This month’s good news…
Nature: Planting a kiss
‘We’re having a miracle on Earth,’ sang Queen on their underrated 1989 single The Miracle. ‘Mother Nature does it all for us…’ It turns out Freddie Mercury and co were more prescient than they perhaps realised.
Studies have found that Mother Nature has really upped her game. Mankind is burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate, releasing carbon dioxide that adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming.
But rather than buckling under the pressure, plants are actually processing the carbon dioxide at a higher rate than before, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Ah, nature. It truly is… a kind of magic.
Rights: A gay day
Forget the angry rhetoric in some parts of the world, in others there’s some positive change taking place, especially when it comes to equal rights.
Take India, where the country’s Supreme Court has ruled that anyone who identifies as LGBT can express themselves freely without discrimination. This is a big deal, given that gay sex has up until now resulted in prison sentences.
However, the times they are a-changin’. ‘Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,’ read the court order.
It continues: ‘Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.’
My old China
When it comes to doing your bit for the planet, you’ve probably heard your more cynical friends reason: ‘There’s no point in being more environmental. It’s up to big businesses and China to do more.’
Well, China has stepped up. Big time.
The Asian powerhouse launched just under 8,000 water clean-up projects this year, with a projected investment of £80 billion. What’s more, works taking place in polluted areas are being halted.
‘For red-alert areas, government authorities will stop granting approval on relevant projects,’ stated the Chinese cabinet. ‘Enterprises causing severe environmental and resource destruction will face punishment, including fines and shutdowns.’
Food: Be still my beating heart
At Balance, we aren’t saying we rely on our coffee first thing in the morning, but if it was socially acceptable to grind those beans and snort them, then we would. But surely coffee can’t be good for you, can it? Heck, just think of your poor racing heart.
Well, according to a new study, up to four cups of coffee a day (yes, really) is good for you and can reduce the chances of premature death.
Around 20,000 middle-aged men and women were studied for an average of 10 years, and those who drank coffee regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower than those who didn’t.
‘I would advise drinking plenty of coffee, it could be good for your heart. I think it’s a good idea to have about four cups a day,’ said lead author Dr Adela Navarro.
Charity: Knitting together
Chances are you probably had or, indeed, still have an elderly relative who loved a spot of knitting. Jumpers, hats and scarves, there was nothing these nimble-fingered knitters couldn’t create.
Now, it seems, the folk behind innocent smoothies – who have been putting little woolly hats on their bottles since 2003 – want to step up their efforts to help older people.
It was recently revealed that 200,000 of our more elderly citizens say they haven’t had a conversation with friends or family for a month. This year, the innocent team has received 1.5 million little hats for their smoothies from nationwide knitters, which will be back on the bottles as we approach the colder months.
And, to help those who need and deserve it most, for each bottle sold, 25p will go straight to Age UK, the UK’s largest charity working with older people.
Health: Stand-up guy
US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel might not have the global profile of Jimmy Fallon or the now-retired David Letterman. However, having won an ongoing battle with the Republican party over its controversial Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, he landed a blow other comics could only dream of.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live host had spoken out in May when his newborn son required surgery. While he could afford the medical bills, he said, most could not.
Much sniping ensued with key Republicans, who were effectively looking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) with the Graham-Cassidy bill, which included a $243 billion cut to federal healthcare spending.
Now, the bill is dead and won’t get a vote in the Senate. Kimmel swiftly suggested a team of actual experts work on the next bill, quipping: ‘I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes you have to think inside the box.’
Psychology: Teenage kicks
The Inbetweeners was a hit because people could relate to the sitcom. Secondary school was about having a few close, like-minded mates, rather than being the kind of jock or cheerleader who was adoringly high-fived by every teen hanging round the lockers.
If you were more Simon and Neil, say, than Chad and Amber, then new research on those formative years suggests you’ll enjoy better mental health in later life.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, suggests the quality, rather than quantity, of friendships during your teenage years will serve you well.
Says lead author Rachel Narr: ‘Experiencing very positive [relationships] at that point in life may set the stage in a powerful way. Adolescence is a major time of life where people are developing their self-concepts, so having a close friend who helps you feel good about yourself…might really set people up for positive change.’
We’re not advocating punching a fish. Only Neil could get away with that.