22 Things That Make the World a Better Place in 2022

it looked like if the world was jumping from one crisis to the next this year. While most countries have been freed from the shackles of the pandemic, the horrors of war have returned in Europe, millions of people around the world have suffered from extreme weather conditions, and the double pain of energy shortages and inflation has come. But all was not so bad, thanks to the hard work of scientists, a group of companies, and policy makers. Here’s a summary of the best news to come out of 2022.

US renewables produce more power than coal and nuclear

More than a fifth of all electricity in the US now comes from hydropower, wind and solar; This means that renewable energy sources narrowly outpace coal and nuclear power, which make up 20 and 19 percent of the energy mix, respectively. The only other year this was the case was 2020, but at that time overall electricity production had been reduced due to the pandemic. read more scientific american.

First train line switched to hydrogen

Germany put into service the world’s first hydrogen-powered train fleet. The 14-engine fleet replaced diesel trains on a commuter line near the city of Hamburg, where high electrification costs would be too expensive. Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen and produce no emissions other than water vapor. Read more at Deutsche Welle.

Lab-grown meat considered safe to eat

Meat without slaughtering an animal may soon be prepared in American restaurants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken chicken raised by a Californian company one step closer to commercializing it by deeming it safe to consume. Upside Foods grows the meat from real animal cells in bioreactors and will initially offer it for tasting in a small number of top restaurants. Read more at WIRED.

Scientists find a way to reduce shark catch

A battery-powered device called SharkGuard emits a short electrical pulse every two seconds, preventing sharks and rays from accidentally getting caught in commercial fishing nets and ropes. These pulses temporarily overstimulate marine animals’ electro-sensory organs called Lorenzini’s ampullae. When this happens, they choose to swim away unharmed. read more Guard.

Countries agree on climate and biodiversity financing

Following the historic decision at COP27 in November to financially compensate the countries most affected by the climate crisis, there is now a fiscal package for biodiversity. At the UN biodiversity conference held in Montreal in December, countries agreed to allocate $200 billion annually to preserve biodiversity by 2030. $30 billion of this should come from countries in the Global North for conservation efforts in developing countries. Read more at Carbon Brief.

Beavers given legal protection in the UK

Four hundred years after beavers were hunted to extinction for their fur, meat and glands, they are now a protected species in England. Since October, it has been illegal to deliberately trap, injure, kill or otherwise disturb charismatic rodents whose dams create wetlands. The reason for the law change? Hundreds of reintroduced beavers live in the UK today, so the government now officially recognizes them as native wildlife. read more Guard.

Wild mammals make a comeback in Europe

Once populations of iconic animals such as gray wolves, grizzly bears, bison and yes beavers in Europe are on the brink, they are thriving again in Europe thanks to human interventions such as legal protections, land use changes and rewildification. Initially beaver colonies in England re-emerged, either through illegal release or escaping from private collections, but more recently the UK government has allowed release in enclosures – in 2002, nine beavers were brought from Norway and officially released in Kent. released. Read more at the BBC.

A rare pigeon caught on camera

For the first time in 140 years, researchers have spotted and scientifically documented a rare bird, the black-necked pheasant pigeon. The large ground-dwelling species is found only deep in the forests of Papua New Guinea and is considered lost and possibly extinct by science. Read more on CNN.

NASA gave us a detailed look at distant galaxies

After decades of planning and a million-mile journey from Earth, the James Webb Telescope, the largest space telescope ever built, reached its orbit around the sun in January. Since then, the $10 billion observatory has captured fascinating images of a planet outside our solar system, star-born nebulae, and distant galaxies. read more Science.

DART proves we can protect Earth from asteroids

No asteroids or comets are currently on a collision course with Earth, but it’s best to be prepared for the worst. In September, NASA and its partners deliberately drove the DART spacecraft toward a small asteroid at 14,000 miles per hour to see if the collision would deflect it. He did. But let’s hope we never really have to do this. Read more at WIRED.

