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Inspiring: Healing Our Earth News Articles

Below are key excerpts of inspiring news articles on healing our Earth from reliable news media sources. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.

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‘It’s like a place of healing’: the growth of America’s food forests
2021-05-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/08/its-like-a-place-of-heali...

America’s biggest “food forest” is just a short drive from the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. When the Guardian visits the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill there are around a dozen volunteers working. Food forests are part of the broader food justice and urban agriculture movement and are distinct from community gardens in various ways. They are typically backed by grants rather than renting plots, usually rely on volunteers and incorporate a land management approach that has a focus on growing perennials. The schemes vary in how they operate in allocating food ... but they are all aimed at boosting food access. Organizers in Atlanta stress that they properly distribute the food to the neighborhoods that the food forest is intended to support and it’s not open to the public beyond volunteer workers. Other schemes have areas where the public is free to take what they want. Celeste Lomax, who manages community engagement at the Brown Mills forest and lives in the neighborhood, believes education is key to the forest’s success and beams like sunlight when sharing her vision for the fertile soil she tends. “We’re using this space for more than just growing food. We have composting, beehives, bat boxes, and this beautiful herb garden where we’re teaching people how to heal themselves with the foods we eat. We’ll be doing walkthrough retreats and outside yoga. This is a health and wellness place. It’s so much more than just free food.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Jane Goodall Champions Pragmatism For Progress In National Geographic Documentary ‘Jane Goodall: The Hope’
2020-04-30, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2020/04/30/jane-goodall-champions...

In 1986, [Dr. Jane Goodall] attended a conference in Chicago with researchers studying chimps in six areas of Africa, and the reports of environmental devastation shocked Goodall. After listening to the reports at the conference, Goodall felt obligated to speak. Her activism evolved quickly, from chimps, to their habitat to human welfare, and how animal rights and the future of the planet are inherently interconnected. Some of her decisions have been deemed controversial: her friendship with for US Secretary of State James Baker, her work with Conoco ... oil company to build a chimpanzee sanctuary, hard conversations with the National Institutes of Health regarding their medical research and testing practices on chimpanzees and visiting their labs. "I lost a lot of friends because of going into the labs, sitting down and talking to the people, organizing a conference to bring in the lab people, the scientists and also the animal welfare people ..."There were a lot of animal rights people who refused to speak to me — they said, 'Wow can you sit down with these evil people and have a cup of tea with them?' I was totally and completely flabbergasted. If you don’t talk to people, how can expect them to change?” When speaking to the NIH, “I didn’t stand there and accuse them of being cruel monsters. I showed slides and some film of the Gombe chimpanzees and talked about their lives, and then showed some slides of the chimps in the small cages and said, ‘You know, it’s like putting a person in a prison like that,’” said Goodall. “Many of the scientists said, ‘We really have never thought about this in this way’ a lot of them were actually crying." She stands by all of it because it produces results. It took decades, but the NIH phased out medical testing and research on chimpanzees. Conoco built the chimpanzee sanctuary, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, saving all of the starving chimpanzees in the Brazzaville Zoo in the Republic of Congo.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


German hospitals serve planetary health diet
2024-03-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/mar/28/planetary-health-diet-mea...

Patrick Burrichter did not think about saving lives or protecting the planet when he trained as a chef. But 25 years later he has focused his culinary skills on doing exactly that. On the outskirts of Berlin, Burrichter and his team cook for a dozen hospitals that offer patients a “planetary health” diet – one that is rich in plants and light in animals. Compared with the typical diet in Germany, known for its bratwurst sausage and doner kebab, the 13,000 meals they rustle up each day are better for the health of people and the planet. In Burrichter’s kitchen, the steaming vats of coconut milk dal and semolina dumpling stew need to be more than just cheap and healthy – they must taste so good that people ditch dietary habits built up over decades. The biggest challenge, says Burrichter, is replacing the meat in a traditional dish. Moderate amounts of meat can form part of a healthy diet, providing protein and key nutrients, but the average German eats twice as much as doctors advise. Patients on the wards of Waldfriede praise the choice of meals on offer. Martina Hermann, 75, says she has been inspired to cook more vegetables when she gets home. Followers of the planetary health diet need not abandon animal products altogether. The guidelines, which were proposed by 37 experts from the EAT-Lancet Commission in 2019, translate to eating meat once a week and fish twice a week, along with more wholegrains, nuts and legumes.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets
2018-09-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/climate/sweden-garbage-used-for-fuel.html

