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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: Spain mulls four-day week, plus more positive news

Posted 19th March 2021 • Written by •

Spain flirted with a shorter working week, an Amazonian psychedelic was mooted as a treatment for depression and a microwave boiler promised to decarbonise UK homes, plus the week’s other positive news

Spain agreed to trial a four-day working week

Advocates of a shorter working week have long argued that it would bring many benefits to society, including boosting productivity, improving equality and reducing emissions. This week, Spain became the first European country to be swayed by the idea, agreeing to trial a 32-hour week with firms that are interested in the experiment. 

Details of the trial are still being fleshed out, including how many companies will be involved and how long the trial will last. However, the Spanish government is reportedly considering covering the costs incurred by participating firms (if there are any costs) as they switch to a shorter working week. Employee pay will be unaffected.

“With the four-day work week, we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Iñigo Errejón of the leftwing Más País party, which proposed the idea. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

Deb Haaland became the first Indigenous US cabinet secretary

History was made in Washington, US, this week with Deb Haaland being confirmed as the country’s first ever Indigenous cabinet secretary. 

The 60-year-old from New Mexico will oversee the country’s land, seas and natural resources, and be responsible for tribal affairs.

The US Senate confirmed the Democrat to the post by a vote of 51-40. Haaland secured the support of Republican senators, including Lisa Murkowski, Lindsey Graham, Dan Sullivan and Susan Collins.

An Amazonian psychedelic was mooted as a cure for depression

A psychedelic used in shamanic rituals is to be trialled as a treatment for depression. Participants in the UK-based trial will be given DMT, the active ingredient in ayahuasca: a traditional Amazonian plant medicine that is used to bring spiritual enlightenment. Participants will also receive talking therapy. 

Small Pharma, the company running the trial, believes that DMT (also known as the ‘spirit molecule’) could offer a cure for the millions of people who don’t respond to existing treatments for depression. 

As previously reported by Positive News, a growing body of evidence suggests that psychedelic drugs – when accompanied by talking therapy – are safe and effective at treating mental health conditions, including addiction, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Plans for zero-emission home boilers were unveiled

The race to decarbonise the UK’s heating network hotted up this week as the makers of the world’s first microwave boiler announced a timeline for UK trials. Heat Wayv, the company behind the innovation, said it expected to pilot the systems in UK homes in 2022, with the first sales targeted for 2024. 

The design spec of the boiler remains confidential, but Heat Wayv says the system will provide a straightforward, zero-emissions replacement for traditional gas boilers at the same cost. Experts contacted by the Guardian said Heat Wayv’s claims were credible.  

With heating accounting for an estimated 14 per cent of the UK’s emissions, there is an urgent imperative to decarbonise the network. The UK government has committed to phasing out gas boilers from 2025. 

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