Earth Hour 2018 – The World Goes Dark

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.

 

 

 

Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin
Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin – Image : David Biene / WWF

Words

  • achieve = reach, get
  • according to = as said by …
  • agreement = document signed by two or more groups or countries
  • ban = forbid
  • breakthrough = here : to do something really important after trying for some time
  • citizen = person who lives in a country or city and has rights there
  • environment = nature and the world we live in
  • especially = above all
  • globe = world
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • including = also
  • join = take part in an event
  • landmark = something that is easy to recognise, like a famous building
  • movement = campaign ; a group of people who have the same ideas and want to work together to achieve things
  • numerous = many
  • preservation = to keep something in its original condition
  • public = place where everyone can go to
  • pull out = leave; not be a part of
  • raise awareness = to get people to see and understand a problem
  • remote = far away and hard to get to
  • solar-powered = operated by the sun
  • spread = move to
  • switch off = turn off
  • vow = promise
  • wildlife protection = to save and protect animals that live in the wild
  • WWF = the World Wide Fund for Nature

 

Roger Federer Wins 20th Grand Slam Title

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.

 

Roger Federer
Roger Federer – Image: Tatiana

Words

  • ATP tour = worldwide series of tournaments for professional tennis players; they take place at the same time every year
  • back = back part of your body between the neck and legs
  • back and forth = here: both players took turns winning sets
  • beat = win against
  • comeback = here to win again after an unsuccessful time
  • cope with = deal with
  • decade = ten years
  • decisive = here: it is why he won
  • dominate = here: more than other flags
  • downfall = here: when you suddenly start losing matches
  • exhausted = very tired
  • experience = here: the skill and knowledge you have from winning many difficult matches
  • fail = did not
  • Grand Slam = the four most important tennis tournaments = Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open
  • in addition = also
  • injury = damage to a part of your body
  • intermediate = here: for a short time in between other phases
  • latter = last
  • majority = here: most of the people in the stadium
  • quarter-finals = the last eight players in a tournament
  • ranking = position on a list that shows how good you are compared to others
  • reach = get to
  • rival = person who you play against
  • suffer = to be in pain
  • supporter = person who cheers for you in an event
  • take their toll = to have a bad effect on something over a longer period of time
  • tournament = series of matches in which players play against each other until there is one winner
  • trophy = large object, like a cup or plate made out of silver or gold, that someone receives as a prize for winning a sports event

California Publishes New Cell Phone Guidelines

California’s Department of Health has published new guidelines on how to handle cell phones. It warns that radiation emitted from cell phones can be harmful but does not say that cell phones are dangerous.

.Health authorities in California suggest a few measures cell phone users should take. When sleeping, you should keep your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body.  You should also avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket. They also recommend only using cell phones when reception is strong.

Some doctors agree that carrying cell phones close to your body could increase the risk of getting brain tumours , cancer and becoming infertile. It may also lead to headaches, hearing problems and a loss of memory. On the other side, there are many health experts who say that the risks cell phone usage present are not proven

Cell phones emit radiation in the form of low-energy radio waves when they receive and send signals from cell towers.    The frequencies that cell phones use could be linked to various illnesses.

The new cell phone guidelines have existed since 2009 but not been published. Recently, a Berkeley professor won a lawsuit against the Department of Health to release the guidelines to the public and push for more action.

 

The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.
The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.

Words

  • authorities = government organisation that can make decisions
  • avoid = stop; not do something
  • brain tumour = illness in your brain  in which cells increase in an uncontrolled way
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • cell tower = high object that sends out and receives cell phone signals
  • Department of Health = authorities that are responsible  for health programs and health information that is given to the public
  • emit = release, send out
  • guidelines = instructions on how people should do something or deal with something
  • handle = use
  • increase = go up
  • infertile = if you are not able to have babies
  • lawsuit = a problem that is settled by a judge in court
  • loss of memory = when you start forgetting things
  • public = the people in general
  • publish = to release official information to all people
  • radiation = form of energy that is sent out as waves that you cannot see
  • receive = pick up, get
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reception = the quality of the signal you get for your cell phone
  • suggest = recommend
  • usage = how something is used

Traditional Sports in Britain on Boxing Day

Boxing Day, the 26th of December,  has become a traditional day of sports in the UK, with many events taking place all across the country.

