Bonus Episode 41 - Breaking News: Good News That Will Make You Happy | Ft. Stephen

Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

In a world that can feel overwhelmingly negative, it’s important to take a step back and recognise the positive things happening around us. In this episode of the British English podcast, host Charlie Baxter and guest Stephen Devincenzi, from Send7, discuss positive news stories from around the world. They cover topics ranging from medicine to advancements in sustainability, including a promising new cancer vaccine and an increase in electric car sales. So, if you’re looking for a pick-me-up and some good news to brighten your day, tune in to this episode and join Charlie and Stephen as they celebrate the uplifting news stories that often go unnoticed. 

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MEET TODAY'S GUEST

Stephen Devincenzi

Simple English News Daily Podcast Host
Stephen Devincenzi is an English teacher and news junkie who runs the Simple English News Daily podcast. Simple English News Daily (also known as SEND7), is a 7-minute podcast released Monday to Friday, which tells the most important news from all over the world in upper-intermediate English.
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Transcript of Premium Bonus 041 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the British English podcast. I'm using a ChatGPT introduction. I asked it "Give me one regarding this episode" and here's what it sounds like. So let's go. I'm your host, Charlie Baxter, and today I have a special treat for you. We'll be shining a light on some of the positive news stories from 2023 that you might have missed. In a world where it can feel like negativity is everywhere, it's important, I think, to highlight the good news that often goes unnoticed. And before we dive into our fascinating conversation, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a fantastic podcast that I've recently discovered, and I know you'll love it too. It's called "Send7" and it's hosted by the brilliant Stephen Devincenzi. Send7 is all about providing you with a daily seven-minute rundown of the most important global news stories delivered in clear and concise English. So if you're looking to keep up with current events while also polishing your English skills, Send7 is the perfect podcast for you. Let's introduce Stephen and yeah, see what stories we have to unveil for you. How are you doing, Stephen? Thank you for joining me today.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I am very well, thank you, Charlie. It's great to be here.

Charlie:
Good. You told me off-air that you're in Canterbury, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's absolutely right. I'm in Canterbury, which is in the southeast of England, and it's most famous for the home of Canterbury Cathedral, which is the centre of the English Church, the Church of England.

Charlie:
Church of England as in Henry the Eighth? Like, put that on the map?

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is exactly right. Funny story. He wanted to get divorced and you couldn't get divorced in the Catholic Church, so he started his own religion just so that he could get divorced. Well, that's the short version of the story. That's how the Church of England was made. It's still the most popular religion in England today.

Charlie:
Yeah, it is incredible. It's also confusing because he beheaded quite a few of his wives, and I feel like if he was up for beheading somebody, does he really feel the need that the church will agree with him to, you know, remarry in the name of God?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I've often thought the same thing. If somebody has the power to chop off people's heads, surely he would have the power to just divorce someone as well. Or why didn't he just chop off their heads as well? If I knew more about this history, then I'd be able to tell you. Maybe next time we have a chat, I'll be able to tell you exactly why he needed to create his own religion instead of just chopping off all their heads. But it went... Had six, wasn't it? Divorced, beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's what we learned.

Charlie:
Yeah. It is something that we learn. And you just told me again off-air that you are also a primary school teacher. And was it in primary school that we learned this or secondary school?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I think I probably learnt that in secondary school, though obviously not well enough because I should be able to tell the whole story of Henry the Eighth and I can't. But there we go.

Charlie:
Yeah, I suppose it's quite a vicious story for kids under the age of 10 or 11.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Can I just say I heard that fantastic intro written by ChatGPT? Thank you, ChatGPT. I just wanted to say that just before talking to you now, I listened to your last episode of the British English podcast, where you compared two stories where you were meeting Alan Partridge - one written by ChatGPT and one written by you. And I've got to say, after I listened to the ChatGPT one that you read first, I thought, "Wow, that is amazing. I can't believe that it's able to make..."

Charlie:
It's impressive, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
It's really impressive. But but but I'm very happy to say that after listening to yours, I thought actually that was way better. Had a lot more personality, it was more fun. I think it got the idea of who Alan Partridge was more than ChatGPT was able to do. So you're not going to lose your job anytime soon.

Charlie:
Phew. That's good to hear. Yeah, I'm glad that you appreciated that there was hopefully a bit of a human touch to the second story. I did think that in the episode I could say you can tweak the stories. You can say, okay, that wasn't that funny. Give it a bit more humour. Okay, that needs a bit more depth. But then I thought that would be quite hard to beat, so I didn't want to do that. So Stephen, you do a podcast called Send7 and you're focusing on telling the news in very clear, concise English every single day, right? Every single day?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, Monday to Friday.

Charlie:
Monday to Friday, yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Got Saturday and Sunday off though, so...

Charlie:
Give him a break, especially Sunday, day of rest. You've been doing that for, I think you said just over or just about to be three years as of the date at the moment, which is at the end of April 2023. Is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Last week, last Monday, it was three years of doing it at least five times a week. Great milestone. Yeah. For anybody who hasn't listened, simple English News Daily is exactly that. So every day it's seven minutes of a quick run around the world. We always have two stories from each continent. At least two, sometimes three, sometimes four. A couple of stories from Africa, a couple of stories from Europe, a couple of stories from the Americas, a couple of stories from Asia and Oceania told in the most simple way that they can be told.

Charlie:
Nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And the English level is generally kind of upper intermediate, maybe kind of B2 level. Sometimes it gets into kind of C1 level if it's not possible to simplify a story even more than that. But that's the kind of level that it normally ends up as.

Charlie:
I can imagine, it might be difficult to simplify some stories. So you take two from each continent more or less each day. When I was living in Australia, I sometimes felt like they leaned on European news a lot more, especially when it wasn't a big day in the office in Australia. There wasn't much going on. Do you feel like the news in Oceania is not always as lively? I mean, it's probably a good thing. If there's not news, it's normally that life is going okay.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, I think there's a good reason why there's probably not as much news from Australia and Oceania. And that is because there's just far, far, far less people in that part of the world than everywhere else. I think the total population of Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands is only something like between 1 and 2% of the world's population, whereas the population of Asia is more than half of the world's population. It's kind of... Most news is driven by humans. It's kind of understandable that there's more news from, well, especially Asia, but every other continent compared to Oceania. Sorry, Oceania, but kind of makes sense.

Charlie:
Yeah, no, that makes sense. One, because I often felt like I was in the middle of nowhere or right at the bottom of the world and no one was around. And then the other one, I suppose the big stories, the animals like the shark attacks, they get a lot of press.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, well there are a lot of incredible animal problems that you get in Australia that you just don't have in most other places, right?

Charlie:
Yeah, that's true.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. It's never going to happen that in England or in France you have a crocodile attack or people having to be taken to hospital because they've been bitten by a snake or a spider or something. Had a boxing match with a kangaroo.

Charlie:
I also really appreciate how in England now where I am when I go through like a dusty cupboard or like I clean the corner or I put a plug in the corner or something like that, and it's got cobwebs, I'm not fearful. I'm just like, ah, it's only a cobweb and a little spider. I have heard that there are some in the UK that might be a bit naughty, but yeah, generally I feel really confident going into a cobweb in England, which is fantastic, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally. Yeah. I worked on a strawberry farm in Australia for a couple of months a long, long time ago and the farmer told us that where we leave our shoes, we have to block our shoes, like put some socks in there or something to make sure that when we put our feet in our shoes in the morning, there isn't a spider in there which is going to bite us.

Charlie:
Yeah, right. So you did, you did the farming. So you must have done at least a year to two years in Australia, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, actually I was only in Australia for, for one year. But yeah, I spent a couple of months on a strawberry farm. Anyway, just for the experience. Make a bit of money picking some strawberries.

Charlie:
Oh I see, okay. That's interesting because most people fear that part and they're like, "Oh, do I really want to do it? I really, really want another year in Australia. Okay, I'll do it. I'll sacrifice a month or two and it's very harsh conditions there." Did you find it was difficult?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, it was torrential rain or incredible heat, you know, 40 degrees or something, which makes it either way really, really difficult to pick strawberries. Yeah, good experience anyway.

Charlie:
Wow, okay. Right. Lovely to have you here. And as we said in the introduction or ChatGPT prompted, we will be talking about the news and we'll be doing some positive stories that Stephen has suggested that would be good to go through that have come up in the earlier part of this year, is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Or over the last year.

Charlie:
Over the last year. Okay. So the first one is within the category of medicine. I feel like I should be shuffling some papers right now and pretending to be a co-anchor on a news channel. Yeah, news just in. We have a possible cure for HIV. Is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. In fact, there's already been, I believe, five people who have actually been cured of HIV, which is really, really incredible because this is something which has existed for probably about 100 years and has been total epidemic since the 1980s and unfortunately still kills a lot of people today. But over the last year or two, there's been, I think, five people now who have actually been completely cured. And the way that that has happened is by having a stem cell transplant, which has resulted from a person who is immune to or resistant to HIV into the person with HIV. And that has actually resulted in these people being cured.

