A fortnightly roundup of good news from around the world. This is the free edition. For the full experience, you can upgrade to the weekly premium edition, which also comes with mind-blowing science and the best bits of the internet. One third of our subscriber fees goes to charityBecome a paid subscriber
Update from FC HQ
It's Tane and Amy here. It's been a few weeks since the last edition - not because we're lazy but because there's been a few dramas here at FC HQ. Our beloved Gus, the maestro of this newsletter, was admitted to hospital two weeks ago with a serious infection - and no, it's not COVID-19.
He contracted staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as 'golden staph', through an ear infection which got into his blood and led to sepsis. It was touch and go there for a while but he's on the mend now. We know he's getting better because when he does his daily walks around the ward, he's checking the cameras and exits to plan his escape route from hospital.
Thankfully he's going to be ok, but it's a long road to recovery.
It's always been important to Gus to be transparent and honest with this truly global community of subscribers and his commitment to you remains top of mind, despite everything he's going through.
The FC team will continue to keep the good news flowing. We're currently curating our yearly round-up of the best stories of kindness, human ingenuity and planetary progress from 2021. We can't wait to share it with you.
The 'things you don't see coming' are often the events that shape and define us. What matters, is not what the events are, but what you choose to do with them. The thing we love about our team and our wider community, is when a problem arises, instead of complaining about how difficult it is, we start looking for solutions. It's what this newsletter is all about.
So without any further ado, here is the good news...
Good news you probably didn't hear about
Portugal has shut down its last coal-fired power plant, nine years ahead of its 2030 target. It's the fourth country in the European Union to stop burning coal - Belgium quit coal in 2016, and Austria and Sweden followed suit in 2020. AP
India has achieved its target of having 40% of installed electricity powered by non-fossil fuel energy sources. Energy, mainly from renewables and a small amount of nuclear sources, generates 156.83 of 390.8 GW of the country's electricity. India is committed to reaching 500 GW of clean energy by 2030. Economic Times
Germany’s new government has announced a new climate protection programme that will bring forward its coal exit by 8 years to 2030. The country's aim is to increase renewable capacity from 65% to 80% of its electricity needs. C'mon Australia! Reuters
Canada is fast-tracking legislation to ban the practice of LGBTQ+ “conversion therapy". If successful, Canada will join Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, and Malta where the practice is already banned. Guardian
Another win for for LGBTQ+ rights. In Chile, landmark legalisation has finally recognised same-sex marriage. The victory comes after a 4 year campaign by activists and the new legislation will enable same-sex couples to adopt children. Chile joins a growing list of Catholic Latin American countries who have legalised same-sex marriage including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and 14 of Mexico's 32 states. BBC
Good news for a furry friends in Spain. New legislation now recognises animals as “sentient beings". 200,000 animals are abandoned in Spain each year and advocates have fought hard since 2017 for this law, which will protect animals from being mistreated, abandoned, or separated from one of their owners in the case of a divorce or separation. IFL Science
The largest-ever study of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, has revealed the psychedelic drug is a highly effective alternative for treatment-resistant depression. 29.1% of patients in the highest dose group were in remission 3 weeks after a single dose, and more than a quarter of those patients sustained remission three months after. STAT News
“Everyone agrees such a result hasn’t been seen before in depression research, so we’re incredibly happy with that result.” - Lars Christian Wilde, Co-founder and President of Compass
Researchers in Cambridge are developing a biodegradable glitter made from cellulose nanocrystals rather than microplastics. Although cellulose is naturally clear, it creates colours through a process called self-assembly, in which the crystals align and twist. Although the glitter alternative will be pollution-free, it promises to be just as annoying for parents! Eco Watch
The WHO just released a new report detailing astonishing progress on measles. Between 2000 and 2020 the annual number of measles deaths fell by 94%, from 1,072,800 to 60,700, averting an estimated 31.7 million deaths. That's a lot of lives saved! Might be worth remembering the next time someone complains about how awful the world is. WHO
The WHO also just released its Global Tobacco Trends report, showing that in 2000, around a third of the global population over the age of 15 were tobacco users. By 2020, this had declined to under a quarter, and is projected to fall even further to a fifth by 2025. Reminder: tobacco is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer, with 1 in 8 cases and 1 in 5 deaths caused by smoking.
