You'd never know it from the headlines, but 2022 was a great year for good news! I don't just mean the big stuff, like gas prices dropping 37% since summer, or , or .
No, I mean the good news you missed in 2022.
We begin with whales and ships.
More whales die from ship strikes than just about any other cause. But now there is good news!
Once a month, Sean Hastings and Jess Morten, who work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fly over California's shipping lanes looking for whales. Hastings has created a program that warns ships to slow down when whales are nearby.
"By slowing ships down, it gives the whales more opportunity to get out of the way," Hastings said. "And in the event that they are struck, there's a higher likelihood of survivorship. This is much akin to have a slow-speed zone around a school."
But monthly observation flights weren't cutting it. NOAA needed something that could track whales around the clock. So, the nonprofit Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory has launched buoys equipped with underwater microphones (or hydrophones) that listen for whale song, and alert nearby ships to slow down.
And they seem to be working. "We have seen a reduced number of confirmed vessel collisions in the Santa Barbara Channel," said scientist Callie Leiphardt. "So, that's a win in my book!"
There's good news for another species, too - ours! - in our quest to decarbonize the planet.
Twenty years ago, clean sources (like solar and wind energy) provided about 8% of U.S. power. This year, they accounted for a record: more than 38%!
And of all the new power capacity we built this year, 81% of it runs on renewable power. Another record!
Decarbonizing our activities is a massive, long-term project, but in 2022, we shifted into high gear!
The Plastic Problem
The fight against plastic pollution got a big bump this year, too. Canada banned most single-use plastics outright, joining 20 other countries with various bans and taxes on plastic.
Amazon is phasing out its hundreds of millions of plastic shipping envelopes in favor of paper ones that can be recycled, or that biodegrade; and Colgate developed a fully recyclable toothpaste tube … and then gave away the formula to its competitors.
But you don't have to be a huge corporation to make a difference. Just ask Sheila Morovati: "When my little girl was about 3 years old, we kept going to restaurants, and she kept getting these four free crayons that would go in the trash," she said. "And I kept thinking to myself: 'This is bizarre. Why are we throwing these things away when so many kids would just yearn for one crayon to call their own?'"
So, Morovati started CrayonCollection.org, in which restaurants donate their abandoned crayons to underfunded schools.
"Restaurants in America throw away 150 million crayons per year," said Morovati. "These are made of paraffin wax, and they do not decompose. Since we started Crayon Collection we've already collected over 22 million crayons, and we've set a Guinness world record for the most amount of crayons collected and donated in one day. We collected 1,009,500 crayons, and donated them to 700 teachers right here in Los Angeles Unified School District."
Remember these headlines? E-books will kill off printed books! Amazon will kill off bookstores!
Well, maybe not! Three hundred new independent bookstores opened this year and last, with 200 more coming soon, with far more diverse ownership than before.
Derek Tomkins and Karen Smith are owners of the Kindred Thoughts Bookstore, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. "We had to believe that, as a community bookstore, the community will support us," said Tomkins. "People come here and they say, 'Hey, I'd rather spend my money locally. I'd rather spend my money with you.'"
Pogue said, "You're fighting against convenience of one click!"
"But there's also nothing like walking into a bookstore and perusing the shelves," Smith said. "There's just nothing like turning the pages."
"This is a way to escape and find your way outside of your walls, and explore, see," Tomkins said. "Well, guess what? We got something that'll make those walls disappear for a while."
Also In the news:
If we wanted to report all the good news of the year, it'd take … a year! For starters, we'd tell you about:
- how two of Charles Darwin's notebooks, stolen from Cambridge University 22 years ago, were returned anonymously in a pink gift bag…
- the flight to Hawaii where the airline gave every passenger a ukulele and a lesson…
- the physicist who wrote Wikipedia articles for 1,750 overlooked women scientists…
- And how construction began on the world's largest wildlife crossing over 8 lanes of traffic in Los Angeles.
But instead, we'll conclude today with an update.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" has sold five million copies. But the children who sang on that 1965 recording didn't get fame or fortune. They were uncredited, and as Dave Willat, Dan Bernhard and Cary Cedarblade revealed in a "Sunday Morning" story last Christmas, they received only 15 dollars.
"It's one thing to not get paid, but you ought to get credit," said Bernhard.
But a "Sunday Morning" viewer who works at SAG-AFTRA, the actors' union, saw our story and got in touch, as Willat described: "I've been looking for these guys for 12 years!"
And so, each member of that 1965 chorus will receive royalties from 1995 forward - a $2,400 check, and a small continuing royalty stream. "Nobody's buying a vineyard in the south of France with this money," said Bernhard. "But it's recognition."
Added Willat, "We've got the record set straight, and I'm very grateful for that."
As a bonus, the record company sent each of these guys a plaque. "I will say it is a cool thing to have a platinum record - and I'm guessing it's probably the only one I'm ever going to have," said Bernhard.
"There's still time!" Willat laughed.
That's all the good news for today – actually, that's nowhere near all – but remember: Bad news breaks suddenly, but good news is happening everywhere, all the time. Good morning, everyone!
For more info:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory
- Whale Safe
- Crayon Collection
- Kindred Thoughts Bookstore, Bridgeport, Conn.
Story produced by Gabriel Falcon and Amy Wall. Editor: Mike Levine.
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