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Last Updated: 06-06-2019 3:31
Once again, the earth has gone dark. Every year since 2007, thousands of public buildings and landmarks around the globe are switched off for an hour to raise awareness for climate change. Earth Hour 2018 started in Samoa and spread to all continents.
Numerous sites, including Sydney’s Opera House, the Paris Eiffel Tower and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, went dark at exactly 8.30 pm local time. In addition, millions of private citizens joined in the event and turned off lights in their homes. 187 countries took part in this years Earth Hour , organised by the WWF.
In the past the Earth Hour movement has achieved breakthroughs in many environmental fields. In 2014 Ecuador’s government banned the use of plastic bags on the Galapagos island. Solar-powered lights were installed in remote villages in India and 17 million trees were planted in Kazakhstan.
According to the WWF, Earth Hour 2018 will concentrate on the preservation of forests and oceans, as well as wildlife protection. The organisation says that it hopes to raise awareness of global warming especially in the USA, where President Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Tennis superstar Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam Title and his 6th Australian Open trophy. In a dramatic match, the Swissman beat Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6 and 6-1. The match went on for over 3 hours with both players being exhausted at the end. It was one of the hottest tournaments ever played on the ATP tour. In some of the matches temperatures reached 40° C (104 ° F).
Federer is the first to win 20 Grand Slam titles. He has won three out of the last 5 Grand Slams. At 36 Federer became the second oldest man to win a grand slam title after Ken Rosewall who won the Australian Open in 1972. In addition, he has become the oldest player ever to climb to the top of the ATP rankings.
The sympathetic Swiss player had the majority of supporters on his side at Melbourne Park. Red and white flags dominated the arena. In a game that went back and forth, Federer’s experience was decisive in winning the final set.
After dominating men’s tennis for a decade, the Swissman’s intermediate downfall started in 2013 when he lost in the second round at Wimbledon and failed to reach the quarter-finals in the following three Grand Slam events. After suffering from a series of back injuries between 2013 and 2016 Federer made an amazing comeback last year.
Tennis is a sport in which injuries take their toll during the latter part of an athlete’s career. Federer rivals Raphael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, both in their 30s, are also coping with injury problems.
A recent study shows that the world’s coral reefs have been showing signs of strong bleaching due to global warming. In the 1980s bleaching was rare, occurring about once every 25 years. Now the rate has risen to about once every five years. Environmentalists predict that by 2050 bleaching will happen every year or two.
Bleaching is caused when warm water breaks down the algae inside the reefs. They provide food for the corals and keep them healthy. When algae fall off, corals lose their colour and can die within a short period of time. Even if the water surrounding the reefs gets colder again it may take years for the damaged reefs to recover completely.
While bleaching is especially a problem in the waters of the Carribean Sea and Western Atlantic, reefs around Australia and South Africa have hardly been hit. In addition to the warming temperatures of the oceans, coral reefs are also endangered by pollution and overfishing.
Coral reefs are an important ecosystem. They are home to 25% of all marine species and provide a habitat for countless types of fish. Reefs protect coastal regions from flooding and tidal waves. In addition, coral reefs are tourist attractions that lure millions of people every year. The tourist industry around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, for example, is worth about 5 billion dollars a year.
Iceland has become the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men. The new law, which took effect on January 1, imposes a fine on companies and government organisations employing more than 25 workers if they pay men more than women. The Scandinavian country wants to eliminate the pay gap between the sexes completely within the next four years.
Iceland has been considered the world’s fairest country in terms of gender equality for the past nine years. In a country where half of the parliamentarians are female, women still earn about 15% less than men. The new Icelandic law aims at helping to change the attitude towards women in business and politics.
According to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-based non-profit organisation, there is a global 58 % difference in pay between the sexes. Economic experts predict that, if the current trend continues, women will have to wait over two hundred years to get equal pay and the same opportunities at work.
There is also a lack of female politicians. Only a quarter of the world’s politicians is female and fewer than one in five ministers are women. Only 23% of the world’s parliamentary seats go to females.
Chocolate may be in danger of becoming extinct by the middle of this century. Pests and fungal diseases have been found in cacao trees that may endanger the crop’s survival.
In addition, cacao is also under attack by global warming. Trees grow in a very small area about 20° north and south of the equator, where humidity and temperatures are the same all year round. By 2050 rising temperatures and drier weather will push cacao production up into mountainous areas, many of which are home to wild animals.
Scientists from the University of California are trying to save the plant. Together with researchers from the American food company Mars, they are trying to grow cacao seeds that are more resistant and can grow at higher altitudes.
Most of the world’s cacao production comes from two countries in western Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. These areas may not be suitable for cacao production in the decades to come. Millions of farmers depend on cacao for a living.
