POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: all hail citizen science, plus more positive news
The UK’s national parks called on visitors to embrace citizen science, there were signs the EU’s carbon footprint is shrinking, and a woman’s sight was saved by a robot, plus more positive news
The UK’s national parks embraced citizen science
Amateur ecologists were this week invited to embrace their inner Chris Packham, by taking part in a citizen science project to help boost biodiversity in the UK’s national parks.
Restrictions on international travel are expected to bolster turnout in the country’s already popular conservation areas this summer. Those planning a trip are being invited to map and record the species that they spot via the free Look Wild app. The data will be used to “enhance landscapes”.
Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “One of the undoubted silver linings of the past difficult year has been how people have valued and sought out a connection with the countryside. The Look Wild project will take the connection a step further. Together we will help the natural environment to thrive.”
Two other UK citizen science projects launched this week: one to track beetles, another to count splattered insects on car registration plates. The data will help scientists understand bug populations.
EU emissions showed signs of shrinking
There were signs this week that the EU’s carbon footprint may have started to shrink. Data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) revealed that the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by nearly four per cent in 2019.
The EEA said about 80 per cent of the reduction was from the heat and power sector. Since 2019, the bloc has gone on to break renewable energy records, offering hope that the fall could be start of a trend.
However, the overall reduction masks rising emissions from transport. Greenpeace called on the EU to phase out combustion engines, short-haul flights and aviation subsidies to help the bloc meet its climate targets, which campaigners argue are not ambitious enough.
News of the EU’s emissions fall came as nations began three weeks of online UN climate negotiations, ahead of the COP26 climate talks later this year.
A woman’s sight was saved by a robot
A woman who faced the prospect of losing her eye to cancer has kept her vision thanks to innovative robotic surgery.
Irene Milton, 85, had a recurrent basal cell carcinoma in her right eye. She was previously told that she would have to have the eye removed.
However, in a world first, surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust removed the tumour using a robot, saving her eye. The robot was guided by surgeons, and equipped with tiny tools to perform the procedure in a minimally invasive way.
Milton, a grandmother of seven from Bedford, said: “I am so pleased at the outcome. It’s nice to know that you’re never too old to have anything done, especially pioneering surgery.”
A plan was hatch to un-loch Scotland’s solar potential
The idea of Scottish solar power might seem like an oxymoron – the nation has a hard-earned reputation for grey skies. However, researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University believe that the country has huge solar potential, and this week unveiled a plan to capture it: by floating solar panels on lochs.
The university is conducting a study to identify sites where floating solar installations could have the greatest potential, while minimising visual impact. Scotland’s rugged terrain poses challenges for conventional, land-based solar farms.
Dr George Loumakis, who is leading the study, said: “By using water bodies such as lochs, we can gain precious space and help Scotland reach its renewable energy targets.”