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News Round Up September 2015

A selection of geographical stories that have made the headlines this month.

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  1. Earth’s trees number ‘three trillion’
  2. According to a new assessment by Yale University, there are just over three trillion trees on Earth. The figure is eight times bigger than the previous best estimate, which counted perhaps 400 billion at most. The study will form the basis of studies that consider animal and plant habitats for biodiversity reasons, to new models of the climate, because it is trees that play an important role in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  3. What’s the wettest place on Earth?
  4. The current record holder, as recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records, is the cluster of hamlets known as Mawsynram in India. Moisture swept from the Bay of Bengal, condenses over this 1,491m plateau, in the Khasi Hills that overlook the plains of Bangladesh. The result is an astonishing average annual rainfall of 11,871 mm (467.35”).

  5. Failure to act on climate change means an even bigger refugee crisis
  6. As the abstract of an academic paper published this March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences puts it: “There is evidence that the 2007−2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centres. Scientists have similarly suggested that climate change may have played a role in the drought in north Africa that fueled food price rises ahead of the Arab Spring, while back in 2007.

  7. How China's economic slowdown could weigh on the rest of the world
  8. The effects of a slowdown in China are felt all over the world; China's near neighbours are tied in to its manufacturing processes. Other countries supply it with oil and gas, while some far-away places in Africa and South America provide it with metals and other primary materials. Agricultural produce is important to Brazil and New Zealand. Lastly, several European countries are surprisingly tied in, often for luxury goods.

  9. The new cold war: The race for Arctic oil and gas
  10. The Arctic, which is believed to contain as much as one-quarter of the world's undiscovered oil is part of a massive territorial dispute. The United States,Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are all laying claim to the area, with each country eager to tap into the oil, 30 percent of the earth's natural gas, and resources such as diamonds, gold and iron. In August, Russia submitted a bid to the UN claiming a territory thought to hold $30tn worth of oil and gas.

  11. Why does the UK need China to build its nuclear plants?
  12. The UK's Hinkley Point nuclear power station has major backing from China. But why does the government need their help?
    It will be the first nuclear plant in the UK for 20 years. Hinkley Point C in Somerset is expected to provide up to 7% of the UK's electricity needs and create thousands of jobs. The project by French energy company EDF is going to be partly backed by China through a £2bn deal that the government has said it will guarantee.
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