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The Brightest Corners Of The World: The 20 Happiest Countries In 2024 | The Optimist Daily




For the seventh consecutive year, Finland basks in the glow of happiness, topping the charts as the world’s happiest country, according to the 2024 World Happiness Report. This annual testament to joy assesses over 140 nations, scrutinizing factors such as social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. 

Utilizing data from sources including the Gallup World Poll, the report is a collaborative effort involving the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Gallup, and the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre. Released every year in honor of International Day of Happiness on March 20, it serves as a comprehensive guide to global well-being, offering valuable insights into the factors that contribute to a fulfilling life.

The rankings show a continuous pattern: Nordic countries dominate the high echelons. Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden maintain their places, with Norway taking seventh place.

United States: a bit of a dip

While Finland celebrates, the United States must confront a sober truth. It was once a powerhouse of riches but it has fallen to a new low, failing to make the top 20. The United States has dropped dramatically from its prior ranking of 15 to number 23 this year, indicating a troubling trend, particularly among the younger population.

Age matters: happy insights across generations

As we delve deeper into the demographics, we discover insights into happiness across age groups. Lithuania is the happiest place for people under the age of 30, while Denmark is a shining example for those over the age of 60. Surprisingly, the United States does higher among those older in age, highlighting changing happiness patterns.

Loneliness looms: the modern epidemic

In the quest for happiness, a devastating theme emerges: loneliness. Concerns grow, especially in the United States. Millennials are strikingly more affected than previous generations, suffering from nearly double the loneliness of earlier generations. This brings attention to a pressing social issue that requires urgent action.

Israel surprises by placing fifth

In a year marked by conflict, Israel surpasses expectations, finishing fifth despite dealing with the consequences of war. This rating, while surprising, highlights the complexities of the happiness measurement. 

According to the report’s authors, the rankings are based on a three-year average, which may skew the data. (Israel has been in the top ten on the Happiness Report since 2022.) “In the case of cataclysmic events happening during a particular year, their effect on the rankings will depend on when the survey took place and will be muted by the three-year averaging,” the researchers state in the paper. “In the case of the October 7th attack on Israel and the subsequent war between Israel and Hamas, the survey in Palestine took place earlier in the year and the Israel survey after the hostage-taking but before much of the subsequent warfare.”

From heights to depths: Afghanistan and the bottom five

As the research concludes, Afghanistan, which is in upheaval, keeps its status as the world’s unhappiest country. With Afghanistan at the bottom of the list are Congo, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and Lesotho; all of these countries face a multitude of problems, bringing attention to the huge gaps in global health and well-being, and hopefully spurring change-makers to focus their attention there.

World’s 20 Happiest Countries In 2024

Here is the complete list of the top 20 Happiest Countries:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Kuwait
  14. Austria
  15. Canada
  16. Belgium
  17. Ireland
  18. Czechia
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom

The post The brightest corners of the world: the 20 happiest countries in 2024 first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.


Transforming Tylenol: A Sustainable Path Without Coal Tar Or Crude Oil | The Optimist Daily





Paracetamol, the omnipresent pain reliever found in countless households worldwide, may soon radically adjust its manufacturing method. For more than a century, this medicine, known as acetaminophen in the United States and Japan, has been manufactured using chemicals derived from coal tar or crude oil, raising environmental concerns. However, revolutionary research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests a possible alternative: using the power of trees, notably poplar wood.

The evolution of paracetamol: from coal tar to poplar trees

Paracetamol, often known as acetaminophen, was first produced in the 1800s and has since become one of the most widely used over-the-counter medications for pain and fever around the world. It was added to the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines and sold under brand names such as Tylenol and Panadol. However, its origins in nonrenewable petrochemicals earned it the nickname “coal tar analgesic.”

In the beginning, the starting material for paracetamol’s commercial production was phenol, produced from the distillation of coal tar, which has analgesic characteristics. Industrial phenol was eventually manufactured primarily from crude oil, although it still posed environmental difficulties.

How does this transformation work?

The study team, led by Professor John Ralph, a professor of biochemistry at UW-Madison, and staff scientist at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Steven Karlen, developed a method for synthesizing paracetamol from lignin, a complex organic polymer found in poplar trees. Lignin is the structural backbone of these trees, and while its chemical structure is complex, the scientists devised a method to easily break it down into useful components. Karlen explains, “You can make dyes like black ink, polymers for textiles, or convert it into adhesives. It has a large market and high value.

The method consists of three steps: breaking down plant-based p-hydroxybenzoate (pHB) into p-hydroxybenzamide (pHBA), turning pHBA into p-aminophenol, and acetylating p-aminophenol to create paracetamol. This process produces an excellent yield of over 90 percent, with high purity levels that could exceed 99 percent with further refinement.

Advantages over traditional methods

The new methodology has various advantages over traditional production processes. It largely uses water-based and green solvents, eliminating reliance on environmentally hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, it functions as a continuous reaction process, as opposed to batch reactions, which are more suitable for industrial scaling.

Karlen elaborates, “As I’m chopping the tree up, it can feed right into a reactor that pulls out the benzamide. So you’re never stopping. As fast as your trucks can come in and fill that hopper, you can keep processing.”

Scaling up: a solution for the future

Looking ahead, the potential influence of the green revolution goes far beyond pain treatment. In 2022, the global market for pHBA, a critical intermediate in the process, was estimated to be worth $66 to 85 million. The researchers believe that by building a network of biorefineries that process poplar wood, production may be scaled up to meet demand sustainably. They envision smaller biorefineries feeding into larger hub refineries, resulting in a market for derived products worth millions to billions of dollars.

The transition from trees to Tylenol represents more than just a change in production methods; it shows a dedication to environmental responsibility and sustainable innovation. With continuous study and collaboration, this ground-breaking strategy has the potential to reshape not only the pharmaceutical sector but also our collective path to a more sustainable future.

Source study: ChemSusChem—Production of biomass-derived p-hydroxybenzamide: Synthesis of p-aminophenol and paracetamol


The post Transforming Tylenol: a sustainable path without coal tar or crude oil first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.

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Dog That Flunked Out Of Police Academy Becomes A Hero In Taiwan’s Earthquake Response





To be a drug-sniffing dog you have to be impassionate, which is exactly what this golden retriever was not. Though Roger flunked out of the Kaohsiung City police academy in Taiwan, his career in public service was not over, and has now captured the hearts of his people with his rescue efforts during Taiwan’s recent […]

The post Dog That Flunked Out of Police Academy Becomes a Hero in Taiwan’s Earthquake Response appeared first on Good News Network.

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‘The Javan Tiger Still Exists’ – DNA Found May Herald An ‘Extinct Species’ Comeback





Ripi Yanuar Fajar and his four friends say they’ll never forget the evening after Indonesia’s Independence Day celebration in 2019 when they encountered a big cat roaming a community plantation in Sukabumi, West Java province. Immediately after the brief encounter, Ripi, who happens to be a local conservationist, reached out to Kalih Raksasewu, a researcher […]

The post ‘The Javan tiger still exists’ – DNA Found May Herald an ‘Extinct Species’ Comeback appeared first on Good News Network.

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