More Amazon Rain Forest Destroyed By Mining

A recent survey , examining the years between 2005 and 2015, has come to the conclusion that more and more of the Amazon rain forest is lost due to mining operations. According to the government, most of these mining activities  are illegal and unregulated.

Brazilian environmental organisations  now say that mining is one of the major problems of the Amazon rain forest. Whereas earlier estimates put the destruction through mining at about 2% of the total area, experts now say that over 10% of rain forest loss is caused by mining. Most of the rain forest is cleared to create settlements for mine workers , as well as new transportation routes  and airports. Minerals mined in the Amazon region include iron ore, bauxite and copper.

The destruction of the rain forest through  mining is 12 times greater outside official and regulated  areas than within. In some cases  observers saw mining activity up to 70 km from a mine’s border.

Rain forests are essential to the planet’s climate. They bind carbon dioxide and provide a living space for many plants and animals . Since 2000 more than 190 000 square kilometres of the Amazon rain forest have been cleared.  The leading cause of deforestation is still farming.

Officials  also report that, for the first time in years, deforestation throughout the year has  actually decreased – by 16 % between  August 2016 and July 2017.  This is a result of more surveillance and stricter controls, but it is also caused by lower livestock prices on world markets.

 

Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest - satellite image
Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest – satellite image

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • bauxite = soft material that you use to get aluminium
  • bind = here: not let something escape into the atmosphere
  • border = the end of an area
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animals and people breathe out  and when carbon is burned
  • cause = reason
  • clear = here: cut down trees
  • conclusion = to decide or say something, based on the information you have
  • copper = soft reddish-brown metal that lets electricity and heat  pass through easily
  • decrease = to go down
  • deforestation = the cutting down or burning of all trees in an area
  • destruction = here: cutting down all trees in the area
  • due to = because of
  • environmental = about nature and the world around us
  • essential = extremely important and necessary
  • estimate = to calculate how big something is using the information you have
  • examine = to look closely at a topic in order to get more information about it
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • illegal = against the law
  • iron ore = rock that has iron in it
  • livestock = animals, such as cows or sheep, that are kept on a farm
  • loss = losing something
  • major = very important
  • mineral = material in the earth that is valuable and which you can sell
  • mining = the work of getting minerals, like coal, oil or metals out of the earth
  • official = here: allowed by the government
  • provide = offer, give
  • recent =  a short time ago
  • settlement = group of houses created to live in
  • surveillance = when the police watch a place very closely because there may be something wrong going on there
  • survey = questions that you ask people in order to find out more about a topic
  • unregulated = not controlled or watched by the government
  • whereas = although, while
  • within = inside

 

 

More Billionaires in Asia Than in US

For the first time in history there are more billionaires in Asia than in the United States. But, the amount of wealth among American billionaires is still higher than in Asia. There are a total of over 1500 billionaires in the world today , 10 % more than last year.  According to a new business report, one new billionaire pops up every second day.

The overall wealth of American billionaires reached $2.8 trillion last year, while Asian billionaires accumulated a total of $2 trillion.  If the trend continues,   within four years , Asian billionaires will have overtaken America . The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires has  increased to over $6 trillion.

The new Asian billionaires come mostly from India and China. Most of them make their money in consumer industries and technology. Especially in China,  billionaires are younger than elsewhere. Some haven’t even reached the age of 30 yet.

The new billionaires in Asia are investing large sums of their money in sports. They are buying whole sports teams in their home country as well as in Europe. Art and museums are other areas of interest for the new billionaires.

 

Li Ka-shing, one of the richest people in Asia
Li Ka-shing, one of the richest people in Asia – Image: EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine

Words

  • according to … =  as reported by …
  • accumulate = to get more and more money over a period of time
  • amount = here:how much money in total
  • billionaire = a person who has more than a thousand million dollars
  • combined = here: all billionaires in the world together
  • consumer industries = factories and companies that make everyday things that people need
  • especially = above all
  • increase = to go up
  • invest = to buy or spend money on something because you will need it later on
  • pop up = appears, comes up
  • overall = total, all in all
  • overtake = here: to have more than others
  • reach = climb up to ; increase to
  • sum = amount
  • trillion = 1,000,000,000,000
  • wealth = the money or valuable things that a person owns

World’s Lowest Wine Production in Over 50 years

The world’s wine production in 2017 is expected to be at its lowest since 1961. Grape harvests, especially in the major European wine-producing countries, Spain, France and Italy , are low. Thanks to surplus production in the last few years there is  enough wine available and there will be no shortages for consumers. However, wine experts say this could lead to an overall rise in wine prices.

