The smoke from the recent bush fires on the east coast of Australia will continue to push across the Pacific and will eventually make at least one full circuit around the globe, according to NASA.
The space agency has used satellites to map the trajectory of the smoke which has so far affected New Zealand and parts of South America.
The smoke has travelled so high into the atmosphere it has moved into the stratosphere, the second atmospheric layer surrounding the earth, which could cause unprecedented and rapid changes in global atmospheric conditions. NASA added that the volume of smoke being released into the atmosphere is also responsible for multiple pyrocumulonimbus events – or fire-generated thunderstorms.
The agency is studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and whether it provides “a net atmospheric cooling or warming”.
In this tragic spell of bush fires, over 2000 homes have been destroyed and 28 people killed. The air quality of those living in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra are experiencing severely diminished air quality which has been deemed ‘hazardous’ on several occasions by Australian officials. The is wide concern over public health.
Some of the harmful gasses released from the fires include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There is also great concern for the ultra-fine particles released into the atmosphere — invisible to the naked eye but able to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Officials have warned that face masks alone are not enough protection from these harmful particles, and has urged people to refrain from exercising outdoors.
Read: Extreme Australia
Main Image: Ferocious Fires in Australia Intensify, NASA
7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.
The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.
Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.
The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.
This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.
The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.
Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025
Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans
Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air
By Sofi Summers
Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons
10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.
The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.
Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.
Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.
The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.
Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.
You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!
All images courtesy of eXXpedition
By Sofi Pickering
Easter Islanders are the latest indigenous group to demand the return cultural relics pillaged by Western countries from their homeland.
The British Museum’s Easter Island Moai
A delegation from Rapa Nui, as the island is now known, are asking the British Museum to return a giant statue known as Moai taken by the crew of a British naval vessel, HMS Topaze, in 1868.
The Moai is known as Hoa Hakananai’a and the islanders say it’s the living embodiment of their ancestors “whose role is to protect us”.
It was presented to Queen Victoria who gifted it to the British Museum, where it’s been for almost 150 years.
The museum has been the target of numerous claims for return of cultural relics including the Elgin Marbles to Greece and tribal artefacts taken from Australian Aborigines.
Moai from Easter Island are also held by museums in the United States, France and New Zealand.
Want to learn more? Watch our episode Globe Guides: Mysterious Places and follow our presenters as they uncover the strangest mysteries on the planet, from the relics of Easter Island to England’s Stonehenge.
Rising out of jungle across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are the ruins of dozens of Mayan cities. Most of these ruins are at least 1,200 years old, dating back to the glory days of the Maya around 700 AD.
Discovered though largely ignored by Spanish conquistadors during their Aztec conquest in the 16th century, it was 300 years later, in the 19th century, when European explorers ‘discovered’, and subsequently took the time to investigate and learn the ways to unlock the wonders of this fascinating pre Hispanic civilization.
A great Mayan structure
Today the sites of Chichenitza, Tulum, Palenque and Uxmal are internationally famous but scores of other sites remain little known and visited.
One such site, Coba, about two hours drive south of Cancun, and one hour west of Tulum, is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, which visitors can still climb.
Coba was an important Mayan city, evidenced by the many raised stone roads linking its buildings which stretch out across a 120 square kilometre site. Here you can see two Mayan ball courts where the Mayans played their ingenious ball game, pelota. Then bicycle or walk along enchanting paths encased by the jungle canopy to visit the imposing Nohoch Mul, at 138 feet the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.
Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century, dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001
For how long tourists will be allowed to clamber up the steps of this awesome structure remains to be seen as the Mexican authorities step up their efforts to preserve the wonders of this magnificent pre Hispanic civilization.
Learn more Mayan culture in our epsiode, La Ruta Maya
Barrio Bella Vista is a popular spot close to the city center in Santiago and probably has highest density of bars in Chile. Bella Vista has a wide range of choices from popular local hangouts to upscale Jazz joints. There’s something for everyone – with all kinds of music, from contemporary eletro-pop to salsa and merengue. This is probably the only barrio where you can find bars and clubs closing their doors in the early hours of the morning.
It’s awesome when we meet up with people during our Globe Trekking who are as big a fans of the shows as we are!
The Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda owned three homes in Chile–two outside Santiago and one in Barrio Bellavista in Santiago. La Chascona in Santiago, La Sebastiana in Valparaiso and Isla Negra in Isla Negra. His home in Bellavista is named after his third wife Mathilde: “La Chascona” which pays tribute to her unruly red hair.
An Excerpt of We Are Many,
While I am writing, I am far away;
and when I come back, I have already left.
I should like to see if the same thing happens
to other people as it does to me,
to see if as many people are as I am,
and if they seem the same way to themselves.
When this problem has been thoroughly explored,
I am going to school myself so well in things
that, when I try to explain my problems,
I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.