Earth News|Collected: 6 positive news stories to make you smile

Your weekly round-up of good news for the planet and the people in it

Rope bridge provides lifeline for world’s rarest primate

After a landslide created a large gap in the forests of China’s Hainan island, the most critically endangered gibbon on the planet, the Hainan Gibbon (Nomascus hainanus), was finding it hard to move around the forest to find food or meet a mate.

A simple solution, however, appears to have solved the issue – a long rope bridge, which has formed a connection between the trees. The rope bridge has been introduced as part of a conservation programme, run by the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong, which is working to rescue the Hainan Gibbon from extinction.

The programme has already managed to grow the little population from just 13 individuals in 2003, to more than 30 individuals now, and says that poaching control and reforestation will be key to protecting the species, which was once common across China.

Source: BBC News

Edible alternative to plastic bags and wrappers developed to save the lives of Japanese deer

Plastic. It ends up everywhere. Even in the stomachs of animals, including the deer that famously wander the central park in the Japanese city of Nara. In fact, 1,300 of these beautiful deer were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers left behind by tourists. One of the deer had more than 4kg of rubbish in its stomach.

Thankfully, a group of local companies have collaborated to develop an alternative and edible material for the packaging, which can pass through the animal’s digestive system safely. The new bags and wrappers, which took a year to develop, are made out of recycled pulp from milk cartons, mixed with rice bran.

Source: The Guardian

A new superwhite paint could help reduce the use of air-conditioning in hot countries

Scientists have created a paint that is so reflective, it can cool a surface to 1.7°C below the surrounding air temperature, even under sunlight.

Developed at Purdue University, Indiana, the new ‘superwhite’ paint can reflect 95.5 per cent of all the photons (the basic unit of all light) that hit it, which means that instead of warming up under direct light, objects painted with this new acrylic material will remain cooler than their surrounding air temperature, reducing the need for energy-consuming air conditioning.

Sources: New Scientist, Science Alert.

Tasmania commits to 200 per cent renewable energy by 2040

The Tasmanian government has tabled its plans to double the island’s hydro, wind and solar energy production, in pursuit of reaching a 200 per cent renewable energy target by 2040. The island state’s government said the plans have the potential to deliver billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs for Tasmania.

Premier Peter Gutwein commented in a statement on Friday that “Tasmania is already taking the lead in this area and we are fast approaching our target to be 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2022 – a feat achieved by very few countries in the world.”

Sources: Renew Economy, Mirage News.

UK supermarket Asda opens trial ‘sustainability store’

UK supermarket Asda has launched a trial sustainability store in Leeds, selling household essentials, such as teabags and cereals from big name brands including PG Tips and Kellogg’s, in refillable containers. The store also offers 53 loose and unwrapped fresh produce items, fresh flowers wrapped in paper and recycling points.

The initiative comes following the supermarket’s bid to reduce waste by 50 per cent and produce zero carbon emissions by 2040, and it is hoped it will saved an estimated one million pieces of plastic from being used each year.

Source: Sky News.

Thousands of struggling English cafes and restaurants vow to make sure children do not go hungry in the school holidays. And now McDonald’s has joined the effort too.

On Wednesday evening, 322 British MPs voted against extending a school meal voucher scheme throughout the upcoming half-term holidays, winning the vote by a majority of 61. The scheme, which has been put in the spotlight by footballer Marcus Rashford’s ongoing campaign against child food poverty, would have helped to ensure 1 million children in England would not go hungry during the holidays. The Scottish and Welsh governments are already providing free school meals for the children that need them until Easter 2021. Currently, almost 1 in 3 children in the UK are living in poverty.

In response to the vote, hospitality businesses across the country – many of which are already suffering from the impact of coronavirus lockdowns – have stepped in with promises of meals during the school holidays. From bakeries, to cafes, vegan restaurants to Italian restaurants, food trucks and chip shops, many businesses have stepped in to help out the children in their communities. And on Friday, McDonald’s also joined the campaign in partnership with FastShare, by pledging 1million free meals to families in need.

While the community support has been applauded, many have also pointed out that the responsibility should lie with the government. Shadow education secretary, Kate Green, commented: “I cannot believe I have to spell this out – it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that children do not go hungry. They don’t stop being hungry just because the school bell rings for the end of term,” she said.

Sources: End Child Poverty, The Guardian, BBC, Joe.co.uk.

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