Imagine whizzing 200 miles per hour between Seattle and Vancouver, catching glimpses of the the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. Or getting from LA to Vegas in a third of the drive time. The US has fallen drastically behind in high-speed rail infrastructure, but 2020 may serve as a turning point.

Each week we summarize three pieces of news that give us hope for a greener, brighter future. This week, the prospect of high-speed rail caught our eye. If you’d like to receive Hopeful Headlines in your inbox, sign up for weekly newsletter:

For American high-speed rail, 2020 could be a turning point

By Matt McFarland, CNN Business, July 8, 2020

  • After decades of little-to-no progress, high-speed rail projects have made strides in securing permitting and investments. Most notably, the XpressWest project between Los Angeles and Las Vegas secured rights to build along Interstate 15 and is expected to be ready by late 2023.
  • While Japan has had high-speed rail since 1965, the US has been unable to get projects off the ground. Meanwhile, China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network with thousands of miles of rail and trains reaching 217 mph.
  • Other projects finding momentum include a 90 minute trip between Houston and Dallas, which are 240 miles apart, and a Pacific Northwest project to connect Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in a series of one-hour trips.

Why does it matter? Wasn’t transcontinental rail what made America an industrial powerhouse in the first place? And isn’t it time to update that 200 year old rail system?

Nooksack River dam finally coming down, freeing miles for fish habitat

By Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, July 20, 2020

  • The city of Bellingham began a dam removal project on the Nooksack River which will open up 16 miles of habitat for spawning salmon. The city hopes the removal will increase the chinook population by 30%, which are a crucial food source for resident orcas in the Puget Sound.
  • The Nooksack River watershed has long suffered from heavy logging, pollution from industrial equipment, levee walls, farm runoff and more. The dam removal is a crucial step toward recovery.
  • From the article: “Both the Nooksack and Lummi tribes stopped all commercial fishing for chinook on the Nooksack decades ago, because the fish became so scarce, said Ned Currence, fisheries resource protection manager for the Nooksack Tribe.”

Learn more about Washington’s salmon population here.

People Buying More Alternative Meat, Expected To Consume Less Real Meat Through 2025

By Jeff Kart, Forbes, July 17, 2020

  • Plant-based meat alternative sales have been surging in 2020, even before receiving a boost from coronavirus. “Nielsen reported a 35% jump in April-May sales for meat substitutes compared to the four weeks ending Jan. 18.”
  • Meanwhile, red meat production from May 2019 to May 2020 dropped 18%, and “U.S. meat sales are expected to drop by more than $20 billion before the end of 2020.”
  • From the article: “Data suggests that since the start of the pandemic, U.S. consumers doubled their purchases of beans and canned foods (and bought plenty of toilet paper). The biggest surge of any category, however, was in plant-based meat, with a 264% jump in sales.”

Why does it matter? Simply put, cows are just wasteful, gassy middlemen for calories and proteins we can more easily get from plants.

Enjoying that warm, fuzzy feeling of a future with high speed rail, abundant salmon and less cow farts? Share it using the icons below!

Feature photo by Daniel Abadia on Unsplash.