Charlie:
Wow. Okay. I've heard about stem cell. I thought it was normally for if you've got an injury or like a bad joint and you then get some stem cells put in that joint somewhere around the joint and then it kind of regrows positive, good, well-behaved cells and then the pain goes away. Is that also the same? Is that stem cell research?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think you are right, yeah. And I think that what you're talking about might be cells from your own body, I think. But in this case, it would be from somebody else being put in there. I'm not overly qualified to talk about this subject because I'm not a doctor, but from what I know, this has been done and saved a few people. But the reason that it can't be just used for everybody is because there are some risks associated with it. So they can't roll it out completely to everyone. But scientists are hoping that these first few people that have actually been cured is the start of other people being cured in a less risky way.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is so, so positive. And yeah, it's amazing how the news really does focus on... What do they say? "If it bleeds, it leads." That's the kind of trend in journalism in the headline of the newspaper, the front page. If it's negative, it goes first. So why do you think that is?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, actually, that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be able to come on here today onto your podcast to talk about some good news in general, because really, I think what makes headlines every day are instantaneous new things that have happened in the world and generally, they are bad. Good news normally develops slowly over a long time. So, for example, with this: people being cured of HIV, it's a process which takes a really, really long time of many, many scientists or doctors and people working on some medicine, which takes a long, long time to be produced and then used. If you compare that to an earthquake where some people die, the earthquake makes the news because it happened yesterday, because it happened this morning, whereas a new vaccine or something like that is a really slow development, even though in the end it may save hundreds, thousands, millions of people, it doesn't have a specific day where it is done, which is why it's more difficult to find the moment to include it in the news. I always try to have some good news in simple English News Daily because I am aware of that. There you go.

Charlie:
Yeah, that makes so much sense. Of course. Yeah. It's a slow progressive, like a grind. Like you've got to really work hard to make a good thing happen. And yeah, an accident can happen instantly, can't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Absolutely.

Charlie:
And I don't know why I'm thinking of car... Like... Car crashes, but you never really report: "5000 successful journeys happened today."

Stephen Devincenzi:
Be a little bit boring, wouldn't it?

Charlie:
It would be. It would be. I was told once that it's our negativity bias. When we were learning how to be civilised, it would be more important to remember where the snake was rather than the berries because if we forget where the snake was, we're dead, but if we forget where the berries are, we've got another day to learn where new berries are. So we're kind of...

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's a good point.

Charlie:
...Naturally drawn towards negativity because it's survival instinct kind of makes sense in my mind with that kind of analogy, that simplistic...

Stephen Devincenzi:
I don't have any data on this, but because you mentioned it, I think that the amount of people who die or have injuries from car crashes, in general, is actually just going down all the time as well so that's a positive point...

Charlie:
Very nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
...To say, even though I don't have any statistics on that right now.

Charlie:
There's a really nice book on this that got a lot of heat, actually. Ah, can I even remember the title and the author?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Is it Steven Pinker?

Charlie:
Yes, thank you. Can you remember it? The title.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, yeah. "Better Angels of Our Nature".

Charlie:
I think it was...

Stephen Devincenzi:
He's written a few, but that's his general thesis. But yeah, I really like Steven Pinker. He makes some really, really good points.

Charlie:
Is it "Enlightenment Now"?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's the more recent one. Yeah, the one that I said was a bit older, but it's similar.

Charlie:
The case for reason, Science, humanism and progress he's gone through.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I haven't read that one. I've read... It's... His books are... Each one of them is like a Bible, they're so big. I've got the "Better Angels of Our Nature" on my bookshelf, which is half read and it's brilliant, but people keep putting other books on top of it and telling me, "Oh, you've got to read that one first." So sorry, Steven, but yeah, but he's really it's quite inspirational because it's really simple things that you just don't think about that just actually make the world seem better than it's ever been because it actually is, statistically.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And talking of which, let's go on to the next positive news story. News just in. Malaria vaccine approved? Can we say approved?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, more or less. And this one is actually very new because I think Ghana was the first country to properly approve it, this Oxford malaria vaccine, just two weeks ago. And since then, I think a couple of other countries, possibly Nigeria, have also given their approval for this vaccine. The Serum Institute of India is going to make 20 million doses available this year. And according to trials done by Oxford in Burkina Faso, it's 80% effective, which is pretty good when you've got this disease which still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. This is looking really, really hopeful.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is. I donate to a charity that focuses on providing malaria-repellent mosquito nets. They've been like dosed in it, I guess, or like they've got the repellent around them and it's like $2 for one net that would cover two adults for three years. And I've been really, really invested in that. But...

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is so good, Charlie, yeah.

Charlie:
Thank you. It is really, really nice to feel like I can do that but it's like such a small part that I do right now, but I want to continue to do more. But it's obviously: prevention is better than the cure.

Stephen Devincenzi:
It's a funny coincidence that you should mention that you give money to a malaria charity, actually, because my podcast Send7 donates 10% of its profit to effective altruism charities, which is just this kind of... It's not a charity itself, it's an organisation which chooses which charities are the most effective places to donate in terms of either saving lives or improving lives. And malaria charities are always at the top. Effectively, if you want to make your money go the furthest and just save the most lives and or improve the most lives, malaria charities are always at the top of the ones that are the most effective.

Charlie:
Is this the one called The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, I'm not sure if that's a charity or an...

Charlie:
It's an organisation. So yeah, it's an organisation that kind of vets the charities and then it puts them at the top and then it kind of suggests which ones are the most effective per dollar.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, this is exactly the same. I'm not sure if they're connected to effective altruism.

Charlie:
Oh, I have heard about that, effective altruism, yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think I've I've heard of Peter Singer as well. I think I might have read something by him. I'm not sure if those two things are connected or not.

Charlie:
Yes, they are. Yeah. Yeah. I've just checked on Wikipedia, Peter Singer comes up. Oh, there we go. Give to the same thing. Nice. Preventative rather than the cure. I'm getting at the point that I'm giving to provide nets, but obviously better would be to find the cure to this disease rather than a net. So that's fantastic. That would save like surely the most amount of lives possible.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally, yeah. I think at the moment something like 600,000 people die every year of malaria, which is actually less than it has been. I think that's actually half of what it was just 20 years ago. So it is coming down already through other actions. There is a wide spread of a malaria vaccine, which it looks like there should be very soon. Then it should come down even more dramatically. And one of the best things about this vaccine from Oxford is that it seems to be pretty cheap and quite easy to transport and store. I don't know if you remember during the COVID-19 pandemic that one of the problems that we had with some of the vaccines was that they were well, some of them were just very expensive anyway, but also they had to be stored at minus whatever degrees and they only lasted for a couple of weeks or something like that. And that was a big problem. But with these vaccines, they're pretty cheap, I'm not sure exactly how much, and they don't need to be kept at any particular temperature and they last for two years or something. They should be pretty easy to distribute.

Charlie:
Very good. Yes, I do remember that. Yeah, it was interesting. That is another hurdle already overcome. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Possible cure for HIV, malaria vaccine in the works. And the last medicine-based news bulletin is "cancer vaccine by the end of the decade." That seems very hard to believe. Is that...?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I know.

Charlie:
Is that legit?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I know it does. Yeah. From what I can see. Yeah. The only thing is, I'm not sure if vaccine is the right word because this is a kind of technology. I'm not sure what you call it where they take a little bit of the cancer. If somebody's already got cancer, they would take a little bit of that cancer before they destroy it. And then they make a vaccine specifically for that person made up of or including the cancer that that they have, just that they've taken out of them. And it's to stop that cancer from ever coming back. So it's for people who have already had cancer to stop them from regressing, as they say, having that cancer come back. The tests are quite new, but they seem to be very effective so far.

Charlie:
Wow. So do we know a name of it like immunotherapy, I think was a fairly new cancer treatment in the last decade, I think. We've got chemo and radiotherapy, but immunotherapy I heard, was the latest and so this one, not quite a vaccine or maybe it's like a tailor-made vaccine.

Stephen Devincenzi:
It seems to be a tailor-made vaccine.

Charlie:
Tailor-made vaccine.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Right. We're extending the... We're reaching the extent of my medical knowledge.

Charlie:
Fair enough. Well, I mean, seven minutes to tell what, 14 stories? Is that right? Do you fit 14 stories in?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Uh, no. Maybe... Maybe ten.

Charlie:
Ten stories. Still, you've got to get through them. So it's kind of like the headlines and a bit of info and then move on. Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's right.

Charlie:
Do you think that your general awareness of the global news has improved significantly since doing this podcast?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I was always a news junkie. I've always been somebody who reads a lot and watches a lot and listens to a lot of news anyway. But yeah, I suppose now I've just been able to do it all the time and without feeling guilty about the time that I'm spending reading it, which is good.

Charlie:
And you said, you said earlier that you listened to the news in different languages to learn those languages. That's... Is that still important to you? So do you listen to it in was it French and Spanish?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I listen to something in French every day. I'm lucky that my girlfriend is Spanish so I can talk to her in Spanish whenever I like. And that's easier. But yeah, one of the main kind of drives for creating Simple English News Daily was really the fact that I learned a lot of Spanish and French just by keeping up with the news in those languages. So listening to the radio, listening to podcasts since I got a smartphone in 2018 or something. Yeah, a really big motivating factor for me. And yeah, I still listen to this podcast called "RFI" on what's it called? "Journal en Francais Facile", like a simple French journal or something. Yeah, just kind of a French news roundup every day. That's great.

Charlie:
You're a great friend to have for people like me who don't really tune into the news on a day-to-day basis. Because, you know, if you've got these friends, then you'll never be without the really, really significant headlines because they will always keep you up to date. Do you do that with some of your friends?

