Bearing this in mind, we’ve decided to cherry pick some of 2019’s good news stories from a range of sources. Surprisingly, there have been plenty and while there are the annual great sports stories and occasionally positive titbit of news to emerge from the year’s darker events, the following are just a small selection of what’s good in the world right now.
Starting the year off was a beautiful nature story where researchers in the United States uncovered the fact that Sea turtles are making a comeback as are otters and even humpback whales. The researchers found the Endangered Species Act in the US was actually working and numerous animals were making a natural comeback in the wild. Who would have thought?
Humpback whales for example saw their population in the western Southern Atlantic grow to over 25,000. Researchers believe this new estimate is now close to pre-whaling numbers which is remarkable considering their numbers in the 20th century diminished to only 450 whales.
Also on the animal front but in a different context, a whole bunch of high-end fashion designers including Prada chose to go fur-free. The Italian fashion label joins a long list of luxury houses that have chosen to not use fur in their fashion. Moreover, everyone’s favourite grandmother, the Queen, has also gone fur-free in her constant parade of hats and matronly fashion.
When it comes to recycling and food wastage, the South Koreans are way out in front with the World Economic Forum reporting, the home of Samsung and Hyundai recycles 95 per cent of its food waste. It’s also cracking down on plastic pollution and it’s all because of a proactive government working with business and its citizens. Australia take note please.
The World Economic Forum has identified cutting food waste by up to 20 million tonnes as one of 12 measures that could help transform global food systems by 2030.
And when it comes to plastic pollution, there are numerous countries cracking down including Thailand and New Zealand who seem to be out in front on a number of issues (more about our Tasman cousins later)
A particularly good news story, which is relevant to Australia at a time when land-clearing remains a hot button issue, is the fact Ethiopia “planted” 350 million trees in one day. The number hasn’t been independently verified but whether the figure is a little rubbery or not, the Ethiopian government set out to plant 350 million trees and it would seem they were pretty close. The reason for the monster planting is land clearing had reduced the African nation’s forests from 35 per cent of its land mass to just over four per cent and the government decided it was time to reverse the trend and also help combat climate change. At the risk of sounding repetitive, Australia should probably take note again.
One consistently divisive issue when it comes to the climate debate is the amount of fossil fuels we continue to burn but there is good news out there including the fact global coal use dropped by the most on record in 2019 according to recent research undertaken by researchers monitoring monthly global electricity output.
In those numbers, the European Union experienced an unprecedented 19 per cent year-on-year decline in coal-fired power generation in the first half of 2019, and this was slated to accelerate in the second half of the year to an estimated 23 per cent fall.
There’s more good news on the renewables front with clean energy jobs growing by 3.6 per cent in the United States last year, adding 110,000 net new jobs, and the dramatic reduction of coal in the country's energy mix has reduced deaths from air pollution and has cut the cost of damages by more than $200 billion.
Closer to home and in good news for Australia, the nation’s capital, Canberra, kind of became the nation’s first city to be officially powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. What this basically means is the city offsets its current electricity usage by investing in renewable energy technologies nationally equal to its current usage.
More great news here at home on the health front is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that more people are surviving cancer in Australia than ever before. Since 1989, the mortality rate has dropped by 32 per cent for men and by 21 per cent for women.
And finally, our Tasman neighbours spent the year consistently displaying “the better angels of our nature” on a number of fronts. For example, New Zealand’s Government released a Wellbeing Budget which considered everything from mental health to homelessness, child wellbeing, climate change, public transport and healthcare. Basically, it was all about New Zealand becomes a more healthy and productive nation.
They also committed themselves to 100% clean energy by 2035 and said they’d plant one billion trees.
One last thing: their government passed landmark legislation that enshrines the commitments of the Paris Agreement into law and commits the nation to zero carbon emissions by 2050. What’s more, the law passed with bipartisan support.
Lead Image Credit: Adam Bryce