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Inspiring: Healing Our Earth News Stories

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Mushroom walls and waste-fuelled stoves: inside the self-sufficient home of tomorrow
2022-11-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2022-11-22 03:54:24
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/nov/10/mushroom-walls-and-waste...

Joost Bakker believes a house can be more than a place to live: it can be a self-sustaining weapon against the climate crisis. A new Australian documentary explores his bold blueprint. Bakker – a multi-disciplinary designer, no-waste advocate and the film’s eponymous protagonist – has long been something of a provocateur. In 2020, the Dutch-born, Australian-raised designer’s two decades of high-concept sustainability projects came to a head when he hit go on the construction of Future Food System. Erected in one of the busiest areas of Melbourne, the off-grid, three-storey house and urban farm produced all of its own power and food. Even the cooking gas was generated from human and food waste. “We can have it all,” Bakker [says]. “We can have houses covered with biology, plants, ecosystems and waterfalls. It’s not necessary for us to be destroying the planet or killing each other with materials that are making us sick. The infrastructure is already there. It’s just about reimagining our suburbs and reimagining our buildings.” Shadowing Bakker throughout the project from set-up to pack-down, was film-maker Nick Batzias ... who squeezes plenty of action into the pacy 90-minute documentary. The bulk of the film focuses on the building’s green-thinking initiatives. Steam from the showers is used to grow mushrooms; the foundation-less building is anchored by self-watering garden beds filled with 35 tonnes of soil.

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


The architect helping sinking cities fight flooding
2022-10-28, CNN News
Posted: 2022-11-14 23:35:57
https://www.cnn.com/style/article/kotchakorn-voraakhom-landscape-architect-sp...

When floods devastated Bangkok more than a decade ago, Thai landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom became determined to help her sinking hometown fight this deadly climate threat. The floods "changed my life," said Voraakhom. "I started using the tools of landscape architecture (to tackle) climate change." The 2011 floods killed hundreds and displaced millions. "For us, climate change is primarily a water crisis," she said. "Our people can feel its impacts in their daily lives, each year through worsening floods, rising sea levels, and severe drought." In many sinking cities, including Bangkok, the current urban infrastructure is not fit for purpose and is "reducing our ability to adapt," said Voraakhom, noting that many of Bangkok's waterways and canals have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair. "For us, as a city of water, the only way is to go back to our amphibious culture and reclaim the relationship with water." The architect said she integrates nature and water into her designs to create landscapes that help alleviate flooding and add greenery to densely populated cities. Voraakhom also created Asia's largest rooftop farm, Siam Green Sky, transforming 22,400 square meters (241,000 square feet) into a lush haven. The farm, which recycles food waste from restaurants in the building below and uses it as plant fertilizer, also slows down, soaks up and stores large amounts of rainwater. It is then used to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit, as well as rice.

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


Postcards from Kamikatsu, Japan’s ‘zero-waste’ town
2022-04-27, Washington Post
Posted: 2022-10-31 15:55:27
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2022/japan-zero-...

Tucked away in the mountains of Japan’s Shikoku island, a town of about 1,500 residents is on an ambitious path toward a zero-waste life. In 2003, Kamikatsu became the first municipality in Japan to make a zero-waste declaration. Since then, the town has transformed its open-air burning practices for waste disposal into a system of buying, consuming and discarding with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality. Now, the town estimates it is more than 80 percent of its way toward meeting that goal by 2030. The Zero Waste Center is the town’s recycling facility, where residents can sort their garbage into 45 categories — there are nine ways to sort paper products alone — before they toss the rest into a pile for the incinerators. Residents clean and dry dirty items so they are suitable for recycling. The town offers an incentive system in which people can collect recycling points in exchange for eco-friendly products. There are signs depicting what new items will be made out of those recycled items, and how much money the town is saving by working with recycling companies rather than burning the trash. It’s a way to remind them of their social responsibility. Attached to the Zero Waste Center is a thrift shop where residents can drop off items they don’t want anymore, and others can take them free. All they need to do is weigh the item they take from the shop and log the weight in a ledger so the shop can keep track of the volume of reused items. In January alone, about 985 pounds’ worth of items were rehomed.

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


This Styrofoam-eating ‘superworm’ could help solve the garbage crisis
2022-06-17, Washington Post
Posted: 2022-10-24 22:49:26
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/06/17/plastic-eating-superworm...

