by Tom Bosschaert

April 20, 2014

Tom Bosschaert

Bolivia is about to give nature legal rights, Swedes start trial with six-hour workdays, and Angela Merkel is not allowed to view her own NSA file. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: Bolivia is about to pass "Law of Mother Earth"

  • Bolivia is to become the first country in the world to give nature comprehensive legal rights. The legislation is based on broader principles of living in harmony with the Earth and prioritizing the collective good

  • The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has exceeded 402 parts per million (ppm) during the past two days of observations, which is higher than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years, according to readings from monitoring equipment on a mountaintop in Hawaii.

  • UN panel's third report explains how global dependence on fossil fuels must end in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Clean energy will have to at least treble in output and dominate world energy supplies by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to the report.

Energy & Environment: Garbage patch in Indian Ocean

  • Search parties for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane discovered tons of trash in the Indian Ocean. The vast majority of the pollution is smaller than a grain of rice: particles of plastic broken down by sunlight and waves until they are so small they can no longer be seen by the naked eye. Environmental groups are concerned that as these particles move through the oceans, pesticides and other chemicals glom onto them. When marine animals then ingest the particles, the chemicals can kill the animals or enter the human food supply.

  • Filmmaker Samuel Orr took 40,000 still images from his front window over 15 months and blended them into a short film. It shows how a forest changes throughout the seasons.

Business & Economy: Six-hour workdays

  • Municipal staff in Gothenburg will act as guinea pigs in a proposed push for six-hour workdays with full pay, with hopes that it will cut down on sick leave, boost efficiency, and ultimately save Sweden money. In France employers' federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that requires employers to make sure staff don’t answer their emails outside of working hours. What can you learn from these work interventions?

  • U.S. fast food giant Burger King plans to expand its chain into Crimea, filling the vacuum left when McDonald's pulled out of the peninsula last Friday, citing unspecified supply issues.

  • Mexico's booming auto industry has reached a major milestone, claiming to have overtaken Japan as the second biggest car exporter to the United States in the past three months. The Latin American nation now only trails Canada, but experts say Mexico could become the top exporter to its northern neighbor as soon as 2015. Relatively low wages, being next door to the massive US market and a raft of free trade deals with other nations have combined to make Mexico a prime location for carmakers.

Science, Tech & Design: Open source seeds

  • A group of scientists and food activists are releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge". This to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you're not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.

  • Harvard faculty members wrote an open letter to encourage their University to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. According to the letter: “Many fossil fuel corporations misinform the public, promote denials of accepted science, and exert an undue degree of influence on government, while marketing a product the consumption of which cannot be sustained.”

  • A huge swarm of genetically modified insects are set free in Brazil to fight dengue fever. They carry a lethal gene designed to devastate the Aedies aegypti population and reduce dengue's spread.

  • The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Netherlands can no longer permit its citizens to freely download copyrighted movies and music. In its judgment the Court rules that the current system of a "piracy levy" to compensate rightsholders is unlawful.

Urban Environment: Most murders in the Americas

  • The Americas have overtaken Africa as the region with the most murders, thanks to a surge in organized crime, according to a new UN report. This Economist article uses the UN report to illustrate your odds of being murdered.

  • Despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations nationwide, the same percentage of Afghans turned out to vote—roughly 58 percent, or 7 million out of 12 million eligible voters—as did Americans in the 2012 U.S. presidential race. "Relative to what we were expecting, it's very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban," Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview from Kabul on Monday. "And a very good day for the Afghan people."

  • Impressive photos showcasing consumption and waste.

Unexpected and Intriguing: Merkel can't view own NSA files

This bi-weekly digest is assembled from items sent to us by Except members. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

April 20, 2014