The day got its name from a time when many upper-class families gave boxes of gifts to poor people who had to work at Christmas while everybody else was celebrating. Boxing Day is celebrated in many Commonwealth countries.

The first important sports event on Boxing Day took place back in 1860 when two of the oldest football clubs in England played against each other. Today the Englisch Premier League schedules a full round of matches on this Christmas holiday. In many cases, teams that are geographically close to each other play on Boxing Day so that fans do not have that far to travel.

While most European football leagues take a winter break, sometimes for several weeks, English football continues between Christmas and New Year.

The holiday schedule is welcomed by many football fans, but there are critics however who say that the Christmas season is a time when everybody should be at home with their families. Some managers point out that the season is very long and major teams need a break for players to recover from injuries.

Football is not the only popular sport that is played on  Boxing Day. Horse racing and rugby have also seen regular sports events on the second day of Christmas.  Traditional fox hunting is opposed by more and more Britons. In addition, Boxing Day has become one of the strongest betting days of the year.

 

Traditional King George VI chase on Boxing Day
Traditional King George VI Chase on Boxing Day – Image: Carine06 , https://www.flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/8315710432/

Words

  • betting = when people risk money on the results of games  or future events
  • break = pause; a time during which you have no games
  • celebrate = to have fun or do something special
  • Commonwealth = group of about 50 countries that were once a part of the British Empire
  • critics = people who think that certain things are not good
  • everybody else = all the other people
  • gift = present
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • injury = when a part of your body gets hurt
  • major = important
  • manager = someone who is in charge of and coaches a football team
  • oppose = to be against
  • point out = to say something that is important for you
  • Premier League = the 20 best football teams of England an Wales which play against each other
  • recover = to  get better
  • schedule = to plan something for a certain time
  • traditional = something that has existed for a long time
  • UK = United Kingdom
  • welcome = to be glad that something happens
  • winter break = time during which teams do not play because it is too cold or there is too much snow on the ground

World’s Largest Battery in South Australia

The world’s largest battery has gone into operation in Australia. American technology giant Tesla built the 100-megawatt lithium-ion battery for South Australia’s state government.

The battery was connected to the power grid only  2 months after Tesla and the Southern Australian government signed a contract. Tesla boss Elon Musk said that he could deliver the battery and make it operational within one hundred days. Tesla made the deadline easily.

According to the company, the battery can provide electricity for over 30,000 homes for an hour in case of an electricity blackout. It is also intended to help supply more energy during peak times.

The battery packs, about the size of a football field,  are connected to a nearby wind farm, 120 kilometres north of Adelaide.  They went into operation at the beginning of the Australian summer, when more energy is needed for air conditioning.

While many regions in Australia still rely on fossil fuels as their main energy source, South Australia gets a lot of its energy from renewable sources, especially solar and wind power.  However, backup energy is important for a region that has recently experienced severe storms.  The entire state witnessed a blackout in September 2016. 1.6 million people were left without electricity.

 

Tesla battery chargers in Adelaide Australia
Tesla battery chargers in Adelaide Australia – Image: Timeshift9

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • air conditioning = system that makes the air in a room cooler and drier
  • battery pack = several  batteries connected to each other
  • blackout = when everything  goes dark because there is no electricity
  • connect = link to
  • contract = official agreement between two parties
  • deadline = date or time by which you have to have something finished
  • deliver = to bring a product to a certain place
  • electricity = power that is carried in wires and cables  and is used for heating, lighting and to make machines work
  • entire = whole
  • especially = above all
  • experience = see, witness
  • fossil fuels = energy that is produced by dead plants and animals over millions of years; for example coal, oil and gas
  • however = but
  • intend = here: designed to work as …
  • lithium-ion battery = very powerful battery that can be used over and over again; it is used in laptops, cellphones, iPods etc..
  • make it operational = make something work
  • megawatt = one million watts
  • power grid = network of electrical wires that connect power stations
  • provide = give, deliver
  • recently = a short time ago
  • rely = depend on; need
  • renewable = here: energy that replaces itself naturally and never ends
  • sign = to put  your name on a document
  • severe = very strong
  • solar = from the sun
  • source = where something comes from
  • witness = experience, go through

Europe’s Muslim Population Will Continue to Grow

Over the next few decades, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to continue growing.  A study estimates that by 2050 the Muslim population could grow to 58 million, or 11 % of the total European population, compared to 5 % today.

