Kate Byng-Hall shares some of the most positive gems Tru. shared throughout 2020
Photo by Vicnicius Wiesehofer
The year of 2020 can easily be regarded as a synonym for 'struggle'. The coronavirus pandemic compromised not only global public health, but also threatened health services, businesses, relationships and our collective mental wellbeing. Human rights were denied across the world, and the environment continued to be battered by human influence.
However, it’s not all bad. Over the year, Tru. covered a variety of stories to put a smile on your face and offer a glimmer of hope for the future. Here are 12 of our best to aid a positive outlook going into the new year:
Back in April, Kate Byng-Hall reported as the second person ever – Adam Castillejo, 40 – was cured of HIV in London. Mr Castillejo, otherwise known as the ‘London Patient’, was found to have been cured of the disease after receiving a stem-cell transplant to cure the unrelated cancer which he was also suffering from. It is yet to be determined whether his recovery could have a meaningful contribution to the formulation of a universal cure for the virus, but it is a ray of hope, as he has proven that it is possible.
Nick Webb reported as research published from scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder showed that the effects of human activity on the Ozone layer above Antarctica are starting to reverse and even heal. This is great news, as a depleted ozone layer could have a serious impact on plants, ecosystems, materials and biochemicals cycles through excessive UV radiation reaching Earth. Its preservation is critical to the balance of our world.
Cat Cunningham shared the encouraging news of Danish schools’ ‘Klassen tid’ – a weekly class in which students aged 6 to 16 are taught to practise empathy, build relationships and prevent bullying. It’s thought this educational approach has contributed to Denmark being ranked in the top three happiest countries in the world for the past seven years according to the UN’s World Happiness Report.
In August, Ellie Chivers shared the fantastic news that Pakistan has “demonstrated its commitment to the clean and green future” by achieving the UN Sustainable Development ‘Climate Action’ goal a decade before the deadline. The ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ initiative was taken on by all members of the United Nations in 2015, and involves the member states committing to achieving 17 targets to ensure a greener future.
Cat Cunningham enlightened us about an astonishing African-led initiative – the Green Wall – which aims to create a 4750-mile network of forests and woodlands across the entire width of Africa in a dry region known as the Sahel. Initially launched by 11 counties in 2007, there are now 21 countries committed to building and maintaining the wall to form a partial solution to climate change, drought, famine, conflict and migration issues.
In August, Ellie Chivers celebrated history being made as the most expansive ocean clean-up ever was carried out, recovering a staggering 103 tons of waste near Hawaii. This record-breaking operation removed fishing nets and plastic debris from the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. This area of the sea contains the largest and most infamous accumulation of ocean plastic in the world, having coined the moniker of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.
Shaun Britton discussed the meat industry’s recent downward turn. In 2019, global meat production and consumption dropped for the first time since 1961, and another reduction is projected for 2020 according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Two consecutive years of decreased meat-eating is unprecedented, and would suggest some real change is beginning to occur in people’s lifestyle choices which could positively impact our ethical, environmental and health interests.
Ellie Chivers brought us the welcome story of the reintroduction of many lost species to the British Isles. By restoring ecosystems to liveable states, overturning the loss of biodiversity on land and at sea, and rejuvenating people’s love for nature, the charity Rewilding Britain hopes to see the reversal of the effects of Britain’s extinction crisis. The species being reintroduced include ospreys, sea eagles, and even lynx or wolves sometime in the future.
Nick Webb shared the encouraging news of the government’s green economy plans to rebuild a more environmentally friendly post-Covid Britain, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised that “in 10 years’ time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country”. Speaking at the Virtual Tory Party Conference in October, the PM announced that the UK will aim to have net-zero emissions by 2050, starting with a £160 million investment to upgrade wind energy infrastructure with the aim of eventually generating 60% of the UK’s green energy using wind farms.
Georgie Chantrell-Plant reported as the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) discovered a previously unrecorded coral reef extending 1640 feet (500 metres) below the ocean surface, making it taller than the Empire State Building. It is the first detached reef discovered in these waters for more than 100 years, and forms part of the Great Barrier Reef – the single longest reef in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nicole Nadler shared the wonderful news that on August 12th, coinciding with World Elephant Day, an elephant ‘baby boom’ in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park was declared, doubling its previous 1989 population. Over 34,000 elephants are now living in Kenya, with about 170 elephant calves being born this year, including an extremely rare two sets of twins – something that has only been recorded twice before in the last five decades.
Annie Grey reported as the HydroFLEX – Britain’s first hydrogen-powered train – successfully launched at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, a test facility in Long Marston, near Stratford-upon-Avon. The HydroFLEX’s hydrogen-power system produces enough power to fuel 50-75-mile-long journeys, a notable progression in the UK’s adoption of green technologies as hydrogen power is less expensive than electric, and produces minimal waste.
These developments, especially in the environmental sector, are incredibly encouraging: governments and organisations are starting to wake up to the necessity of a greater focus on combatting climate change and ecological destruction. But, of course, more needs to be done.
2021, although full of uncertainty, offers a real and invaluable opportunity to progress even further, whether in personal, local, national or even global advancements. The positive news stories we shared throughout last year should act as inspiration for enacting even more change and advocating for a society of accountability and action.
Visit https://www.tru.org.uk/read to read all of these stories in full and explore the rest of our content.
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