Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of inspirational news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Plants use an underground communication network to exchange chemical warnings, according to a new study. Work by a team of biologists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has provided new insights into the complex subterranean life of seemingly immobile corn plants. The work adds to a body of research exploring the chemical pathways that plants use to “talk” to each other. “Our study demonstrated that ... above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors,” said Dr Velemir Ninkovic, lead author of the study. [Plant] signaling both within their bodies and with neighbors consists of the relatively slow exchange of chemical messages. Some of this communication takes place via strands of underground fungi that plants use to share food, warning signals and even toxic chemicals – a phenomenon that some biologists have informally termed the “wood-wide web”. The study by Dr Ninkovic and his colleagues ... found that the fresh seedlings responded [to stresses] by growing more leaves and fewer roots than plants that had grown under normal conditions. [The Results] suggested that the corn seedlings, upon being exposed to the chemical signals of recently touched plants in the soil, were responding by preparing themselves for the trouble ahead posed by new neighbors or becoming something’s dinner.
Note: Read the New York Times review of a mind and heart expanding new novel about the secret life of trees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sherry Mendowegan has accomplished a lot in the past six months. The mother of two bought her first car and graduated with her high school diploma. “Next is my college, post-secondary, and then hopefully I get some work,” she says. Going to college would have been out of reach for the 41-year-old just last year. But as a participant in the basic income pilot program launched by the Canadian province of Ontario, she and her husband, Dan, can now afford the tuition fees. “Our life has changed,” Mendowegan says. “We’re not struggling.” Ontario’s basic income program, launched in April 2017, is currently operating in three towns ― Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The scheme has enrolled more than 4,000 low-income people living on less than CA$34,000 ($29,500) individually. This includes those who are working, in school or living on financial assistance. For three years, single participants will receive up to CA$17,000 a year and couples will receive up to CA$24,000. Those earning any money will see their basic income amounts reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they make. Universal basic income, or the idea of giving people money without any conditions, is not new. But it is gaining fresh momentum globally as inequality worsens and swaths of jobs are at risk from automation and other factors. Ontario joins a handful of other places in the world to test out some sort of guaranteed basic income.
Note: In the US, Stockton, California recently announced plans to provide residents with a Universal Basic Income. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Four times a day, the doors of Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, fling open to let bouncy, bubbly, excited kindergarteners and first-graders pounce onto the playground. The youngest kids at this school now enjoy ... three more breaks than they used to get. Students are less fidgety and more focused. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own. There are fewer discipline issues. “We’re seeing really good results,” [noted Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher]. Eagle Mountain Elementary is ... trying out LiiNK, a new program that boosts the amount of recess for the youngest students. “It gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” said Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor ... who created the project. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, calling recess “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” LiiNK was inspired by Finland’s education system, which produces students who get some of the best scores in the world for reading, math and science. Finnish kids [enjoy] 15 minutes of “unstructured outdoor play” every hour. Children in the U.S., on the other hand, might get one 15-minute recess a day. “That’s not enough for kids. They’re not built that way,” Rhea said. “[Recess] reboots the system so that when they go back in, they’re ready to learn.” They key is “unstructured play,” which Rhea described as kids being allowed to run, play and make up their own games.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Mexico wants to produce 43% of its electricity from renewables by 2024, in only 6 years. Toward that end, in December it opened the Villanueva solar farm in the desert, with 2.3 million solar panels, generating enough juice to power 1.3 million homes. It is the largest solar project in the Western hemisphere. That’s right. The largest solar installation in the New World is not in the United States. It is in Mexico. In the first quarter of 2018, India set a record with the addition of 4.6 gigawatts of solar! That’s the name plate capacity of four small nuclear reactors, added in just one quarter. By the end of January India had 20 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity. In contrast, France only has 8 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. Dubai will tender a bid before the end of this year for a 300 megawatt solar farm, as part of its plan to get 7% of its electricity from solar by 2020. Since Dubai is one of seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates, a major oil exporter, this push for renewables may ... seem hard to explain. But look more closely. Dubai does not have its own hydrocarbons and is rather a service economy. So ... it is highly beneficial for Dubai to get its electricity from solar, the fuel of which is free down the line once installment costs are paid off. The UAE gets enormous amounts of sunshine and bids have been let there for as little as 2.5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is world-beating. Coal, one of the cheapest hydrocarbons, is typically 5 cents a kilowatt hour.