Stephen Devincenzi:
What do you mean exactly?

Charlie:
Do you update some of your friends? Like if you go down to the pub and then you're like catching up, do you mention any of the big stuff that you feel like some of them might not know?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I don't know, maybe. I probably allow them to ask me if they want to. And, you know, I've got some friends who are really into world events and want to talk about that stuff. And then I've got some people who just aren't interested and that's fine.

Charlie:
Yeah, the ones that aren't interested, you don't suddenly get your like Spotify app out and press play on your latest episode and you start miming it in front of them?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, not at all. Although I do know a few people who say that they listen to Send7 because they don't want to listen to the news in general. They're not interested in the rest of it. So they know that they can just go seven minutes and I'm done.

Charlie:
Oh, that's a great point. Really good. Yeah, I like that. I might do that. Yeah. Good call. Right, guys, we're going to carry on into part two and three with some juicy other news stories. But if that's all you have time for today, then thank you very much for listening and I encourage you to head over to Send7 where Stephen keeps people updated with Daily News. "Simple English News Daily." That's the right slogan, yeah?

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is absolutely right. It's "Simple English News Daily" in your podcast apps or you can go to send7.org on the internet.

Charlie:
Perfect.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's it.

Charlie:
Cool. Okay, guys, we'll see you next week. But thank you very much. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. Okay, guys, welcome back to part two. We were going to go on to the next story or category, and this was energy/planet. The first news story was about solar panels. Stephen, what's going on with solar panels?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Solar panels are going up all around the world. They're going up very, very quickly. I've even noticed it in my local area actually, that every now and then I'm just driving in a country place and I see some solar panels in a field and I think, wow, that's that wasn't there last year or something. Officially, there are now enough solar panels installed in the world to power all of Europe, according to some studies that I've seen. Now, of course, it doesn't mean that we can just power Europe from solar panels because these solar panels, which are enough to power all of Europe, are dispersed all around the world, have a very wide distribution. And also one of the technologies which is lagging behind a bit is the storage of the energy. When you make energy from solar panels, you have to store it somewhere and sometimes if it's not used quickly enough, then it's not usable. But anyway, it's coming up quickly and it's becoming more and more useful for the world. Germany in 2022 produced 46% of its energy from renewable sources, which is more than ever before.

Charlie:
That is fantastic. I knew that Germany were ahead of the game with all of the renewable energy resources. Yeah, that would be really good. Obviously for the whole crisis going on at the moment. The problem is though, that the electricity has to be used instantly. So what could be a... We need maybe like an oven underneath it. If you're not using it, you can heat the oven and get something in there straight away to not waste the electric.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Cook some bread straight away.

Charlie:
Cook some bread. Sourdough, yeah. Put it in there, bake the bread and then sell it and then...

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah.

Charlie:
...Use that money for something.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Actually, even on a personal level, like I was looking at the possibility of getting solar panels installed on my house. And one of the problems was that even if you have solar panels, which you know, they're quite expensive, you also have to buy separately some kind of battery to be able to store that energy in. Otherwise you can't really use it or you have to use it instantly, which is not great for if you want to be using it at night when you're not getting any more energy from it. But the price of all of these things is coming down quickly as well. So hopefully having a solar panel installed on your house should be much less in the next few years as well.

Charlie:
Yeah, that'd be nice. Yeah, it's a big thing in Australia. I remember a lot of people work on solar panel like installations I guess because they've got a lot of sun.

Stephen Devincenzi:
They do have a lot of sun, yeah.

Charlie:
And a lot of like ground to, you know, soak up all those rays.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally, yeah.

Charlie:
Better to soak the rays up with a solar panel than our skin down there. Dangerous.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. And there's also some windows which are being created which can generate electricity as well.

Charlie:
Oh, wow. How?

Stephen Devincenzi:
They have little solar panels inside them. Or they're called cells or solar cells or something, but they are transparent. You can still see through them. They can actually be in your windows and generating electricity at the same time. And from what I've seen, there is a building in Switzerland which has just been made with them already installed. So it can just through the windows be generating some electricity. But at the moment that is still very, very expensive and doesn't generate enough electricity for it to be worth it. But that is another technology to look out for.

Charlie:
Yeah, look out for that one. And especially if you're playing football near it, don't break that glass.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Definitely not.

Charlie:
Very expensive. Yeah, you'd have to be a very forgiving parent to not tell your child off that has kicked a football in that window.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Definitely don't put it in anywhere near where children could be playing football.

Charlie:
Yeah, good tip. Okay, so that's solar panelling and electricity generated in windows. Have you heard anything about the ones in the water? Like they're kind of just bobbing up and down?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Solar panels on water?

Charlie:
No, not solar panels. It's like taking the energy from the movement of the wave. It's kind of like a buoy just sitting there and it's getting energy.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I think I heard about that a long time ago, but I haven't heard anything about it recently. No. Do you know anything about that?

Charlie:
I just saw some tiktoks about it being a thing, so I was excited by the idea of it because there's so much movement in the oceans like all the time, so much, so much movement that we could probably utilise, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah.

Charlie:
The next one you wanted to mention was a nuclear fusion experiment that generated more energy than it used. I did actually follow this one... Excited to hear.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Oh, you did? Good.

Charlie:
Go on, tell me.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Good, good. Well, maybe you can add something on, but really, I feel like this should have been bigger news than it was because it was the first time that scientists have ever well, they've used this nuclear fusion, which I believe is combining two nuclei or something. Anyway, the most important thing is that in the experiment they created more energy than they used to create the fusion. So the amount of energy has gone up, which has never been done before. So the idea is that if this was done again and again and again, it could just be a forever source of energy. You wouldn't have to use anything else for it. Apparently, this is still quite a long way away. You know, maybe 30 or 40 years. But once this would be completely under our control, we wouldn't have to worry about how we are going to generate electricity ever again. We would just be able to use this.

Charlie:
Yeah, I heard about it, got really excited and I thought, "Oh, this is the end of all of our problems." And then it said 2050. I was like, "Oh, come on, sooner." So yeah, we've got to wait until then, I guess if it still goes according to plan. Yeah. So the answer may be oversimplifying everything. We need to get as many wind farms out there for the next 30 years, survive on that, not go mental, you know, using too much electricity for 30 years. And then once we get that technology secured, we can go crazy. We can have a big party in 2050.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. An electricity party.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Turn all the lights on.

Charlie:
Yeah. Maybe do like flashing on and off.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Disco balls.

Charlie:
Yeah. My simple thought of that clear fusion. It doesn't really do much for most people. I would say. Correct me if I'm wrong, it's like tinkering with two little atoms. I think it's smaller than atoms, isn't it? But they're basically tinkering with it so that they get confused and then they create loads of energy from that because they're out of balance or something like that. And then that is multiplied to the point where you just could get an abundant source of energy from just creating that change. But that change at the moment is a huge amount of effort on our behalf, which is why it's not very good at the moment, because we're putting like, you know, ten kettle's worth for one kettle. We're putting that much energy into it to get one kettle's worth of energy, for example.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. That's a great explanation. Next time somebody asks me, I'm going to use that instead. That was great. Yeah.

Charlie:
I'm not sure if you're being polite, but okay, yeah. Good.

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, no, no, seriously. And actually, from what I was reading and watching, that was pretty much it.

Charlie:
Okay, nice. All right. The next one is electric car sales are up.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This is just generally good news because using electric cars is better for the planet than our petrol and diesel cars. And in 2022, the number of cars, electric cars sold was double what it was in 2021, just in one year. So that's really, really fast. Norway now, 80% of cars sold are electric vehicles.

Charlie:
That's impressive.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Which is amazing. And even in China, which is one of the world's biggest polluters, 1 in 3 sold is electric as well. So that's really, really impressive. In the United States, it's still quite low. It's only 6%, but that is actually double what it was the year before. Still, it's coming up quickly. And the US has just made some new subsidies for people buying electric cars. If you buy a new one, you can get $7,500 off your tax bill. And if you get a second-hand one, you can get $4,000 off your tax bill. So hopefully even the United States should start selling a lot more electric vehicles this year.

Charlie:
Right, yeah. I'm surprised by 6%. Only 6%. They've got Tesla.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, very far behind. Yeah. I wonder whether part of the problem with this is that the United States generally has lower petrol prices than most other places or gas, as they say in the States.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And I think that's just because of this popular demand. They make a lot of petrol in the US. It's one of these election winners, you know, nobody wants to say that they're going to put the price of petrol up so they don't.

Charlie:
I see.

Stephen Devincenzi:
So yeah, I think because of that, it kind of takes them a bit behind everybody else.

Charlie:
I see.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I'm not sure.

Charlie:
Going back a second to the one on... The stat on China, I suppose it should be fair to say that there's... what percentage... Is it an eighth of the world is in that country?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I would have thought it would be a bit more than that.

Charlie:
More.

Stephen Devincenzi:
So there's 8 billion people in the world as of about a month ago, I think. When was it? It was very recently we reached the 8 billion. The other major population news which is happening right now in April of 2023, is that India is going to overtake China as the most populous country in the world. But they both have 1.4 billion people. I guess about what would that be, a seventh of the planet or something like that?

Charlie:
Oh, my goodness me. I can't believe that, because China is at least double, triple the size of India.

Stephen Devincenzi:
In area...

