As we do every Friday, the Good News team brings you a hand-picked selection of five positive news stories that will make you feel better about the world.
We start with an inspiring person, the Indian math teacher who single-handedly built a solar-powered car.
- Malaria is the number one cause of death in Africa, but scientists say the days are numbered.
- A bi-national park is being built between Mexico and the United States to serve as a prototype for border towns.
- Giant tortoises can provide clues about how to improve the aging process.
- The Georgian Hero Dog provides a useful service to preschoolers.
Watch the video above to learn more about each story (we highly recommend it), or read on below…
1. ‘I could have been Elon Musk from India’: the math teacher who built a solar car from scratch
While the world’s first production-ready solar car makes headlines with a dazzling $250,000 price tag, a math teacher in India’s Kashmir valley has simply built his own car.
Father of two Bilal Ahmed has gone viral with his creation, which took him 11 years to make.
His goal was to build a ‘luxury’ and sustainable vehicle that is not just for the super rich. He managed to do this without any outside financing and spent just over €18,000 to build the fully automatic car.
“Had I had the support I needed, I might have been the Elon Musk of Kashmir,” he told reporters.
Nearly every available surface of the car is covered in solar panels and — like the DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future — has gull-wing doors that open to look at the sky and catch as much of the sun’s rays as possible. And the panels are also efficient on days with little sunlight.
Mr. Ahmed has now received support from the Innovation Center of the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar and hopes to start a business to mass-produce the vehicles, which could also be a golden employment opportunity for young people in the region.
Read the full story written by Lottie Limb of Euronews here.
2. The days of malaria may be numbered
In Africa, malaria is a much greater threat than COVID-19. It is the biggest killer of under-fives on the entire continent.
But trials for a new vaccine suggest an end to the death toll could be in sight.
The World Health Organization has already approved one malaria shot for widespread use, and a second is due soon.
Experts say it’s worth the wait, and the new R21 shot is the first to exceed the WHO efficiency target of 75 percent. In a 2019 trial in Burkina Faso it showed a high efficacy of 77 percent, the results are expected to be repeated at the end of a larger trial in four African countries.
The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, says it plans to deliver at least 200 million doses annually – the amount needed to defeat malaria.
Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford – the birthplace of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – believes R21 could significantly reduce deaths from next year, and by as much as 75 percent by 2030.
3. A bi-national park is being built between Mexico and the United States, which will serve as a prototype for border towns
The Binational River Conservation Project connects the cities of Laredo in Texas, USA and Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, Mexico.
It will encompass more than 10 km of land along the Rio Bravo River, which separates the two cities.
An initiative of the two countries, the park celebrates the unique relationship between the two cities and the river they share, helping to restore and revitalize the river ecosystem and attract tourists.
“The idea of the park came about decades ago when people in the community started thinking about how we can celebrate our binational heritage. If you go back to the 1800s, the two cities, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the twin city across the river in Mexico, were actually one nation called the Republic of the Rio Grande,” explains Richard Archer, lead architect at Overland Partners, the behind the project, chosen unanimously by Mexican and US representatives.
The planning was also an exercise in diplomacy.
Overland Partners held a three-day session with representatives from both countries, including border patrol agencies, to discuss issues of security, community, economy, environment and ecology, economy and culture.
“The story is about creating a community, but that doesn’t take away from enforcing security, and they go hand in hand. And that’s the story we’re bringing out here, because you can have a very unified border and still be safe,” said Barbara Warren, project manager at Overland Partners Architects.
The idea is a place where people from both countries “can come together and be reunited as family and friends, celebrate weddings… [having] kids in the areas, market festivals and really make it an active part of their lives, just like they used to be,” Archer added.
Overland Partners say they have worked with border patrols and customs on both sides to allow citizens of both countries access to the shared green space on the bridge without documentation, “visitors will be able to move freely in this area and back home, but would have to go through security/customs to get into the other country,” explains Archer.
The designers say they see the park as an “abrazo” – a hug – between the two cities.
“This park will not only help Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, but really help our international relations to become a model for the world.”
4. Giant tortoises can provide clues about how to improve the aging process.
It doesn’t matter how many fruits or vegetables we eat or how many hours of yoga we practice, our bodies stiffen as we age.
However, species like the Galápagos giant tortoises — a new one of which rose from the dead a few weeks ago — seem untouched by the ravages of time.
Scientists have discovered that we can learn a lot from them.
Two groups of researchers have investigated age-related decline in 52 species of tortoises and tortoises in captivity.
The team used decades of monitoring data to analyze factors such as metabolism and found that 75 percent of the species showed “insignificant aging,” meaning there is little sign of the process by which a cell ages. And some species, such as Greek tortoises, even showed negative aging rates, meaning their mortality risk decreased as they got older.
“If we continue to study the evolution of aging in turtles, we will at some point find a clear link between turtles and human health and aging,” said Dr. Rita da Silva, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark.
While these unwieldy reptiles can’t outrun death, they may hold insights for extending lifespan and reducing age-related decline.
In other words, it helps us age more gracefully and happily.
5. The Georgian Hero Dog who renders a useful service to preschoolers.
A neighborhood stray dog named Kupata (meaning “Sausage”) has become a local celebrity for his volunteer work helping preschoolers cross the road safely.
The dog was awarded a “People’s Choice” in Batumi, Georgia, after it was filmed trotting alongside a group of children and barking at cars as they approached the crosswalk. Kupata has become a hit on social media and now has his own Instagram account.
And if you’re still hungry for more positive news, there’s more above…