Your Good News round-up: swear words can make you more resistant to pain, and more…Comments
This is the Good News round-up, and these are this week’s positive developments:
- The EU has agreed to ban imports of products that drive deforestation.
- Robots are helping doctors detect early rheumatoid arthritis.
- Wildlife across Europe has grown hugely over the last 50 years.
- A new scientific paper has confirmed how powerful swear words are.
- A prestigious orchestra performance of every Beethoven Symphony is freely available this Christmas.
Click the video above to get the full digest and find out more on the following:
1. The EU has agreed to ban imports of products that drive deforestation
In total, an area larger than the EU was lost to global deforestation between 1990 and 2020. And levels of European consumption are partly to blame, causing around 10 per cent of the loss worldwide.
The good news is that EU lawmakers and governments have reached an agreement to pass a new law ensuring that products sold in the region are more environmentally friendly.
Companies will need to show that the goods they import have not led to any deforestation or forest degradation since 2021, anywhere in the world, and that they comply with rules on human rights and the protection of indigenous people in the country of origin.
The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment called the agreement a “world first,” saying this concerns "the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use in our barbecues, the paper in our books.”
The new rules will impose a duty of care on companies that wish to place their derivatives on the European market, including palm oil, livestock, soy, cocoa, timber and rubber, said Adalbert Jahnz, Spokesperson for the European Commission, adding that the agreement “will be part of the European contribution to the World Conference on Biodiversity, the COP15, which is starting in Montreal."
2. Robots helping doctors detect early rheumatoid arthritis
The arrival of robots in the workplace has been a source of anxiety for decades.
But now that humanoid robots are actually emerging, the picture is changing, with some seeing robots as promising teammates rather than competitors.
In Denmark, a new clinical robot promises to cut long hospital waiting lists by performing automated ultrasound scans of potential rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The pace at which the robots perform the scans is impossible to match for humans, and a timely scan may ultimately save lives.
Up to 14 million people around the world have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the World Health Organization.
The automated clinical robot, named ARTHUR, uses a robotic arm to methodically scan the eleven joints on each hand, a procedure that often reveals early signs of the disease.
Soeren Andreas, a rheumatology consultant at the Odense University Hospital in Svendborg, says that if the disease is detected early, patients can be treated “ with much less medicine than the same patient being detected much later where the immune system is more damaged and therefore it needs much more expensive treatment, and the risk of joint damage is so much higher."
Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, professor of medical robotics at University of Southern Denmark, says ARTHUR is not there to take “the specialist out of the loop.”
They are just doing what they're very good at, he says, and adapting the treatment to the specific patient will still be up to doctors.
3. Wildlife across Europe has grown hugely over the last 50 years.
A coalition of conservation organisations periodically publishes reports on how animal populations across Europe are changing. Our World in Data, a scientific online publication based at the University of Oxford, has been monitoring them.
By the first half of the 20th century, many of Europe’s mammals had been reduced to just a fraction of their historical levels as the result of thousands of years of hunting, exploitation, and habitat loss.
Numbers across Europe have dramatically increased over the last 50 years, however.
Badger populations have doubled, while otter numbers have tripled, on average. Red deers have increased more than threefold. Beavers, European bison and Iberian lynx have also seen much higher numbers than previously.
So, how did Europe achieve this success story?
According to Our World in Data, by stopping the activities that were killing mammals off in the first place.
Effective protection against hunting, overexploitation, and the destruction of habitats have been key.
They say the work of conservationists and their supporters has been vital. From fighting for wildlife protection policies and hunting quotas, the dedication of people like you lies at the heart of this wild mammal comeback.
4. A new scientific paper has confirmed how powerful swear words are
New research says that swearing can make you happier, fitter, more resistant to pain and can increase your attention and memory. The effects can include a range of psychological, cognitive and emotional consequences.
In a study, subjects who let rip with swear words were able to keep their hands in a bucket of ice water for longer than non-swearers. Chanting a swear word was also shown to increase muscle performance during physical exercise.
Messages with swearing in them are seen as more genuine than those without.
Now that doesn't mean you should be swearing all the time, of course. Swear words can come across as a form of aggression; context is key. But if used wisely, they can play to your advantage.
5. The free orchestra performance of the complete Beethoven Symphonies this Christmas
Celebrated conductor Gustavo Dudamel believes that music has the power to heal, unite and inspire. With this in mind, he decided to make a gift to the post-pandemic world.
Dudamel has publicly released videos of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, performed by the prestigious Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela at Barcelona’s stunning Palau de la Música Catalana.
The Palau de la Música has agreed to the release of the videos, and they are available for all this Christmas season.
Numerous studies have shown that listening to classical music can improve brain function and sleep patterns, the immune system and stress levels. For Dudamel, it can also help the soul.
"I believe that music, art will play a very important role in the recovery of society after the pandemic, for our souls, our psyches," he said.
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See you soon, and remember it can be hard to find them among the headlines, but some news can be good news.