A plump larva the length of a paper clip can survive on the material that makes Styrofoam. The organism, commonly called a “superworm,” could transform the way waste managers dispose of one of the most common components in landfills, researchers said, potentially slowing a mounting garbage crisis that is exacerbating climate change. In a paper released last week in the journal of Microbial Genomics, scientists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, showed that the larvae of a darkling beetle, called zophobas morio, can survive solely on polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam. The findings come amid a flurry of research on ways bacteria and other organisms can consume plastic materials, like Styrofoam and drinking bottles. Now, the researchers will study the enzymes that allow the superworm to digest Styrofoam, as they look to find a way to transform the finding into a commercial product. Industrial adoption offers a tantalizing scenario for waste managers: A natural way to dispose and recycle the Styrofoam trash that accounts for as much as 30 percent of landfill space worldwide. Among plastics, Styrofoam is particularly troublesome. The material is dense and takes up a lot of space, making it expensive to store at waste management facilities, industry experts said. The cups, plates and other materials made from it are also often contaminated with food and drink, making it hard to recycle. Polystyrene fills landfills, where it can often take 500 years to break down.

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


Wax worm saliva rapidly breaks down plastic bags, scientists discover
2022-10-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2022-10-24 22:47:57
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/04/wax-worm-saliva-rapidly-b...

Enzymes that rapidly break down plastic bags have been discovered in the saliva of wax worms, which are moth larvae that infest beehives. The enzymes are the first reported to break down polyethylene within hours at room temperature. The discovery came after one scientist, an amateur beekeeper, cleaned out an infested hive and found the larvae started eating holes in a plastic refuse bag. The researchers said the study showed insect saliva may be “a depository of degrading enzymes which could revolutionise [the cleanup of polluting waste]”. Polyethylene makes up 30% of all plastic production and is used in bags and other packaging that make up a significant part of worldwide plastic pollution. The only recycling at scale today uses mechanical processes and creates lower-value products. Chemical breakdown could create valuable chemicals or, with some further processing, new plastic, thereby avoiding the need for new virgin plastic made from oil. The enzymes can be easily synthesised and overcome a bottleneck in plastic degradation, the researchers said, which is the initial breaking of the polymer chains. That usually requires a lot of heating, but the enzymes work at normal temperatures, in water and at neutral pH. Previous discoveries of useful enzymes have been in microbes, with a 2021 study indicating that bacteria in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic. It found 30,000 different enzymes that might degrade 10 different types of plastic.

Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Communications. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Australia to set aside at least 30% of its land mass to protect endangered species
2022-10-04, Reuters
Posted: 2022-10-24 22:46:06
https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-set-aside-least-30-its-l...

Australia will set aside at least 30% of its land mass for conservation in a bid to protect plants and animals in the island continent famed for species found nowhere else in the world, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world's richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released in July by the government showed. That report showed the number of species added to the list of threatened species or in a higher category of risk grew on average by 8% from the previous report in 2016. "The need for action to protect our plants, animals and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater," Plibersek said in a statement. By prioritising 110 species and 20 places, Plibersek said the areas managed for conservation will be increased by 50 million hectares. Australia ... is home to unique animals like koalas and platypus although their numbers have been dwindling due to extreme weather events and human encroachment into their habitats. Koalas along much of the east coast were listed as endangered in February. Australia has been battered recently by frequent extreme weather events including the devastating bushfires in 2019 and 2020 in the east that killed ... billions of animals and burned an area nearly half the size of Germany.

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


Can plants think? The burgeoning field of plant neurobiology has a lot to say on the matter
2022-09-30, Salon
Posted: 2022-10-17 09:25:05
https://www.salon.com/2022/09/30/can-plants-think-the-burgeoning-field-of-pla...

Recent research suggests that plants are far from the stationary automatons that most of us think of them as. And though they don't have brains in the same way most animals do, plants seem to possess a different set of evolutionary tools that suggest they may experience consciousness, albeit in a radically different way from us. Dr. Paco Calvo has an upcoming book, co-authored with Natalie Lawrence, called "Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence." Calvo works at the MINT Lab (Minimal Intelligence Lab) at the University of Murcia in Spain. "Sentience, we may say, makes sense for life, as an essential underpinning to the business of living," Calvo explained. "And it is very unlikely that plants are not far more aware than we intuitively assume." To the "skeptics" who insist that consciousness must be tied to a central nervous system, and that plants would not need to evolve consciousness in the first place, "even if 'consciousness', as understood in vertebrates, is generated by complex neuronal systems, there is no objective way of knowing that subjective experience has not evolved with entirely different kinds of hardware in other organisms," Calvo argued. "We have no evidence to conclude that no brain means no awareness. It is certainly true that we cannot yet know if plants are conscious. But we also cannot assume that they are not." Calvo added, "Plants ... might well have significant conscious experience, although there is no way for us to intuit it nor for them to communicate it to us."