Global wine production is expected to drop by 8%  to 246 million hectoliters, which would be the lowest overall production since 1961. Italy and France have reported that their grape harvest will go down by 20 % each  in  2017. Spanish production is expected to drop by 15 %. Nevertheless, the quality of the grapes is expected to be very good.

Countries that have had normal or larger grape harvests, like Australia, Argentina and South Africa will profit from the low European production and be able to sell bring more of their wine on world markets.

The United States, the world’s fourth largest wine producer, has witnessed wildfires in California, the country’s number one wine-growing state. But they have not done any significant damage because the crops had already been harvested.

There are two main reasons for the poor harvest in Europe. Cold temperatures  and frost in early spring damaged many vineyards. Dry summers and long heat waves have also lead to a drop in harvest figures. In some areas the decline in production means that small wine-producing families are facing financial problems and sometimes even bankruptcy.

 

Vineyard in France
Vineyard in France

Words

  • available = something that can be bought
  • bankruptcy = if you are not able to pay the money that you owe to others
  • consumer = a person who buys products
  • damage = when somersetting is destroyed
  • decline = go down, drop
  • drop = go down
  • especially = above all
  • expected = thought to be
  • face = deal with a difficult situation
  • grape = small round green or purple fruits that are grown for wine
  • heat wave = period of time when it is very hot and does not rain
  • however = but
  • major = very important
  • nevertheless = in spite of what was just said
  • profit = to have an advantage
  • rise = go up
  • shortage =  not enough of something
  • significant = to have an important effect on …
  • surplus = more than what is needed
  • vineyard = a piece of land where grapes are grown
  • witness = see,  experience

End of Australia’s Car Industry

The last car , a General Motors Holden, has come off the production line in Adelaide, Australia.  It ends a 90-year long era of car manufacturing in Australia.  At its peak, the Adelaide factory built almost 800 cars a day .

GM Holden is a subsidiary of GM . The closure of Australia’s last car factory will not only leave almost a thousand workers without a job, but also endanger industries that produce parts for Australian-made cars.

Holden has been an Australian national symbol for many decadesThe company, which started out as a family business in the mid 19th century, was bought by General Motors  in 1931. In 1948 the FX Holden became the first car to be  mass-produced in Australia. By 1960, every second car manufactured in Australia was a Holden.  The company’s most popular car was the Commodore,  which was introduced in 1978.

Since World War II a number of foreign auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Mitsubishi have opened and closed car production plants in Australia. Ford shut down its last plant a year ago.

There are many reasons behind the decline of Australia’s car industry.  Through free trade agreements automobile makers no longer have benefits when producing in Australia. Other reasons are high wages and production costs   as well as  a small domestic market of 24 million.

As the  Australian dollar became stronger  the country’s exports became  more expensive. Holden cars became less competitive , while imported foreign cars were cheaper . Since 2001 Australia’s government has been pouring in  $ 5.5 billion into the car industry.

Even though Australia’s car industry has come to an end , the GM Holden will still be available from other manufacturing plants around the world.

GM Holden Caprice, produced in 2007
GM Holden Caprice, produced in 2007

Words

  • agreement = when people, companies  or countries promise to do something
  • available = it can be bought
  • benefit = advantage, help you do or get something
  • century = a hundred years
  • competitive = to be more successful than others
  • closure = to be closed
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = when something becomes less important
  • domestic = home
  • foreign = from another country
  • endanger = to put something in danger
  • era = period of time
  • foreign = from another country
  • manufacture = produce, make
  • mass-produce = to make something in large numbers so that it can be sold cheaply
  • peak = when it was most successful
  • plant = factory
  • pour = here: give
  • production line = products move along  a line of workers who make or check each part
  • subsidiary = company that is owned or controlled by a larger company
  • wages = money a worker gets every week or month

 

New Airport Opens on Remote St. Helena

The first commercial flight landed on the British island of St. Helena a few days ago.  It was the first passenger flight ever to land on the remote island, located  in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. St. Helena’s authorities hope that the new air service from Johannesburg, South Africa  will help boost tourism on the island.

