5 Inspiring News Stories That Prove The World's Not Ending
Just five minutes of scrolling through any social media feed is enough to send you back to bed, but that's because happiness doesn't get those sweet, sweet clicks. The truth is that for all the terrible things going on in the world, there are good things too. Society, like the Force, is a balance of dark and light. Here are five pieces of underreported good news to help you feel like you've rolled around with a bunch of puppies, because you could probably use that right about now.
A Nonprofit Has Cured Hundreds Of Cases Of Blindness With A Four-Minute Surgery
Millions of people around the world suffer from cataracts, which is what happens when the proteins in the lens of your eye break down, causing everything to look like an '80s rock concert whose budget was primarily invested in smoke machines. This is less awesome than it sounds. Over time, it can lead to full blindness. Early detection is key, so as with most diseases, it's a bigger problem in poorer countries, where people don't have access to regular medical care.
At least, it was. Tear down that picture of Chris Evans in your bedroom, because there are a couple of new dreamboats to get familiar with. Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoff Tabin started the Himalayan Cataract Project to aid people in impoverished countries with a procedure that can be performed over an average commercial break. The surgery involves making a small incision in the eye and removing the cloudy lens. It's then replaced with a contact lens made out of plastic that's inserted behind the cornea. That's it. A snip and a pop, and boom, get ready to see the crap out of stuff -- loved ones, sunsets, this trailer for a movie called Knives Out. They can drink it all in through their eye-mouths. It takes all of four minutes for most patients. Jesus himself probably took longer to heal folks.
That's actually a pretty apt comparison, because last year, the organization took its services to a leper colony in Eastern Ethiopia. Hundreds of people lined up. Some had to set up camp for days to get the operation. The doctors didn't leave them out in the cold, though. Coordinators gave them food, which is a service you definitely won't get at an Apple product launch -- and unlike any Apple product, the lenses they use only cost $4. For the price of four bags of Corn Nuts, someone can see for the first time in years. Granted, Corn Nuts are delicious, but you've really got to go with the cure for blindness on this one.
This is a major asset in countries like Ethiopia. There just aren't that many eye doctors for a country of over 100 million people, so untreated vision problems contribute to immense poverty there and in similar regions. If the treatment goes mainstream, it could help people everywhere see better. We're making progress toward a future wherein every single human will be able to watch Knives Out -- which, we can't stress enough, looks super dope.
Crime Rates Are Down Across The Board In The United States
You wouldn't know it from looking at the news, but crime in the United States is down. As in, throughout the entire country. According to a very boring crime report released by the FBI in 2018, nearly all crime, of both the "violent" and "property" varietals, was down by substantial amounts -- robbery by 12.5%, murder by 6.7%, burglary by 12.7%. The numbers for scary clown crime were undetermined, but also probably lower.
Although it's probably shocking, it's not exactly news. Since crime peaked in the early 1990s, it's been dropping year after year. From 1993 to 2017, for example, violent crime dropped 49%, according to the FBI numbers -- 74% according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Property crime has also dropped -- 50% according to the FBI and 69% (nice) according to the BJS. If it seems like those guys should be talking to each other a little more, the reason for the discrepancy is that crimes often don't get reported to the police (the source of the FBI numbers), but people are more likely to fess up to being a victim when the BJS calls.
So how can politicians go on TV and claim that the U.S. has become a free-for-all of criminal depravity? Well, we don't mean to blow your mind here, but often they're lying. Other times they're cherry-picking data, pointing to small, short-term upticks that are outliers in the long term. They do that because they know that scared people vote harder than relaxed people, and there's no better way to get votes from scared people than by promising to make the big bad monsters go away.
Never mind the fact that it doesn't appear to matter who's in charge; crime rates have kept going down regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans were in power at the time. The strategy works because people don't know that we're living in arguably the safest period of history ever, which is why poll after poll after poll shows that American fear of crime has stayed the same or even risen as actual crime plummets. Legally, we can't advise you to go unlock all your doors and put a "Come at me, burglars" sign on your front lawn, but we can't stop you either.