Charlie:
Geographical, kind of relation.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, probably something like that. Yeah. India is very densely populated. In fact, the UK is one of the most densely populated places in Europe. But even though India has 20 times more people than the UK, it's also more densely populated than the UK.

Charlie:
Oh gosh, I would imagine Hong Kong is up there, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, but Hong Kong's cheating because it's so small. So it's...

Charlie:
Sorry, guys, you're cheating.

Stephen Devincenzi:
All of these microstates, they kind of... Statistics kind of get thrown out of whack when you've got microstates in there.

Charlie:
Good. Good phrase: thrown out of whack. Yeah. I like that one.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Yeah. I'm not sure I might have just invented it.

Charlie:
No, no, no. I've used that before. And I was. You know, when you're, you're thinking of the word that they're about to say, I was thinking, is he going to say whack? Yeah. Yeah. Thrown out of whack? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Electric cars is a bit confusing for some people because they're like, well, you know, the resources it takes to replace what you're needing for the electric batteries. The cobalt mining is a very big ethical issue at the moment. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think that the reality is that we are humans who have got used to using cars. And I know it's obviously I think it's a good idea to try to incentivise using public transport and things like that which could be better for the planet. But I think the reality is that we are still going to want to use cars and trying to ask people to become less comfortable just doesn't really work. It's a very, very difficult thing to do to try and ask, you know, billions of people to try to lose this way of life that they're currently used to. I think we have to think about a world in which people are using cars. Yeah, electric cars are even though yeah, they've got lots of bits in them which may not be good for the planet, it's still better than petrol and diesel cars which are constantly using fossil fuels every moment that you're driving them.

Charlie:
True. And I think in 2030 the UK is going to be banning the sale of new petrol cars. 2030.

Yeah, that's right.

Charlie:
That's around the corner, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, it is. It is around the corner. Totally. Yeah. We've still got a lot of ground to cover because I'm not sure what the percentage is now, but it's still, I think it's single digits in the UK, electric cars being sold. So it's going to have to go up very, very quickly.

Charlie:
Yeah, right. Well, that again positive news though, yeah. We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode to take a break from your listening practice and come back to the last part when you're ready. All right. So moving on to part three now. Enjoy. Okay, let's get to the plastic bans that are working.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yes, that is right.

Charlie:
Plastic as in plastic bags?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, plastic bags. There's other types of plastic bans as well. I know it's confusing because I'm saying plastic bag and plastic ban. Plastic bag bans. Over 100 countries, so that's more than half of the world's countries, have introduced some type of plastic ban. Generally, it's things like it's illegal to make or sell single-use plastic bags or single-use plastic in general. And all of the evidence seems to show that they're working very well. So the world is producing and using less single-use plastic, which is really good for the planet in the long term. Some of the best statistics I've seen on this are actually from the UK and Ireland, where a few years ago it became the law that the supermarkets or all shops had to charge people for single-use plastic bags and they only charged £0.05, which is next to nothing. It's very, very low, but straight away, within a year, I think, the amount of single-use plastic bags that were used dropped by 90%.

Charlie:
What, 90%? Just from the suggestion of making it mandatory to do £0.05 purchases of a bag?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. Yeah. And now it's actually changed again a bit more since then because now you really don't even see single-use plastic bags in supermarkets anymore. But I think it was a few years ago when they introduced this £0.05 rule, but just after that £0.05 for your single-use plastic bag, the amount that were being used, the amount that people bought dropped by 90%. So, so fast. All over the world, people are generally getting used to this idea, which people didn't do 20 years ago, that when you go shopping, you bring your own bag. Do you bring your own bags now when you go shopping, Charlie?

Charlie:
Putting me on the spot but yes, I definitely do take my own bags to the supermarket. I get very annoyed if I've forgotten and often I'll even... It's confusing because sometimes I'll be calculating is it worse to emit more fossil fuels, to drive halfway back, to get the bags or to go in and buy another one?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, totally. And I've sometimes been the person who's realised that they need to go shopping when they're already out walking around or something and I don't have any bags with me. Just got, you know, a baguette in one pocket and a bunch of bananas in another pocket and you know, loads of onions up my sleeve or...

Charlie:
I like the fact that that now it's not going to make you look like a crazy person. It's going to make you look like an ethical person. Like you're really considering the world.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Exactly.

Charlie:
But you know, fifteen years ago that would have been like, "oh, who's that nutter?"

Stephen Devincenzi:
"What's he doing?" Just take a bag.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This is something which I think people don't realise how much of a big change this is because literally ten years ago, everybody who went shopping got loads of plastic bags every time they went. And it's been such a fast change in which kind of all of us have taken part in a good way. So, well done everybody who's listening and who is taking part in this excellent reduction of plastic.

Charlie:
Yeah. Congratulations, everyone. And I heard something about the great ocean cleanup as well.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This mission, I think it's a non-governmental organisation, a kind of charity. But they say that they can clean up 90% of the plastic, which is on the surface. So not at the bottom of the ocean, but on the surface, on the top of the seas. So they've got boats that can go around and just collect all of this plastic which has been put into the ocean. Well, I wish them luck. I hope that it works.

Charlie:
Yeah, it kind of looks like a fishing net for... Well, no, it's not a net underneath. It's just on the top. So it doesn't hurt animals.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Right.

Charlie:
But it's kind of like a wire on the top of the surface and it scoops it all into one sort of space and then they can gobble it all up into the boat.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's exactly right.

Charlie:
And they've got, I think that organisation is responsible. I think that organisation is responsible for the filtering through some really, really dirty rivers as well. Like they, they capture quite a few bits that come out of rivers that have an insane amount of pollution, plastic pollution coming out every single day, like buckets and buckets and buckets and they're kind of scooping it up like a crane kind of thing and putting it back on shore. And then they're responsibly recycling it. Yeah, I really like that organisation.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Fantastic, yeah, yeah. Great idea.

Charlie:
The ocean clean. Let's go on to the success of the four-day workweek. How about that? That sounds nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I know. And hopefully, this is something that a lot of people will listen to and think, "Great, that's what I want to hear." But there have been lots and lots of different studies into the four-day workweek. So that is obviously just instead of working five days a week asking people, telling people to just work four days a week. And there have been some studies done by individual companies who have tried it and there have been some studies with a wider group or an area getting people to just work for four days. And essentially all of the results have been very positive. There have been studies that have shown the same amount of work output over four days compared to what would have been done over five days. So essentially, you know, getting the same amount of work done over four days compared to five. Some studies have even shown they've actually increased their productivity by working only four days instead of five, which is incredible.

Charlie:
I believe that.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And of course... Yeah, you believe that. Good. And of course, there have also been shown lots of other benefits like health benefits and happiness levels going up from moving down to a four day work week as well.

Charlie:
For sure. Do you think, though, I'm just thinking, I think in some countries it's quite normal to only have one day off a week and then I'm looking at what the future leads to. Once we're comfortable with four days, do you think we'll want three days of work and we'll be like, "Hang on, yeah, but we can do as much work in three days as we could in four"? Do you think we're gradually thinking like that?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Maybe. Maybe, I don't know. But I think this five-day work week has, as far as I'm aware, it's been that way for a very, very long time. People have got used to that. I know you say that there are some places where there's only one day off a week. I'm not sure what countries they are, but I think there's some countries in the Middle East where that happens.

Charlie:
A lot of my students in Thailand had six-day work weeks. It might just be the industry or it might even just be the company that they were working for. But most of them worked six days. Again, apologies, guys, if I'm incorrect. Well, I'm not incorrect with my students' experience. That was, that was true. But yeah...

Stephen Devincenzi:
And in fact, yeah, I worked in a school in India for a while and they had to work half days on Saturdays as well. So that's true as well. I wasn't thinking about that, but I know that officially, how do you say, Government Standard week? There is actually, in some Muslim countries in the Middle East, they only have Friday as their one weekend day. The rest of the week is working. I don't know. But if it's going to go down even more, I don't know. But I think if that's the progression that people want to make, then fine, why not?

Charlie:
Yeah, I think it makes sense, definitely. And when I only have four days to do what I need to do in a week, I always get it done because the pressure is on. But yeah, thank you very much for your time, Stephen. That was wonderful. Appreciate the effort that you went to in creating a list of news stories for us to focus on to feel more positive about our lives.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Thank you Charlie and really no, it's great to be able to just show some of the positive things that are happening in the world, because as we discussed earlier, they're often slow-burning stories. Don't make it into the daily news streams. Yeah, it's good to be able to talk about them.

Charlie:
Yeah, that one about nuclear fusion. I can't believe it wasn't given more time and energy. Like, as you said, it's one of the potential savers of everything and people are just still... It's such a busy world. It's so noisy. That's why I think like the landing on the moon, there wasn't much going on, so everyone watched it. Yeah, but nowadays, like Elon Musk is up to things on a daily basis pretty much. And everyone's too busy to continue influencing the world in their own ways.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Charlie:
Thank you very much. I appreciate it and I would love to have you on in the future if you would be so kind. Until then, yeah, I hope you enjoy yourself in Canterbury.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, thank you very much, Charlie. It was a pleasure to be here and I would love to come back whenever I've got some more good news to talk about or anything else that you'd like to talk about. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Charlie:
Wonderful. Okay, guys, so go check out his podcast, Send7. What's the thing that they should search for? Any podcast app?