Up to now only a boat service every three weeks connected the island with the African continent. It took a ship about 6 days to travel from  South Africa. The small island relies heavily on British aid to survive. St. Helena’s tourism officials say that the new air link will bring 30,000 visitors to the island every year, compared to only 4,000 last year.

The airport cost  almost £ 300 m  and has been widely criticised  as being the most useless airport in the world. Only smaller airplanes can fly to the island because strong winds to not allow large jet planes to take off and land.

Saint Helena is mostly known as the island to which French emperor Napoleon was banned  and died after he had suffered a defeat at WaterlooThe British overseas territory is only 122 square kilometres large and lies 2000 km off the coast  of Africa. It has a population of 4,200 .

Development on the island has been slow. It got its first mobile phone service in 2015 and the first luxury hotel on the island  is opening soon. Wildlife and nature  on and around the island is why tourists find there way to St. Helena.  A Marine Protected Area was established there last year.

 

The New airport on St. Helena
The new airport on St. Helena – Image: Paul Tyson

Words

  • aid = financial help; money
  • air link = flights to and from a place
  • air service = company that arranges flights
  • authorities = the people who rule a place
  • ban = here: to bring someone to a faraway place so that he/she cannot escape
  • boost = improve; make better
  • coast = where land meets the sea
  • commercial = with passengers on board who pay for the flight
  • development = to increase business, trade and growth in a region
  • emperor = man who rules a group of countries
  • establish = create
  • heavily = very much; strongly
  • luxury hotel = very expensive hotel
  • Marine Protected Area = place in the ocean where animals and plants are protected
  • official = a person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • population = the number of people who live in an area
  • rely = depend on; need
  • remote = very far away
  • suffer a defeat = here: lose a battle in a war
  • survive = to continue to exist
  • useless = not needed
  • wildlife = animals and plants that grow under natural conditions
  • widely = very much

 

Ocean Wind Farms Could Give Energy To Everybody

Winds and storms in the Atlantic are so strong that wind-powered turbines in the Atlantic Ocean could provide the whole world with clean energy. Energy experts now claim that ocean wind farms  can produce three to five times more energy than wind turbines on land. Over water wind speeds are up to 70% higher.

Winds on land create friction because of mountains and buildings. They slow down as they move inwards . In addition, turbines are built closer together, which takes some of the wind speed away .

Winds are especially strong across the northern Atlantic Ocean because of differences in water temperature. When the warm Gulf Stream moves up the North American coast it mixes with cold water in the northern Atlantic. This leads to higher storm activity and more winds, especially during the winter months.

Norway’s energy company Statoil has been operating floating wind turbines in the shallow North Sea for over a decade. These are connected via cable to the ocean floor.  In order to make them work  in the deep sea , however, they must be attached to vertical poles that have massive weights in the water.

One of the biggest problems that face ocean wind farms is transporting energy from the deep sea to land. Energy companies , like Statoil, are looking for high-wind areas that are closer to shore.

While wind farms on land are becoming more  and more common, production costs of running them are becoming lower. In the near future wind energy is expected to become one of the cheapest alternative energy sources .

Europe is the number one wind energy producer at the moment. Every year, about 12 gigawatts of energy are produced by wind power, whereas in America green energy from wind is still in its infancy. If  produced more effectively, the solution to the world’s energy problems may lie in ocean wind farms.

