Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.
If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.
Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.
So, here are five of the best news stories from the past week that will put a spring in your step and give you a little something to smile about.
Malaria Vaccine Given Green Light
Children across much of Africa are set to be vaccinated against malaria in a historic moment in the fight against the deadly disease.
Malaria has been one of humanities biggest killers for centuries – killing between 1 and 3 million people each year, mostly babies and infants.
The search for a vaccine has been ongoing for over 100 years and the creation of one is one of science’s greatest achievements.
The vaccine – called RTS,S – was proven effective six years ago and was developed by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Otherwise known as Mosquirix, the vaccine has been given the green light for widespread rollout in sub-Saharan Africa and other African regions with moderate to high malaria transmission rates.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said he had started his career as a malaria researcher and had “longed for the day that we would have an effective vaccine against this ancient and terrible disease”.
He said: “Today is that day. A historic day. Today the WHO is recommending the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine.
“This long-awaited malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”
Scientists Think They Can Cure Depression
Researchers from The University of California, San Francisco have demonstrated a proof-of-concept cure for depression. It’s an electrical implant about the size of a matchbox that is inserted into the skull and wired into the brain. It detects mental patterns of depression and delivers an electrical pulse that disrupts the signals.
Their first patient, Sarah, 36, had the device fitted more than a year ago and says it has turned her life around. The device is always on but only fires when it detects that it’s necessary.
The scientists say that it’s too soon to determine if it can help others with hard to treat depression but they are hopeful and planning further trials.
Up to a third of people with depression don’t respond, or become resistant, to treatment and no medication or therapy seems to help. For those with the condition, this breakthrough could offer some much-needed hope.
Solar Power Meets 106% of Demand in SA
The combination of rooftop and large scale solar met all of South Australia’s demand and more during multiple points over the weekend, highlighting once again the rapid progress of renewables in Australia.
South Australia is already a world leader in renewables, averaging more than 62% of its energy from wind and solar sources in the past year, and it regularly reaches 100% renewable, usually with the help of its 2GW wind farm capacity.
Last year, South Australia became the first place in the world to run off 100% solar energy and on Saturday, solar reached that landmark again. At 11:10am, the state peaked at a record 106.1% of state demand coming from solar and the entire state ran on solar for nearly an hour.
Speaking of renewable milestones, offshore wind power and hydroelectric was also popping off in Norway this week, reducing the cost of energy to $0.001 per kilowatt. At that cost, drivers of electric vehicles could charge their cars for roughly 10 cents.
Brazilian Court Upholds Ban on Missionaries Contacting Tribes in Amazon
Brazil’s highest court has upheld a ban on missionary activity inside Amazonian reserves that are home to uncontacted or recently contacted Indigenous people in a bid to protect these communities against COVID-19.
Although the country’s official Indigenous policy since 1987 has been to not engage in any contact, a federal law passed in July 2020 allowed religious missionaries to remain inside the reserves. This triggered a lawsuit by Indigenous and political organisations, which the Supreme Federal Court has now ruled in support of.
The 2020 law attempted to “legitimise something that is already forbidden,” said Carolina Ribeiro Santana, a lawyer for the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples, one of the co-authors of the lawsuit.
“As we are under an anti-Indigenous government, it is important to have a decision which reassures the Indigenous policy.”
The Superb Fairy Wren Wins Australia Bird of The Year 2021
And finally, Australia’s (and maybe the world’s?) most hotly contested public vote has crowned its champion in the form of the superb fairywren. The beloved small bird, known for its polyamory and shared household labour, narrowly beat out the tawny frogmouth and the gang-gang cockatoo in Guardian Australia and Birdlife Australia’s national poll.
The poll has been running for the past 10 days, with voters keeping the birds in the running each day.
The beloved small bird, which needs the boost as its declining in its traditional habitat in urban areas, won with 13,998 votes, just ahead of the frogmouth on 13,332.
The final 10 birds poll were the Australian magpie, gang-gang cockatoo, regent honeyeater, Australian brush turkey, Gouldian finch, superb fairywren, galah, tawny frogmouth, peregrine falcon and the laughing kookaburra.
What people don't understand about the @GuardianAus Bird of the Year poll is that @lenoretaylor has one of each of the birds in a ornate cage in her office and every time a bird is eliminated she sombrely pulls out a revolver from her desk
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) September 30, 2021