Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
In most of Europe, fitting a heat pump is one of the most powerful actions a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint. But in Norway, where clean-yet-inefficient electrical resistance heaters have long been common, upgrading to a heat pump is often a purely financial decision. Two-thirds of households in this Nordic country of 5 million people have a heat pump, more than anywhere else in the world. For many years, Norwegians and their neighbours heated their homes with fossil fuels. But during the 1973 oil crisis, when prices shot up, the country's political leaders made a conscious choice to promote alternatives. "Norway ensured early on that fossil-fuel heating was the most expensive option, making heat pumps cost competitive," said Dr Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project, a thinktank that works to decarbonise buildings. "They did this by taxing carbon emissions from fossil heating fuels. That's been the key to incentivise heat pump adoption." Norway also trained up a workforce to install them. Heat pumps' efficiency has been increased over decades, partly because of the early adopters in Nordic countries who tinkered away to the point where a modern version can deliver three to five units of heat for every unit of electricity used to power it. An efficient gas boiler, on the other hand, can only produce as much heat as the energy contained in the fuel being burned. A heat pump will have a smaller carbon footprint than a gas boiler even when plugged into an electricity grid.
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A New York City woman who died of ovarian cancer has raised enough money to pay off millions of dollars in other people's medical debts. In a social media post she arranged to be posted after her death, Casey McIntyre, 38, asked followers to consider donating to her cause. She said she planned to pay off other people's medical debt as a way of celebrating her life. She wrote on social media: "if you're reading this I have passed away." "I loved each and every one of you with my whole heart and I promise you, I knew how deeply I was loved... to celebrate my life, I've arranged to buy up others' medical debt and then destroy the debt." She added that she was lucky to have access to high-quality medical care while battling stage four ovarian cancer and wanted others to have the same. McIntyre and her family ... raised over $170,000 (Ł136,000) for her campaign with non-profit RIP Medical Debt. The organisation pays off a dollar of medical debt for every penny that is donated, meaning McIntyre's campaign has helped erase up to $17m in unpaid medical bills. The organisation says it buys medical debt "in bundled portfolios, millions of dollars at a time at a fraction of the original cost". "On average, whatever you donate has 100x the impact," it says on its website. In the social media post announcing her own death, McIntyre's family included a note that they would have a memorial service ... where they would celebrate her life by anonymously purchasing and forgiving other's medical debt.
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Microplastics – solid plastic particles up to five millimeters in size that are not biodegradable – are pretty much everywhere. They have been detected in over 1,500 different marine animal species. They also find their way into our bodies via the water cycle and the food chain. In fact, the average person consumes up to five grams of microplastics per week. The European Union has now banned intentionally added microplastics. This applies to plastic glitter or polyethylene particles used as abrasives in scrubs, shower gel and toothpaste (these have been banned in the US since the 2015 Microbead-Free Waters Act). Under the terms of the ban, some products, such as plastic glitter found in creams or eye shadow, have been granted a transitional period to give manufacturers a chance to develop new designs. LUSH and The Body Shop are among the companies that have long been offering natural alternatives, using ground nuts, bamboo, sea salt and sugar. Beiersdorf AG ... has not used microbeads for exfoliation purposes since 2015. Instead, it has used, for example, cellulose particles or shredded apricot kernels. Since the end of 2019, all Beiersdorf wash-off products have been free of microplastics. Before the EU ban, Germany stopped providing public funding for artificial turf pitches with granules containing a high proportion of microplastic. As a result, the country already has hundreds of pitches that are filled with cork and sand instead of microplastics.
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Dutch sewage waste is being seen as a reliable heat source for millions of homes that the government wants to be unhooked from the country's gas system by 2050. Lieven de Key, a housing corporation in Amsterdam, is planning what is believed to be the first sewer warmth project that will tap into a main district sewage pipe to warm 1,600 existing social and student homes. "We have a photo of the street covered with snow, and the manhole covers all without snow," says Jeroen Rademaker, the project leader. "Even when there's snow in the winter, the sewer is warm. Warm sewage water flows 24 hours a day and we should capture it. This can happen wherever there is a big sewage pipe." "The warmth comes from showers, the toilet, wastewater from washing, from the dishwasher, from the washing machine," says Postuma. "Together it all gives, throughout the year, a temperature between 15 and 18 degrees. And we are going to make a bypass around the main sewer, put a heat exchanger around it and bring it to the houses in insulated pipes. We place it in an electric heat pump, and the water is heated up to 60 or 70C – medium temperature." The heat exchanger transfers that source heat from the drain to a working fluid that can be transported to the buildings without needing to circulate the actual sewage waste. Then the blocks' heat pumps, fired by solar energy, can amplify that heat in the opposite way to the workings of a refrigerator.
