Optimism in the News

You may have read the title of this article and thought: ‘Optimism in the news? Seems unlikely’. Yet I have found many instances of positivity in the overwhelmingly negative news that papers, websites and TV seem to like to share us with. So if you’re tired of constantly being fed depressing news stories, you’ve come to the right place. From cute animals to sustainability, and improved healthcare in the UK, this article covers it all. 

The first on my list of cheerful news reports has to be the following: at the beginning of the month many news sources, including the Guardian and the BBC, made the brilliant decision to share a video of two pandas playing in the snow. In the video, the two pandas named  Mei Xiang (in English: ‘beautiful fragrance’) and Tian Tian (in English: ‘more and more’) are seen making the most of the snow that settled in their enclosure in the Washington DC Smithsonian National Zoo. Not only is the video one of the most adorable things I’ve seen in 2021, but these two pandas are part of a giant panda conservation plan at the zoo, which has seen a recent victory with the birth of the pair’s cub: Xiao Qi Ji (in English: ‘little miracle’). Combine a cute video with a win for animal conservation, and if that doesn’t make for a positive headline, I don’t know what does. Make sure to watch the video by following this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-55884236, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘Well cute pandas are one thing, but is it really enough to counter all the negativity?’. Well, fear not, because I’m only just getting started. Following a similar theme, the Good News Network reported on the growing population of wild cranes in the UK. Thanks to the Great Crane Project launched by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Wildfowl Trust (WWT), these birds that went extinct in the UK over 400 years ago from overhunting, have now returned with their numbers being thought to be around 200. While this is great news for the cranes themselves, this will also have a wider impact on all conservationist efforts, showing the UK government the importance of supporting conservation projects. The return of these beautiful birds is certainly enough to put a smile on my face, and I was even happier to learn that one of the protected wetland areas where the cranes are often sited is only 40 minutes away from Bristol at the WWT Slimbridge Reserve. So, as soon as it’s permitted I’ll definitely be heading there to have a look for myself, and I suggest you do too.

If animals haven’t been enough to bring some joy to your day, maybe some positive headlines about the environment and sustainability might do the trick.  A recent article by The Guardian has reported on the possibility of a new type of sustainable hydropower system that could be put in place in the UK. This system has been described as turning hills into batteries.  In short, instead of having to use steep walls or damns to release and store hydropower, engineers have come up with a system that will be able to achieve the same thing using the gentle slopes of hills. The advantages to this new system are extensive, it could create hundreds of new hydropower sites across the UK which are cheaper and quicker to build than traditional sites such as dams, while also having less of a negative impact on the environment. It is now clearer than ever that we have to seriously change our ways in order to stop climate change and the awful effects it has on our planet, so this particular piece of news about the production of cleaner, more sustainable energy certainly carries hope for the future.

However, new hydropower systems aren’t the only piece of good news we’ve had about the environment this month. Since the very first lockdown last March, there has been a surge in community initiatives to plant trees in order to combat the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The Guardian shared the story of a local climate change group from a village on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, who are doing just that. They have plans to plant hundreds of trees, an initiative which scientists say is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. By getting a member to ask landowners permission to plant trees on their land and asking for a £2 sponsorship from villagers for each tree, they have already gotten the permission of 7 landowners and the promise of sponsorship of around 150 trees. While The Guardian focused on the initiatives of this particular village, they also listed a number of other similar projects. The growing number of tree planting projects is surely something to be optimistic about and certainly something we should all get involved with.

Last but not least, this month brought the brilliant news of the possibility of two different contraceptive pills being reclassified and sold over the counter in the UK. This is undoubtedly a great win for people with periods. As many will already know, it is currently only possible to get contraceptive pills after a medical examination and with a prescription, so eliminating that process would make the whole experience a lot easier. The two types of pills that are being considered for this are 2 progesterone-only pills, the Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets and Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets. While this is not a definite plan yet, it is something that has been backed by a number of important pharmaceutical companies and organisations such as Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Maxwellia and HRA Pharma. As someone who relies on the pill, I was certainly pleased with this announcement. Although it is far from certain yet, it is certainly a step in the right direction for the UK in terms of healthcare.  

If when you first began reading this article you were doubtful about the possibility of optimistic news stories, I hope I have managed to prove you wrong. While on the surface newspapers, websites and TV may seem full of bleak and frankly depressing headlines, I have found that there is also more heartwarming and hopeful reports to be found. Hopefully, this short rundown will have shown just that. These are by no means the only positive stories I came across in my search for the material for this article, but just the ones that I enjoyed the most.