The study conducted by Pew research, is based on census and immigration data from  30 countries. It created three scenarios. In the first scenario, Muslim immigration into Europe would come to a complete halt.  Even then, the Muslim population would rise to 7.4 %. This is because Muslims, on average,  are 13 years younger than Europeans and have a higher birth rate.

On the other side, a high migration scenario is based on the flow of refugees from 2015- 2016 and expects it to continue. If this happens, the total Muslim population in Europe will rise to 75 million, about 14% of the total population.

According to the Pew report, not all countries will be affected evenly by future Muslim immigration.  Germany and Sweden will see the biggest increases because these two countries accepted most asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 refugee crisis.

At the moment, Germany (5 million) and France (5.7 Million)  have the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

The recently published study is likely to cause more debate on immigration into Europe.  It cites instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria as the main factors that drive people to European countries.  In the last 6 years seeking asylum in conflict regions was the most important motive for Muslims coming to Europe. Only few came to Europe for employment or education.

 

Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisi
Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisis – Image: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • affect = here: changed by the situation
  • asylum seeker = person who leaves their country because they are in danger, mostly for political reasons, and asks another country to let them live there
  • birthrate = the number of births for every 1,000 people in a year
  • census = official counting of a country’s population
  • cite = mention
  • compared = to look at two things in a similar way
  • conduct = carry out
  • data = information
  • debate = discussion
  • decade = ten years
  • employment = job, work
  • factor = reason
  • flow = steady movement of people
  • estimate = to calculate how big something will be  based on the information that you have
  • halt = stop
  • immigration = when you go to another country and plan to live there permanently
  • increase = to go up
  • instability = when the situation in a country is not stable because of war or other conflicts
  • is based on = use something as the starting point for your research
  • is expected to = will probably
  • motive = reason
  • ongoing conflict = here: conflict or war that is continuing
  • refugee = people who have to leave their home because of war or a natural disaster
  • rise = go up
  • scenario = situation that could possibly happen
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subject

Did the Indus Valley Civilisation Grow Without a River?

Many great civilisations in history developed along rivers.  Up to now, historians have assumed that one of the oldest civilisations grew on the banks of the Indus River and its tributaries. Now, scientists may have found proof that people settled in the region after the Indus River had changed its course.

Archaeologists and scientists who have been working the region took probes from dried up river beds.  They found out that water hadn’t run through the Indus Valley for over 8,000 years. That means that when people started settling in the area about 5,000 years ago there was no river.   In addition, some ancient sites were found in the old river bed, which would not have been the case if a river had been flowing through it.

According to experts, the people who lived during that time may have got their water from yearly monsoon rains. There may have also been underground water supplies that they accessed.

Other great cultures used the advantages of a river to bring water to their fields and as a means of transporting goods throughout the region. That happened in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Historians point out that civilisations do not necessarily need to be near a river in order to grow. In fact, not having a river nearby may have advantages as well because people would not have to deal with regular floods.

 

Archaeological ruins along the Indus River in Pakistan
Archaeological ruins along the Indus River in Pakistan – Image : Junhi Han

Words

  • access = use
  • according to = as said by …
  • advantage = good side of something
  • Ancient Egypt = old civilisation that grew along the Nile River thousands of years ago
  • ancient site = a place where something was built a long time ago
  • archaeologist = person who studies old societies by looking at what is left of buildings or the objects that people made at that time
  • assume = think that something is true although you can not prove it
  • bank  = land along the side of a river
  • course = path
  • deal with = handle a problem
  • develop = grow
  • flood = when an area of land becomes covered with water
  • goods = products
  • historian = someone who studies history
  • in addition = also
  • means of transporting = what you use to bring things from one place to another
  • Mesopotamia = area in western Asia along the River Tigris and Euphrates; in ancient times the world’s first cities were built andan advanced  civilisation developed there
  • monsoon = rainy season in India and southeast Asia; it lasts between April and October
  • not necessarily = when you don’t really need something in order for  something else to work
  • probe = rocks from an area
  • proof = facts, information or documents  that show that something is true or has happened
  • river bed = the ground at the bottom of a river
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • settle = to start living in a place for the first time
  • supply = something that you need and use every day
  • tributary = a small river that flows into a larger one

 

Artificial Light Makes Our World Brighter

A new study of satellite images has revealed that our planet is getting brighter and brighter during the night. More and more artificial lighting may cause harm not only to humans and animals but whole ecosystems.