Tim Phillips, a veteran conflict-resolution expert, helped negotiate some of the most fraught conflicts in modern history – ceasefires of religious clashes in Northern Ireland and the establishment of what became South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid. Defusing an escalating situation ... first requires releasing a brain hijacked by defensive emotion. Phillips says it means saying to your opponent, for example: "I understand how important this is to you; I understand this is core to your identity and your community, and I respect your sacred values." It means reflecting your opponent's humanity back to them. A similar approach, he says, can help reduce toxic polarization. It's effective because in the heat of argument, people tend to demonize one another; counteracting that can neutralize assumptions of negative intent. Phillips says he's seen people emotionally disarm the opposition in a disagreement simply by recognizing their humanity. It can bring together fierce adversaries, and change history. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman in the U.S., was battling for the Democratic presidential nomination with political rival ... George Wallace, a fierce segregationist. After he was shot in an attempted assassination, Chisholm visited him in the hospital and prayed at his bedside. "Wallace's daughter later said that that gesture of compassion completely changed her father," Phillips says. Wallace reportedly wept openly, and shifted his stance on racial segregation.
The influential idea that in the past men were hunters and women were not isn't supported by the available evidence. Women are physiologically better suited than men to endurance efforts such as running marathons. This advantage bears on questions about hunting because a prominent hypothesis contends that early humans are thought to have pursued prey on foot over long distances until the animals were exhausted. Furthermore, the fossil and archaeological records, as well as ethnographic studies of modern-day hunter-gatherers, indicate that women have a long history of hunting game. Females are ... dominating ultraendurance events such as the more than 260-mile Montane Spine foot race through England and Scotland, the 21-mile swim across the English Channel and the 4,300-mile Trans Am cycling race. In 2018 English runner Sophie Power ran the 105-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race in the Alps while still breastfeeding her three-month-old at rest stations. Observations of recent and contemporary foraging societies provide direct evidence of women participating in hunting. The most cited examples come from the Agta people of the Philippines. Agta women hunt while menstruating, pregnant and breastfeeding, and they have the same hunting success as Agta men. They are hardly alone. A recent study of ethnographic data spanning the past 100 years ... found that women from a wide range of cultures hunt animals for food.
ManifestWorks [is] a unique program that guides people from homelessness, incarceration and foster care directly into entry-level jobs in film and TV. "When I started the ManifestWorks program, it was more than just learning the steps. It was really therapeutic for me," says Leslie. "It was uplifting during a time when I was really not in a good place." By the third week of classes, Leslie had secured her first gig as a production assistant. The same person who hired her brought her back for the next two years and seeded additional relationships that led to more work. Today, Leslie works in a sound department as a union member, has consistent work at a living wage and has been able to upgrade both her housing and her car. The nonprofit ManifestWorks has more than 270 alumni currently working in the film industry, and purposely recruits its students from populations that face barriers to success. According to ManifestWorks, 25 percent of foster care youth end up incarcerated within two years of turning 18, and unemployment impacts the formerly incarcerated at a rate 12 times higher than the national average. Some 71 percent of ManifestWorks' trainees are on welfare when they start the program – after a year, that number drops to seven percent on average. And 92 percent of ManifestWorks alumni are employed full time with an average annual income of $62,000, up from the average of $12,500 when trainees first start.
While the sad reality of violence and division dominates the media, countless grassroots organizations are working tirelessly to bring peace and reconciliation to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As the region continues to be ravaged by violence, Standing Together, Israel's largest Arab-Jewish grassroots organization, brings together Jewish and Palestinian volunteers. They labor relentlessly to assist victims of continuous violence while also campaigning for peace, equality, social justice, and climate justice. Their message is clear: the future they envision is one of peace, Israeli and Palestinian independence, full equality, and environmental justice. The Parents Circle – Families Forum, which includes over 600 families who have lost loved ones in the conflict, is a symbol of reconciliation. This joint Israeli-Palestinian organization encourages conversation and reconciliation through education, public gatherings, and media participation, presenting a ray of hope for a future of coexistence. Integrated schools in Israel, where Jewish and Palestinian children attend classes together, serve as an example of a more inclusive future. Hand in Hand promotes understanding by bringing parents together for debate and shared study of Hebrew and Arabic. They are sowing seeds of oneness. Jerusalem Peacebuilders brings together Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans with the goal of developing tomorrow's leaders. Their work highlights the futility of violent war and the critical need for nonviolence.