Note: Watch a promotional video for the massive Villanueva solar farm in Mexico.
In a Toronto classroom, a group of 10-year-olds sit in a circle around a green felt blanket cheering on a baby as he tries to roll over. The baby's classroom visit is part of a program designed in Canada to foster empathy among children and, in the process, reduce aggression and bullying. Founded in 1996 by Canadian educator Mary Gordon, the program, Roots of Empathy, has found receptive audiences at home and abroad. In an age of polarized politics in many democracies, where social media often is seen more as a tool of cyberbullying than a bridge to increased understanding, Roots of Empathy has expanded to the U.S. and in Western Europe by using a 20th-century technique: face-to-face interactions. "The students learn that each person has a particular disposition, that there are differences between individuals - but that we all share the same menu of feelings," Gordon says. In 2001, the government of Manitoba commissioned a three-year follow-up study of Roots of Empathy, measuring positive social behavior, physical aggression, and indirect aggression. The results showed an improvement in all three areas immediately after the program and three years later. Studies commissioned by the University of Missouri and the University of Toronto had similar findings. The program has expanded from Canada, where it is delivered in English and French, to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland ... Costa Rica, [and the] the U.S..
Note: Read an interview with the founder of this great program.
Tennessee is about to become the first state in the nation to make community college free for all adults. Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that will expand the Tennessee Promise program that launched in 2014. It made tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates enrolled in a community college or technical school. Now, adults who don't already have an associate's or bachelor's degree can go for free, too, starting in the 2018 fall semester. Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law. He proposed the legislation in his State of the State address earlier this year. It's a cornerstone of his initiative to increase the number of residents with a college education to 55% by 2025. Last year, less than 39% of residents had gone to college. "If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high-quality education," Haslam said in a statement. To be eligible, students must have been a state resident for at least a year before applying, maintain a 2.0 GPA, enroll in enough classes to be a part-time student, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Expanding the free-tuition program will cost about $10 million. It will be funded by the state's lottery account. More than 33,000 students have benefited from the Tennessee Promise program in its first two years, raising enrollment among first-time freshmen by 30%.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
All villages in India now have access to electricity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced. This was achieved on Saturday when a remote village in the north-eastern state of Manipur became the last to be connected to the grid. A village is considered electrified if 10% of its homes and all public buildings are connected to the grid. World Bank figures show around 200 million people in India still lack access to electricity. Mr Modi said all of nearly 600,000 villages in India have now been given electricity connection. In August 2015, Mr Modi launched a $2.5bn (Ł1.8bn) scheme to electrify all Indian households by December 2018. As part of this scheme, all 597,464 inhabited villages in the country and more than five million households have been connected to the grid. Remote and inaccessible villages have always proved to be a major challenge in the country's electrification drive. Though most Indian villages have some electrical connection today, connecting the last remote households in the surrounding areas can be expensive. Some people may also forgo accessing electricity by choice because of the monthly bills that come with it, especially if power supply is not reliable and blackouts are frequent.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
More money was invested in solar power in 2017 than in coal, gas and nuclear power combined, according to a new report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report says that global investment in solar rose 18% to $160.8 billion, driven by the Chinese market, which was responsible for more than half of the world’s 98GW of new solar capacity. Solar power made up 57% of last year’s total for all renewables (excluding large hydro) of $279.8 billion, and it towered above new investment in coal and gas generation capacity, at an estimated $103 billion. Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables, excluding large hydropower, exceeded $200 billion. The $2.7 trillion invested in clean energy from 2007 to 2017 have increased the proportion of electricity generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro globally to more than 12%, from 5.2% in 2007 ... and has avoided the emission of about 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2, about the same as is emitted by the entire US transportation system. UN Environment head Erik Solheim said that “the extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and, more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift. Investments in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs. Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”
Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But ... this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Two years ago, working with pictures and symbols on a computer keyboard, she started typing and spelling out words. The computer became her voice. "All of a sudden these words started to pour out of her, and it was an exciting moment because we didn't realize she had all these words," said speech pathologist Barbara Nash. Then Carly began opening up, describing what it was like to have autism. Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date. "We were stunned," Carly's father Arthur Fleischmann said. "We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This ... opened up a whole new way of looking at her." This is what Carly wants people to know about autism. "It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can't talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them." Carly had another message for people who don't understand autism. "Autism is hard because you want to act one way, but you can't always do that. It's sad that sometimes people don't know that sometimes I can't stop myself and they get mad at me. If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don't want to be this way. But I am, so don't be mad. Be understanding."