In a cavernous room filled with garbage, a giant mechanical claw reaches down and grabs five tons of trash. As a technician in a control room maneuvers the spiderlike crane, the claw drops its moldering harvest down a 10-story shaft into a boiler that is hotter than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The process continues 24 hours a day to help fuel this power plant run by Tekniska Verken, a municipal government company in Linköping, a city 125 miles south of Stockholm. It is one of Sweden’s 34 “waste-to-energy” power plants. Instead of burning coal or gas, this power plant burns trash. Sweden is known for strikingly reducing the trash sent to its landfills. Less than 1 percent of household waste in this Scandinavian country finds it way to landfills, according to Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management and Recycling association. Trash accounts for a small portion of Sweden’s overall power supply; hydro and nuclear energy generate about 83 percent of Sweden’s electricity, and wind generates another 7 percent. But garbage supplies much of the heat during cold months for the country’s nearly 10 million residents. Energy from trash equals the heating demand of 1.25 million apartments and electricity for 680,000 homes, according to Avfall Sverige. Along with heat and electricity, Tekniska Verken produces methane biogas from 100,000 tons of food and organic waste each year. This biogas runs more than 200 city buses in the county, as well as fleets of garbage collection trucks, and some taxis and private cars.

Note: Why aren't other countries racing to embrace this amazing technology which remediates the huge trash problem? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We need regenerative farming, not geoengineering
2015-03-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/09/we-need-regenera...

Geoengineering is a technological fix that leaves the economic and industrial system causing climate change untouched. The mindset behind geoengineering stands in sharp contrast to an emerging ecological, systems approach taking shape in the form of regenerative agriculture. More than a mere alternative strategy, regenerative agriculture represents a fundamental shift in our culture’s relationship to nature. Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff. Yields from regenerative methods often exceed conventional yields. Likewise, since these methods build soil, crowd out weeds and retain moisture, fertiliser and herbicide inputs can be reduced or eliminated entirely, resulting in higher profits for farmers. No-till methods can sequester as much as a ton of carbon per acre annually. In the US alone, that could amount to nearly a quarter of current emissions. Ultimately, climate change challenges us to rethink our long-standing separation from nature. It is time to fall in love with the land, the soil, and the trees, to halt their destruction and to serve their restoration.

Note: Don't miss Kiss the Ground, a powerful documentary on the growing regenerative agriculture movement and its power to build global community, reverse the many environmental crises we face, and revive our connection to the natural world. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Getting the Soil Right: How Carbon Farming Combats Climate Change
2023-09-15, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/carbon-farming-climate-change-regenerative-...

The solution to stopping climate change might be buried on 10 acres in the Pauma Valley of California. “The idea is not just to produce food but to improve the soil,” says Alvarez, Solidarity Farm’s Climate Resilience Specialist. “We stopped using the plow to turn the soil, and we do a lot of composting and mulching to improve our soil health.” Solidarity Farm had used organic principles in the 10 years since its inception, but it pivoted to carbon farming after the extreme heat in the summer of 2017. Carbon farmers cultivate plants and trees in a way that maximizes carbon sequestration in the soil. Among the most important practices for carbon farmers are minimizing soil erosion by planting perennials and ground cover, which also lowers soil temperatures, and only working the land by hand or with low-tech solutions. “The soil has the capacity to store more carbon than all plants on the planet together,” Alvarez says. Solidarity Farms produces a diverse range of about 60 different fruits and vegetables, at least 70 percent of them perennial crops such as plums and pomegranates. Stacks of organic chicken manure in front of the vegetable beds wait to be distributed. The farmers enrich the soil with compost and mulch, while deterring pests with diverse crop rotation. According to soil tests, the Solidarity farmers have tripled the amount of carbon in the ground since 2018. “This equates to a drawdown of nearly 600 metric tons of CO2 per year, offsetting the emissions of 80 American households,” Alvarez says.

