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10 good news stories you missed in 2019
31 December 2019, 13:16
2019 has been a year full of bad news, with tragedies both at home and abroad. But it hasn't all been bad. Here are 10 stories to fill you with cheer ahead of next year.
1. You can pay for Metro journeys in Rome with used plastic bottles
Recycling became a major topic in 2019 and the authorities in Rome found an excellent way to encourage it. They launched a year-long trial scheme called Recycle + Travel.
You get 5cents for every plastic bottle you brought in, which can be used to pay for your Metro travel across the capital. At €1.50, that means 30 bottles gives you a free ride across the city.
2. Humpback whales are no longer at risk of extinction
The population of humpback whales is in recovery after it was pushed close to extinction by centuries of exploitation.
There were only a few hundred Western South Atlantic humpback whales in the 1950s. But following preservation efforts, numbers now estimated to stand at 25,000.
3. Ethiopia broke the world record for tree planting
Ethiopia planted more than 350 million trees in a day, in what officals believe is a world record.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led the project, which aims to counter the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country.
4. The Netherlands became the first country in the world with no stray dogs
There are 200million stray pets across the world, but the Netherlands became the first country to have no stray dogs at all.
Most pets in the country are adopted, while authorities implemented a country-wide sterilisation and vaccination programme.
5. A mushroom that eats plastic has been discovered
Meet Pestalotiopsis microspora - an edible mushroom in the Amazon rainforest which is capable of living by eating only plastic.
It consumes polyurethane, the main ingredient in plastic products, and converts it into organic matter. Scientists hope they could live in landfills to help reduce rubbish around the world.
5. Almost 5,000 people queued in the rain for a stem cell test to save a 5-year-old boy
When doctors in Birmingham Children's Hospital appealed for stem cell donors to help save Oscar Saxelby-Lee, who had a rare form of leukaemia, they were stunned by the response.
4,855 people queued in the rain to take the stem cell test, breaking the world record. He has undergone two stem cell treatments and is now travelling to Singapore for treatment not available on the NHS, thanks to £500,000 raised by crowdfunding.
7. UK reduced carbon emissions lowest since 1888
A fact to celebrate in the fight against climate change. The UK has reduced its carbon emissions for the sixth year in a row, the longest run of falls for 150 years. The emissions are now at their lowest rate since 1888.
And thanks to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London, toxic air pollution in the capital has fallen by roughly a third.
8. Scientists cured a man of AIDS
An HIV-positive man in Britain became the second known adult to be cleared of the AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor.
It means that a cure for AIDS is closer and a proof of the concept, but does not mean a cure for HIV has been found yet.
9. Deaths by heart diseased have halved in the UK since 2005
Heart disease is still the biggest killer in the UK. But the number of people dying decreased from 80 per 100,000 to 46 per 100,000.
Experts put the sharp fall down to the use of statins to lower their cholesterol, as well as a reduction in smoking in the UK.
10. The number killed in war is at lowest level in seven years
The number of people killed in wars around the world reached its lowest level in seven years. There have been more conflicts, but fewer people killed.
Even better, battle fatalities have fallen by 43% since 2014.