Philip Zimbardo is understandably tired of being associated with the darker sides of human behavior. Yet the 85-year-old San Francisco psychologist, who taught at Stanford for 50 years ... knows that history has a way of flattening careers into one landmark accomplishment. For Zimbardo, that would be the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. Zimbardo devised a mock jail in the basement of Stanford’s Jordan Hall to study the psychology of imprisonment. All hell broke loose ... and Zimbardo, the “warden,” abruptly cut the study short. Ever since, his prison experiment has been cultural shorthand for proof [that] depersonalized circumstances [can turn] anyone temporarily into a tyrant. Embedded within Zimbardo’s findings on the “banality of evil” was the kernel of a vastly more positive and, he believes, more broadly consequential idea: heroism training. “If essentially good people are capable of evil, then can’t any of us also be inspired and trained to act heroically?” he asks. The Heroic Imagination Project was launched in 2010. “I worked with a team of academics to develop six three-hour-long lessons on transforming passive bystanders into active heroes,” [Zimbardo said]. The key to “awakening everyone’s heroic instincts,” Zimbardo said, is twofold: first, redefining who a hero is. “We must ... promote the idea that heroes are ordinary people who take extraordinary action.” Second, it’s about having a ... belief that our abilities and aptitudes aren’t static but can be developed over time.
Harriet Tubman will boot Andrew Jackson from the face of the $20. She'll become the first black woman ever to front a U.S. banknote. Tubman, who died in 1913 at the age of 91, escaped slavery in the south and eventually led hundreds of escaped slaves to freedom as a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad. After the slaves were freed, Tubman was a staunch supporter of a woman's right to vote. "What she did to free people on an individual basis and what she did afterward," [Treasury Secretary Jack] Lew said. "That's a legacy of what an individual can do in a democracy." The $5 bill will keep Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, on the front. The back of the bill will depict the Lincoln Memorial along with portraits of individuals involved in historic events that took place there. That includes Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt. The African-American opera singer and former first lady held a concert at the memorial in 1939 in an effort to move the civil rights movement forward. Martin Luther King Jr. will be added the back of the bill. The Lincoln Memorial was the site of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. It's not clear when the $20 or $5 will enter circulation. Updating currency can take more than a decade.
Southern Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument has been selected as an international dark-sky sanctuary, a designation meant to recognize the area for its naturally dark skies and a cultural heritage revered by Native Americans. Encompassing 160 acres, Rainbow Bridge National Monument outside of Page, Ariz., is among the smallest areas managed by the National Park Service and is considered sacred by several regional tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Utes and Paiutes. The dark-sky designation, made in conjunction with the International Dark-Sky Association, will be marked by a series of public astronomy events. The International Dark-Sky Association launched its dark-sky places program in 2001 to encourage protection of natural dark night skies worldwide through responsible lighting, public awareness and education. The association’s executive director J. Scott Feierabend said the group was pleased to honor Rainbow Bridge. “In the span of this remarkable natural bridge,” Feierabend said in a written statement, “we see symbolically represented the arch of the Milky Way across the night sky, a reminder of the long-held value of both Rainbow Bridge and the natural night sky to native peoples of the area.” The Utah monument joins three other certified dark-sky sanctuaries worldwide, including Cosmic Campground in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest; Aortea-Great Barrier Island in New Zealand; and Gabriela Mistal in Chile.
