Good News


Reader's Digest International - - Contents - BY TIM HULSE

Help from on high

TECH­NOL­OGY At times of nat­u­ral dis­as­ter and con­flict, it can of­ten be hard to get aid quickly to where it’s needed. But 70-year-old en­gi­neer Nigel Gif­ford (pic­tured right), from Som­er­set, Eng­land, has come up with a novel way of get­ting round—or rather over—the prob­lem.

Gif­ford’s un­manned air ve­hi­cle, called Pouncer, can be loaded with 50kg of ra­tions, dropped from a plane and then fly in­de­pen­dently for up to 40km to its des­ti­na­tion. The Pouncer’s shell can also be used to pro­vide shel­ter, and its frame can be burnt to cook food. And a fu­ture ver­sion is planned that will be made of ed­i­ble ma­te­rial.

Gif­ford has a good track record as an in­ven­tor, hav­ing al­ready come up with a high-al­ti­tude drone that can beam in­ter­net or mo­bile phone con­nec­tiv­ity to peo­ple on the ground. That was bought by Face­book for £16m. He’s now itch­ing to get his new project out in the field. “The key is get­ting the Pouncer used for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid,” he says. “If this ex­isted now, it would be sav­ing lives in Syria.”

“I don’t mean to be too for­ward, but the fate of

my species lit­er­ally de­pends on me.” The mes­sage posted on the dat­ing app Tin­der for Su­dan, the last male north­ern white rhino on earth—as part of fundrais­ing ef­forts by con­ser­va­tion­ists to save the species.

How to be part of his­tory

HER­ITAGE Ever fan­cied own­ing your own Ital­ian cas­tle? Or how about a monastery? Well, now you can have one ab­so­lutely free, be­cause the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment is giv­ing away more than 100 his­toric build­ings.

The catch is you must com­mit to trans­form­ing your new prop­erty into a tourist fa­cil­ity, such as a ho­tel, restau­rant or spa. The idea is part of a plan to take the strain from Italy’s most over­crowded at­trac­tions and pro­mote lesser-known ar­eas.

“The project will pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of the slow tourism sec­tor,” says Roberto Reggi of the State Prop­erty Agency. “The goal is for pri­vate and public build­ings that are no longer used to be trans­formed into fa­cil­i­ties for pil­grims, hik­ers, tourists and cy­clists.”

Ocean Cleanup progress

EN­VI­RON­MENT There’s more news on Boyan Slat, Reader’s Digest’s Euro­pean of the Year.

The young Dutch­man, who’s in­vented a tech­nol­ogy to clear the oceans of mil­lions of tons of float­ing plas­tic rub­bish, has an­nounced that his Ocean Cleanup Foun­da­tion will start op­er­a­tions by next May.

Thanks to an im­proved de­sign, he be­lieves it can clear half the so­called Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch in five years. “The cleanup of the world’s oceans is just around the corner,” he claims.

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