Yeah, on their podcast apps, you can search for Simple English News Daily and the internet, you can search for send7.org.

Charlie:
Nice. Yeah, and I'll put those links in the show notes so enjoy that and I will see you next time on the British English podcast. Bye-bye, Stephen.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Goodbye, Charlie.

Charlie:
Okay. There we go. The end of part three, meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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Transcript of Premium Bonus 041 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the British English podcast. I'm using a ChatGPT introduction. I asked it "Give me one regarding this episode" and here's what it sounds like. So let's go. I'm your host, Charlie Baxter, and today I have a special treat for you. We'll be shining a light on some of the positive news stories from 2023 that you might have missed. In a world where it can feel like negativity is everywhere, it's important, I think, to highlight the good news that often goes unnoticed. And before we dive into our fascinating conversation, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a fantastic podcast that I've recently discovered, and I know you'll love it too. It's called "Send7" and it's hosted by the brilliant Stephen Devincenzi. Send7 is all about providing you with a daily seven-minute rundown of the most important global news stories delivered in clear and concise English. So if you're looking to keep up with current events while also polishing your English skills, Send7 is the perfect podcast for you. Let's introduce Stephen and yeah, see what stories we have to unveil for you. How are you doing, Stephen? Thank you for joining me today.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I am very well, thank you, Charlie. It's great to be here.

Charlie:
Good. You told me off-air that you're in Canterbury, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's absolutely right. I'm in Canterbury, which is in the southeast of England, and it's most famous for the home of Canterbury Cathedral, which is the centre of the English Church, the Church of England.

Charlie:
Church of England as in Henry the Eighth? Like, put that on the map?

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is exactly right. Funny story. He wanted to get divorced and you couldn't get divorced in the Catholic Church, so he started his own religion just so that he could get divorced. Well, that's the short version of the story. That's how the Church of England was made. It's still the most popular religion in England today.

Charlie:
Yeah, it is incredible. It's also confusing because he beheaded quite a few of his wives, and I feel like if he was up for beheading somebody, does he really feel the need that the church will agree with him to, you know, remarry in the name of God?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I've often thought the same thing. If somebody has the power to chop off people's heads, surely he would have the power to just divorce someone as well. Or why didn't he just chop off their heads as well? If I knew more about this history, then I'd be able to tell you. Maybe next time we have a chat, I'll be able to tell you exactly why he needed to create his own religion instead of just chopping off all their heads. But it went... Had six, wasn't it? Divorced, beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's what we learned.

Charlie:
Yeah. It is something that we learn. And you just told me again off-air that you are also a primary school teacher. And was it in primary school that we learned this or secondary school?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I think I probably learnt that in secondary school, though obviously not well enough because I should be able to tell the whole story of Henry the Eighth and I can't. But there we go.

Charlie:
Yeah, I suppose it's quite a vicious story for kids under the age of 10 or 11.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Can I just say I heard that fantastic intro written by ChatGPT? Thank you, ChatGPT. I just wanted to say that just before talking to you now, I listened to your last episode of the British English podcast, where you compared two stories where you were meeting Alan Partridge - one written by ChatGPT and one written by you. And I've got to say, after I listened to the ChatGPT one that you read first, I thought, "Wow, that is amazing. I can't believe that it's able to make..."

Charlie:
It's impressive, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
It's really impressive. But but but I'm very happy to say that after listening to yours, I thought actually that was way better. Had a lot more personality, it was more fun. I think it got the idea of who Alan Partridge was more than ChatGPT was able to do. So you're not going to lose your job anytime soon.

Charlie:
Phew. That's good to hear. Yeah, I'm glad that you appreciated that there was hopefully a bit of a human touch to the second story. I did think that in the episode I could say you can tweak the stories. You can say, okay, that wasn't that funny. Give it a bit more humour. Okay, that needs a bit more depth. But then I thought that would be quite hard to beat, so I didn't want to do that. So Stephen, you do a podcast called Send7 and you're focusing on telling the news in very clear, concise English every single day, right? Every single day?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, Monday to Friday.

Charlie:
Monday to Friday, yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Got Saturday and Sunday off though, so...

Charlie:
Give him a break, especially Sunday, day of rest. You've been doing that for, I think you said just over or just about to be three years as of the date at the moment, which is at the end of April 2023. Is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Last week, last Monday, it was three years of doing it at least five times a week. Great milestone. Yeah. For anybody who hasn't listened, simple English News Daily is exactly that. So every day it's seven minutes of a quick run around the world. We always have two stories from each continent. At least two, sometimes three, sometimes four. A couple of stories from Africa, a couple of stories from Europe, a couple of stories from the Americas, a couple of stories from Asia and Oceania told in the most simple way that they can be told.

Charlie:
Nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And the English level is generally kind of upper intermediate, maybe kind of B2 level. Sometimes it gets into kind of C1 level if it's not possible to simplify a story even more than that. But that's the kind of level that it normally ends up as.

Charlie:
I can imagine, it might be difficult to simplify some stories. So you take two from each continent more or less each day. When I was living in Australia, I sometimes felt like they leaned on European news a lot more, especially when it wasn't a big day in the office in Australia. There wasn't much going on. Do you feel like the news in Oceania is not always as lively? I mean, it's probably a good thing. If there's not news, it's normally that life is going okay.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, I think there's a good reason why there's probably not as much news from Australia and Oceania. And that is because there's just far, far, far less people in that part of the world than everywhere else. I think the total population of Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands is only something like between 1 and 2% of the world's population, whereas the population of Asia is more than half of the world's population. It's kind of... Most news is driven by humans. It's kind of understandable that there's more news from, well, especially Asia, but every other continent compared to Oceania. Sorry, Oceania, but kind of makes sense.

Charlie:
Yeah, no, that makes sense. One, because I often felt like I was in the middle of nowhere or right at the bottom of the world and no one was around. And then the other one, I suppose the big stories, the animals like the shark attacks, they get a lot of press.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, well there are a lot of incredible animal problems that you get in Australia that you just don't have in most other places, right?

Charlie:
Yeah, that's true.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. It's never going to happen that in England or in France you have a crocodile attack or people having to be taken to hospital because they've been bitten by a snake or a spider or something. Had a boxing match with a kangaroo.

Charlie:
I also really appreciate how in England now where I am when I go through like a dusty cupboard or like I clean the corner or I put a plug in the corner or something like that, and it's got cobwebs, I'm not fearful. I'm just like, ah, it's only a cobweb and a little spider. I have heard that there are some in the UK that might be a bit naughty, but yeah, generally I feel really confident going into a cobweb in England, which is fantastic, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally. Yeah. I worked on a strawberry farm in Australia for a couple of months a long, long time ago and the farmer told us that where we leave our shoes, we have to block our shoes, like put some socks in there or something to make sure that when we put our feet in our shoes in the morning, there isn't a spider in there which is going to bite us.

Charlie:
Yeah, right. So you did, you did the farming. So you must have done at least a year to two years in Australia, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, actually I was only in Australia for, for one year. But yeah, I spent a couple of months on a strawberry farm. Anyway, just for the experience. Make a bit of money picking some strawberries.

Charlie:
Oh I see, okay. That's interesting because most people fear that part and they're like, "Oh, do I really want to do it? I really, really want another year in Australia. Okay, I'll do it. I'll sacrifice a month or two and it's very harsh conditions there." Did you find it was difficult?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, it was torrential rain or incredible heat, you know, 40 degrees or something, which makes it either way really, really difficult to pick strawberries. Yeah, good experience anyway.

Charlie:
Wow, okay. Right. Lovely to have you here. And as we said in the introduction or ChatGPT prompted, we will be talking about the news and we'll be doing some positive stories that Stephen has suggested that would be good to go through that have come up in the earlier part of this year, is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Or over the last year.

Charlie:
Over the last year. Okay. So the first one is within the category of medicine. I feel like I should be shuffling some papers right now and pretending to be a co-anchor on a news channel. Yeah, news just in. We have a possible cure for HIV. Is that right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. In fact, there's already been, I believe, five people who have actually been cured of HIV, which is really, really incredible because this is something which has existed for probably about 100 years and has been total epidemic since the 1980s and unfortunately still kills a lot of people today. But over the last year or two, there's been, I think, five people now who have actually been completely cured. And the way that that has happened is by having a stem cell transplant, which has resulted from a person who is immune to or resistant to HIV into the person with HIV. And that has actually resulted in these people being cured.

Charlie:
Wow. Okay. I've heard about stem cell. I thought it was normally for if you've got an injury or like a bad joint and you then get some stem cells put in that joint somewhere around the joint and then it kind of regrows positive, good, well-behaved cells and then the pain goes away. Is that also the same? Is that stem cell research?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think you are right, yeah. And I think that what you're talking about might be cells from your own body, I think. But in this case, it would be from somebody else being put in there. I'm not overly qualified to talk about this subject because I'm not a doctor, but from what I know, this has been done and saved a few people. But the reason that it can't be just used for everybody is because there are some risks associated with it. So they can't roll it out completely to everyone. But scientists are hoping that these first few people that have actually been cured is the start of other people being cured in a less risky way.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is so, so positive. And yeah, it's amazing how the news really does focus on... What do they say? "If it bleeds, it leads." That's the kind of trend in journalism in the headline of the newspaper, the front page. If it's negative, it goes first. So why do you think that is?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, actually, that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be able to come on here today onto your podcast to talk about some good news in general, because really, I think what makes headlines every day are instantaneous new things that have happened in the world and generally, they are bad. Good news normally develops slowly over a long time. So, for example, with this: people being cured of HIV, it's a process which takes a really, really long time of many, many scientists or doctors and people working on some medicine, which takes a long, long time to be produced and then used. If you compare that to an earthquake where some people die, the earthquake makes the news because it happened yesterday, because it happened this morning, whereas a new vaccine or something like that is a really slow development, even though in the end it may save hundreds, thousands, millions of people, it doesn't have a specific day where it is done, which is why it's more difficult to find the moment to include it in the news. I always try to have some good news in simple English News Daily because I am aware of that. There you go.