The Canadian Cancer Society says there has been significant progress in the fight against prostate cancer. Since peaking in 1995, Canada's prostate cancer death rate has been cut in half, from 45.1 to 22.7 per 100,000 people. One in eight men can expect to get the disease in their lifetime; thanks to science, it's no longer the death sentence it used to be. Newswire
The HPV vaccine has reduced cases of cervical cancer amongst young women in England by nearly 90% since 2008. Cervical cancer kills more than 300,000 women around the world each year but that number is set to fall dramatically, with over 100 countries now using the vaccine as part of a global plan to eliminate the disease. BBC
A new civil law in the United Arab Emirates will allow non-Muslims to marry, divorce and get joint child custody, making it the first Gulf country to reform marriage and divorce laws that were formerly based on religious principles. Last year the UAE also decriminalized premarital sexual relations, relaxed rules around alcohol and criminalized the practice of honour killing. Reuters
A victory for the LGBTQIA+ rights in Spain with new legislation giving single women, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people access to medically assisted reproduction in the public health system, where it is free of charge. Advocates fought for six years to overturn previous legislation that limited free IVF to heterosexual women with partners. The Star
"Expanding reproductive rights is expanding human rights"
Uge Sangil - President, Spanish Federation of LGBTQ+ Rights
The Spanish government is also taking on the problem of childhood obesity by banning advertising for unhealthy foods such as chocolate, juices, and ice creams to children. The regulations will come into force next year across TV, radio, internet, social media, and apps. El Pais
Is it possible for a city to make 50% of transport walkable and cyclable? Vancouver hit that goal five years ahead of target in 2015, with half of all inner-city trips taken by walking, biking, or transit rather than car. Now Paris is on a mission to do something similar, with a new set of plans to make the city 100% cyclable over the next five years. Bloomberg
Thirty years ago, assisted dying was only legal in Switzerland. Since 2015 however, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, five Australian states, ten American states and most recently Portugal have legalized the practice. Campaigns in Catholic countries like Chile, Ireland, Italy, and Uruguay are making slow but steady progress too. Economist
More than two in three Americans now support legalizing marijuana, maintaining the record-high level reached last year. A decade ago less than half of the country was in favour. This might just be one of the most successful rebrands of all time. It's not weed or pot any more, it's medicine. Gallup
The Social Progress Index measures health, safety, education, technology, and human rights across 99.97% of the world’s population. In its latest report, it says that 147 nations recorded a better score than they did a decade ago, with just four countries (the US, Brazil, Syria and South Sudan) doing worse. “Social progress is advancing across the world, but it remains slow and uneven.”
The only home we've ever known
China will plant 36,000 km2 of new forest (more than the total area of Belgium) every year until 2025 as it bids to combat climate change and protect natural habitats. Over the next five years officials say they will also expand the national park system, create wildlife corridors to alleviate habitat fragmentation, and crack down further on illegal wildlife trade. Reuters
A rare forest honeybee, presumed to be wiped out by disease, has been discovered in the ancient woodlands of Blenheim Palace, a 400-acre paradise of biodiversity subjected to minimal human intervention. The honeybees are thought to be the last wild descendants of Britain’s native honeybee and seem to have evolved the ability to survive the varroa mite. Guardian
A reserve spanning Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia will become the first UNESCO biosphere to cover five different countries. Dubbed the ‘Amazon of Europe’, the new biosphere will protect floodplains, forests, gravel banks, and backwaters, and look after a huge number of animal species, including the highest density of breeding white-tailed eagles in continental Europe. Euro News
The State of the Thames Report, led by the Zoological Society of London, says the river is now home to 92 bird species and 115 marine species, including sharks, seahorses, eels, and seals. Water quality has improved too, with dissolved oxygen concentrations showing an increase from 2007 to 2020. Not bad for a river declared ‘biologically dead’ in 1957. Nature recovers if we let it. BBC
The restoration of Rabbit Island off the coast of Louisiana has resulted in a thriving local bird population with biologists counting 16 times more bird nests than expected. The island had eroded to 200 acres, but dredging funded by settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill added another 102 acres for wildlife last year. AP
More than 20 years after the US Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the Canada lynx a threatened species, the agency has agreed on a recovery plan for the elusive, forest-dwelling carnivores. Last week the agency settled with six conservation groups that sued it over its management of lynx. “This is a victory for lynx, science, and for everyone who values healthy ecosystems.” Aspen Times
Animal rights activists have taken home another win in the battle to end cosmetic testing after New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law that will ban the sale of animal-tested beauty products in the state. The law will come into force from 1 March 2022, with those disregarding the rules facing a penalty of up to US$1,000 per product sale. Cosmetics Business
After five years of pressure from animal rights activists, travel company Expedia will stop selling holiday packages that include performances by captive dolphins and whales, as part of a global movement by travel companies to stop promoting unethical animal attractions. Guardian
We are delighted that Expedia Group are finally making a stand. It’s time for other travel giants to do the right thing and follow suit.
