East Asia

Lgbt pride rainbow flag during parade in the city .

South Korea’s top court upholds the rights of people in same-sex relationships in historic ruling

The landmark ruling states that benefits from South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service can be claimed by people in same-sex partnerships and that treating same-sex couples differently than heterosexual ones is “an act of discrimination that… violates human dignity and the right to pursue happiness.” South Korea does not recognize same-sex marriage under the law, so the ruling is major progress in extending the protections and rights to same-sex couples.

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Mouse

Japanese scientists reverse Alzheimer’s synapse damage in mice

Scientists from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology say they have reversed the signs of Alzheimer’s disease in lab mice by restoring the healthy function of synapses, critical parts of neurons that shoot chemical messages to other neurons. If the treatment successfully survives the gauntlet of clinical studies with human participants, it could potentially lead to a groundbreaking new treatment for humans suffering from the deadly disease.

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Beach at sunset

China announces 3-year plan to combat ocean litter and clean up coastal areas

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment and three other government bodies have announced a campaign that aims to substantially clear the garbage in coastal areas by 2025, with ongoing, regular clean-ups established by 2027, Chinese news site Sixth Tone reported. It also calls for measures to be bolstered to prevent inland waste from reaching the sea.

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Bison

Portugal welcomes first wild bison in 10,000 years as part of plan to rewild a quarter-million acres

From Poland to Romania to the U.K., European wood bison are now firmly recognized as one of the best tools for returning what little wilderness Europe has left to as wild a state as possible. In Portugal, the gradual abandonment of the Greater Côa Valley has presented an unprecedented opportunity for rewilding in the small country. The government has already set aside a quarter million acres of land for conservation.

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Aerial view of large solar farm

The world’s largest solar farm just came online in China’s Xianjiang autonomous region

The world’s largest solar farm, in the desert in northwestern Xinjiang, is now connected to China’s grid. The 3.5-gigawatt, 33,000-acre solar farm is outside Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.
Assuming an EV consumes about 3,000 kWh per year, 6.09 billion kWh could power 2.03 million EVs annually.

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Car HUD

Chinese scientists discover way to make batteries more efficient

A new water-based battery design is safer and more energy-efficient than traditional lithium-ion batteries, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences claim. Today’s lithium batteries have enabled the rise of EVs, but their flammable organic electrolytes make them a fire risk, and their energy density puts a cap on EV driving range. The new water-based design replaces those combustible components with a safer, more stable water-based electrolyte that can pack way more energy into the same space.

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Wooden satellite

Japanese scientists build world’s first wooden satellite

The satellite dubbed LignoSat, a collaboration between Kyoto University and the company Sumitomo Forestry, is reportedly slated for launch in September onboard a SpaceX rocket. If successful, the tiny device — just four inches on each side — could represent a major breakthrough in space sustainability efforts. The idea is that it’ll burn up entirely upon reentry, vastly reducing its environmental impact compared to traditional metal spacecraft.

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Coal pollution

G7 agree to close all coal-fired generating stations by 2035

Energy ministers from the G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union — agreed at a meeting in Turin, Italy, to close all coal-fired generating stations in their countries by 2035 if not sooner. Putting an end date on coal — the most polluting of all fossil fuels — has been highly controversial at international climate talks. Until this point, Japan, which derived 32% of its electricity from coal in 2023 according to the climate advocate Ember, has blocked progress on the issue at past G7 meetings.

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Mongolian yurts

Mongolia signs landmark climate finance deal for its grasslands

Mongolia’s government and a coalition of partners have signed a nature finance agreement aimed at protecting 35.6 million acres of the country’s lands and waters, including the world’s last great tract of temperate grassland. The agreement dubbed “Eternal Mongolia” will see a global donor-supported transition fund worth $71 million combined with a government commitment to spend $127 million on conservation over a 15-year period.

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