Charlie:
Yeah, that makes so much sense. Of course. Yeah. It's a slow progressive, like a grind. Like you've got to really work hard to make a good thing happen. And yeah, an accident can happen instantly, can't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Absolutely.

Charlie:
And I don't know why I'm thinking of car... Like... Car crashes, but you never really report: "5000 successful journeys happened today."

Stephen Devincenzi:
Be a little bit boring, wouldn't it?

Charlie:
It would be. It would be. I was told once that it's our negativity bias. When we were learning how to be civilised, it would be more important to remember where the snake was rather than the berries because if we forget where the snake was, we're dead, but if we forget where the berries are, we've got another day to learn where new berries are. So we're kind of...

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's a good point.

Charlie:
...Naturally drawn towards negativity because it's survival instinct kind of makes sense in my mind with that kind of analogy, that simplistic...

Stephen Devincenzi:
I don't have any data on this, but because you mentioned it, I think that the amount of people who die or have injuries from car crashes, in general, is actually just going down all the time as well so that's a positive point...

Charlie:
Very nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
...To say, even though I don't have any statistics on that right now.

Charlie:
There's a really nice book on this that got a lot of heat, actually. Ah, can I even remember the title and the author?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Is it Steven Pinker?

Charlie:
Yes, thank you. Can you remember it? The title.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, yeah. "Better Angels of Our Nature".

Charlie:
I think it was...

Stephen Devincenzi:
He's written a few, but that's his general thesis. But yeah, I really like Steven Pinker. He makes some really, really good points.

Charlie:
Is it "Enlightenment Now"?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's the more recent one. Yeah, the one that I said was a bit older, but it's similar.

Charlie:
The case for reason, Science, humanism and progress he's gone through.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I haven't read that one. I've read... It's... His books are... Each one of them is like a Bible, they're so big. I've got the "Better Angels of Our Nature" on my bookshelf, which is half read and it's brilliant, but people keep putting other books on top of it and telling me, "Oh, you've got to read that one first." So sorry, Steven, but yeah, but he's really it's quite inspirational because it's really simple things that you just don't think about that just actually make the world seem better than it's ever been because it actually is, statistically.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And talking of which, let's go on to the next positive news story. News just in. Malaria vaccine approved? Can we say approved?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, more or less. And this one is actually very new because I think Ghana was the first country to properly approve it, this Oxford malaria vaccine, just two weeks ago. And since then, I think a couple of other countries, possibly Nigeria, have also given their approval for this vaccine. The Serum Institute of India is going to make 20 million doses available this year. And according to trials done by Oxford in Burkina Faso, it's 80% effective, which is pretty good when you've got this disease which still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. This is looking really, really hopeful.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is. I donate to a charity that focuses on providing malaria-repellent mosquito nets. They've been like dosed in it, I guess, or like they've got the repellent around them and it's like $2 for one net that would cover two adults for three years. And I've been really, really invested in that. But...

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is so good, Charlie, yeah.

Charlie:
Thank you. It is really, really nice to feel like I can do that but it's like such a small part that I do right now, but I want to continue to do more. But it's obviously: prevention is better than the cure.

Stephen Devincenzi:
It's a funny coincidence that you should mention that you give money to a malaria charity, actually, because my podcast Send7 donates 10% of its profit to effective altruism charities, which is just this kind of... It's not a charity itself, it's an organisation which chooses which charities are the most effective places to donate in terms of either saving lives or improving lives. And malaria charities are always at the top. Effectively, if you want to make your money go the furthest and just save the most lives and or improve the most lives, malaria charities are always at the top of the ones that are the most effective.

Charlie:
Is this the one called The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, I'm not sure if that's a charity or an...

Charlie:
It's an organisation. So yeah, it's an organisation that kind of vets the charities and then it puts them at the top and then it kind of suggests which ones are the most effective per dollar.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, this is exactly the same. I'm not sure if they're connected to effective altruism.

Charlie:
Oh, I have heard about that, effective altruism, yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think I've I've heard of Peter Singer as well. I think I might have read something by him. I'm not sure if those two things are connected or not.

Charlie:
Yes, they are. Yeah. Yeah. I've just checked on Wikipedia, Peter Singer comes up. Oh, there we go. Give to the same thing. Nice. Preventative rather than the cure. I'm getting at the point that I'm giving to provide nets, but obviously better would be to find the cure to this disease rather than a net. So that's fantastic. That would save like surely the most amount of lives possible.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally, yeah. I think at the moment something like 600,000 people die every year of malaria, which is actually less than it has been. I think that's actually half of what it was just 20 years ago. So it is coming down already through other actions. There is a wide spread of a malaria vaccine, which it looks like there should be very soon. Then it should come down even more dramatically. And one of the best things about this vaccine from Oxford is that it seems to be pretty cheap and quite easy to transport and store. I don't know if you remember during the COVID-19 pandemic that one of the problems that we had with some of the vaccines was that they were well, some of them were just very expensive anyway, but also they had to be stored at minus whatever degrees and they only lasted for a couple of weeks or something like that. And that was a big problem. But with these vaccines, they're pretty cheap, I'm not sure exactly how much, and they don't need to be kept at any particular temperature and they last for two years or something. They should be pretty easy to distribute.

Charlie:
Very good. Yes, I do remember that. Yeah, it was interesting. That is another hurdle already overcome. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Possible cure for HIV, malaria vaccine in the works. And the last medicine-based news bulletin is "cancer vaccine by the end of the decade." That seems very hard to believe. Is that...?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I know.

Charlie:
Is that legit?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I know it does. Yeah. From what I can see. Yeah. The only thing is, I'm not sure if vaccine is the right word because this is a kind of technology. I'm not sure what you call it where they take a little bit of the cancer. If somebody's already got cancer, they would take a little bit of that cancer before they destroy it. And then they make a vaccine specifically for that person made up of or including the cancer that that they have, just that they've taken out of them. And it's to stop that cancer from ever coming back. So it's for people who have already had cancer to stop them from regressing, as they say, having that cancer come back. The tests are quite new, but they seem to be very effective so far.

Charlie:
Wow. So do we know a name of it like immunotherapy, I think was a fairly new cancer treatment in the last decade, I think. We've got chemo and radiotherapy, but immunotherapy I heard, was the latest and so this one, not quite a vaccine or maybe it's like a tailor-made vaccine.

Stephen Devincenzi:
It seems to be a tailor-made vaccine.

Charlie:
Tailor-made vaccine.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Right. We're extending the... We're reaching the extent of my medical knowledge.

Charlie:
Fair enough. Well, I mean, seven minutes to tell what, 14 stories? Is that right? Do you fit 14 stories in?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Uh, no. Maybe... Maybe ten.

Charlie:
Ten stories. Still, you've got to get through them. So it's kind of like the headlines and a bit of info and then move on. Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's right.

Charlie:
Do you think that your general awareness of the global news has improved significantly since doing this podcast?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I was always a news junkie. I've always been somebody who reads a lot and watches a lot and listens to a lot of news anyway. But yeah, I suppose now I've just been able to do it all the time and without feeling guilty about the time that I'm spending reading it, which is good.

Charlie:
And you said, you said earlier that you listened to the news in different languages to learn those languages. That's... Is that still important to you? So do you listen to it in was it French and Spanish?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I listen to something in French every day. I'm lucky that my girlfriend is Spanish so I can talk to her in Spanish whenever I like. And that's easier. But yeah, one of the main kind of drives for creating Simple English News Daily was really the fact that I learned a lot of Spanish and French just by keeping up with the news in those languages. So listening to the radio, listening to podcasts since I got a smartphone in 2018 or something. Yeah, a really big motivating factor for me. And yeah, I still listen to this podcast called "RFI" on what's it called? "Journal en Francais Facile", like a simple French journal or something. Yeah, just kind of a French news roundup every day. That's great.

Charlie:
You're a great friend to have for people like me who don't really tune into the news on a day-to-day basis. Because, you know, if you've got these friends, then you'll never be without the really, really significant headlines because they will always keep you up to date. Do you do that with some of your friends?

Stephen Devincenzi:
What do you mean exactly?

Charlie:
Do you update some of your friends? Like if you go down to the pub and then you're like catching up, do you mention any of the big stuff that you feel like some of them might not know?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I don't know, maybe. I probably allow them to ask me if they want to. And, you know, I've got some friends who are really into world events and want to talk about that stuff. And then I've got some people who just aren't interested and that's fine.

Charlie:
Yeah, the ones that aren't interested, you don't suddenly get your like Spotify app out and press play on your latest episode and you start miming it in front of them?

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, not at all. Although I do know a few people who say that they listen to Send7 because they don't want to listen to the news in general. They're not interested in the rest of it. So they know that they can just go seven minutes and I'm done.

