Headlines can be hard going, but some news is good news. Here is your weekly digest of what’s going well in the world.
1. The high school for orphaned sloths.
2. The government that’s paving the way with recycled nappies.
3. The Canadian city being warmed up with cryptocurrency.
4. Nigeria's very own Spider-Man saving his city from waste.
Watch the video above for more on each story, or read on below...
1. The school preparing orphaned sloths for life in the wild
There are just 1,500 sloths left in the wild, making them one of the most endangered mammals on the planet according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Survival for these slow-moving – and incredibly cute – creatures is against the odds. They put up with deforestation, hunters…and, because of how precarious life is for sloths, orphaned cubs are frequently found in Costa Rica’s rainforest.
Encar Garcia, biologist and founder of the Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica, explains: “The mothers are electrocuted on cables or killed by dogs, or run over or sold illegally.
“These sloth babies, which I know are cuter than anything in the world, need a lot of time before they are released back into the wild. And this whole period of time, this whole process is very expensive. How do we teach a sloth to be a sloth? To climb trees? And what do they have to eat? It is not easy.”
The cubs re placed with others the same age and enrolled in what the centre calls its “high school” where, after a period of time inside with blankets and stuffed animals to comfort them, they are taken outside where they learn to climb, to find leaves to eat, to be among their classmates – to be a sloth.
And what does graduation from sloth high school involve?
Before they are released back into the wild, the sloths are microchipped so that they can be tracked on their journey. Their nails are also painted bright colours, allowing for quick identification in the wild.
2. The government that’s paving the way with recycled nappies
From baby sloths to baby humans – and their nappies, which are being used to pave roads in Wales.
A pilot project on the road that follows the coast between the towns of Aberystwyth and Cardigan has been using the nappy formula to replace the road surface.
Fibres from 4.3 tonnes of used nappies have replaced materials used to make asphalt. This is both a solution to the nappy waste problem – about 140 million disposable nappies are thrown away every
year tossed in Wales – and an alternative to having materials shipped in from other countries, according to the Welsh Government.
The only thing that needs to be added to the nappies is aggregate, which can be sourced locally, shortening the supply chain and providing jobs in Wales.
The nappies for the project are collected from 15 of Wales’s 22 local authorities. Nappies are considered a single-use plastic, and can take up to 500 years to decompose.
The project is being carried out by two companies – NappiCycle, which cleans used nappies and separates the plastic and cellulose fibres for re-use, and Pura, which describes itself as an "eco-friendly baby care business”.
Wales is ranked first in the UK for household waste recycling, second in Europe and third in the world. It is also the only country in the world where all policy decisions made must consider the impact on the generations of tomorrow.
3. The Canadian city being warmed up with cryptocurrency
The city of North Vancouver in Canada is heating homes and businesses by reusing the heat released by bitcoin mining farms.
The corporation which provides the city with hot water and heating, the Lonsdale Energy Corporation, has signed a 12-year contract with a company specialising in the mining of bitcoin to offer the city's 50,000 residents a “digital boiler-based” heating system that recycles the wasted energy from crypto mining.
But how do you get from bitcoin to boilers?
Mining bitcoin is the process in which computers validate bitcoin transactions, in exchange for a bitcoin reward, just like a bank commission. Let’s say one user sends bitcoin to another, and then
the other pays it back. The bitcoin miners (the computers) check and verify the transaction.
This process needs a lot of computers and a lot of servers, and so it takes a lot of energy consumption to mine bitcoin. The mining is done on what they call “mining farms” – lots of computers put together, validating lots of transactions, using lots of energy.
So much energy in fact that the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates that mining bitcoin consumes 130 TWh of electricity per year. That’s almost 40 thousand times the amount of energy an average European uses in a year.
Fortunately the company involved in the North Vancouver scheme, the MintGreen Blockchain Innovation Corp, uses green and clean energy to mine its bitcoin atmosphere. MintGreen’s crypto miners are bathed in tanks filled with a cooling liquid that absorbs the heat and feeds it back into Digital Boilers connected to the Lonsdale Energy Corporation's energy system
It recovers more than 96 per cent of the heat generated by the mining computers – preventing 34,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. This recovered energy will be used to produce hot water, and is currently keeping things cosy in around 100 buildings.
4. Nigeria's very own Spider-Man saving his city from waste
Jonathan Olakunle has a not-so-secret identity. He is Nigeria’s very own Spider-Man, fighting one of the country’s biggest foes: waste.
Since 2004, he has been on a mission to clean the city of Osogbo, from trash rather than criminals.
Nigeria produces around 32 million tonnes of solid waste per year, one of the highest amounts in Africa.
For a long time Olakunle was a superhero without a disguise, but he says that ever since he slipped into the Spider-Man suit his mission is getting more attention.
And that’s exactly what he wants. Olakunle says he wants to raise awareness of the problem among its citizens. So he dons his costume to talk to the locals and try to convince them not to litter and to help him clean up the streets
He said: “My goal is to influence them and change their habits. I, Jonathan, can start a movement to provoke people to care about the environment. It will start by influencing just one person to pick trash up on their streets. We should be the change we want to see... and I will make sure I capture as much waste as possible with my web.”
And if you're still hungry for more positive news, there's more below...
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