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26th Oct- 7th Nov: Solar powered schools, forests in the desert and the good Covid-19 news

Since 2014, the number of schools with solar power has increased by 81%. By making the transition to solar power, schools are not only saving millions in energy bills, funds that can be used to benefit them elsewhere, but they are actively setting examples to students of the importance of renewable energy. (CleanTechnica)

Discovering diseases can be a slow and complex process that usually relies on people showing medical symptoms and then seeking medical help. But we can get ahead of diseases by monitoring sewage systems to identify the presence of viruses, bacteria and pathogens. For example, in Israel in the 1970’s, Polio was detected through the sewage system nine days before the first case was reported to the doctors. The low cost, speed and ability of wastewater surveillance to detect emerging diseases can enhance our ability to respond quickly and effectively. (The Conversation)

Grass does absorb some carbon dioxide but not as much as other plants. And because of the high maintenance nature of lawns, they can often cause a carbon footprint. But a US company called NetZero has created mycelium orbs, which look like bath bombs, to help our lawns absorb much more carbon dioxide. These nifty little balls can act as your own carbon offset, lasting up to 10 years. NetZero will launch soon on Kickstarter, watch this space… (Fast Company)

When we think of renewable energy, we think of huge turbines and fields of panels but a new prototype for alternative energy source is a battery that lives in the earth and uses microorganisms in the soil to power lights and, maybe even one day, your whole house! One of the, many, benefits is that it is not weather dependent and that these buried panels can be used without displacing nature. (Fast Company)

An Australian conservation team is putting together a living ‘biobank’ of coral species in case we need to use them in the future to help rebuild the world’s reefs. This is in response to the decline on The Great Barrier Reef, which has lost more than half of its coral colonies since 1995. Because coral can reproduce asexually through a process of cloning themselves, this biobank will be able to, and is expected to, double in size every six months. (Read more via New Scientist)

A recent report published by the WHO shows that between 2015 and 2019, global deaths fell by 14%. In the last twenty years, the advancements in TB treatment has averted more than 60 million deaths. (World Health Organisation)

Egypt has successfully managed to plant forest in the middle of the desert; it is made up of 200 hectares of teak, eucalyptus and mahogany trees. Located not far from the city of Ismailia, the sewage water from the city is fed into a system that treats the water and nourishes the forest. The success of this project hopes to lead to more similar projects to be carried out that help reduce water pollution, increase employment and help fight climate change. (Al Monitor)

Much of the Covid 19 news surrounding us is, and feels negative, and with another UK lockdown now underway many of us are feeling frustrated and deflated. There are however positive news stories that we can, and should, be focusing on. Cases in China and South Korea have dropped significantly and Wuhan, once the epicentre of the virus, is welcoming tourists again. There is light at the end of the tunnel if we look at this pandemic and those past, and learn from them. (Bloomberg)

2020 has been a stressful year to say the least. Watch neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret in her 10 minute TED talk offering research and advice on how we can as adults, generate new neurons to help our brains perform better and prevent the decline of our neurons through ageing and stress. (TED)

Platio, a tech company based in Budapest is using recycled plastic waste to create strong and durable solar panels that are then built into pavements to create green energy. The simple but strong product can be installed in the ground, where more traditional roof solar panels can’t be installed, providing energy to power buildings and charge electronics in public spaces. (Reuters)

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