Note: Have you seen the groundbreaking and inspiring movie Kiss the Ground? In a time where we're told hopeless and divisive narratives about our current environmental challenges, people all over the world are reversing the damage from destroyed ecosystems, regenerating the world's soils, and creating abundant food supplies. Don't miss this powerful film on the growing regenerative agriculture movement and its power to revive global community and our connection to the natural world.


‘Dead’ Electric Car Batteries Find a Second Life Powering Cities
2023-03-13, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/electric-vehicle-batteries-reused-power-sta...

Last month, a small warehouse in the English city of Nottingham received the crucial final components for a project that leverages the power of used EV batteries to create a new kind of circular economy. Inside, city authorities have installed 40 two-way electric vehicle chargers that are connected to solar panels and a pioneering battery energy storage system, which will together power a number of on-site facilities and a fleet of 200 municipal vehicles. Each day Nottingham will send a combination of solar-generated energy — and whatever is left in the vehicles after the day’s use — from its storage devices into the national grid. What makes the project truly circular is the battery technology itself. Funded by the European Union’s Interreg North-West Europe Programme, the energy storage system, E-STOR, is made out of used EV batteries by the British company Connected Energy. After around a decade, an EV battery no longer provides sufficient performance for car journeys. However, they still can retain up to 80 percent of their original capacity, and with this great remaining power comes great reusability. “As the batteries degrade, they lose their usefulness for vehicles,” says Matthew Lumsden, chairman of Connected Energy. “But batteries can be used for so many other things, and to not do so results in waste and more mining of natural resources.” One study ... calculated that a second life battery system saved 450 tons of CO2 per MWh over its lifetime.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Rich Folks Import This Building Material. A Minnesota Tribe Makes Its Own.
2023-12-04, Mother Jones
https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/12/minnesota-tribe-mdewakanton-b...

For now, it’s only a gaping hole in the ground. But when construction is complete next April, the Lower Sioux—also known as part of the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota—will have a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing campus that will allow them to pioneer a green experiment, the first of its kind in the United States. They will have an integrated vertical operation to grow hemp, process it into insulation called hempcrete, and then build healthy homes with it. Right now, no one in the US does all three. Once the tribe makes this low-carbon material, they can begin to address a severe shortage of housing and jobs. Recapturing a slice of sovereignty would be a win for the Lower Sioux. They lost most of their lands in the 19th century, and the territory finally allotted to them two hours south of Minneapolis consists of just 1,743 acres of poor soil. That stands in contrast to the fertile black earth of the surrounding white-owned farmlands. Nearly half of the 1,124 enrolled members of the tribe need homes. “The idea of making homes that would last and be healthy was a no-brainer,” said Robert “Deuce” Larsen, the tribal council president. Leading the national charge on an integrated hempcrete operation is no mean feat, seeing that virtually no one in the community had experience with either farming or construction before the five-person team was assembled. Hemp can grow in a variety of climates. What’s more, hemp regenerates soil, sequesters carbon, and doesn’t require fertilizers.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Mess, Including Plastic. So Why Arent They Used More?
2019-03-05, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2019/03/05/mushrooms-clean-up-toxic-m...

