heeded. But it is also the case that–along with the seeming avalanche of threats and reminders of our collective deficits, many good things are occurring.
I get a weekly newsletter titled “Good News for Humankind,” which helps me balance out all the Bad News for Humankind. (I think the actual title is Spark of Genius, and I don’t have a link–but I assume a Google search will lead to a subscription opportunity.)
The most recent newsletter reported the following items:
Nepal has now become the first country in South Asia to recognize a same-sex marriage, after issuing a formal recognition of a marriage from 1997.
The U.S., Czech Republic, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo and Norway all formally joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance. The Alliance was launched in 2017 by the U.K. and Canada. The new members have committed to not developing new unabated coal power plants and to phasing out existing unabated coal plants. I hadn’t previously encountered the term “unabated” in this context; according to Dr. Google, it means “the use of coal, oil and gas without substantial efforts to reduce the emissions produced throughout their life cycle.”
In other good news for the environment, a court of appeals in Brussels ordered Belgium to cut its planet-heating pollution by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. Evidently, as of 2021, Belgium had cut its emissions by a bare 24%. The court rejected government arguments that minimized the importance of the country’s efforts, arguing that Belgium’s impact on the climate crisis was limited by its small size.
More good news for the environment–and for drivers–comes from a very promising experiment in Detroit. Detroit became first city in the United States to install a wireless-charging roadway. The experiment will begin with the use of a Ford E-Transit fitted with a receiver to gather data; that is part of a five-year pilot project intended to perfect the technology “in real-world settings” and to study its potential for public transport applications. The report said that there are also plans to open the electric road system to the public within the next few years.
Other “good news” items:
Massachusetts became the fifth state to make prison calls free.
“Ensuring that individuals in state and county prisons can keep in contact with their loved ones is key to enhancing rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and improving community safety,” Governor Healey said in a written statement.
There are also positive stories from the Good News Network. A small sample of items having an environmental impact:
In the Bay Area of California, home of San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara County, and Silicon Valley a famous Pacific resident is heading home for the holidays—up newly-cleaned creeks to spawn.
Who could have thought that the cradle of 21st-century civilization, with its problems and advancements, would have space for wild river ecosystems capable of supporting salmon runs?
But here they are, reports KTVU, as large as 30 pounds, as long as 35 inches, running up the Guadalupe River Watershed by the hundreds.
Google may be defending against anti-trust accusations, but the company with a former “do no evil” motto is also doing good.
An advanced geothermal project funded and developed by Google has begun pumping carbon-free electricity onto the Nevada grid to power the company’s data centers there.
Geothermal energy was once confined in theory to areas of geothermal activity, but if one drills deep enough, there’s extreme heat from the planet’s core essentially everywhere to be harnessed to make steam and drive turbines to create carbon-free electricity 24 hours a day when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
For this reason, Google made an early bet on this enhanced geothermal technology, and partnered with the Utah-based Fervo Energy, which uses drilling techniques from the oil and gas industry to create a first-of-its-kind power plant in Nevada.
GNN reported that initial tests in July showed that the technology was working, in which the hypothesized 3.5 megawatts were indeed being delivered.
When I am particularly depressed by political turmoil and climate change, I try to remember that there are thousands of people around the globe who are working to understand and hopefully solve our most pressing problems. We owe them not only our gratitude, but our own efforts to improve our political and natural environment–beginning with our votes for sane lawmakers next November.