Katheryn Wise, World Animal Protection
For the first time, scientists will map the world’s underground fungal networks, which until now have been largely unexplored. Understanding these interconnected webs called mycelium could help us tackle climate change. Fungal networks store billions of tonnes of CO2 and act as nutrient “highways” for plants and trees and allow them to communicate. The map will identify sites with the potential to store more C02 and help protect them from external threats like agricultural fertilisers. Guardian
“An understanding of underground fungal networks is essential to our efforts to protect the soil, on which life depends, before it is too late.” - Jane Goodall, who is an advisor on the project
Nepal is on track to become the first country to double its tiger population in 2022. It's part of TX2, a global imitative supported by Russia, Nepal and 13 other countries. Nepal’s tiger population has grown steadily from 121 tigers 11 years ago, to 235 tigers 3 years ago and the country is likely to reach the 250-mark next year. The Star
After 35 years of conservation, the population of the endangered Burrowing Parrot in Chile has increased from 217 in 1986 to over 4000. The success is largely due to the protection of Río de los Cipreses National Reserve which contains the native plants that are a vital part of their diet. Evolve to Ecology
WildEast, an innovative project in East Angila in the UK, will rewild an area 3 times the size of New York City and create wildlife corridors across some of the country's most intensely farmed land. The project, initiated by 3 estate owners who all committed their land, aims to restore biodiversity to 618,000 acres by 2070. Mongabay
This could be the world’s biggest sex event! Coral along the Great Barrier Reef has spawned; releasing trillions of eggs and sperm into the ocean and giving ecologists hope for the reef’s recovery. Two-thirds of the coral across the reef was damaged by unusually warm ocean temperatures in 2016, 2017 and 2020. Marine scientists and local tourism operators are using ‘coral IVF’ to collect the eggs from part of the reef that have spawned significantly and transport them to restore parts of the reef that have suffered the most damage. NPR
"The reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond — and that gives us hope. I think we must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic." - Gareth Phillips, Marine Scientist
New hope for China’s coastal wetlands with satellite imagery showing significant recovery over the last 10 years. After decades of destruction, mainly due to economic development wetland areas decreased between 1984 and 2011 but started rebounding after 2012. The turnaround is attributed to several conservation projects that started in the 1990s, when China realised the importance of these vital ecosystems and sprung into action. Mongabay
The best way for us to wrap up this edition of newsletter is to let Gus have the last word. To celebrate the 100'th episode of The DNA Of Purpose Podcast, our host Rebecca Tapp interviewed Gus about how he's continued to find hope, abundance and hold a vision of the future that we can be optimistic about, even as he's weathered the storms of life in 2021. This is the story of Collapse, Renewal and the knowledge that what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
That's it for this edition, thanks for reading!
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We'll be back with our annual good news round-up of 2021 soon and will resume normal programming in 2022. Be kind and stay safe out there!