When wildfires burned across Northern California in October 2017, they killed at least 43 people and displaced another 100,000. The human toll alone was dire, but the fires also left behind a toxic mess. The charred detritus of paint, pesticides, cleaning products, electronics, pressure-treated wood, and propane tanks left a range of pollutants in the soilincluding arsenic, asbestos, copper, hexavalent chromium, lead, and zinc. In Sonoma County, a coalition of fire remediation experts, local businesses, and ecological activists mobilized to cleanse the foundations of burned-out buildings with mushrooms. The Fire Remediation Action Coalition placed more than 40 miles of wattlesstraw-filled, snakelike tubes designed to prevent erosioninoculated with oyster mushrooms around parking lots, along roads, and across hillsides. Their plan? The tubes would provide makeshift channels, diverting runoff from sensitive waterways. The mushrooms would do the rest. The volunteers, led by Sebastopol-based landscape professional Erik Ohlsen, are advocates for mycoremediation, an experimental bioremediation technique that uses mushrooms to clean up hazardous waste, harnessing their natural ability to use enzymes to break down foreign substances. Mushrooms [have been used to] clean up oil spills in the Amazon, boat fuel pollution in Denmark, contaminated soil in New Zealand, and polychlorinated biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs, in Washington state’s Spokane River. Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic. They have even been used to remove and recover heavy metals from contaminated water. Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic.

Note: The stunningly beautiful documentary Fantastic Fungi takes you on an amazing journey through the wild and wonderful world of mushrooms. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘You can walk around in a T-shirt’: how Norway brought heat pumps in from the cold
2023-11-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/23/norway-heat-pumps-cold-he...

In most of Europe, fitting a heat pump is one of the most powerful actions a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint. But in Norway, where clean-yet-inefficient electrical resistance heaters have long been common, upgrading to a heat pump is often a purely financial decision. Two-thirds of households in this Nordic country of 5 million people have a heat pump, more than anywhere else in the world. For many years, Norwegians and their neighbours heated their homes with fossil fuels. But during the 1973 oil crisis, when prices shot up, the country’s political leaders made a conscious choice to promote alternatives. “Norway ensured early on that fossil-fuel heating was the most expensive option, making heat pumps cost competitive,” said Dr Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project, a thinktank that works to decarbonise buildings. “They did this by taxing carbon emissions from fossil heating fuels. That’s been the key to incentivise heat pump adoption.” Norway also trained up a workforce to install them. Heat pumps’ efficiency has been increased over decades, partly because of the early adopters in Nordic countries who tinkered away to the point where a modern version can deliver three to five units of heat for every unit of electricity used to power it. An efficient gas boiler, on the other hand, can only produce as much heat as the energy contained in the fuel being burned. A heat pump will have a smaller carbon footprint than a gas boiler even when plugged into an electricity grid.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Rats with backpacks could help rescue earthquake survivors
2022-10-24, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/24/world/search-and-rescue-rats-apopo-hnk-spc-int...

Natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can level entire towns, and for the search and rescue teams trying to find survivors, it’s a painstaking task. But an unlikely savior is being trained up to help out: rats. The project, conceived of by Belgian non-profit APOPO, is kitting out rodents with tiny, high-tech backpacks to help first responders search for survivors among rubble in disaster zones. “Rats are typically quite curious and like to explore – and that is key for search and rescue,” says Donna Kean, a behavioral research scientist and leader of the project. In addition to their adventurous spirit, their small size and excellent sense of smell make rats perfect for locating things in tight spaces, says Kean. The rats are currently being trained to find survivors in a simulated disaster zone. They must first locate the target person in an empty room, pull a switch on their vest that triggers a beeper, and then return to base, where they are rewarded with a treat. While the rodents are still in the early stages of training, APOPO is collaborating with the Eindhoven University of Technology to develop a backpack, which is equipped with a video camera, two-way microphone, and location transmitter to help first responders communicate with survivors. APOPO has been training dogs and rats at its base in Tanzania in the scent detection of landmines and tuberculosis for over a decade. Its programs use African Giant Pouched Rats, which have a longer lifespan in captivity of around eight years.

Note: Don't miss the images of these adorable and heroic rats at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


If we can farm metal from plants, what else can we learn from life on Earth?
2022-04-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/15/farm-metal-from-plants-...