Humans are one step closer to returning to the moon

On December 11, the Orion spacecraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean after a 25-day flyby near the moon. The uncrewed test flight was part of Nasa’s Artemis mission, which plans to send the first woman and first non-white person to the moon as early as 2025. The moon has also become a popular destination for other national space agencies and private companies. other test flights this year. read more scientific american.

Alzheimer’s becomes partially curable

In a clinical study of nearly 1,800 people with early Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, an antibody drug slowed the rate of cognitive decline by 27 percent in patients treated for 18 months. This follows decades of frustration with other drugs designed to slow or stop Alzheimer’s. However, the new treatment is not without risks, including brain hemorrhage and swelling, and 7 percent of people given it had to quit due to side effects. Read more at NPR.

Doctors perform first pig-to-human heart transplant

In January, David Bennett became the first person to successfully transplant a pig heart – but the 57-year-old mechanic from Maryland died two months later. Still, even a few weeks is a long time in so-called xenotransplantation, and researchers want to conduct more human trials. In the long run, xenotransplantation could be the key to ending organ shortages. Read more at Discover.

Spinal implants help paralyzed people walk again

Few people with serious spinal injuries were able to take their first steps within hours after neurosurgeons placed nerve stimulation devices on their spines. With months of consistent training and controlling the device using a touchscreen tablet, a patient regained the ability to independently cycle and swim. Read more on CNN.

Hair follicles were grown in the laboratory for the first time

A Japanese research team has successfully created hair follicles by modifying the embryonic skin cells of mice. The roots grew up to a month and reached a length of 3 millimeters. Their technique may offer an approach to treating hair loss or an alternative to animal testing. The researchers are now working to repeat the experiment with human cells. read more New Scientist.

Abortion rights advance outside the US

While Americans lost their constitutional right to abortion, other countries have positively reformed their laws. In February, Colombia became the eighth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to decriminalize abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. Finland and Malta are also in the process of relaxing their abortion laws, some of the strictest in the European Union. Read more at Maltese Times.

More countries ban conversion therapy

Laws against practices to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, known as conversion therapies, are gaining momentum around the world. France and New Zealand banned these harmful practices earlier in the year, and in October Mexico’s Senate voted on a bill that would make it a crime to conduct conversion therapies (currently pending lower house approval). Read more at Gay Times.

AI tools have changed the way we build

A range of AI tools has broken new ground in supporting human creativity. The DALL-E 2 can convert text inputs to live images, while language models like ChatGPT can answer complex questions and write relatively consistent articles or computer code. But ChatGPT is far from perfect: It often gives wrong answers. It can also generate answers using only the data it feeds and trains, which will last until 2021. Therefore, the knowledge base is already out of date and the system cannot yet search the Internet for new information. Read more on Slate.

Patagonia founder donates billions to protect the environment

In September, Yvon Chouinard, the 83-year-old founder of American clothing brand Patagonia, announced that he has transferred ownership of his $3 billion company to a number of trusts and nonprofits. All of the company’s annual profits, amounting to nearly $100 million, will be used to help fight climate change. read more New York Times.

Shorter workweek finally caught on

In June, 70 UK companies began their largest ever trial of the four-day workweek, with around 3,300 employees working fewer hours without any cuts to their pay. After six months, companies saw happier employees and productivity either remained the same or increased. Now a total of 100 British companies have agreed to make the four-day week permanent. read more Guard.

Young adults in Europe receive cultural gifts on their birthdays

In a bid to revive creative industries that have suffered from years of funding cuts and the pandemic, Germany announced in November that anyone turning 18 (an estimated 750,000 in 2023) will be eligible to receive a voucher worth €200 ($213). spend on theater visits, museums or movies. While Spain has even offered 400 euros, French and Italian youth have benefited from such cultural transitions since 2021 and 2016, respectively. read more Time.

Women’s sports have grown in popularity

For too long women’s sports have received less attention than men’s sports, but in 2022 support has increased. A world-record 91,000 spectators watched Barcelona play against Real Madrid in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, as viewership, funding and prize money increased in a wide range of sports in the US in March. Still, there is still a long way to go before men’s and women’s sports achieve equality. Read more at Forbes.

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