The news is not often a joy to read. And when hope feels almost impossible to come by, the urge to switch off and disconnect from the headlines is entirely understandable.
But as hard as it is to believe, good things are still happening. That’s why, every Tuesday, we seek out the nuggets of joy and optimism hiding behind the gloom of the front pages.
So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…
US and China commit to climate cooperation
The USA and China have reached an agreement to “cooperate” in efforts to tackle climate change, despite being at odds on numerous other issues.
The two nations, who between them account for nearly half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have also agreed to discuss “concrete” carbon reduction targets.
It comes ahead of this week’s virtual Earth Day Summit, to which Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders he hopes will lead a new push to cut emissions.
The conference is being seen as a key opportunity to galvanise global efforts on climate change ahead of the COP26 conference later this year.
It also follows Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the 2015 Climate Accord after Donald Trump halted the USA’s participation.
Pregnant women given vaccine green light in Britain
Pregnant women in the UK should be offered the coronavirus vaccine when other people their age are being inoculated, according to new guidance from health experts.
It’s after data on the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in 90,000 pregnant women in the USA raised no concerns over safety.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation now says women should consult their doctors on the risks and benefits of vaccination before making a decision for themselves.
Until now, only pregnant women with underlying health conditions were being offered the jab, but the new advice brings the UK in line with other countries’ vaccination programmes.
However, the new guidance only currently applies only to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with more research still needed into the safety of other varieties currently in use in the UK.
New Zealand to phase out tobacco sales
New Zealand has unveiled plans aimed at outlawing smoking for its younger generations, with the aim of becoming a smoke-free country by 2025.
The proposals, which are being watched closely by other nations, include gradually increasing the legal smoking age, extending to an outright ban for anyone born after 2004.
Also on the table are minimum pricing initiatives, a significant reduction in permissible nicotine limits, and new restrictions on the sort of outlets that can sell cigarettes.
Currently, one in four cancer deaths in the country are linked to tobacco, with smoking the leading cause of death among Māori women.
Hurtful pregnancy terminology to be rewritten in viral campaign
Terms such as ‘incompetent cervix’, ‘lazy uterus’ and ‘inhospitable womb’ have no place in the care of women in 2021, according a new campaign aiming to end their usage.
Parental networking app Peanut’s viral #RenamingRevolution movement seeks to rewrite the medical terminology around pregnancy, infertility and baby loss.
Its new, free Motherhood and Fertility Glossary, released last week, suggests a host of replacement terms for outdated and insensitive language, based on research among the app’s thousands of users.
The glossary’s creators say its aim is to destigmatise the language around pregnancy and fertility to ensure a more sympathetic and inclusive medical environment for women.
Children’s charity celebrates ‘historic breakthrough’ on afro wigs
A charity that creates wigs for children who have lost their hair to cancer treatment is to begin accepting donations of afro hair for the first time.
It follows a campaign by 11-year-old schoolgirl Carly Gorton, who was initially told her afro hair was too delicate for donation to The Little Princess Trust.
The organisation says that while it has always offered afro-style wigs, it had previously been unable to find a manufacturer able to work with donated afro hair in their creation.
Now, new research in collaboration with Carly, ambassador Cynthia Stroud and London’s Raoul Wigmakers has led to a “historic breakthrough”.
The charity’s chief executive Phil Brace said: “The commitment and work that has gone on has shown just what is possible when groups of people get together and bring different skills to find a solution.”