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with researchers in northern Greece who are farming metal. They are experimenting with a trio of shrubs known to scientists as “hyperaccumulators”: plants which have evolved the capacity to thrive in naturally metal-rich soils that are toxic to most other kinds of life. They do this by drawing the metal out of the ground and storing it in their leaves and stems, where it can be harvested like any other crop. As well as providing a source for rare metals – in this case nickel, although hyperaccumulators have been found for zinc, aluminium, cadmium and many other metals, including gold – these plants actively benefit the earth by remediating the soil, making it suitable for growing other crops, and by sequestering carbon in their roots. Hyperaccumulators are far from being the only non-humans that we might learn from. Physarum polycephalum, a particularly lively slime mould, can solve the “travelling salesman” problem – a test for finding the shortest route between multiple cities – faster and more efficiently than any supercomputer humans have devised. Spiders store information in their webs, using them as a kind of extended cognition: a mind outside the body entirely. A new conception of intelligence is emerging from scientific research: rather than human intelligence being unique or the peak of some graduated curve, there appear to be many different kinds of intelligence with their own strengths, competencies and suitabilities.

Note: This was written by James Bridle, an artist and technologist who was able to paralyze a self-driving car using salt and road markers. For more on his work, check out his fascinating perspective on how artificial intelligence technologies could be designed based on cooperation and relationships naturally reflected in living systems, as opposed to competition and domination.


How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
2019-09-10, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-giant-african-rats-are-helping-uncover-...

How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
September 10, 2019, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-giant-african-rats-are-helping-uncover...

From Angola to the former Yugoslavia, land mines are a lethal legacy of wars over long ago. Cambodia is among the most affected countries, with millions of buried explosives that kill and maim people each year. Now, an organization is deploying an unexpected ally to find mines: the giant pouch rat, whose sharp sense of smell can detect explosives. Mark Shukuru is head rat trainer in Cambodia for the Belgian non-profit APOPO. He is from Tanzania, where this species is also native, and he learned early that they have some of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Each comes out of a rigorous program in Tanzania that trains them to distinguish explosives from other scents. Each time they sniff out TNT buried in this test field, a trainer uses a clicker to make a distinct sound, and they get a treat. Since 2016, APOPO's hero rats have found roughly 500 anti-personnel mines and more than 350 unexploded bombs in Cambodia. They're the second animal to be deployed in mine clearance. Dogs were first. Animals can work much faster than humans, although, when the land is densely mined, metal detectors are considered more efficient. APOPO plans to bring in some 40 more rats to expand the force and replace retirees. Each animal works about eight years, and then lives out the rest of its days alongside fellow heroes, all working toward the day when they can broadcast to the world that Cambodia has destroyed the last unexploded bomb.

Note: Don't miss the cute video of these hero rats at work, available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The French town where the lighting is alive
2022-04-10, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220407-the-living-lights-that-could-redu...

In Rambouillet, a small French town around 30 miles (50km) south-west of Paris, a soft blue light emanated from a row of cylindrical tubes. Members of the public ... were invited to bathe in the glow for a few minutes. Soon, the same azure glow will illuminate the nearby, tree-lined Place André Thomé et Jacqueline Thomé-Patenôtre, located just across from the aptly named La Lanterne performance hall, at night. These ethereal experiments are also underway across France. But unlike standard streetlamps, which often emit a harsh glare and need to be hooked up to the electricity grid, these otherworldly lights are powered by living organisms through a process known as bioluminescence. This phenomenon – where chemical reactions inside an organism's body produce light – can be observed in many places in nature. Organisms as diverse as fireflies, fungi and fish have the ability to glow through bioluminescence. The turquoise blue glow bathing the waiting room in Rambouillet ... comes from a marine bacterium gathered off the coast of France called Aliivibrio fischeri. The bacteria are stored inside saltwater-filled tubes, allowing them to circulate in a kind of luminous aquarium. Since the light is generated through internal biochemical processes that are part of the organism's normal metabolism, running it requires almost no energy. "Our goal is to change the way in which cities use light," says Sandra Rey, founder of the French start-up Glowee, which is behind the project in Rambouillet.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The consciousness of bees
2022-07-29, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/07/29/bee-cognition-insect-intell...

