Notes and shorts from around the world


Vast new peat bog found
A peat bog the size of England has been discovered in a remote part of Congo-Brazzaville. Containing billions of tonnes of peat dating back 10,000 years, it was first spotted on satellite images. Dr Simon Lewis, a researcher at Leeds University, and his team then trekked for three weeks through swampland to investigate further. Their efforts paid off when they came upon the bog spanning 104,000 to 208,000 square kilometres, with a peat layer up to seven metres deep. “To me it’s quite amazing that there are still uncharted places,” he said. Analysis of the peat should shed light on the environmental and climatic history of the region, which should in turn help scientists predict how climate change will affect the region in the future.
Infodemic
Coronavirus was surging in Romania earlier this year – and Russian disinformation and internet conspiracy theories were fuelling the outbreak. The Romanian version of the Russian news site Sputnik, in particular, promoted protests against mask mandates and quarantine measures and said the government was exaggerating the severity of the virus. One poll found 41% of Romanians thought the virus was a US bio-weapon. Partly because of this propaganda, many Romanians do not trust their doctors and refuse to quarantine if infected. After a court ruled that patients could not be held against their will, even sick patients began fleeing hospitals. Health minister Nelu Tatar said in July that some 30,000 people had left isolation, quarantine or medical surveillance.
Threat to sea life
A flotilla of 260 Chinese fishing trawlers set up just beyond a protected zone around the Galápagos Islands in July, catching massive amounts of fish and other sea creatures. It was the latest appearance of the so-called dark fleet, a group of Chinese fishing vessels that operates far from Chinese waters and is frequently accused of depleting local species. The Galápagos Islands are famed for their unique wildlife. The archipelago’s marine reserve has one of the world’s greatest concentrations of shark species, including endangered hammerhead varieties. In 2017, a Chinese fishing boat caught in the same waters by the Ecuadoran navy was found to have more than 300 tonnes of wildlife on board, mostly sharks. Ecuador gaoled the crew and complained to Beijing.
Bons mots
“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation by thinking once or twice
a week.” – George Bernard Shaw, Anglo-Irish playwright, critic and social activist (1856-1950)
 

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