Charlie:
Oh, that's a great point. Really good. Yeah, I like that. I might do that. Yeah. Good call. Right, guys, we're going to carry on into part two and three with some juicy other news stories. But if that's all you have time for today, then thank you very much for listening and I encourage you to head over to Send7 where Stephen keeps people updated with Daily News. "Simple English News Daily." That's the right slogan, yeah?

Stephen Devincenzi:
That is absolutely right. It's "Simple English News Daily" in your podcast apps or you can go to send7.org on the internet.

Charlie:
Perfect.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's it.

Charlie:
Cool. Okay, guys, we'll see you next week. But thank you very much. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. Okay, guys, welcome back to part two. We were going to go on to the next story or category, and this was energy/planet. The first news story was about solar panels. Stephen, what's going on with solar panels?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Solar panels are going up all around the world. They're going up very, very quickly. I've even noticed it in my local area actually, that every now and then I'm just driving in a country place and I see some solar panels in a field and I think, wow, that's that wasn't there last year or something. Officially, there are now enough solar panels installed in the world to power all of Europe, according to some studies that I've seen. Now, of course, it doesn't mean that we can just power Europe from solar panels because these solar panels, which are enough to power all of Europe, are dispersed all around the world, have a very wide distribution. And also one of the technologies which is lagging behind a bit is the storage of the energy. When you make energy from solar panels, you have to store it somewhere and sometimes if it's not used quickly enough, then it's not usable. But anyway, it's coming up quickly and it's becoming more and more useful for the world. Germany in 2022 produced 46% of its energy from renewable sources, which is more than ever before.

Charlie:
That is fantastic. I knew that Germany were ahead of the game with all of the renewable energy resources. Yeah, that would be really good. Obviously for the whole crisis going on at the moment. The problem is though, that the electricity has to be used instantly. So what could be a... We need maybe like an oven underneath it. If you're not using it, you can heat the oven and get something in there straight away to not waste the electric.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Cook some bread straight away.

Charlie:
Cook some bread. Sourdough, yeah. Put it in there, bake the bread and then sell it and then...

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah.

Charlie:
...Use that money for something.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Actually, even on a personal level, like I was looking at the possibility of getting solar panels installed on my house. And one of the problems was that even if you have solar panels, which you know, they're quite expensive, you also have to buy separately some kind of battery to be able to store that energy in. Otherwise you can't really use it or you have to use it instantly, which is not great for if you want to be using it at night when you're not getting any more energy from it. But the price of all of these things is coming down quickly as well. So hopefully having a solar panel installed on your house should be much less in the next few years as well.

Charlie:
Yeah, that'd be nice. Yeah, it's a big thing in Australia. I remember a lot of people work on solar panel like installations I guess because they've got a lot of sun.

Stephen Devincenzi:
They do have a lot of sun, yeah.

Charlie:
And a lot of like ground to, you know, soak up all those rays.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Totally, yeah.

Charlie:
Better to soak the rays up with a solar panel than our skin down there. Dangerous.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. And there's also some windows which are being created which can generate electricity as well.

Charlie:
Oh, wow. How?

Stephen Devincenzi:
They have little solar panels inside them. Or they're called cells or solar cells or something, but they are transparent. You can still see through them. They can actually be in your windows and generating electricity at the same time. And from what I've seen, there is a building in Switzerland which has just been made with them already installed. So it can just through the windows be generating some electricity. But at the moment that is still very, very expensive and doesn't generate enough electricity for it to be worth it. But that is another technology to look out for.

Charlie:
Yeah, look out for that one. And especially if you're playing football near it, don't break that glass.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Definitely not.

Charlie:
Very expensive. Yeah, you'd have to be a very forgiving parent to not tell your child off that has kicked a football in that window.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Definitely don't put it in anywhere near where children could be playing football.

Charlie:
Yeah, good tip. Okay, so that's solar panelling and electricity generated in windows. Have you heard anything about the ones in the water? Like they're kind of just bobbing up and down?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Solar panels on water?

Charlie:
No, not solar panels. It's like taking the energy from the movement of the wave. It's kind of like a buoy just sitting there and it's getting energy.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I think I heard about that a long time ago, but I haven't heard anything about it recently. No. Do you know anything about that?

Charlie:
I just saw some tiktoks about it being a thing, so I was excited by the idea of it because there's so much movement in the oceans like all the time, so much, so much movement that we could probably utilise, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah.

Charlie:
The next one you wanted to mention was a nuclear fusion experiment that generated more energy than it used. I did actually follow this one... Excited to hear.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Oh, you did? Good.

Charlie:
Go on, tell me.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Good, good. Well, maybe you can add something on, but really, I feel like this should have been bigger news than it was because it was the first time that scientists have ever well, they've used this nuclear fusion, which I believe is combining two nuclei or something. Anyway, the most important thing is that in the experiment they created more energy than they used to create the fusion. So the amount of energy has gone up, which has never been done before. So the idea is that if this was done again and again and again, it could just be a forever source of energy. You wouldn't have to use anything else for it. Apparently, this is still quite a long way away. You know, maybe 30 or 40 years. But once this would be completely under our control, we wouldn't have to worry about how we are going to generate electricity ever again. We would just be able to use this.

Charlie:
Yeah, I heard about it, got really excited and I thought, "Oh, this is the end of all of our problems." And then it said 2050. I was like, "Oh, come on, sooner." So yeah, we've got to wait until then, I guess if it still goes according to plan. Yeah. So the answer may be oversimplifying everything. We need to get as many wind farms out there for the next 30 years, survive on that, not go mental, you know, using too much electricity for 30 years. And then once we get that technology secured, we can go crazy. We can have a big party in 2050.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. An electricity party.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Turn all the lights on.

Charlie:
Yeah. Maybe do like flashing on and off.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Disco balls.

Charlie:
Yeah. My simple thought of that clear fusion. It doesn't really do much for most people. I would say. Correct me if I'm wrong, it's like tinkering with two little atoms. I think it's smaller than atoms, isn't it? But they're basically tinkering with it so that they get confused and then they create loads of energy from that because they're out of balance or something like that. And then that is multiplied to the point where you just could get an abundant source of energy from just creating that change. But that change at the moment is a huge amount of effort on our behalf, which is why it's not very good at the moment, because we're putting like, you know, ten kettle's worth for one kettle. We're putting that much energy into it to get one kettle's worth of energy, for example.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. That's a great explanation. Next time somebody asks me, I'm going to use that instead. That was great. Yeah.

Charlie:
I'm not sure if you're being polite, but okay, yeah. Good.

Stephen Devincenzi:
No, no, no, seriously. And actually, from what I was reading and watching, that was pretty much it.

Charlie:
Okay, nice. All right. The next one is electric car sales are up.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This is just generally good news because using electric cars is better for the planet than our petrol and diesel cars. And in 2022, the number of cars, electric cars sold was double what it was in 2021, just in one year. So that's really, really fast. Norway now, 80% of cars sold are electric vehicles.

Charlie:
That's impressive.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Which is amazing. And even in China, which is one of the world's biggest polluters, 1 in 3 sold is electric as well. So that's really, really impressive. In the United States, it's still quite low. It's only 6%, but that is actually double what it was the year before. Still, it's coming up quickly. And the US has just made some new subsidies for people buying electric cars. If you buy a new one, you can get $7,500 off your tax bill. And if you get a second-hand one, you can get $4,000 off your tax bill. So hopefully even the United States should start selling a lot more electric vehicles this year.

Charlie:
Right, yeah. I'm surprised by 6%. Only 6%. They've got Tesla.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, very far behind. Yeah. I wonder whether part of the problem with this is that the United States generally has lower petrol prices than most other places or gas, as they say in the States.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And I think that's just because of this popular demand. They make a lot of petrol in the US. It's one of these election winners, you know, nobody wants to say that they're going to put the price of petrol up so they don't.

Charlie:
I see.

Stephen Devincenzi:
So yeah, I think because of that, it kind of takes them a bit behind everybody else.

Charlie:
I see.

Stephen Devincenzi:
I'm not sure.

Charlie:
Going back a second to the one on... The stat on China, I suppose it should be fair to say that there's... what percentage... Is it an eighth of the world is in that country?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I would have thought it would be a bit more than that.

Charlie:
More.

Stephen Devincenzi:
So there's 8 billion people in the world as of about a month ago, I think. When was it? It was very recently we reached the 8 billion. The other major population news which is happening right now in April of 2023, is that India is going to overtake China as the most populous country in the world. But they both have 1.4 billion people. I guess about what would that be, a seventh of the planet or something like that?

Charlie:
Oh, my goodness me. I can't believe that, because China is at least double, triple the size of India.

Stephen Devincenzi:
In area...

Charlie:
Geographical, kind of relation.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, probably something like that. Yeah. India is very densely populated. In fact, the UK is one of the most densely populated places in Europe. But even though India has 20 times more people than the UK, it's also more densely populated than the UK.

Charlie:
Oh gosh, I would imagine Hong Kong is up there, right?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, but Hong Kong's cheating because it's so small. So it's...

Charlie:
Sorry, guys, you're cheating.

Stephen Devincenzi:
All of these microstates, they kind of... Statistics kind of get thrown out of whack when you've got microstates in there.