We are learning just how smart insects can be. As I show in my new book, “The Mind of a Bee,” the latest research indicates that even tiny-brained bees are profoundly intelligent creatures that can memorize not only flowers but also human faces, solve problems by thinking rather than by trial and error, and learn to use tools by observing skilled bees. They even appear to experience basic emotions, or at least something like optimism and pessimism. Bees have a “dance language” by which they can inform others in the hive of the precise location of a rewarding flower patch. The symbolic language involves repeating the motor patterns (“dances”) of a knowledgeable bee on the vertical honeycomb. The movements make reference to gravity and the direction of the sun; since it’s dark in the hive, bees that want to learn from the dancer need to touch its abdomen with their antennae. Sometimes, such dances are displayed at night, when no foraging takes place: The dancer appears to think about locations visited on the previous day, without an obvious need to do so at the time. The observation that bees are most likely sentient beings has important ethical implications. Many species of bees are threatened by pesticides and wide-scale habitat loss, and that this spells trouble because we need these insects to pollinate our crops. But is the utility of bees the only reason they should be protected? I don’t think so. Bees have a rich inner world and unique perception, and, like humans, are able to think, enjoy and suffer.

Note: Watch an amazing, highly educational PBS documentary on the life of bees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Turning Brownfields to Blooming Meadows, With the Help of Fungi
2024-06-27, Yale Environment 360
https://e360.yale.edu/features/danielle-stevenson-interview

Danielle Stevenson ... has been pioneering a nature-based technique for restoring contaminated land, using fungi and native plants to break down toxins like petroleum, plastics, and pesticides into less toxic chemicals. The usual way of dealing with tainted soil is to dig it up and cart it off to distant landfills. In a recent pilot project funded by the city of Los Angeles, Stevenson ... working with a team of UC Riverside students and other volunteers, significantly reduced petrochemical pollutants and heavy metals at an abandoned railyard and other industrial sites in Los Angeles. Stevenson says she believes her bioremediation methods can be scaled up to clean polluted landscapes worldwide. "Decomposer fungi can degrade petrochemicals the same way they would break down a dead tree," [said Stevenson]. "And in doing so, they reduce the toxicity of these petrochemicals and create soil that no longer has these contaminants or has much reduced concentrations of it. They can also eat plastic and other things made out of oil. People who live in a place impacted by pollution need to have a say in how their neighborhood is being cleaned up. We need to empower them with the tools to do this. That’s why along with doing these studies and pilot projects, I’ve been running workforce development programs. Potentially, they could bring economic opportunities and benefits to the community in addition to cleaning up the contaminated site."

Note: Explore more positive stories like this about healing the Earth.


The Norwegian secret: how friluftsliv boosts health and happiness
2023-09-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/sep/27/the-norwegian-secret-how...

Friluftsliv [is] a way of being that is part of the Norwegian national identity. The term was coined by the playwright Henrik Ibsen in his 1859 poem On the Heights, although the concept is much older. Its literal translation is “free-air life”, but Ibsen used it to convey a spiritual connection with nature. To modern Norwegians, it means participating in outdoor activities, but also has a deeper sense of de-stressing in nature and sharing in a common culture. An astonishingly high percentage of Norwegians report spending time outdoors. A survey in June by the market research company Kantar TNS found that 83% are interested in friluftsliv, 77% spend time in nature on a weekly basis and 25% do so most days. At many nurseries, toddlers spend 80% of their time outside; at school, there are special days throughout the year when children go out in nature and build campfires. Studies show that being in green spaces helps reduce anxiety and improve cognition. In a 2020 survey, 90% of Norwegians said they felt less stressed and in a better mood when they spent time in nature. Helga Synnevåg Løvoll, a professor of friluftsliv at Volda University College, says the five documented ways to wellbeing can be achieved through friluftsliv (they are “connect”, “be active”, “take notice”, “keep learning” and “give”). This nature-induced wellbeing could be one reason why Norway ranks among the happiest countries in the world. It came seventh in the UN’s World Happiness report in 2023.

