Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some good news for planet Earth

Thanks very much to RTBH reader Emily for sending in this article from the Good News Network, which highlights seven positive steps taken in recent years that will benefit the environment. GNN surveyed a range of leaders from NGOs and public bodies to identify the list, which ranges from the emerging consensus on and response to climate change, and the growing competitiveness - and attractiveness - of renewable energy, through to the importance of the internet in mobilizing social change. All this does give some cause for optimism that we are at least moving in the right direction, even if we are not yet "at one" with our planet. Let's hope that we have even more than seven good stories to tell when we look back again in 10 years time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nature rebounds

Thanks to RTBH reader Paul for sending me this article today, which comes from the UK's Guardian newspaper. It's perfect for Earth Day! And, funnily enough, it echoes something I posted about this time last year - post 187 on April 15th 2008 - about the amazing recovery of destroyed coral reefs. In that case, the reefs concerned had been damaged by underwater testing of nuclear warheads. Today's article considers the Great Barrier Reef near Australia, part of which was bleached a few years ago due to warm seas and a suffocating seaweed that covered it. However, the reef has grown back, in very little time, amazing scientists with its resilience. The case is significant as it shows damaged reefs can recover swiftly if presented with the right conditions - previously, it was thought they needed to reproduce over many years. There's no room for complacency, though. Many of the world's reefs have died off in recent years. They'll recover if left to their own devices, it seems - provided we keep the seas around them healthy. A 'natural compact', if you like...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hidden talent has opportunity to shine

If you haven't yet heard of Susan Boyle, then you're not spending enough time on the internet! ;-) The 47-year-old singer from the small community of Blackburn, West Lothian (Scotland) wowed the world with her stunningly beautiful voice recently, when she appeared on the UK TV show "Britain's Got Talent" - a performance that has since been watched over 5 million times on YouTube by viewers around the world. An interesting opinion piece on Susan's performance, and the studio audience reaction, is linked from the post title above. It's from the Scottish newspaper The Herald; another article, this time from MSNBC is linked here. But to be honest, you just have to witness her performance. She's going to go a long way, and thrill so many more people, with her gorgeous voice - that's for sure. (Photo from MSNBC.)

And, as if that wasn't enough talent, check out another act from the same show here. Hilariously funny, this duo - a British man of Greek Cypriot heritage and his 12-year-old son - had the TV audience and me in tears of laughter. I pretty much guarantee they'll cheer you up too.

But, there's more to this story. First, it says wonderful things about Britain - its rich diversity, its 'have a go' mentality, and the ability so many British people have to keep their feet on the ground and not take themselves too seriously while at the same time celebrating their talents. Some of the many things I like about my birth nation! Second, it just makes you think about how much more talent is surely out there, not just in Britain but around the world. Great minds, great voices, stunning abilities in all walks of life... What if all that richness of humanity were exposed and had an opportunity to shine? To delight all those who witnessed it? That really would make the world a brighter place. I hope fervently that we see that kind of equality of opportunity in my lifetime. "Britain's Got Talent" is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's a dog's life

Many thanks must go to RTBH readers Ol and Liz for spotting this story today and sending it in. (They saved my blushes, in fact, as RTBH has been a tad neglected recently - I was ill for a bit, then on vacation recovering!) But it's a lovely tale, from the UK"s Telegraph newspaper, about a very tough and clever dog. Sophie Tucker (yes, that's the dog's name) was on a boat with her owners off Australia's Queensland coast when she fell overboard. Her owners searched for hours, but they'd missed her. She swam five nautical miles to an island inhabited only by other animals - including baby goats, which she eventually feasted on to survive. Human rangers appeared on the island and they spotted her looking out of place. Fortunately, her owners were still searching for her and they were soon reunited. Everyone reckons it was a miracle she survived, what with the sharks and all... I'd have to agree. I don't think I'd have made it - and as a vegetarian I wouldn't have been eating many goats either... (Photo AFP from the Telegraph.)