22 things that will make the world a better place in 2022
It seems like if the world plunges from one crisis to another this year. Just as most countries were freed from the shackles of the pandemic, the horrors of war returned to Europe, millions of people around the world suffered at the hands of extreme weather, and double pain. about the lack of energy and inflation came. But thanks to the hard work of scientists and a host of companies and policymakers, things aren’t all that bad. Here’s our recap of the best news coming out in 2022.
US renewables generate more power than coal and nuclear
More than one-fifth of all electricity in the United States now comes from hydro, wind, and solar, meaning renewables have nearly surpassed coal and nuclear, accounting for 20% and 19% of the mix, respectively. energy mix. The only other year this happened was 2020 — but at that time, overall electricity production had been reduced due to the pandemic. Read more at American Science.
The first train line to switch completely to hydrogen
Germany has put into service the world’s first hydrogen-powered train. A fleet of 14 engines has replaced diesel trains on a commuter route near the city of Hamburg, where the cost of electrification is too high. Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that generate electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, producing no emissions other than water vapor. Read more at Deutsche Welle.
Lab-grown meat is considered safe to eat
Non-slaughter meat could soon enter American restaurants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed chicken raised by a California company as safe for consumption, bringing the product one step closer to commercialization. Upside Foods grows meat from real animal cells in bioreactors and will initially offer the meat to taste at a handful of top restaurants. Read more at WIRED.
Scientists find a way to reduce shark mishandling
A battery-powered device, called SharkGuard, prevents sharks and rays from accidentally getting caught in commercial fishing nets and lines by emitting a brief electrical pulse every two seconds. These impulses temporarily overstimulate the marine mammals’ electrical sense organs, known as Lorenzini tubes. When this happens, they choose to swim away unharmed. Read more at Guard.
Countries agree on climate finance and biodiversity
Following the historic decision at COP27 in November to financially compensate the countries hardest hit by the climate crisis, there is now also a financial package for biodiversity. At the United Nations biodiversity conference in Montreal in December, countries agreed to allocate $200 billion annually by 2030 to protect biodiversity. $30 billion of this will come from countries in the Global North for conservation efforts in the developing world. Read more at carbon summary.
Beavers are protected by law in the UK
Four hundred years after they were hunted to extinction for their fur, meat and glands, beavers are now a protected species in the UK. As of October, it is illegal to intentionally trap, injure, kill or disturb charismatic rodents, the dams that create wetlands. Why change the law? Hundreds of reintroduced beavers live in Britain today, so the government now officially recognizes them as native wildlife. Read more at Guard.
Wild mammals are back in Europe
Once on the brink, populations of iconic animals like gray wolves, brown bears, bison and yes, beavers are thriving again in Europe thanks to legal protections, instead land use change and human intervention such as rebuilding. Initially, beaver colonies in the UK re-emerged through illegal release or escape from private collections, but more recently, the UK government allowed release in cages — in 2002. , nine beavers were brought in from Norway and officially released in Kent. Read more at BBC.
A rare pigeon captured on camera
For the first time in 140 years, researchers have scientifically seen and documented a rare bird, the black-necked pheasant pigeon. This large terrestrial species is found only deep in the forests of Papua New Guinea and is scientifically considered lost and possibly extinct. Read more at CNN.
NASA has given us a detailed look at distant galaxies
The James Webb telescope, the largest space telescope ever built, reached its destination in orbit around the sun in January, after decades of planning and a journey millions of miles from Earth. Since then, the $10 billion observatory has captured mesmerizing images of a planet beyond our solar system, the nebulae where stars are born, and distant galaxies. sticky rice. Read more at Science.
DART has proven we can protect the Earth from asteroids
There are currently no asteroids or comets about to collide with Earth, but it’s best to prepare for the worst. In September, NASA and its partners purposely plowed the DART spacecraft into a small asteroid at 14,000 miles per hour to see if the impact could deflect its path. It did. But let’s hope we never have to do this for real. Read more at WIRED.