According to world aviation officials, 2017 was recorded as the safest year in air travel. There were no deaths caused by commercial plane crashes last year.
However, the total number of people killed on civilian aircraft and cargo planes has increased slightly. The deadliest incident occurred in January 2017 when a Turkish cargo jet crashed into a village in rural Kyrgyzstan as it tried to land in foggy weather. All four crew members and 35 people on the ground were killed.
Over the past 20 years, fatalities caused by commercial jetliners have sunken steadily. In 2005, for example, over a thousand people were killed on board commercial flights.
Air travel has become very safe. It is estimated that the accident rate is at 0.06 per one million flights or one fatal accident every 16 million flights.
According to flight experts, chances are that the zero death toll on commercial airlines will not be repeated. Because there are over 37 million flights every year, some kind of accident involving the death of passengers is bound to happen in the near future.
The decline in passenger deaths is due to increased safety measures by the airline industry. Airplanes are becoming more robust and airlines tend to buy newer, more modern aircraft. But aviation officials are worried about the risk of in-flight fires caused by an increase in lithium-ion batteries that are being brought on board, mostly through smartphones and notebooks.
Among the world’s largest countries, the UK has the best air-safety record . Since the end of the 1980s, there has been no fatal accident involving a British plane. In contrast, African countries have the worst safety records.
China has put a ban on all ivory trade in the country. The ban came into effect on January 1 of this year. 67 official ivory processing factories and shops were closed last year and a remaining 100 were shut down on December 31. A similar ban in the U.S. went into effect in June 2016.
The Chinese decision to stop the ivory trading business has been welcomed by the World Wildlife Fund and other organisations as a major effort in protecting the world’s elephant population. It is estimated that over 30,000 African elephants are killed every year.
Chinese citizens regard ivory as a status symbol. People buy jewellery, chopsticks and other objects made of ivory, leading to the development of one of the world’s largest ivory markets. When trading ivory was officially banned worldwide in 1990, China continued to sell it through shops and factories. The legal trade also brought illegal ivory into the country.
However, there is a major concern that the new law does not apply to HongKong, an important ivory trading hub. Authorities in the former British colony are working on a ban of their own, expected to take effect soon. On the other side, customers will probably go to Laos, Vietnam or other Asian countries, where trading laws are not so strict.
In the past year, ivory prices started to go down as more and more Chinese shops were closing. The ban will have a big impact on African countries, especially Kenya and Tanzania, where most of the elephant poaching is taking place.
California has become the largest American state to legalize the sales of marijuana for recreational use. In November 2016, citizens in the state voted in favour of a proposition that would allow citizens to possess small amounts of the substance. It is now legal to grow six plants of your own or have an ounce of pot.
About 90 licences are to be handed out statewide to shops that want to sell recreational marijuana. In the last two decades, special shops have been allowed to sell marijuana only for medical reasons, in order to treat pain and anxiety. People who want to buy medical marijuana need a prescription from a doctor.
Apart from legalizing the drug, there will be strict controls monitored by state authorities. Californians will not be allowed to consume marijuana in public places or near schools. Local governments will be able to set up their own rules on where smoking is allowed.
Despite this new state law, the federal government still looks at marijuana as an illegal substance. California has become the eighth state to legalize the drug.
In 2016 California produced about 13 million pounds of pot. 80% of it was transferred illegally out of the state.The illegal marijuana market, currently at 5 billion dollars, is expected to grow to 7 billion in California by 2020. In addition, the state will be able to generate additional taxes from selling legal marijuana.
Shopkeepers who have been able to sell medical marijuana are worried that prices will go up because of additional taxes. Some fear that additional licences could ruin their business.
According to a new publication by Amercian neurologists, regular exercise can improve your memory and thinking skills. We know that exercise has proven to be good for your heart and overall fitness, but now doctors say that it can actually help you remember things.
As we get older most of us have problems with memory, language and thinking about certain things. This is called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) .In most cases, such problems don’t influence our everyday life but we realize them. Exercising may slow down the rate of MCI and reduce the risk of getting dementia at a later phase in life.
Unlike people with dementia, those with mild cognitive impairment can cope with their regular routine, like getting dressed or preparing meals. However, they may have trouble remembering dates, appointments and where they left their keys. This may be the first step to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
While there is no medicine and dietary way to fight against memory loss, neurologists encourage people to do some form of aerobic exercise, like walking, running or cycling or swimming for a total of 2 .5 hours a week. They recommend exercising just so fast that you don’t sweat and can talk to others.
More than 6% of all people around the world have a mild form of cognitive impairment. As people get older the rate increases and jumps to 37% of all over 85 year olds.