- Inside Ukraine's counteroffensive
- Homeschool punishment in Brazil
- Freya, Norway’s frolicking walrus
- … and much more.
Divisions Of Our Planet, Calendar Of Our Destiny
Environmental researchers and statisticians are always busy trying to measure the inability of humans to reconcile ourselves with the rest of the planet. It’s largely an exercise in communication to help recognize the urgency of the matter: the size of a carbon footprint, the rising of temperatures, the breadth of an ocean’s plastic waste.
The Global Footprint Network, instead, measures how humans are overconsuming our own earth with the help of the yearly calendar, calculating what date each year we use up one year’s worth of resources.
The date is now known as Earth Overshoot Day, and every year it arrives sooner — giving us a clear idea of how unaware we remain of the finitude of our resources.
In 1971, we used up one year’s worth of the earth’s resources by Dec 25. In 2022, we used up our resources this past Thursday, July 28.
Flipping the equation, we would now need three-quarters of a second earth to satisfy our needs. It’s as if we were spending twice what we earn in any given month, leaving us with no more food on the table two-thirds of the way through the year.
To be clear, we’re not equally to blame for Earth Overshoot Day. We’ve been “lucky” to make it nearly eight months into the year because a majority of the world consumes far fewer resources than the richest nations. For Qatar, resources ended this year on February 10, and for the United States, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, they ended on March 13, according to the Global Footprint Network’s detailed calculations.
Earth Overshoot Day this trying year fell on a difficult week, of a complicated month.
Record temperatures have hit all over Europe, with the city of Seville in Spain becoming the first in the world to name heat waves, reports El Confidencial (this week’s is called Zoe).
On July 27, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline — the major delivery route for Russian gas to Europe — reduced its supplies by 40%, the latest move in retaliation to the European Union’s package of sanctions against Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck is urging citizens to have shorter showers, while the European Commission has launched a campaign to save gas for the winter ahead. As German daily Die Welt notes, the European heat is playing into Russia’s hands.
Drought and water scarcity are affecting not only agriculture, but also energy production in hydroelectric power plants. In Italy, where hydroelectric energy accounts for 15% of national use, seven hydroelectric power plants had to be taken off the grid, while in Portugal, hydroelectric energy stored in water reservoirs is at half the average of the previous seven years.
The drought in the Horn of Africa is threatening the food security of millions, as grain shipments from Ukraine have been stalled, creating shortages of staples in many countries in Africa especially.
The IMF worries about the world entering a recession. Certain countries are planning on reopening shuttered coal plants in response to the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.
The pandemic first, and then the Russian invasion, are giving us a clearer picture of just how connected our lives are across the planet, how a geopolitical crisis can not only cause immense grief and destruction in one country, but how it can quickly spill into the basic livelihood of other countries. And how planetary hardships are bound to hurt more those already hurting.
“We need people to be able to hear our calls for polluters to cut emissions, and our need for finance to fund the transition to clean energy here,” says Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate. “The climate crisis is an unequal crisis. It is affecting some people more than others.”
Or put another way, even if the short term causes and consequences are spread out differently, we are ultimately bound to the same planet. And calendar.
— Irene Caselli
What do you remember from the news this week?
1. Which magazine were Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska featured in this week?
2. Which northern African country voted in favor of a new Constitution, amid low turnout and accusations of fraud?
3. What traditional headdress was the Pope pictured wearing?
4. What broke a 7-year-old boy’s finger during a competition? A stray discus throw / A model airplane / A chess-playing robot
[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]
Meet the infamous “Pink Sauce,” TikTok’s latest food obsession. Invented by Miami cook Chef Pii (pictured) and only sold in the United States (at $20 a bottle), the sauce has had many social media users question its ingredients. According to the chef, it is made with sunflower oil, honey, dragon fruit, garlic, chili, salt, lemon juice, citric acid water and vinegar.
• UK to host Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine: The United Kingdom will host next year’s edition of the Eurovision song contest instead of Ukraine. Having won the 2022 competition, Ukraine should have been the host country, but in the context of the ongoing invasion by Russia, the UK (which came second) was considered a safer option. British organizers have said that Ukraine will be at the center of the show.
• Addio to another Goodfella, Paul Sorvino dies: Gangster movie fans are mourning for the second time in two months as actor Paul Sorvino died Monday at 83. His Goodfellas co-star Ray Liotta had died on May 28 at the age of 67. Other actors famous for their Mafia roles have died earlier this month: The Godfather’s James Caan on July 6, and The Sopranos’ Tony Sirico on July 8.
