A Turkish man has planted 30 million trees, a study says we're living (and staying healthy) for longer, and an endangered species got a brand new member.
The headlines can be hard going, but not all news is bad news. Here are five stories from this week about what's going well in the world:
- We are living longer and healthier lives, according to a new study.
- The Austrian government is paying for people to have their old stuff repaired.
- A Turkish man has turned a barren landscape into a lush forest by planting 30 million trees.
- A new wooden skyscraper in Sweden absorbs more carbon than 4,000 hectares of forest.
- The number of endangered Sumatran rhinos has risen by one – a very cute one.
Watch the video above to start the weekend with a smile, or read on below
1. We are living healthier lives and for longer– and that includes people with chronic conditions, says a new study by Newcastle University.
Researchers were inspired to look into the data because healthcare has largely evolved since the 1990s, they say.
The team analysed data from two large studies of people aged 65 or over in England, conducted 20 years apart, one in 1991 and the other in 2011. And they came up with very positive results.
Better healthcare has led to people living longer, even those with health conditions such as arthritis and coronary heart disease.
Between 1991 and 2011, men aged 65 gained 4.6 years in life expectancy, of which 3.7 years are disability-free.
And women aged 65 gained 2.1 years, two years of which are disability-free.
Researchers used the phrase "disability-free" to mean being able to live your daily life without functional limitations, even if you have a health condition.
2. A Turkish man has forested 10,000 hectares of barren land.
Hikmet Kaya, a 78-year-old man from the Boyabat district in the Turkish Black Sea province of Sinop, has turned 10,000 hectares of desolate landscape into a lush and thriving forest – planting 30 million trees in less than 25 years.
Kaya, who is a retired forestry operation chief, planted them with the help of local residents. "It [is] my biggest source of pride that all these barren hills have become a forest,” he said.
Watch the video above to see the progress that's been made since Kaya started his project in 1989.
“We did a good job. This work includes sacrifice, effort, love [for] your nation, your country and your work. Beyond all, it is love of humanity,” he said.
3. The Austrian government is paying for people to have their old stuff repaired.
In 2020 the city of Vienna started a pilot programme called Reparaturbon to pay for people's old possessions to be repaired instead of thrown out and replaced – good news for the planet as well as the pocket.
In the initiative, 50 per cent of repair costs were subsidised by the city, capped at €100. Citizens were encouraged to have anything they could fix – clothes, computers, bikes, furniture. And it was a resounding success; more than 35,000 items were repaired through the scheme, saving more than 850 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The Vienna pilot has ended but this month a new nationwide “right to repair” scheme is being launched, focusing on E-waste – electronic waste, the fastest growing waste stream in the developed world.
"It's the best thing to do from an environmental perspective and from a consumer perspective as well," says Chloé Mikolajczak, a campaigner for Right to Repair Europe, a coalition pushing for the universal right to repair in Europe.
"We are in a climate emergency, and that means that a lot of these minerals that we are mining for electronics and that we throw away after only a few years could go to the energy transition. But instead, they're being discarded. Worldwide, only 17 per cent of e-waste is recycled," she adds.
The newly introduced repair bonus will pay for 50 per cent of costs to fix electronic equipment, up to €200 per repair.
Mikolajczak says that Right to Repair Europe has seen that one of the key barriers for people to repairing their stuff is the price. So by giving out these vouchers and reducing the cost of repair, "it really allows consumers to become familiar with repair to consider it as a viable option".
She said: "Things need to happen at the design phase. It needs to be designed to be repaired: easy to be opened and spare parts, easy to be disassembled, easy access to repair information. We also need spare parts to be affordable. We need everyone to have access to spare parts and repair information, consumer information."
Right to Repair Europe is pushing for a Europe-wide repair index that grades products depending on how repairable they are. "And that would allow consumers to make [purchase] choices based on the repairability of the products," Mikolajczak says.
4. A new Swedish skyscraper made of wood absorbs as much carbon as 4,000 hectares of forest.
That's an area around the size of 5,600 football pitches.
“Everyone thought that we were a little bit crazy proposing a building like this in timber,” says Robert Schmitz, the architect behind the new building.
The design is part of a wider effort to move the local construction industry away from environmentally harmful materials. Wood absorbs carbon dioxide, and it stores it for good.
Those behind the skyscraper say it will capture 9 million kilograms of carbon dioxide throughout its lifetime.
The structure also boasts solar panels that can power the entire building – including its six theatre stages, two art galleries, conference centre, library and a 205-room hotel.
5. A rare Sumatran rhino was born in Indonesia, bringing hope for an endangered species.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos remain in the world – and now there’s one more.
A Sumatran rhino named Rosa gave birth to a female rhino in Way Kambas National Park, a sanctuary in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The birth brings hope to conservationists focused on saving endangered species. "The birth of this Sumatran rhino is such happy news amid the government's and partners' efforts to increase the population," said Wiratno, a senior official at Indonesia's environment ministry.
Successful births among Sumatran rhinos are rare. Mum Rosa has had eight miscarriages since 2005, and the calf's father, Andatu, was the first Sumatran rhino born in a sanctuary in more than 120 years.
Thanks for reading and watching the Good News round-up.
Seen an uplifting story you’d like to see featured on the show? What would you like to see more of?
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And if you're still hungry for positive news, there's more below.
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