Charlie:
Good. Good phrase: thrown out of whack. Yeah. I like that one.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah. Yeah. I'm not sure I might have just invented it.

Charlie:
No, no, no. I've used that before. And I was. You know, when you're, you're thinking of the word that they're about to say, I was thinking, is he going to say whack? Yeah. Yeah. Thrown out of whack? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Electric cars is a bit confusing for some people because they're like, well, you know, the resources it takes to replace what you're needing for the electric batteries. The cobalt mining is a very big ethical issue at the moment. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Stephen Devincenzi:
I think that the reality is that we are humans who have got used to using cars. And I know it's obviously I think it's a good idea to try to incentivise using public transport and things like that which could be better for the planet. But I think the reality is that we are still going to want to use cars and trying to ask people to become less comfortable just doesn't really work. It's a very, very difficult thing to do to try and ask, you know, billions of people to try to lose this way of life that they're currently used to. I think we have to think about a world in which people are using cars. Yeah, electric cars are even though yeah, they've got lots of bits in them which may not be good for the planet, it's still better than petrol and diesel cars which are constantly using fossil fuels every moment that you're driving them.

Charlie:
True. And I think in 2030 the UK is going to be banning the sale of new petrol cars. 2030.

Yeah, that's right.

Charlie:
That's around the corner, isn't it?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, it is. It is around the corner. Totally. Yeah. We've still got a lot of ground to cover because I'm not sure what the percentage is now, but it's still, I think it's single digits in the UK, electric cars being sold. So it's going to have to go up very, very quickly.

Charlie:
Yeah, right. Well, that again positive news though, yeah. We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode to take a break from your listening practice and come back to the last part when you're ready. All right. So moving on to part three now. Enjoy. Okay, let's get to the plastic bans that are working.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yes, that is right.

Charlie:
Plastic as in plastic bags?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, plastic bags. There's other types of plastic bans as well. I know it's confusing because I'm saying plastic bag and plastic ban. Plastic bag bans. Over 100 countries, so that's more than half of the world's countries, have introduced some type of plastic ban. Generally, it's things like it's illegal to make or sell single-use plastic bags or single-use plastic in general. And all of the evidence seems to show that they're working very well. So the world is producing and using less single-use plastic, which is really good for the planet in the long term. Some of the best statistics I've seen on this are actually from the UK and Ireland, where a few years ago it became the law that the supermarkets or all shops had to charge people for single-use plastic bags and they only charged £0.05, which is next to nothing. It's very, very low, but straight away, within a year, I think, the amount of single-use plastic bags that were used dropped by 90%.

Charlie:
What, 90%? Just from the suggestion of making it mandatory to do £0.05 purchases of a bag?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, that's right. Yeah. And now it's actually changed again a bit more since then because now you really don't even see single-use plastic bags in supermarkets anymore. But I think it was a few years ago when they introduced this £0.05 rule, but just after that £0.05 for your single-use plastic bag, the amount that were being used, the amount that people bought dropped by 90%. So, so fast. All over the world, people are generally getting used to this idea, which people didn't do 20 years ago, that when you go shopping, you bring your own bag. Do you bring your own bags now when you go shopping, Charlie?

Charlie:
Putting me on the spot but yes, I definitely do take my own bags to the supermarket. I get very annoyed if I've forgotten and often I'll even... It's confusing because sometimes I'll be calculating is it worse to emit more fossil fuels, to drive halfway back, to get the bags or to go in and buy another one?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, totally. And I've sometimes been the person who's realised that they need to go shopping when they're already out walking around or something and I don't have any bags with me. Just got, you know, a baguette in one pocket and a bunch of bananas in another pocket and you know, loads of onions up my sleeve or...

Charlie:
I like the fact that that now it's not going to make you look like a crazy person. It's going to make you look like an ethical person. Like you're really considering the world.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Exactly.

Charlie:
But you know, fifteen years ago that would have been like, "oh, who's that nutter?"

Stephen Devincenzi:
"What's he doing?" Just take a bag.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This is something which I think people don't realise how much of a big change this is because literally ten years ago, everybody who went shopping got loads of plastic bags every time they went. And it's been such a fast change in which kind of all of us have taken part in a good way. So, well done everybody who's listening and who is taking part in this excellent reduction of plastic.

Charlie:
Yeah. Congratulations, everyone. And I heard something about the great ocean cleanup as well.

Stephen Devincenzi:
This mission, I think it's a non-governmental organisation, a kind of charity. But they say that they can clean up 90% of the plastic, which is on the surface. So not at the bottom of the ocean, but on the surface, on the top of the seas. So they've got boats that can go around and just collect all of this plastic which has been put into the ocean. Well, I wish them luck. I hope that it works.

Charlie:
Yeah, it kind of looks like a fishing net for... Well, no, it's not a net underneath. It's just on the top. So it doesn't hurt animals.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Right.

Charlie:
But it's kind of like a wire on the top of the surface and it scoops it all into one sort of space and then they can gobble it all up into the boat.

Stephen Devincenzi:
That's exactly right.

Charlie:
And they've got, I think that organisation is responsible. I think that organisation is responsible for the filtering through some really, really dirty rivers as well. Like they, they capture quite a few bits that come out of rivers that have an insane amount of pollution, plastic pollution coming out every single day, like buckets and buckets and buckets and they're kind of scooping it up like a crane kind of thing and putting it back on shore. And then they're responsibly recycling it. Yeah, I really like that organisation.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Fantastic, yeah, yeah. Great idea.

Charlie:
The ocean clean. Let's go on to the success of the four-day workweek. How about that? That sounds nice.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Yeah, I know. And hopefully, this is something that a lot of people will listen to and think, "Great, that's what I want to hear." But there have been lots and lots of different studies into the four-day workweek. So that is obviously just instead of working five days a week asking people, telling people to just work four days a week. And there have been some studies done by individual companies who have tried it and there have been some studies with a wider group or an area getting people to just work for four days. And essentially all of the results have been very positive. There have been studies that have shown the same amount of work output over four days compared to what would have been done over five days. So essentially, you know, getting the same amount of work done over four days compared to five. Some studies have even shown they've actually increased their productivity by working only four days instead of five, which is incredible.

Charlie:
I believe that.

Stephen Devincenzi:
And of course... Yeah, you believe that. Good. And of course, there have also been shown lots of other benefits like health benefits and happiness levels going up from moving down to a four day work week as well.

Charlie:
For sure. Do you think, though, I'm just thinking, I think in some countries it's quite normal to only have one day off a week and then I'm looking at what the future leads to. Once we're comfortable with four days, do you think we'll want three days of work and we'll be like, "Hang on, yeah, but we can do as much work in three days as we could in four"? Do you think we're gradually thinking like that?

Stephen Devincenzi:
Maybe. Maybe, I don't know. But I think this five-day work week has, as far as I'm aware, it's been that way for a very, very long time. People have got used to that. I know you say that there are some places where there's only one day off a week. I'm not sure what countries they are, but I think there's some countries in the Middle East where that happens.

Charlie:
A lot of my students in Thailand had six-day work weeks. It might just be the industry or it might even just be the company that they were working for. But most of them worked six days. Again, apologies, guys, if I'm incorrect. Well, I'm not incorrect with my students' experience. That was, that was true. But yeah...

Stephen Devincenzi:
And in fact, yeah, I worked in a school in India for a while and they had to work half days on Saturdays as well. So that's true as well. I wasn't thinking about that, but I know that officially, how do you say, Government Standard week? There is actually, in some Muslim countries in the Middle East, they only have Friday as their one weekend day. The rest of the week is working. I don't know. But if it's going to go down even more, I don't know. But I think if that's the progression that people want to make, then fine, why not?

Charlie:
Yeah, I think it makes sense, definitely. And when I only have four days to do what I need to do in a week, I always get it done because the pressure is on. But yeah, thank you very much for your time, Stephen. That was wonderful. Appreciate the effort that you went to in creating a list of news stories for us to focus on to feel more positive about our lives.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Thank you Charlie and really no, it's great to be able to just show some of the positive things that are happening in the world, because as we discussed earlier, they're often slow-burning stories. Don't make it into the daily news streams. Yeah, it's good to be able to talk about them.

Charlie:
Yeah, that one about nuclear fusion. I can't believe it wasn't given more time and energy. Like, as you said, it's one of the potential savers of everything and people are just still... It's such a busy world. It's so noisy. That's why I think like the landing on the moon, there wasn't much going on, so everyone watched it. Yeah, but nowadays, like Elon Musk is up to things on a daily basis pretty much. And everyone's too busy to continue influencing the world in their own ways.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Charlie:
Thank you very much. I appreciate it and I would love to have you on in the future if you would be so kind. Until then, yeah, I hope you enjoy yourself in Canterbury.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Well, thank you very much, Charlie. It was a pleasure to be here and I would love to come back whenever I've got some more good news to talk about or anything else that you'd like to talk about. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Charlie:
Wonderful. Okay, guys, so go check out his podcast, Send7. What's the thing that they should search for? Any podcast app?

Yeah, on their podcast apps, you can search for Simple English News Daily and the internet, you can search for send7.org.

Charlie:
Nice. Yeah, and I'll put those links in the show notes so enjoy that and I will see you next time on the British English podcast. Bye-bye, Stephen.

Stephen Devincenzi:
Goodbye, Charlie.

Charlie:
Okay. There we go. The end of part three, meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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