• French artist paints intertwined hands in Brazil: French contemporary artist Saype has paid a powerful tribute to the 270 victims of the failure of the Brumadinho dam in 2019 by creating a giant piece of “land art” on a soccer field nearby. The artwork is the 16th stage of his “Beyond Walls” project, which aims to paint intertwined hands in 30 different cities by 2030.
• 37-year-old Neighbours say goodbye to TV: The final episodes of Australian soap opera Neighbours, based in Melbourne, have been aired in the UK and Australia this week after 37 years on TV. Many of the show’s stars returned for the finale, including world-famous celebrities including Kylie Minogue and Margot Robbie.
• New Beyoncé album leak: Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance leaked online after several supermarkets in France mistakenly put the disc on the shelves two days before its official release, on July 29. Fans of the iconic singer pledged not to listen to the leaked songs out of respect for Queen B’s first album in six years.
Vladimir Putin's troops have been advancing slowly in eastern Ukraine for weeks. Now, after five months of Russia's war of aggression, Ukraine holds out the prospect of a major counteroffensive. Die Welt’s reporter Ibrahim Naber visits a unit in eastern Ukraine, where waiters, electricians, and teachers are fighting. “The Ukrainians are very resourceful: in Zaporizhzhya, in the backyard of a shielded factory, they have been converting everything into war production for months,” he writes. But experts are expressing doubts about the counteroffensive’s success, with some arguing that both the personnel and the equipment are lacking on the Ukrainian side, while Russia continues to send new forces to the front.
Read the full story: Hunting Orcs, Western Arms — Ukraine's Counteroffensive Is On
Children of immigrants who are born or raised in Italy could obtain Italian citizenship thanks to the proposal dubbed: Jus Scholae, or right to school (using the Latin formula of Jus soli, for birthright citizenship). The bill would make it possible for children of immigrants who were born in Italy or arrived before the age of 12, and who have attended at least five years of school, to apply for Italian citizenship. Italy’s school community in particular has been lobbying for the reform bill to reach final approval. “We teachers will be responsible for accompanying a process that is actually already underway in our classrooms: the children we call foreigners rightly feel they are Italian, even if they are not by right,” Natalia Vetta, a teacher at Di Donato School in Rome, told Italian magazine L’Essenziale.
Corporal punishment has been illegal in Brazilian education since 2014. But a disturbing investigation by openDemocracy and Agência Pública has found that the country’s religious homeschooling groups are encouraging parents to spank their children “calmly and patiently” as a teaching tool — even giving them tips to dodge the law. While the National Association for Home Education, the most vocal group promoting homeschooling, does not explicitly endorse violence against children in its own official communications, it does distribute supporting materials that do so.
Read the full story: Probe Finds Brazil's Religious Homeschooling Groups Encourage Corporal Punishment
“Smart locks” can prove very useful for those who tend to forget their keys — but this connected tech can become a bit of an issue when batteries run out, leaving users to resort to, well, physical keys. This led a German semiconductor company to develop a battery-less microchip that, once fitted into a smart lock, can harvest the power from your smartphone NFC’s chip to operate the device. For now, the technology is only designed for small-scale applications such as lockers, bicycle locks, or mailboxes.
A young female walrus, nicknamed Freya after the Norse goddess of love and beauty, has taken residence in the waters of Norway’s capital city Oslo, delighting people with her shenanigans. The 600-kg marine mammal has gained notoriety by climbing on boats (and bending a few), basking in the sun and chasing a duck. A local newspaper set up a livestream to monitor her every move.
• On Aug. 2, Kansas voters will be the first to vote on the protection of abortion rights in their state after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
• Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will give an address to Australian National University students next week, to discuss the war in Ukraine and share his experience as Ukraine’s leader.
• Investors turn their attention to next week’s OPEC+ meeting as oil prices rose and demand decreased, hoping for a boost in U.S. supply.
• The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final will be held on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in northwest London. After beating Sweden in the semi-final, England will face Germany — that beat France on Wednesday.
News quiz answers:
1. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska appeared in U.S. magazine Vogue, with photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz. Vogue’s feature has faced both backlash and praise, with some feeling the stylized images are not good publicity for the Ukrainian cause.
2. Tunisians have voted to approve a new constitution that will expand President Kais Saied’s powers, but the results have been contested by political opponents, who point at the low voter turnout of only about 30%.
3. Pope Francis wore a feathered traditional Indigenous headdress during his weeklong “pilgrimage of penance” in Canada, where he apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of Indigenous children in residential schools.
4. A chess-playing robot broke the finger of a 7-year-old boy during a chess competition in Moscow. He was nonetheless able to finish the tournament, in a cast.
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