UN chief’s call to ‘save the Pacific to save the world’

  PORT VILA, Vanuatu (AFP) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was vital “to save the Pacific to save the world” as he wrapped up his brief South Pacific tour in Vanuatu on Saturday. Guterres has spent the past week in the region pushing for urgent action ahead of a UN summit in September billed as a last chance to prevent irreversible climate change. According to the UN, Vanuatu is the world’s most at-risk […]

UN chief says world ‘not on track’ with climate change

Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres launched a brief South Pacific tour in New Zealand Sunday, warning the world was “not on track” to limiting global temperature rises. In a strong message for action on climate change, Guterres said international political resolve was fading and it was the small island nations that were “really in the front line” and would suffer most. His visit, ahead of the Climate Action Summit in […]

Mexico City bans disposable plastics

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Mexico City’s legislature voted Thursday to ban businesses from buying, selling or giving their customers disposable plastics, a major shift for a sprawling capital that is awash in them. The ban, set to come into force in December 2020 or January 2021, includes such articles as non-biodegradable plastic bags, straws, cutlery, cups and coffee capsules, the legislature said in a statement, calling them a “serious environmental problem.” It puts the […]

Cyprus’s emblematic wild sheep lock horns with mountain farmers

by Claire Gounon GERAKIES, Cyprus (AFP) — Surveying his orchard in the Troodos Mountains, Cypriot farmer John Papadouris is convinced the island’s treasured wild sheep would have destroyed his crop without action. With the males’ distinct arched horns, the mouflon is a national symbol of Cyprus, where it has roamed for thousands of years and is protected by law. But after making their home in the western forests of Paphos, they have been creeping east […]

Alaska’s thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time

  by Jocelyne Zablit Agence France Presse QUINHAGAK, United States (AFP) — The first artifact — a wooden mask — was discovered in 2007 by a child who stumbled upon it while playing on the beach near his home in Quinhagak, a village in western Alaska that sits by the Bering Sea. Over the following months, hundreds of similar objects — baskets, finely carved harpoon shafts, lip plugs, wooden dolls, ivory tattoo needles — emerged […]

Rangers find three-eyed snake in Australia’s Humpty Doo

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A three-eyed snake found slithering down a road in the northern Australian town of Humpty Doo has sparked amusement in a country already accustomed to unusual wildlife. Rangers dubbed the unusual serpent “Monty Python” after finding it on a highway in late March. X-rays showed all three of its eyes were functioning and the extra socket likely developed naturally while the snake was an embryo, the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife […]

Climate change forcing Alaskans to hunt for new ways to survive

  by Jocelyne ZABLIT Agence France Presse QUINHAGAK, United States (AFP) — As far back as he can remember, Willard Church Jr. has gone out ice fishing well into the month of April, chopping holes that were easily four feet deep into the Kanektok River near his home. But the waterway that runs along the village of Quinhagak, in southwest Alaska, barely freezes now, a testament to the warming temperatures wreaking havoc on the state’s […]

Mandela prison drawing sells for $112,575 in New York

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — A drawing by late South African president Nelson Mandela of the door of his prison cell on Robben Island — where he was held for 18 years — sold on Thursday in New York for $112,575. “The Cell Door, Robben Island” — completed in 2002 by the Nobel peace laureate — exceeded the top end of the estimated range provided by Bonhams, which put its value at $60,000 to […]

Alaska’s indigenous people feel the heat of climate change

by Jocelyne ZABLIT NAPAKIAK, United States (AFP) — The cemetery has already been moved twice, the old school is underwater and the new one is facing the same fate as erosion constantly eats away at the land in Napakiak. The tiny village located in southwestern Alaska, along the meandering Kuskokwim River, is one of dozens of coastal indigenous communities across the state that are on the front lines of climate change, their very existence and […]

Three tonnes of rubbish collected from Everest

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AFP) — A dedicated clean-up team sent to Mount Everest has collected three tonnes of garbage in its first two weeks, officials said Wednesday, in an ambitious plan to clean the world’s highest rubbish dump. Decades of commercial mountaineering have left the pristine mountain polluted as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human […]

Aussie scientists find antidote for deadly box jellyfish sting

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian researchers believe they have found an antidote to a sting from the world’s most venomous creature, the much-feared box jellyfish. Researchers at the University of Sydney had been investigating how the venom is so deadly that one box jellyfish can kill 60 people. The team noticed the venom needs cholesterol to kill human cells and decided to test whether existing drugs could stop it. “Since there are lots of drugs […]

Egypt’s rebounding tourism threatens Red Sea corals

by Aziz EL MASSASSI Agence France Presse Hurghada, Egypt (AFP) — In serene turquoise waters off Egypt’s Red Sea coast, scuba divers ease among delicate pink jellyfish and admire coral — yet a rebounding tourism sector threatens the fragile marine ecosystem. The Red Sea is a top scuba diving destination, but Egypt’s tourism sector was buffeted by a wave of security shocks through much of this decade, before a partial recovery since 2017. A diving […]