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
Posted: 2022-08-29 14:34:21
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.


Coral levels in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef are at the highest in 36 years
2022-08-04, NPR
Posted: 2022-08-29 14:31:43
https://www.npr.org/2022/08/04/1115539492/coral-great-barrier-reef-australia

The amount of coral in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef is at its highest in 36 years, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. From August 2021 to May 2022, the central and northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef had hard coral cover levels of 33% and 36%, respectively. Coral cover decreased by 4% in the southern region, due to an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish. The Australian agency found that 87 coral reefs generally had low levels of acute stress from things such as cyclones and increases in the crown-of-thorns starfish population. The area surveyed represents two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. Almost half of the reefs studied had between 10% and 30% hard coral cover, while about a third of the reefs had hard coral cover levels between 30% and 50%, the report said. While higher water temperatures led to a coral bleaching event in some areas in March, the temperatures did not climb high enough to kill the coral, the agency said. Coral in the Great Barrier Reef is resilient, and has been able to recover from past disturbances, the Institute said. But the stressors impacting it have not gone away for long. The agency's outlook shows more frequent and long-lasting heatwaves, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish. "Therefore, while the observed recovery offers good news for the overall state of the [Great Barrier Reef], there is increasing concern for its ability to maintain this state," the report said.

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


EU plan to halve use of pesticides in ‘milestone’ legislation to restore ecosystems
2022-06-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2022-07-18 20:36:09
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/22/eu-legislation-restoratio...

For the first time in 30 years, legislation has been put forward to address catastrophic wildlife loss in the EU. Legally binding targets for all member states to restore wildlife on land, rivers and the sea were announced today, alongside a crackdown on chemical pesticides. In a boost for UN negotiations on halting and reversing biodiversity loss, targets released by the European Commission include reversing the decline of pollinator populations and restoring 20% of land and sea by 2030, with all ecosystems to be under restoration by 2050. The commission also proposed a target to cut the use of chemical pesticides in half by 2030 and eradicate their use near schools, hospitals and playgrounds. Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the commission, said the laws were a step forward in tackling the “looming ecocide” threatening the planet. Around €100bn (£85bn) will be available for spending on biodiversity, including the restoration of ecosystems. The target of 2030 to cut the use of pesticides will give farmers time to find alternatives. The proposals, which campaigners have hailed as a potential milestone for nature, could become law in around a year. Member states would have to create restoration plans to show the commission how they would reach the targets set, and if they fail to follow through they would face legal action. Priority ecosystems include those with the greatest power to remove and store carbon, as well as buffer the impacts of natural disasters.

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


EU unveils plan for ‘largest ever ban’ on dangerous chemicals
2022-04-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2022-07-18 20:34:47
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/25/eu-unveils-plan-largest-e...

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals could soon be prohibited in Europe under new restrictions, which campaigners have hailed as the strongest yet. The EU’s “restrictions roadmap” published on Monday was conceived as a first step to transforming this picture by using existing laws to outlaw toxic substances linked to cancers, hormonal disruption, reprotoxic disorders, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. Industry groups say that up to 12,000 substances could ultimately fall within the scope of the new proposal, which would constitute the world’s “largest ever ban of toxic chemicals”, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Tatiana Santos, the bureau’s chemicals policy manager, said: “EU chemical controls are usually achingly slow but the EU is planning the boldest detox we have ever seen. Petrochemical industry lobbyists are shocked at what is now on the table. It promises to improve the safety of almost all manufactured products and rapidly lower the chemical intensity of our schools, homes and workplaces.” The plan focuses on entire classes of chemical substances for the first time as a rule, including all flame retardants, bisphenols, PVC plastics, toxic chemicals in single-use nappies and PFAS, which are also known as “forever chemicals” because of the time they take to naturally degrade. All of these will be put on a “rolling list” of substances to be considered for restriction by the European Chemicals Agency. The list will be regularly reviewed and updated.

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


The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future
2022-05-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2022-05-31 01:02:53
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/07/secret-world-beneath-our-...

