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Planet

Happy when it rains

During the 12th century, people came to Cambodia’s Kulen mountain, a sacred place associated with fertility, to cut huge chunks of stone that would have to be hauled down by elephants.

In recent decades, despite Kulen becoming a protected area, people have come not just to pick the sweet lychee fruits from which the mountain derives its name, but to cut trees to sell for luxury hardwood or charcoal in towns further down.

The illegal logging of Kulen national park has laid bare vast patches of forest. As the tree cover has shrunk, the people living on top of the mountain have watched the rain clouds that used to gather above the forest shrink or slip away altogether.

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Planet

Co-op to replace carrier bags with compostables

The Co-op is to be the first major supermarket in the UK to replace single-use plastic carrier bags with lightweight compostable alternatives that shoppers can reuse as biodegradable bags for food waste.

The bags – a stronger version of the biodegradable bags the convenience chain has been trialling since 2014 – will be rolled out within weeks to almost 1,400 stores across England, Scotland and Wales, and then to all 2,600 shops.

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Culture Planet

Learning how to co-exist with animals again

Growing up as a Maasai herder on the Lemek group ranch, Dickson Kaelo frequently encountered big cats. But when we meet a cheetah on a drive into the Maasai Mara’s Kicheche Bush Camp, he reacts as if seeing the slender creature for the very first time.

His surprise is justified.

When he helped found the Olare Orok (now Olare Motorogi) Conservancy in 2006, this land on the fringes of the National Reserve was over-grazed and devoid of native species. Now it’s one of Africa’s top safari destinations, with professional photographers and returning tourists applauding the wildlife sightings.

 

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Planet

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic.

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Planet

Plastic-busting fungi

According to the first-ever State of the World’s Fungi report, Scientists at London’s Kew Botanical Gardens reported that these organisms have the potential to break down waste plastic – an important advance in a world where momentum is building to reverse the toxic tide of plastic that is killing marine life and polluting the ocean.

Every year, at least eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in the sea, sometimes decomposing into tiny microplastics that make their way into our food chain.

Senior Kew Gardens Scientist Ilia Leitch, said that other fungi and microorganisms are also being explored for their potential to degenerate different types of plastic, explaining that “by understanding how the fungi break down these bonds and what the optimal conditions are, you can then increase the speed at which they do it.”

In the meantime, the Kew Gardens report showcases the kind of pioneering thought that will be at the heart of the fourth UN Environment Assembly next March, on “innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.”

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Planet Wellbeing

5 firms tackling the biggest global issues

Faster trains. Cleaner air. Fresher food. Engineering firms are tackling some of the world’s biggest problems. 

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Planet

‘Unlimited renewable energy’

The world is in danger — so who are you going to call?

When aliens invaded in Independence Day, it took Jeff Goldblum’s brains to protect the planet. Matthew McConaughey literally hacked time to rescue the human race in Interstellar — and when a giant supernatural marshmallow man wreaked havoc in New York City, it was the proton packs invented by Bill Murray and his fellow Ghostbusters that saved us from a squishy, sugary demise.

Basically, scientists are superheroes — and it’s not just in the movies when they’ve got our back.

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Culture Planet

Mapping air pollution

Curious about the pollution levels in your neighborhood? Soon you’ll have the data at your fingertips, thanks to a partnership between Google and the San Francisco-based startup Aclima. The duo have announced plans to install Aclima’s internet-connected air quality sensors into the global fleet of Google Street View vehicles in order to create a map of air pollution levels around the world.

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Culture Planet

Indonesian children get new view of marine life with free goggles

Indonesia’s maritime affairs minister is giving children in coastal communities a new view of marine ecology — literally.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, a passionate snorkeler who has been known to detonate illegal fishing boats to send a message, is giving out free goggles to kids in the archipelago’s remote coastal regions so they can learn to appreciate underwater life firsthand.

 

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Planet

Lego launches first sustainable bricks

LEGO botanical elements such as leaves, bushes and trees will be made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane in the future and will appear in LEGO boxes already in 2018.

Production has started on a range of sustainable LEGO elements made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. The new sustainable LEGO ‘botanical’ elements will come in varieties including leaves, bushes and trees.