Top Stories

August 13, 2015


“Overshoot day”: Humans have already used up 2015’s supply of Earth’s resources

Humans have exhausted a year’s supply of natural resources in less than eight months, according to an analysis by the Global Footprint Network (GFN). The Earth’s “overshoot day” for 2015 occurs today, six days earlier than last year. The date is based on a comparison of humanity’s demands – in terms of carbon emissions, cropland, fish stocks, and the use of forests for timber – with the planet’s ability to regenerate such resources and naturally absorb the carbon emitted. The GFN estimates that the world’s population currently consumes the equivalent of 1.6 planets per year, which should rise to two planets by 2030 based on current trends. The impact of this “ecological deficit” can be witnessed through deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of water resources and the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (The Guardian)


Unpaid UN intern who slept in tent quits after media uproar

An unpaid intern at the United Nations in Geneva has resigned after revelations that he was sleeping in a tent caused uproar. David Hyde, 22, who had flown 11,000 miles from New Zealand to take up an internship, said accommodation costs in the Swiss city were unaffordable. He acknowledged that he had not told the truth during his internship interview when asked whether he would be able to support himself during his stay. “The UN was clear about their intern policy from the start: no wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, no health assistance,” he said. He added that knowing the policies did not make them right. “Call me young and call me idealistic but I don’t think this is a fair system,” he said, urging interns worldwide to “push for the recognition of our value and the equal rights that we deserve”. (The Guardian)

International Development

Global fight to eradicate polio turns to Afghanistan and Pakistan

The global fight to eradicate polio has set its sights on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday, as Africa marked a year without any new cases of the crippling disease for the first time. Nigeria is set to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries, leaving only Afghanistan and Pakistan, and raising hopes that it will soon become the second human infectious disease after smallpox to be eradicated. Of the 34 new polio cases reported so far in 2015, 28 of them have been in Pakistan, with the rest in Afghanistan. The WHO estimates global savings of $50 billion over the next 20 years if polio is eradicated worldwide, but say that failure to do so could result in up to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years. (Reuters)

Technology & Innovation

‘Shade balls’ released into LA Reservoir in battle against crippling California drought

In a bid to fight prolonged and crippling drought, Los Angeles has acquired millions of plastic “shade balls” to help with water conservation efforts. The balls can not only reduce evaporation by more than 1 billion litres, they also help to safeguard water quality by blocking sunlight. There are now a total of 96 million shade balls covering the water. “By reducing evaporation, the shade balls will conserve 300 million gallons of water each year,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. One of the manufacturers, Sydney Chase, prefers to call them “conservation balls” because she says they bring a number of environmental benefits, such as “eliminating a tremendous amount, up to 90 per cent of [evaporation], as well as protecting wildlife”. (ABC)

Corporate Reputation

India seeks $99 million in damages from Nestlé after food scare

The Indian government has filed a class action suit for 6.4 billion rupees ($99 million) against Nestlé’s Indian unit on behalf of the country’s consumers after the country’s worst packaged food scare in a decade. Nestle, the first foreign firm in India to face such a damages claim, is suffering a public relations crisis, after a regulator in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh found monosodium glutamate (MSG) and excess lead in a sample of its hugely popular Maggi noodles. “The department took exception (given) that Maggi was largely consumed by children and Nestlé’s advertisements aimed at popularizing Maggi among children,” said a government official at the food ministry. Nestlé said it was “disappointed with the unprecedented step” of filing of the complaint, and reiterated it does not add MSG into Maggi. (Reuters)

Image Source: Earth Eastern Hemisphere by NASA / Public Doman