 

 

Offshore wind farm in the North Sea
Offshore wind farm in the North Sea – Image : Harald Pettersen / Statoil

Words

  • alternative energy source = energy that does not come from fossil fuels, like, coal, oil or gas
  • attach = fix, connect to something
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
  • coast = where land meets the sea
  • common = widespread, popular
  • connect = fix or tie to something
  • decade = ten years
  • deep sea = far away from land
  • Gulf Stream = warm water that flows to Europe from the Gulf of Mexico
  • effectively = here: to produce more with less money
  • especially = above all
  • face = deal with, manage
  • float = to move on water without sinking
  • friction = when something rubs against a surface
  • gigawatt = one thousand million watts
  • in addition = also
  • infancy = at the beginning
  • inward = here: away from the sea
  • massive = very big
  • provide = give
  • shallow = not deep
  • shore = land near the coast
  • speed = how fast something is
  • turbine = energy or motor  in which pressure pushes a wheel around
  • weight = a very heavy object
  • whereas = on the other side

 

 

Gold Found in Switzerland’s Sewers

Researchers have found that 3 million dollars worth of gold lands in Switzerland’s sewage system every year. After taking a close look at Swiss waste-water treatment plants, they claim that over a hundred pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of silver  are washed away with waste. However,  it would be too expensive to remove the gold from the wasted water.

Switzerland is a country that processes and refines gold on a large scale.  About 70% of the world’s most precious metal passes through Switzerland in some way or other. Gold is used especially in the country’s watchmaking industry, which dominates the world market.

Other valuable metals pass through the country’ sewage system, but they do not pose an environmental threat.

Most of the refineries lie in the southern canton Ticino, only a short distance from the Italian border.

Swiss watch
Swiss watch – Image: Joe Haupt

 

Words

  • border = line between two countries
  • canton = province of Switzerland
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • dominate = to be number one
  • environmental threat = danger to the world around us
  • especially = above all
  • pose = cause a problem
  • precious = very valuable
  • on a large scale = here: large factories refine large amounts
  • refine = here: to make gold purer
  • remove = take something away
  • researcher = person who studies a subject in order to find out more about it
  • sewage system = a place where waste water  from households is collected; the water is cleaned and returned into rivers or the sea
  • valuable = expensive
  • waste-water treatment plants = place where waste water from households is cleaned from unusable material
  • waste = unwanted material that we do not need

World’s Second Largest Diamond Sold

The second largest diamond ever mined has been sold to a private owner at a public  auction in London. The Canadian company Lucara brought the diamond to the surface in Botswana two years ago.

The gem, called Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light“,  is the size of a tennis ball and has a weight of 1,109 carats. The  diamond was bought by a London jeweler for $53 million , the biggest diamond sale in the last one hundred years.  In the next few months the new owner of the diamond wants to cut it into several smaller stones.

The only diamond larger than the Botswana diamond was the Cullinan , which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into several smaller diamonds, which are today part of the British Crown Jewels.

Lucara tried to sell the diamond last year but did not get the price it wanted, probably because the diamond is extremely difficult to cut. The Canadian mining company is one of the largest in the world and operates diamond mines in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa.

The Cullinan Diamond found in 1905
The Cullinan Diamond found in 1905

Words

  • carat = a unit for measuring  the weight of jewels;  1 carat = 200 milligrams
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • extremely = very
  • gem = a beautiful and valuable stone
  • mine = to dig deep holes into the earth and get valuable minerals, like coal, gold or diamonds out if it
  • operate = to control a company or organisation
  • public auction = a meeting where everyone can go to and where land, buildings, paintings and other objects are sold to the person who offers the most money for them.
  • several = many
  • surface = top layer of something
  • weight = how heavy something is

 

Related Articles

 

Diesel Cars Cause Thousands of Premature Deaths in Europe

According to a new report, diesel cars have caused  thousands of premature deaths in Europe in the past few years. These deaths could have been avoided if countries had met anti-pollution standards. The recently published paper comes almost two years after the Volkswagen scandal, in which the German car maker was caught cheating  on emission tests.

Europe is a continent with  about a hundred million diesel-driven vehicles, almost twice as many as  in all the other countries of the world  combined. Years ago governments and car makers encouraged consumers to buy diesel cars because they were cheaper, used less fuel and produced less carbon dioxide. Many governments also offered tax reductions if people bought diesel cars. What has not been known until now is that diesel cars produce more nitrogen oxides, which may cause lung diseases.

Italy, Germany and France were the countries that recorded the most premature deaths from diesel-polluted vehicles. Especially diesel trucks that drive in densely populated areas contribute to the high level of pollution.