“The world isn’t short of water, it’s just in the wrong place, and too salty," says Charlie Paton – so he's spent the past 24 years building the technology to prove it. Paton is the founder of Seawater Greenhouse, a company that transforms two abundant resources – sunshine and seawater – into freshwater for growing crops in arid, coastal regions such as Africa’s horn. His latest project [is] in Somaliland (an autonomous but internationally unrecognised republic in Somalia). On a 25-hectare plot of desert land close to the coastline, he’s building the region’s first sustainable, drought-resistant greenhouse. Using solar power to pump in seawater from the coastline and desalinate it on site, Paton is generating freshwater to irrigate plants, and water vapour to cool and humidify the greenhouse interior. Less than a year after its launch, this improbable desert oasis produced its first harvest of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. This year he plans to build an on-site training centre to teach local farmers how to grow greenhouse vegetables. The structure’s modular design will enable farmers to adopt their own one- to five-hectare plots – the dream being a network of connected, drought-resistant farms running across the country. “One of the exciting things is that it can work all the way along our long Red Sea coastline, bringing new sources of income in arid, pastoral areas,” Shibeshi says. “If you have a greenhouse, you aren’t worried about whether there’s rain or no rain.”
He can make a two-year-old who hasn’t spent a day of his life without pain sleep like a baby. He can banish 30 years of neck pain in 30 seconds. Mobilise paralysed limbs. Zap an allergy. All without laying a hand on anyone. Melbourne energy healer Charlie Goldsmith has a gift sceptics love to dismiss, but the people he’s helped begged to differ. He’s never charged any of them a cent. If it sounds like a Hollywood script, that’s because it sort of is. US TV producers gave him his own show. The Healer premiered ... late last year. He has a gift nobody can quite explain, so many distrust it. He believes what he sees, and knows: Like the studies he’s been involved in which show he “heals” 80 per cent of those he treats. The Healer is his chance to lend a credibility ... to energy healing. He believes there are plenty of others with his “gift”, they just need that talent spotted, and developed. “I work on old 80-year-olds and I’m their first experience of this stuff. And I think ‘wow you could spend your whole life on this planet and not know that humans have this ability that’s been misunderstood and probably misrepresented a lot’.” Goldsmith partnered with New York University’s Lutheran Hospital for the first study scrutinising his talent. He treated 50 people with a 76 per cent success rate of pain-related conditions with immediate “marked improvement” and 79 per cent of conditions other than pain.
Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.
Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production. They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale [Prof John McGeehan, who led the research] envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses.
In the garden of a care home, gingernut ranger hen Ellen has just laid her second egg. Resident Ashok Patel, 64, has been pronounced “a natural” with the hens, someone who can coax them back into the henhouse when it is time for bed. “I like the hens, and the hens like me,” he says. Henpower, a project that brings hens to older people in care settings, has joined with Notting Hill Housing to introduce the hens into two of the housing association’s extra-care sites. The project is supporting some 700 residents, including those with dementia, in more than 20 care homes in north-east England. Henpower was set up by the charity Equal Arts in 2011. A 12-month study of the project by Northumbria University ... found that Henpower is improving the health and wellbeing of older people, and reducing depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication in care homes. [Northumbria University professor] Glenda Cook ... was the lead researcher on the Henpower evaluation. “Henpower is innovative because it is not just brief ‘petting’ of the hens, but also taking responsibility for them. There’s a huge range of roles with shared responsibilities, with diverse ways to interact with the project,” she says. Volunteer Jackie Copeland works with residents on “henspired” art projects. “People get a lot out of stroking [the hens]. You feel your stress levels go down. I get ‘chicken love’ – I almost expect them to start purring,” she laughs.
