A weekly round-up of optimism, noticed in the media:
* Chew on this: Plastic-eating enzyme hailed as breakthrough in recycling, reports The Times of London (£, popup screen-blocker)…
“Scientists from Britain and the United States believe that their work could result in an enzyme that would degrade [depolymerise] polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and turn it into its original chemical chains, ready to be used again.” “Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Gregg Beckham at NREL solved the crystal structure of PETase—a recently discovered enzyme that digests PET — and used 3D information to understand how it works. During this study, they inadvertently engineered an enzyme that is even better at degrading the plastic than the one that evolved in nature. The research team can now apply the tools of protein engineering and evolution to continue to improve it.”
* A little slip: Microengineered slippery rough surface for water harvesting from air. That’s water simply sucked from the air…
“Simon Dai was looking at combining different biological strategies to create a slippery solution for water harvesting. […] If the new SRS material is produced at scale, the team estimate they can collect over 120 liters of water per square meter of the surface per day”.
* Cashing in: “The world is getting richer or freer – probably both” given reports on the growing demand for cash, says the Adam Smith Institute.
* The tide turns: UK Government announces £61 million package to tackle marine litter.
* Dutch swingers: Dutch happier says hope barometer.
“The Happiness Economics Research Organisation and the Institute for Leadership and Social Ethics, asked 1,600 Dutch people about their hopes for the future and analysed the results” […] “for the first time there were more positive than negative people in the country”.
* It’s popped!: Population boom: not a problem. Even in the big nations in Africa…
“… it’s looking as if the dire predictions of Malthus and Ehrlich will never come to pass. Unlike other animals, humanity has voluntarily limited its reproduction. The population bomb has probably been defused.”
* Perusing the future: Low-income young adults in Peru show the effects of hope on life outcomes. A rare grassroots study of why and how the young in the developing world are so optimistic. In Peru they are…
“… growing up at a time in Peru that poverty has been falling markedly, while a nascent — and very visible — lower middle class is emerging, as in many other emerging market economies.”
* ‘Have a heart, old chap’: Optimistic people ‘less likely to have heart attacks’ reports Spectator Health.
* The view from Nebo: From 1950s rationing to modern high-tech boom: Israel’s economic success story, from The Times of Israel ($, popup screen-blocker).
* Beating the bush: Tiny Aboriginal community in remote bush builds $6 million airport, runs it themselves at a profit, and after seven years have just paid off the loan…
“Djarindjin Airport on the Dampier Peninsula, 75 miles north of Broome, has become a one-of-a-kind in Australia as it is fully staffed and managed by local indigenous workers with zero tolerance to drugs and alcohol. The operation provides work for about 20 people from Djarindjin and surrounding Aboriginal communities Ardyaloon and Beagle Bay and is expected to do so for many years to come … At the moment airport teams are hot refuelling up to 24 helicopters daily…”