The study has found out that the quantity of light has increased by 2.2 % per year over the last decade. Much of that increase comes from the Middle East and Asia, while in Europe and the USA brightness has stayed about the same.  Only a few countries have actually seen a decrease in the amount of light. Among those are Syria and Yemen.

Artificial light on earth is growing because more and more towns and other settlements are being created in places that were once farmland, forests or wilderness. In addition, China and other booming economies are building whole cities in sparsely populated areas.

Even though large areas of land surface remain dark, there are places on earth where lights never go out, for example, shopping malls, dining districts or international airports.

The technology of artificial lighting is also changing. More and more LED lights are replacing older light bulbs. They are more energy-efficient and emit a brighter bluish-white light. As they are becoming cheaper people tend to buy more.

Doctors warn that too much artificial light can bear health risks. It can lead to shorter periods of sleep, insomnia and changes in a person’s biorhythm.

Scientists have claimed that increased light have an effect on animal habitats. More light near beaches may affect the turtle population that comes there to lay their eggs. Migrating birds that rely on stars to navigate can be influenced by light and travel off course.

 

Satellite image of the United States at night
Satellite image of the United States at night

Words

  • actually = in fact, really
  • affect = influence, change
  • artificial light = light that is produced by people or machines, not naturally by the sun
  • bear = have
  • biorhythm = changes in the way and speed that your body reacts at certain times
  • booming economy = country where business is growing very strongly
  • brightness = being bright
  • cause harm = be a danger
  • claim = to say that something is true, even if you cannot prove it
  • decade = ten years
  • decrease = to go down
  • effect = change
  • emit = send out
  • energy -efficient = here: an object that produces more light and uses less energy
  • even though = while
  • habitat = natural home of a plant or animal
  • image = picture
  • in addition = also
  • increase = to go up
  • influence = here: to change the way you travel
  • insomnia = not able to sleep
  • migrate = to travel regularly to other parts fo the world
  • navigate = to find out which way you need to go when you travel from one place to another
  • off course = away from the route you would normally take
  • quantity = how much of something
  • rely = depend on, need
  • remain = stay
  • replace = to use instead of something else
  • settlement = group of houses or buildings where people live, especially in areas where nobody has lived before
  • shopping mall = large area with a lot of shops
  • sparsely = here: with few people
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a special subject
  • surface = the top layer of an object
  • technology = here: how something is done or produced
  • tend = here: will probably happen
  • wilderness = large area of land that has never been developed  or farmed

Era of Robert Mugabe Comes to an End in Zimbabwe

After being president for 37 years, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has finally stepped down. At 93, he was the world’s oldest leader. Mugabe headed the country since its independence from Britain in 1980. In his letter of resignation, Mugabe said he would allow the peaceful transition of power to his successor.

Moments after the announcement, people started celebrating in the country’s capital Harare and elsewhere in the country.  While some see him as a great African hero and statesmen, a majority of the population regard Mugabe as a dictator who has economically brought down the southern African nation. He is criticised for using his power to crush opposition leaders and crack down on his political opponents.

After holding on to power for decades, Mugabe made his biggest mistake by trying to make his wife, Grace, instead of his Vice President his successor. In the days and weeks before finally stepping down, the military took control of the country and put Mugabe under house arrest.

When it became clear that the end was closing in, his own party, Zanu PF, removed him as party leader and started an impeachment process. After Mugabe’s resignation, opposition leaders are calling for quick and fair elections.

After Britain’s colony Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980, Robert Mugabe was the first, and only, black president. In sweeping economic changes, he nationalized white-owned private farms. Instead of being given to poor black people, Mugabe gave them to generals and his loyal followers. As a result, food production went down and the country’s people started suffering from hunger.