A growing women-led restorative justice system ... operates within the territory of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava, a revolutionary social experiment involving more than 4.5 million people. The system features a network, autonomous from the AANES, of more than 60 Mala Jin, or "women's houses," which allow people to solve disputes at the community level, instead of through courts or police, by offering reconciliation and mediation processes for domestic and family situations. Activist and independent researcher Clara Moore ... recently returned from spending two years in the region, working at both the Rojava Information Center and at Mala Jin. "Essentially, they're trying to build a system around the political philosophy of Democratic Confederalism, which was initially inspired by the ideas of [the American intellectual] Murray Bookchin and theorized by [Kurdish leader] Abdullah Ă–calan from prison in Turkey," [said Moore]. "It's based on ideas of pluralism, direct democracy, decentralization, gender equality and self-defense. In practice, this means that all communities have the ability and right to defend themselves and provide for their own needs. The idea of the justice system in Rojava, in North and East Syria in general, is that it's possible to solve a dispute without going to court. There are laws in Rojava and courts. Ideally, those only become relevant when people can't come to a resolution together outside of court."
Economists love things they can measure objectively, like the number of deaths in a village or the number of dollars in an account. So over the past century, they've focused on measuring health and wealth. The best policy programs for society are deemed to be the ones that save the most lives, say, or increase gross domestic product (GDP) by the widest margin. And there's a good rationale for using a metric like GDP as a shorthand for well-being: There is a very high correlation between a nation's GDP per capita and its self-reported life satisfaction. But a strong predictor is not a perfect predictor. As we've gathered more data on the happiness of different populations, it's become clear that increasing wealth and health do not always go hand in hand with increasing happiness. By the economists' objective measures, people in rich countries like the US should be doing great – and yet Americans are only becoming more miserable. A growing chorus of experts argues that helping people is ultimately about making them happier – not just wealthier or healthier – and the best way to find out how happy people are is to just ask them directly. It's a revolution in thinking that's gathering force in policy and charity circles alike, and it's starting to upend conventional wisdom about the best ways to do good. Part of the virtue of the subjective approach is that people can bring whatever matters to them into their assessments. So, how much meaning you have in your life could be an input into that.
If you were to imagine the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the modern US, it would be difficult to conceive such a thing sprouting from the environs of Phoenix, Arizona. But it is here that such a neighborhood, called Culdesac, has taken root. On a 17-acre site ... an unusual experiment has emerged that invites Americans to live in a way that is rare outside of fleeting experiences of college, Disneyland or trips to Europe: a walkable, human-scale community devoid of cars. Culdesac ushered in its first 36 residents earlier this year and will eventually house around 1,000 people. Residents are provided no parking for cars and are encouraged to get rid of them. The apartments are also mixed in with amenities, such as a grocery store, restaurant, yoga studio and bicycle shop, that are usually separated from housing by strict city zoning laws. The $170m Culdesac project shows "we can build walkable neighborhoods successfully in the US," according to Ryan Johnson, the 40-year-old who co-founded the company. "We look back nostalgically at college, because it's the only time most people have lived in a walkable neighborhood. People are happier and healthier, and even wealthier when they're living in a walkable neighborhood." Vanessa Fox, a 32-year-old who moved into Culdesac with her husky dog in May, had always wanted to live in a walkable place only to find such options unaffordable. For her, Culdesac provided a sense of community without having to rely on a car.
California has become the first U.S. state to outlaw the use of four potentially harmful food and drink additives that have been linked to an array of diseases, including cancer, and are already banned in dozens of countries. The California Food Safety Act prohibits the manufacturing, distribution and sale of food and beverages that contain brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye 3 – which can be found in candy, fruit juices, cookies and more. The Food and Drug Administration banned the use of red dye 3 in cosmetics in 1990 after evidence showed it caused cancer in lab animals. But the government hasn't prohibited its use in food, and it's an ingredient in candies. Brominated vegetable oil and potassium bromate have also been associated with harmful effects on the respiratory and nervous systems, while propylparaben may negatively impact reproductive health. The proposal has been the target of a false claim that California is attempting to ban Skittles. In fact, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, has said that Skittles are sold with alternative ingredients in the European Union, where the four additives are already banned. "It's unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety," Gabriel said in a statement. In addition to the EU, countries that have banned the four additives in food include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan.
Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, but they also pose significant challenges for our society. From spreading misinformation and hate speech to undermining democracy and privacy, social media can have negative impacts on the public good. How can we harness the power of social media for positive purposes, such as civic engagement, social justice, and education? One possible solution is to create a new kind of social media platform that is designed to serve the public interest, not the profit motive. This platform would be owned and governed by its users, who would have a say in how it operates and what content it promotes. Such a platform may sound utopian, but it is not impossible. In fact, there are already some examples of social media platforms that are trying to achieve these goals, such as Mastodon, Diaspora, and Aether. These platforms are based on the principles of decentralization, federation, and peer-to-peer communication, which allow users to have more control and autonomy over their online interactions. Civic Works ... is an emerging social networking platform that provides a more democratic, inclusive, and responsible online space for everyone. It is built on the idea that social media can be a force for good when the objective is not subverted by advertisers, marketers, or shadowy political operatives. It is a platform that inspires people to become active citizens, through civic, political, economic, and/or educational actions.
Note: The social media platform PeakD is censorship-proof and is governed by network operators who are elected by the community. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.
After a decline in nutrition education in U.S. schools in recent decades, there's new momentum to weave food and cooking into the curriculum again. Remember the hands-on cooking in home economics class, which was a staple in U.S. schools for decades? "I'd love to see it brought back and have the science around healthy eating integrated," says Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dean told me she was inspired by a visit to Watkins Elementary, in Washington, D.C., where this idea is germinating. Students grow vegetables in their school garden. They also roll up their sleeves in the school's kitchen to participate in a FRESHFARM FoodPrints class, which integrates cooking and nutrition education. Evaluations show participation in FRESHFARM programs is associated with increased preference for fruits and vegetables. And, the CDC points to evidence that nutrition education may help students maintain a healthy weight and can also help students recognize the connection between food and emotional wellbeing. Given the key role diet plays in preventing chronic disease, the agency says it would be ideal to offer more nutrition education. Programs like FRESHFARM can help kids expand their palettes by introducing them to new tastes. At first, many kids are turned off by the bitter taste of greens. But through the alchemy of cooking, caramelizing the onions, and blending in fresh ginger, kids can be inspired.
In 1968, at the age of 42, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton sat down to write Death in Life, a book about his experiences interviewing survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the course of his career, Lifton studied not only survivors of the atomic bombings but Auschwitz survivors, Vietnam war veterans and people who'd been subjected to repression by the Chinese government. The COVID pandemic prompted him to reflect on what he'd learned about mass trauma and resilience – that telling stories about trauma, and even trying to influence policy, can often help people recover. Now 97, Lifton has just published his 13th book, Surviving Our Catastrophes: Resilience and Renewal from Hiroshima to the Covid-19 Pandemic. "I interviewed people who had undergone the most extreme kind of trauma and victimization," [said Lifton]. "And yet some of the very same people who had so suffered from trauma have shown what I call "survivor wisdom" – they transformed themselves from helpless victims to agents of survival. If ... storytelling can include the transformation from the helpless victim to the life-enhancing survivor, then the storytelling is crucial. The storytelling we most encourage is that kind that enables the formerly helpless victim to be transformed in the story, to transform himself or herself, collectively transform themselves into life-affirming survivors. That's the key transformation, and that's the story we [listeners] seek to help them achieve."
This past summer more than 300 high school graduates signed up for a unique student exchange program. Unlike the well-known foreign exchange model ... this program gives students the opportunity to soak in a brand-new culture without ever leaving the country. It's called the American Exchange Project, or AEP for short, co-founded by 29-year-old David McCullough III. "We fund kids to spend a week in the summer after senior year in an American town that is politically and socio-economically and culturally very different from the one that they're growing up in," McCullough said. One student, Alex, said, "My groups of friends are not really close to each other, so I feel like I've actually bonded with you guys more than I have with my own friends." One girl from South Dakota said, "I've never been a part of a community where ... I'm not the minority, I'm not the odd one out. So, this is very much an experience that I really appreciate so much." McCullough hopes to offer the program to a million students a year by decade's end, and all free of charge, thanks to big name donors, including the likes of Steven Spielberg. "I think this all ought to be as typical to the American high school experience as the prom," McCullough said. There's that old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes; the problem is, you can't see the person face-to-face if you're walking away. What David McCullough is hoping is the next generation will turn around, look those they differ with in the eye, and just talk.
