Points of Progress: Wood skyscrapers, crop-dusting drones, and more

This is more than feel-good news – it’s where the world is making concrete progress. Here's a roundup of positive stories.

Drones pollinate pear blossoms in China’s Hebei province on April 9, 2018.


Drone technology is leading an agricultural revolution in rural China. In 1991, over half of the Chinese workforce was on farms, but that share had plummeted to 16% by 2018. Most people have migrated to cities for better-paying jobs. To make up for shrinking rural populations, drones are being deployed to help with manual labor on farms. It once took farmers several days to spray 35 acres of crops by hand; now it takes one hour by drone. Using drones also aids farmers economically and environmentally. For example, one company’s drones reduced farmers’ use of pesticides by 6,000 tons last year. (Nikkei Asian Review)


The country’s murder rate is at its lowest point in nine years. After the rate peaked in 2015, citizens began demanding change. In 2017 the newly elected prime minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, was urged to tackle crime. The government responded by addressing systemic causes of crime and modernizing the police force’s technology. Murders dropped by over 25% last year, and shootings have also declined. However, the number of reported rapes is increasing. (The Nassau Guardian)


Women are confronting sexism in the tango community. Tango dancing has traditionally been a male-dominated art. The music’s lyrics are often misogynistic, and women are not treated equally when they pursue a professional dance career. But women have begun hosting all-women tango festivals, which have created a network to help women gain recognition and thrive as tango composers, musicians, and dancers. (Al Jazeera)

Natacha Pisarenko/AP
An Argentine couple competes in Buenos Aires on Aug. 22, 2018.


Thousands of mobile libraries are roaming the country. Getting access to books has been difficult for children across Indonesia: Only 30% of villages have libraries. Some Indonesians say there is a general lack of interest in reading, but others say the low literacy rate among schoolchildren stems from limited access to books. Citizens are responding by creating mobile libraries. They’re found on boats, vegetable carts, motorcycles, and even horses. Many volunteers, who rely on donations to fill their shelves, are motivated to help because they didn’t grow up with books themselves. (The Guardian


“Plyscrapers” – wooden towers – are becoming a sustainable alternative to conventional high-rises. The world’s tallest wooden structure was completed in March in Brumunddal, Norway. Once thought of as impractical and archaic, wood has become an environmentally friendly substitute for concrete and steel building materials. Making concrete is a carbon-intensive process. Harvesting wood requires much less carbon, and the material is just as strong as concrete. Plans for more wooden towers are cropping up around the globe. (Mother Nature Network)

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