Man is one step closer to returning to the moon
On December 11, the Orion spacecraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean after a 25-day flight over the moon. The unmanned test flight is part of Nasa’s Artemis mission, which is scheduled to put the first woman and first black man on the moon as early as 2025. The moon has become the destination. common to other national space agencies and private companies, with several other test flights taking place this year. Read more at American Science.
Alzheimer’s becomes partially treatable
In a clinical trial of nearly 1,800 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia – an antibody drug slowed cognitive decline by 27% in patients treated. in 18 months. This comes after decades of frustration with other drugs designed to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease. That said, the new treatment is not without risks, including bleeding and brain swelling, and 7 percent of those treated had to be stopped because of side effects. Read more at NPR.
Doctors perform the first heart transplant from a pig to a human
In January, David Bennett became the first person to receive a successful pig heart transplant—although the 57-year-old industrious man from Maryland died two months later. However, even a few weeks is a long time for so-called heterologous transplants, and researchers are interested in more human trials. In the long run, foreign transplants could be the key to ending organ shortages. Read more at Detect.
Spinal implants help paralyzed people walk
Some people with severe spinal injuries were able to take their first steps within hours of neurosurgeons implanting a nerve stimulator into their spine. And with months of consistent practice and by controlling the device with a touchscreen tablet, one patient even regained the ability to cycle and swim independently. Read more at CNN.
Hair follicles grown in a lab for the first time
A Japanese team has successfully created hair follicles by modifying mouse embryonic skin cells. The follicles grow in a month and reach a length of up to 3 mm. Their technique could offer a treatment for hair loss or an alternative to animal testing. The researchers are now working to repeat the experiment with human cells. Read more at new scientist.
Abortion rights are advancing—outside the U.S.
While Americans have lost their constitutional right to abortion, other countries have actively reformed their laws. In February, Colombia became the eighth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to legalize abortion in early pregnancy. Finland and Malta are also in the process of relaxing their abortion laws, one of the strictest in the European Union. Read more at The Age of Malta.
Many countries ban conversion therapy
Laws against acts aimed at forcibly changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, known as conversion therapy, have been gaining momentum around the world. France and New Zealand banned these harmful practices earlier in the year, and in October, the Mexican senate voted on a bill that would make it an offense to conduct conversion therapies (the bill is currently in progress). pending approval of the lower house). Read more at gay times.
AI tools have changed the way we create
Several AI tools have made new breakthroughs in supporting human creativity. DALL-E 2 can turn text input into vivid images, while language models like ChatGPT can answer complex questions and write relatively coherent essays or computer code. But ChatGPT is far from perfect: It often gives incorrect answers. In addition, it can only generate answers using the data it has been fed and trained with, which has a deadline of 2021. So its knowledge base is outdated and the system is outdated. The system cannot find new information on the Internet. Read more at 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 had transferred ownership of his $3 billion company to a group of trusts and nonprofits. profit. All of the company’s profits, amounting to about $100 million a year, will be used to help fight climate change. Read more at The New York Times.
The shorter work week has finally begun
In June, 70 UK companies began the largest-ever trial of a four-day work week, with around 3,300 employees working fewer hours without a pay cut. After six months, companies found employees were happier and productivity remained the same or improved. Now, a total of 100 UK companies have agreed to make the four-day work week permanent. Read more at Guard.
Young people in Europe receive cultural gifts for their birthdays
In an effort to revive creative industries that have suffered from years of funding cuts and pandemics, in November Germany announced that anyone turning 18 — an estimated 750,000 people in 2023 — will receive a voucher worth €200 ($213) to spend on theater visits, museums, or movies. Spain is even offering €400 euros, while young French and Italians have benefited from such cultural tickets since 2021 and 2016, respectively. Read more at Time.
Women’s sports are increasingly popular
For a long time, women’s sports received less attention than men’s sports—but by 2022, support has grown. A world record 91,000 spectators watched Barcelona play Real Madrid in March at the UEFA Women’s Championship, while across various sports in the United States, viewing figures, sponsorships and prize money increased. However, there is still a long way to go before women’s and men’s sports achieve parity. Read more at Forbes.