For millennia, humans have used dried natural sponges to clean up, to paint and as vessels to consume fluids like water or honey. Whether synthetic or natural, sponges are great at ensnaring tiny particles in their many pores. And, as scientists around the world are beginning to show, sponges' cavity-filled forms mean they could provide a solution to one of our era's biggest scourges: microplastic pollution. In August, researchers in China published a study describing their development of a synthetic sponge that makes short work of microscopic plastic debris. In tests, the researchers show that when a specially prepared plastic-filled solution is pushed through one of their sponges, the sponge can remove both microplastics and even smaller nanoplastics from the liquid. Optimal conditions allowed the researchers to remove as much as 90 percent of the microplastics. The plastic-gobbling sponges are made mostly from starch and gelatin. Looking a bit like large white marshmallows, the biodegradable sponges are so light that balancing one atop a flower leaves the plant's petals upright and unyielding, which the researchers suggest ought to make them cheap and easy to transport. The sponges, if ever produced at an industrial scale ... could be used in wastewater treatment plants to filter microplastics out of the water or in food production facilities to decontaminate water. It would also be possible to use microplastic-trapping sponges like this in washing machines.
In Liberia, two brutal civil wars have produced a generation of traumatised young men. Anthony Kamara likes to use the analogy of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It's an old story, he admits, but useful in reaching through the years of compounded shame that form the exterior skin of Liberia's lost and marginalised young men. "I tell the men that their true colours are there, hidden within them," says Kamara, 32, a former street drug user and a facilitator for a radical Liberian mental health nonprofit Network for Empowerment and Programme Initiatives (Nepi). Nepi targets Liberia's most marginalised men – street dwellers, petty criminals, chronic drug users: traumatised ex-combatants and their sons with anger issues and little to live for – in an effort to ripple benefits across Liberia's population, 68% of whom are living on less than $1.90 (Ł1.60) a day. Nepi offers a tailored combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and cash transfers to young people who are at the highest risk for violent behaviour, in a programme called Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia (Styl). Styl has since helped tens of thousands of young men in Liberia, with studies on the project finding that men receiving therapy with cash were half as likely as a control group to engage in antisocial behaviours, with beneficial impacts concentrated in the highest-risk men.
In 2023, Seabed 2030 announced that its latest map of the entire seafloor is nearly 25% complete. The data to make the world's first publicly available map is stored at the International Hydrography Organization (IHO)'s Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry. 17 research vessels owned by American universities ... constantly circle the globe studying the deep ocean. The ocean mappers came up with a new plan: crowdsourcing. By attaching a data logger to a boat's echosounder, any vessel can build a simple map of the seafloor. Tion Uriam, the head of the Hydrographic Unit at the Republic of Kiribati's Ministry of Communications, Transport and Tourism Development, recently received two data loggers that he's planning to install on local ferries. "It's a win to be part of that initiative," he says. "Just to put us on the map and raise our hands [to say] we want to be part of a global effort." The military or commercial value of nautical charts will always be a barrier. "Sea charts were destined to be removed from the academic realm and from general circulation," wrote the map historian Lloyd Brown. "They were much more than an aid to navigation; they were the key to empire, the way to wealth." [Marine geologist Kevin] Mackay experienced this on a scientific-mapping expedition. He received a call from a military he chooses not to name and "they said 'you need to destroy that data because there was military value ... it's a place where submarines like to hide'," he recalls. "Obviously, we ignore them because we're [mapping] for science, we don't care."
Friluftsliv [is] a way of being that is part of the Norwegian national identity. The term was coined by the playwright Henrik Ibsen in his 1859 poem On the Heights, although the concept is much older. Its literal translation is "free-air life", but Ibsen used it to convey a spiritual connection with nature. To modern Norwegians, it means participating in outdoor activities, but also has a deeper sense of de-stressing in nature and sharing in a common culture. An astonishingly high percentage of Norwegians report spending time outdoors. A survey in June by the market research company Kantar TNS found that 83% are interested in friluftsliv, 77% spend time in nature on a weekly basis and 25% do so most days. At many nurseries, toddlers spend 80% of their time outside; at school, there are special days throughout the year when children go out in nature and build campfires. Studies show that being in green spaces helps reduce anxiety and improve cognition. In a 2020 survey, 90% of Norwegians said they felt less stressed and in a better mood when they spent time in nature. Helga SynnevĂĄg LĂ¸voll, a professor of friluftsliv at Volda University College, says the five documented ways to wellbeing can be achieved through friluftsliv (they are "connect", "be active", "take notice", "keep learning" and "give"). This nature-induced wellbeing could be one reason why Norway ranks among the happiest countries in the world. It came seventh in the UN's World Happiness report in 2023.
Note: Read about the rise of "green prescription" programs in different healthcare systems around the world. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.