Beneath our feet is an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of our imagination. It’s as diverse as a rainforest or a coral reef. We depend on it for 99% of our food, yet we scarcely know it. Soil. Under one square metre of undisturbed ground in the Earth’s mid-latitudes ... there might live several hundred thousand small animals. One gram of this soil – less than a teaspoonful – contains around a kilometre of fungal filaments. But even more arresting than soil’s diversity and abundance is the question of what it actually is. Most people see it as a dull mass of ground-up rock and dead plants. But it turns out to be a biological structure, built by living creatures to secure their survival, like a wasps’ nest or a beaver dam. Microbes make cements out of carbon, with which they stick mineral particles together, creating pores and passages through which water, oxygen and nutrients pass. The tiny clumps they build become the blocks the animals in the soil use to construct bigger labyrinths. Plants release into the soil between 11% and 40% of all the sugars they make through photosynthesis. They don’t leak them accidentally. They deliberately pump them into the ground. These complex chemicals are pumped into the zone immediately surrounding the plant’s roots, which is called the rhizosphere. They are released to create and manage its relationships. The rhizosphere lies outside the plant, but it functions as if it were part of the whole. It could be seen as the plant’s external gut.

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


From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button
2022-04-28, MIT News
Posted: 2022-05-17 00:46:11
https://news.mit.edu/2022/portable-desalination-drinking-water-0428

MIT researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kilograms, that can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water. The suitcase-sized device, which requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger, can also be driven by a small, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50. It automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization quality standards. The technology is packaged into a user-friendly device that runs with the push of one button. Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device utilizes electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements. This could enable the unit to be deployed in remote and severely resource-limited areas, such as communities on small islands or aboard seafaring cargo ships. It could also be used to aid refugees fleeing natural disasters or by soldiers carrying out long-term military operations. “This is really the culmination of a 10-year journey that I and my group have been on. We worked for years on the physics behind individual desalination processes, but pushing all those advances into a box, building a system, and demonstrating it in the ocean, that was a really meaningful and rewarding experience for me,” says senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering.

Note: 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
Posted: 2022-05-09 00:21:43
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 deep seafloor is filled with entire branches of life yet to be discovered
2022-02-05, Live Science
Posted: 2022-04-17 16:00:40
https://www.livescience.com/deep-ocean-floor-teeming-with-unknown-life

The deep-ocean floor is teeming with undiscovered life-forms that help to regulate Earth's climate, a new study finds. Researchers sequenced DNA from deep-sea sediments around the world and found that there is at least three times more life on the seafloor than there is higher up in the ocean. What's more, nearly two-thirds of that life has not been formally identified yet. "It's been known since the 1960s that species diversity is very high in the deep sea, so very high numbers of species," co-author Andrew Gooday [said]. "What was new about this study was that there was a lot of novel diversity at the higher taxonomic level." In other words, there are a lot of unknown evolutionary lineages — like whole families of species — waiting to be discovered. The deep-ocean floor covers more than half of Earth's surface but is home to some of the least-studied ecosystems, according to the study. Previous research analyzed DNA collected through the water column, from above the ocean floor up to the surface, so this latest study sought to complete the picture and give a global view of biodiversity in the ocean by looking at seafloor DNA within deep-sea sediments. The researchers also learned more about the role the deep ocean plays in the so-called biological pump, the process by which ocean organisms such as phytoplankton absorb carbon from the atmosphere near the surface and sink to the deep sea, where the carbon is sequestered in the sediments.

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


Tropical forests can regenerate in just 20 years without human interference
2021-12-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2021-12-20 00:45:25
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/09/tropical-forests-can-rege...

Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, a new study published today suggests. An international group of researchers looking at a number of aspects of tropical forests has found that the potential for regrowth is substantial if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. For example, soil takes an average of 10 years to recover its previous status, plant community and animal biodiversity take 60 years, and overall biomass takes a total of 120, according to their calculations.” This is due in part to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as “secondary succession”. These new findings ... suggest that it is not too late to undo the damage that humanity has done through catastrophic climate change over the last few decades. “That’s good news, because the implication is that, 20 years ... that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” said Lourens Poorter ... lead author of the paper. This idea of natural regeneration is frequently disregarded in favour of tree plantations, but according to Poorter, the former yields better results than restoration plantings. “Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients.” The takeaway message is that we don’t necessarily need to plant more trees when nature is doing it by itself, Poorter said.

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


Charles Sams III becomes first Native American to head National Park Service in its 105-year history
2021-11-20, CBS News
Posted: 2021-11-28 20:04:44
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/charles-sams-iii-first-native-american-to-head-n...

