This Week’s GOOD NEWS From Around The World (December 3/16)

Earth and The Environment

India Builds World’s Largest Solar Power Plant

Newly released images show the world’s newest and largest solar power plant in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, India. The new plant covers 10 square miles of area and has a power capacity of 648MW – surpassing the previous record holder, California’s Topaz Solar Farm, by 98MW. (AlJazeera.com)

Dallas to Become Home to Huge Urban Nature Park


Officials in Dallas, Texas, have announced the city’s plans to build one of the largest urban nature parks in the United States. The “Nature District” is set to incorporate 7,000 acres of the Great Trinity Forest, as well as a section of the Trinity River. Engineers are working to design the nature park around a natural floodplain, in order to both protect the city from flooding and provide an incredibly lush green space. (Inhabitat.com)

Incentive Programs May Be The Future of Protecting Our Oceans

New research suggests that growing concern in global communities for the state of the ocean may eventually be cause for hope. According to a number of scientists, the current climate is ripe for incentive-based programs to be put into action to help conserve ocean ecosystems. It’s possible that these incentive programs will have enough impact to change the current course of climate change. (ScienceDaily.com)

Four Cities Pledge to Ban Diesel Fuel

Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, and Athens have announced plans to ban diesel fuel by 2025. The mayors of the four cities report they will do so through means like incentivizing alternative vehicles and encouraging walking and cycling whenever possible. The World Health Organization currently reports that air pollution is linked to about 3 million deaths each year, with diesel exhaust being a major contributor in some urban areas. (BBC.com)

Young People Overall More Interested in Planet Earth than X Factor

Recent ratings figures suggest that more young people in the 16 to 34 demographic are tuning in to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II series than to reality shows like the X Factor in the U.K. Attenborough himself believes that the ratings indicate that young people are increasingly interested in the natural world around them, and he hopes his show will encourage young viewers to take more environmental care. (Independent.co.uk)


Feminism and Civil Rights

Spanish Cities Rename Streets After Female Figures

After receiving a number of complaints from citizens that its streets were mostly named after men, the cities of Spain are finally enacting a law introduced in 2007, and retiring certain street names in favor of names that honor female revolutionaries, historical figures and civil rights fighters. Some cities are pledging to name as much as 80 percent of newly-built streets after women. (QZ.com)

Record-Breaking All-Female Antarctic Expedition Leaves From Argentinian Shore

The largest ever all-female Antarctic expedition set sail on Friday, departing from Argentina. The expedition includes over 70 women in a range of scientific fields, who will spend 20 days at sea. Part of the Australian Homeward Bound initiative, the trip aims in part to help increase female representation throughout the scientific community. (BBC.com)

Mall of American Hires First Black Santa Claus

This holiday season, the Mall of America is home to its first Santa of color. Larry Jefferson of Dallas, TX, will spend four days as the mall’s official Santa Claus, taking photos and talking to children as part of the Santa Experience. According to Jefferson, many kids get an extra kick out of meeting a Santa that looks like them. (Minnesota.CBSLocal.com)


Tech and Medicine

Scientists Developing Implant That Could One Day Improve Human Memory

USC scientist Theodore Berger has developed a device that could help improve human memory. Thus far Berger’s implant has only been tested in rats and monkeys, works by stimulating the brain in a particular way to mimic the natural formation of memories. The hope is that this device will eventually be tested in humans and marketed is a medical device for patients suffering from memory loss due to a range of neurological conditions. (Wired.com)

Scientists Find a Way to Decrease Sugar Without Changing Flavor

Scientists working for Nestlé claim to have discovered a way to nearly halve the amount of sugar in candy bars, without changing the taste or using artificial sweeteners. As Pepsi Co. did with Lays Chips a few years ago, it appears they simply plan on changing the structure of the sugar crystals themselves, granting them more surface area and thus better dissolution. Nothing is being added or taken away — it’s just far more efficient, and thus far more healthy. Large bodies of research suggest that excess sugar consumption is a significant health risk in developed nations. Though Nestlé plans to patent its process, perhaps similar processes will soon be made available to more ethically-minded companies. (TheGuardian.com)

Australian Students Synthesize Daraprim (The ‘Martin Shkreli’ Drug) For a Fraction of its Inflated Cost

A group of students in Sydney, Australia, have figured out how to synthesize the active ingredient in the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim for just $20 USD. Thanks to the astronomical price hikes of pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, the same amount of Daraprim would currently cost anywhere between $35,000 and $110,000 USD. The students hope their discovery will draw attention to the injustice of the price hikes on the drug, which can be crucial for HIV patients and pregnant women. (ABC.net.au)

Mobile App Detects Earthquakes With Surprising Accuracy

A new mobile app is proving even more effective than its developers predicted at detecting earthquakes. The app MyShake, developed by scientists at UC Berkeley, was released in February and has been downloaded about 200,000 times. Though its developers imagined it would only detect earthquakes of a significant size, in the past six months the app has registered over 200 earthquakes in over 10 countries – indicating that it could have a future as an early-warning system to protect citizens in threatened areas. (TechCrunch.com)