The Volkswagen scandal also shown that emission tests are not accurate and that in some cases diesel vehicles emit up to 4 times more substances than they do when tested in a lab.

Since the scandal broke , governments in Europe and elsewhere have been trying to get people to buy more  petrol-driven cars. They have become more efficient than diesel vehicles and the difference in prices are not not as high any more.

diesel-powered car
Diesel powered car – Image by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accurate = detailed; exact
  • anti-pollution standards = laws that are made to keep pollution levels in a country low
  • avoid = stop ; not happen
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animal or people breathe out or when carbon is burned in the air
  • cheat = here: to trick people and not tell them the truth
  • combined = together
  • contribute = to help make something happen
  • densely populated = when many people live in a small area
  • efficient = if something works well
  • emission test = testing how much gas or dirty substances are sent into the air
  • emit = send into the atmosphere
  • encourage = to say that people should do something
  • especially = above all
  • fuel = liquid used to produce energy and make a car drive
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nitrogen oxide = combination of nitrogen and oxygen
  • paper = report
  • petrol-driven = run with normal petrol, not diesel
  • premature = something that happens before the natural time
  • record = write down information
  • substance = material
  • tax reduction = to pay less tax than you normally would
  • vehicle = machine with an engine that is used to transport people or products

 

 

Gotthard Base Tunnel Becomes World’s Longest Railway Tunnel

The world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, was opened after many years of construction. Trains can travel at speeds of up to 250 km an hour through the 57 km long tunnel. It took 17 years to complete and cost $12 billion. The engineering milestone will bring southern Germany and northern Italy closer together.

The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is also the world’s deepest tunnel, located 2300 metres below Swiss mountain peaks. A total of 2600 workers involved in building the tunnel had to excavate more than 28 million tonnes of rock.

Gottardino shuttle trains will be running between the two endpoints of the tunnel and make a stop at Sedrun, a mountain station in the middle. 65 passenger  and 240 freight trains are expected to travel through the tunnel every day. The Gotthard Base Tunnel  will reduce the time it takes trains to pass through the Alps. A journey from Zurich to Milan, for example,  will be reduced by an hour.

The new tunnel is part of a larger European transportation project that includes two other tunnels in the Alps. Ultimately, the EU plans a high-speed rail connection between its two major harbours, Rotterdam and Genoa.

During the course of history  the Alps have been a natural barrier to travel. In the past traders and merchants had to use mountain passes to travel from north to south. The first Gotthard rail tunnel opened in 1882, but as time went on it could not handle the growing traffic.

In the 1990s, Swiss citizens approved of a government plan to build a new tunnel. How hard such a construction feat would be soon became obvious . In places where there was hard rock boring was extremely slow. Workers could only advance only about half a metre every day.

The new tunnel is expected to reduce road traffic crossing the Alps as more and more lorries and cargo companies will put their freight on Swiss trains.

Gotthard Base Tunnel
Inside the Gotthard Base Tunnel – Image : Hannes Ortlieb

Words

  • advance = move forward
  • approve = to agree with something or to say yes to a plan
  • barrier = a mountain, lake or any other natural object that stops people from going somewhere
  • boring = to make a hole in the mountain by using a special machine
  • cargo = goods carried by a train, ship, lorry, plane etc..
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • course of history = as time went on
  • complete = finish
  • connection = joining or linking two places
  • construction = building
  • engineering = the building of roads, railways bridges etc..
  • excavate = remove earth
  • feat = something very difficult to do
  • freight = goods that are transported from one place to another
  • handle = deal with
  • harbour = place where ships load and load goods
  • high-speed = very fast
  • include = something as part of something else
  • involved = here: worked at the tunnel site
  • journey = trip
  • located = where something lies
  • lorry = truck ; large car that carries goods
  • major = very big and important
  • merchant = person who bought and sold things in the past
  • milestone = an important development in history
  • obvious = easy for everyone to see
  • peak = the top part of a mountain
  • reduce = lower
  • shuttle = train that travels regularly between two places
  • speed = how fast something is
  • Swiss = from Switzerland
  • ultimately = here: when the whole project is finished