Many Countries Are Finally Solving Period Poverty
Period poverty might seem trivial in a world with, you know, food poverty, but take a stroll through the "feminine hygiene" aisle of the grocery store and have a look at the prices of tampons and maxi pads. It's not an insignificant expense for people dealing with the more well-known types of poverty, and it leads to many bigger issues, such as kids missing school and/or resorting to unsafe and unhygienic substitutes. It doesn't help that their plight is often dismissed by people like the hypothetical version of you who scoffed at the concept of period poverty at the beginning of this paragraph. Hypothetical shame on you.
But some countries have started to devise solutions. Who do you think spearheaded the movement to provide free menstrual products to impoverished students? The U.S.? The UK? Shame on you again. It was actually Uganda, where 61% of menstruating students miss at least one day of school every year, thanks to insufficient uterine upholstery. They built a whole factory that has produced 2.8 million cheap and reusable menstrual pads for their students so far.
Most countries that have followed in their footsteps haven't had to go that far, because they suddenly found money to throw at the problem. In 2018, New York passed a law requiring all schools from sixth grade up to provide free tampons and pads to their students, and Scotland, Wales, England, and British Columbia all dedicated millions of dollars to do the same. Even Seoul has launched a program to install machines that dispense free menstrual products in public buildings, and that's really saying something. In many Asian countries, period talk is almost as taboo as it is here.
We're Saving The Whales
If you're old enough, you almost certainly remember the very persistent "save the whales" campaign. (If you're not familiar, think of it as a kind of non-ironic Harambe meme.) Now that we're all caught up, holy crap, we're actually saving them. We pretty much saved the sea turtles along the way too, because that's the kind of species we are.
Sea turtles first appeared on the endangered species list in 1978, after the human hunger for turtle meat nearly drove them to extinction. That's not a joke. There are people -- not anyone we know -- who can't get enough of turtle burgers. Whatever the case, by 2002, an expedition to track sea turtle population growth found more than 3,400 turtles over about 4,500 miles. If you don't feel like doing the math, that's a buttload of turtles. In more remote areas around the uninhabited islands of Hawaii, they found an average of 3.62 green sea turtles per kilometer. Absolutely lousy with turtles.
Meanwhale, scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz recently analyzed population growth in humpback whales over a period of several years, and found evidence of some serious humpbacking. On average, the team found 50% of the female whales off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to be pregnant. At its peak, 70% of the female whales were pregnant. Researchers documented similar trends in Australia.
What did we do? Send down some Marvin Gaye and cinnamon lube? Not exactly (and this is where it stops being entirely good news). Conservation efforts and bans on hunting these animals have helped boost their populations, but so has climate change. Because winter has gotten shorter in their environments, they get an extra month or two per year to gather food, giving them the time and energy to enjoy each other's company a little more. That might not be great overall, but at least "global whale infestation" is one of the more wholesome potential apocalypses.
Poaching In Africa Is Way Down
For centuries, poaching has been, to put it mildly, a problem. But there is good news! Rhino, shark, and elephant poaching is steadily going down, thanks to initiatives around the world that protect these animals and decrease demand for their body parts. For the first time in five years, South Africa has seen the annual figure of illegal rhino kills fall below 1,000. Which is fantastic, because there are only 20,000-25,000 rhinos left there.
Likewise, elephant poaching has seen a 6% decrease in the last seven years. It doesn't sound like much, but for a species that lost 100,000 members between 2006 and 2015, it's quite significant. China, which has long been the poaching industry's favorite customer, made all ivory trade illegal in 2017, which has reduced demand for elephant parts, and also the number of penis-shaped trinkets in the world. Talk about a win-win.
As for the sharks, a change to the definition of "finning" and a ban that includes removing their fins on both land and sea have greatly contributed to the reduction of the disturbing practice. The sharks probably wouldn't feel great about us having to create a specific law against chopping off parts of their bodies, but we can't apologize, since they don't speak human. Hopefully, they appreciate the gesture.
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