It’s often said you can’t make something out of nothing. Cody Friesen may have. To show me his technological sleight of hand, Friesen invites me to a hillside house. We each sample a cup of water that flows from a drinking fountain. The water is cool and delicious – and it was made out of thin air. Literally. The drinking fountain is fed by a flexible pipe that leads to the house’s roof. There sit two Friesen’s devices, called Source Hydropanels. Each looks like solar panel mounted atop a metal box. The system extracts moisture out of the air at a rate of as much as five liters per day. Friesen believes installations like this one could soon be providing clean, quality drinking water to homes, schools and businesses. Friesen ... has already installed the Source in eight countries, including Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico and the Philippines. In the U.S., his panels are collecting water at a Duke Energy facility in North Carolina, an office building in Santa Monica, Calif., some Bay Area residences, and a handful of homes and schools in Arizona, where despite the low humidity, Source produces roughly the same amount of water as in wetter climates. Source ... draws ambient air through a fan into its devices. There, special nano-materials ... absorb the water. The solar panel then helps separate the water from the material. After it is condensed, it flows ... through a mineral block that adds magnesium and calcium common in drinking water.
Last month, Portugal produced more than enough renewable energy to meet the country's entire electrical demand - a feat "unmatched in the last 40 years," according to the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, or APREN. Renewable power produced in March was equal to 103.6 percent of electrical demand on mainland Portugal. Fifty-five percent of that energy was produced through hydro power, while 42 percent came from wind. The country still used fossil fuels to balance out supply and demand. "These periods were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production," [APREN writes]. "It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of Mainland Portugal." For most countries in the world, a fully renewable energy supply still seems like a challenging target. Portugal has made substantial investments in renewable energy sources, as has its neighbor Spain. Some of that spending was cut in 2012, amid austerity measures, and more were scaled back in 2016. But by that point, many renewable energy projects had already been paid off and were operating cost-efficiently. And this week, coincidentally, the Portuguese government put a stop to another energy subsidy - one "worth about 20 million euros a year, most of which goes to fossil fuel plants," Reuters writes.
DanoneWave has renamed itself and says it has been certified as a B Corporation. It is now called Danone North America. To be designated a B Corp, a for-profit company must pass a set of standards regarding its social and environmental performance and change its legal structure to become a public benefit company. Danone sought to achieve this certification by 2020, but it came out two years ahead of schedule. While some stakeholders may worry that big changes to become more environmentally friendly will increase costs, Danone North America's larger suppliers have seen the opposite happen. Dairy is one the company's main ingredients and its production can be harmful to the environment due to water usage and waste. The company's largest manufacturing facility has cut its usage. While the initial research involved in reducing water usage was costly, one of the owners of the facility has already seen a huge reduction in costs. Faber said that up to 250,000 gallons of water can be saved per day due to ... new technology. Danone North America sustainable development manager Catherine Queen [said] that there has been a movement to bring the sustainability effort to global suppliers. Global suppliers have been encouraged to move toward more plant-based packaging and pay their workers living wages. Sustainable manufacturing can lower costs significantly and create more room in budgets to increase wages. Costs on the higher executive level have also been cut.
As anyone who has visited Europe recently can attest, the scourge of homelessness has reached epidemic proportions. The only exception to the trend is Finland. The number of homeless people in Finland has declined from a high of 18,000 30 years ago, to approximately 7,000: the latter figure includes some 5,000 persons who are temporarily lodging with friends or relatives. At the core of this was a move away from the so-called “staircase model,” whereby a homeless person moved from one social rehabilitation level to another, with an apartment waiting for him or her at the highest step. Instead, Finland opted to give housing to the homeless from the start. The concept behind the new approach was not original. What was different, and historic, about the Finnish Housing First model was a willingness to enact the model on a nationwide basis. In 2008 the Finnish National Program to reduce long-term homelessness was drafted and put into place. One [goal] was to cut the number of long-term homeless in half by producing ... supported housing units for tenants with their own leases. The extant network of homeless shelters was phased out. This also involved phasing out the “old way” of thinking about homelessness. The program pays for itself. A case study undertaken by the Tampere University of Technology in 2011 ... showed society saved $18,500 per homeless person per year who had received a rental apartment with support, due to the medical and emergency services no longer needed to assist and respond to them.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.