Note: Read about the rise of "green prescription" programs in different healthcare systems around the world. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Microplastic pollution: Plants could be the answer
2023-08-16, University of British Columbia
https://news.ubc.ca/2023/08/16/microplastic-pollution-plants-could-be-the-ans...

Could plants be the answer to the looming threat of microplastic pollution? Scientists at UBC’s BioProducts Institute found that if you add tannins—natural plant compounds that make your mouth pucker if you bite into an unripe fruit—to a layer of wood dust, you can create a filter that traps virtually all microplastic particles present in water. While the experiment remains a lab set-up at this stage, the team is convinced that the solution can be scaled up easily and inexpensively. For their study, the team analyzed microparticles released from popular tea bags made of polypropylene. They found that their method (they’re calling it “bioCap”) trapped from 95.2 per cent to as much as 99.9 per cent of plastic particles in a column of water, depending on plastic type. When tested in mouse models, the process was proved to prevent the accumulation of microplastics in the organs. Dr. Rojas, a professor in the departments of wood science, chemical and biological engineering, and chemistry at UBC, adds that it’s difficult to capture all the different kinds of microplastics in a solution, as they come in different sizes, shapes and electrical charges. “There are microfibres from clothing, microbeads from cleansers and soaps, and foams and pellets from utensils, containers and packaging. By taking advantage of the different molecular interactions around tannic acids, our bioCap solution was able to remove virtually all of these different microplastic types.”

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


How mud boosts your immune system
2022-10-10, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220929-how-outdoor-play-boosts-kids-immu...

"Don't get dirty!" was once a constant family refrain, as parents despairingly watched their children spoil their best clothes. Today, many parents may secretly wish their children had the chance to pick up a bit of grime. According to recent research, the dirt outside is teaming with friendly microorganisms that can train the immune system and build resilience to a range of illnesses, including allergies, asthma and even depression and anxiety. Certain natural materials, such as soil and mud ... contain surprisingly powerful microorganisms whose positive impact on children's health we are only beginning to fully understand. Our brains evolved in natural landscapes, and our perceptual systems are particularly well suited to wild outdoor spaces. Supporting this theory, one study from 2009 found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were better able to concentrate following a 20-minute walk in the park, compared to a 20-minute walk on the streets of a well-kept urban area. People who grow up on farms are generally less likely to develop asthma, allergies, or auto-immune disorders like Crohn's disease [due to] their childhood exposure to a more diverse range of organisms in the rural environment. Michele Antonelli, a doctor from Italy ... has researched the ways that mud therapies can influence health. People with [skin] disorders ... seem to have an impoverished community of organisms. "These microorganisms can play a major role in many major chronic diseases," he says.

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Denmark’s Radical Plan for a Plant-Based Future
2024-06-17, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/denmark-radical-plan-plant-based-future/

Trine Krebs is sometimes called “the leek woman,” or even Miss Dry-Legume, of Denmark. The 48-year-old has for decades traveled around the country as, in her words, a “food inspirer,” proselytizing about all things vegetables. So when, in October 2023, the Danish government published the world’s first ever national action plan for shifting towards plant-based diets, Krebs was ecstatic. The Danish government has three main goals: to increase demand for plant-based foods, to develop supply for plant-based foods, and to improve how all the different stakeholders — from scientists to farmers and chefs, food sociologists, and nutrition experts — in this nascent domestic industry are working together. Danish authorities see reducing meat and dairy consumption as key to reaching the Nordic state’s goal of cutting carbon emissions by 70 percent before 2030, when compared to 1990. The climate think tank Concito estimates that more than half of Denmark’s land is used for farming and that agriculture accounts for about a third of its carbon emissions. Yet a published in 2021 found that the emissions made by producing plant-based foods are roughly half the amount incurred by meat production. Denmark believes ... that the necessary shift toward plant-based eating also offers a massive economic opportunity. If the country were to gain a three percent share of the global plant-based food market, it could create up to 27,000 jobs.

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