After independence, about 3 million people left the country for neighbouring South Africa. Those who stayed were left without work.  Today unemployment is estimated at 80%. Tourism has slowed down and industrial output has decreased. Zimbabwe’s diamond mines, the largest source of income, are now run by the army.

 

Zimbabwe's long time leader Robert Mugabe resigns
Zimbabwe’s long time leader Robert Mugabe resigns – Image : www.kremlin.ru

Words

  • announcement = official statement that can be heard by everyone
  • celebrate = to have fun and be happy
  • crack down on = here: to be strict with someone and punish them
  • crush = here: to stop someone from getting too powerful
  • decade =  ten years
  • decrease = to go down
  • economically =  about money, trade and business in a country
  • election = when people vote  to chose someone for an official position
  • estimated = thought to be …
  • head = to be the leader
  • house arrest = to be kept a prisoner by the government; you have to stay inside your house  rather than in prison
  • impeachment = when an important member of the government, often the president, has committed a serious crime and a special court decides if he can keep his job
  • independence = being free from the control of another country
  • industrial output = what factories can produce in a given time
  • loyal followers = people who admire and support him a lot
  • majority = most of the people
  • nationalize = when the government takes control of a private company
  • opponent = rival
  • opposition leaders = the people who were against him
  • peaceful = not violent
  • population = the people who live in a country
  • regard = think of someone as ….
  • remove = replace
  • resignation = to announce that you have decided to give up your job
  • source of income = where you get your money from
  • statesman =political leader who is respected  as being wise and fair
  • step down = to give up power and control of a country
  • sweeping = things that make a big difference
  • transition of power = when you give up power and another person takes over
  • unemployment = people who are out of work and don’t have a job

Plague May Have Entered Europe in Prehistoric Times

According to recent scientific research conducted by Germany’s Max Planck  Institute, the plague was in Europe as far back as the Stone Age. When scanning the remains of 500 prehistoric skeletons, scientists found plague bacteria in six individuals. The samples come from Russia, Germany and the Baltic countries.

The deadly bacterium came to Europe during the mass migration of people who moved from Central Asia eastwards about 5,000 years ago. The findings suggest that the disease came to Europe in waves during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Some experts think that people may have been moving eastwards to escape the bacterium.

Most of the people at that time were nomadic farmers who travelled with their livestock. Animals may have harboured the plague bacterium and helped spread it.

By analyzing the bacterium scientists hope to find out how it evolved and became more deadly over periods of time.

The plague was responsible for many mass killings in history.  The deadliest was the Black Death which occurred in Europe during the 14th century and killed about a third of the continent’s population.   It still causes deaths in certain areas of the world. Recent outbreaks in Madagascar have killed hundreds of people.

Stone Age people may have spread the plague from Central Asia to Europe - Image: Gugatc
Stone Age people may have spread the plague from Central Asia to Europe – Image: Gugatchitchinadze

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • bacterium, bacteria  = some living things, some of which cause illnesses or diseases
  • Baltic countries = Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
  • Bronze Age = time between  6,000 and 4,000 years ago when bronze was used for making tools
  • century = a hundred years
  • conduct = do, carry out
  • disease = illness
  • escape = get away from
  • evolve = grow; develop; change
  • harbour = here: to have something in them that is dangerous
  • livestock = animals such as cows, sheep, goats that are kept on a farm
  • mass migration = when many people leave their homes, often  in order to escape from a dangerous situation
  • Neolithic = the last period of the Stone Age, about 10,000 years ago, when people started to live in small groups
  • nomadic = people who travel from place to place  instead of living in one place all the time
  • outbreak = when something suddenly starts to happen
  • plague = deadly disease that produces high fever and swollen places in the body; it often leads to deaths of a large number of people
  • prehistoric = time in history before anything was written down
  • recent = a short time ago
  • remains = what is left of a body
  • research = to study a subject seriously so that you can find out more about it
  • responsible = the reason for something
  • scan = look at something carefully
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • spread = take from place to place
  • suggest = imply; to say that something is probably true
  • Stone Age = early time in human history when stone was used for making tools