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Charles "Chuck" Sams III as the next director of the National Park Service on Thursday. He will be the first Native American to lead the agency in its 105-year history. Sams, who is Cayuse and Walla Walla, is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The Oregon-based Confederated Tribes is comprised of individuals from the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. Sams told the Confederated Tribes' newspaper, the Confederated Umatilla Journal, on Friday that he's "deeply honored" to serve as the 19th director of NPS. "I am also very deeply appreciative of the support, guidance and counsel of my Tribal elders and friends throughout my professional career," Sams told the newspaper. "I look forward to carrying on the responsibility of being a good steward of our natural resources and in joining the dedicated and dynamic staff of the National Park Service." Sams' confirmation marks the first time in nearly five years that the department will have an official director. The position has been filled with various people serving as acting heads since January 2017. Sams has worked in state and tribal governments, as well as in natural resource and conservation management, for more than 25 years. In a press release on Friday, tribal leaders commended the confirmation, with Confederated Tribes trustee member Kat Brigham saying that Sams "knows the outdoors." "He understands the importance of helping families develop a relationship with the land," Brigham said.

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


‘Green steel’: Swedish company ships first batch made without using coal
2021-08-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2021-09-20 00:33:55
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/19/green-steel-swedish-company-s...

The world’s first customer delivery of “green steel” produced without using coal is taking place in Sweden, according to its manufacturer. The Swedish venture Hybrit said it was delivering the steel to truck-maker Volvo AB as a trial run before full commercial production in 2026. Volvo has said it will start production in 2021 of prototype vehicles and components from the green steel. Steel production using coal accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrit started test operations at its pilot plant for green steel in Lulea, northern Sweden, a year ago. It aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with renewable electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a key part of the EU’s plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Hybrit is owned by the steelmaker SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall and miner LKAB. SSAB accounts for 10% of Sweden’s and 7% of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions. It said the trial delivery was an “important step towards a completely fossil-free value chain. The goal is to deliver fossil-free steel to the market and demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026.” Another green steel venture, H2 Green Steel, is planning to build a fossil fuel-free steel plant in the north of Sweden, including a sustainable hydrogen facility, with production starting in 2024.

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


This Bengaluru Zero-Power Sewage Treatment Plant was Inspired by Cows
2021-08-16, CNN (News18 India affiliate)
Posted: 2021-08-29 18:16:16
https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/this-bengaluru-zero-power-sewage-treatment-p...

Across the world, about 80 percent of wastewater is dumped back into the ecosystem without being treated. Untreated wastewater leads to a range of problems and contributes to faecal contamination of drinking water sources for about 1.8 billion people. Treating wastewater requires treatment plants that can be expensive. Now, a Bengaluru-based startup ECOSTP Technologies has developed a new and efficient design for sewage treatment plants that takes inspiration from the digestive system of cows. It is so efficient that it does not even need the power to run. Cows have a powerful digestive system made up of four chambers containing bacteria that do not need oxygen. As grass passes through these chambers, the bacteria break it down into smaller parts eventually converting it to gas, nutrients, water, and waste. [Bengaluru-resident Tharun] Kumar and his team developed a treatment plant to mimic this structure and used the bacteria from cow dung to break down the waste in wastewater. Their plants do not even require power. Instead, they use gravity to move wastewater across chambers. In the treatment plant, the further wastewater travels, the cleaner it gets. Eventually, the solid waste settles down, and the wastewater is converted into gas and clear water, which can be safely reused. “Since inception, we have saved 280 million litres of water and have saved 315 MW of power which is equivalent to powering 35 villages for a year,” Kumar, co-founder, and CEO of ECOSTP Technologies [said].

Note: Watch a BBC News video on this amazing invention. Why isn’t this getting more attention?


This radio station plays songs made by trees as they grow
2021-08-03, Fast Company
Posted: 2021-08-22 22:02:58
https://www.fastcompany.com/90661294/this-radio-station-plays-songs-made-by-t...

Outside of a library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an over-80-year-old copper beech tree is making music. As the tree photosynthesizes and absorbs and evaporates water, a solar-powered sensor attached to a leaf measures the micro voltage of all that invisible activity. Sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky assigned a key and note range to those changes in this electric activity, turning the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal song. That music is available on Hidden Life Radio, an art project by Laposky. Hidden Life Radio also features the musical sounds of two other Cambridge trees: a honey locust and a red oak. After he read the book The Hidden Life of Trees ... Laposky thought to tune into the music trees could be making. The name Hidden Life Radio was inspired by that book, written by German forester Peter Wohlleben, which details the social networks and “sentient” capabilities of trees. “Most people probably love trees and [still] don’t consider them all the time,” Laposky says, noting a condition called “plant blindness,” in which people fail to notice the flora in their own environment. “In cities, the trees are there, but unless they’re providing shade or you’re picking apples from them, I feel like people don’t necessarily consider trees and their importance.” Tree canopies are crucial to cities, providing shade that can lower summer temperatures significantly, reducing air pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing a mental health benefit.

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