Fighting the good fight

The environmental activist believes organisational efforts on a worldwide basis are required to defend the earth’s remaining resources.

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Joss Garman knows a thing or two about coordinated campaigning. The activist, who works for Greenpeace UK, has become a prolific voice in Britain after involvement in demonstrations against coal-fired power stations, politicians and airlines. He has reportedly been arrested more than 20 times. Yet Garman knows results are best achieved through grouped efforts. “We won’t save the world through altruistic individual action, but through working together as a worldwide movement to transform the way our economy is powered,” he says.

Garman was born in Wales in 1985 and has already conducted a lifetime of environmental action...

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The hitchhiker

In September 2012, Sébastian Dahl, a half-Norwegian, half-French photographer, set out to hitchhike from his hometown Oslo, the Norwegian capital, to Beirut, in Lebanon. He grabbed his camera, sealed his backpack, and embarked on a three-month journey. Some 10,000 kilometres (6,370 miles) later, Sébastian could complete an exceptional photographic diary that captured the moments he experienced, the people he met, and the 112 vehicles he used to get there. He tells us about the ride.

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How did the idea come about to hitchhike from Oslo to Beirut?

First I wanted to travel around the world a few times for a year or two but then I realised that it would be more interesting to live in different places for a while...

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Backyard science

In Canada, a grassroots project is highlighting climate change by focusing on the country’s most treasured cultural possession: skating rinks.

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Some months ago, a group of environmental students came to notice that Canadian winters had changed. There was less ice, warmer temperatures. What was worse, it affected the skating rinks, which are about as sacred in Canada as football pitches are in Brazil. According to a study by Montreal scientists, there would be fewer days where skating was possible. Some regions, they said, would end up with no rinks at all.

The students, of Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, south-east Canada, teamed up with a couple of professors to create RinkWatch. They set up a website where, on a Google map, people could pin down their local ice rink...

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The supervolcano

Yellowstone National Park is a geological masterpiece of hot springs and active geysers, but beneath lies a sleeping giant. 

Lorcel

When transfixed by the geothermal features of Yellowstone National Park, it is easy to forget what powers it all. The sights can be so beautiful they are spellbinding: the spectacular hot springs, the geysers, the lava formations, the fumaroles; not to mention the wildlife of grizzly bears, wolves and bison; the scenic landscape of wild forests, majestic waterfalls and large canyons.

Indeed, Yellowstone is easily among earth’s greatest geological treasures, and has been recognised as such. The 9,000-square-kilometre area (3,478 square miles) was the very first national park of the United States, created in 1872, with UNESCO listing it in 1978...

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City of temples

In a Cambodian forest, the temple of Angkor Wat stands as a grandiose symbol of the mighty Khmer Empire.

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In the early 12th century, Suryavarman II, the king of the Khmer Empire, decided to build a temple. Around 50,000 people were sent to work, slaving away for 37 years. They dug a 200-metre moat, bridged by a causeway. They built three square plateaus on top of each other, protected by towering walls. At the top they erected five large towers. Around the temple, they created fine artwork, courtyards and corridors. In 1150 they completed the job. Angkor Wat was ready for use.

The new home of Suryavarman II reflected the power of his kingdom...

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On top of the world

The Great Himalaya Trail is the mother of all hiking routes, and could be used to help impoverished mountain villages.

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Nearly five years ago, Robin Boustead, a British explorer and mountaineer, started a journey across the high mountains of Nepal. He had been researching treks there for five years, having fallen in love with the Himalayas back in 1992. In September 2008 he set out. He wrote down routes, trails and distances; using GPS, he mapped water sources, villages and campsites. He crossed the entire country, marking up a 1,700-kilometre route (1,050 miles). It crossed passes as high as 6,200 metres and included 150,000 metres of climbing and descending. In July 2009 he completed the trail, having lost more than 20 per cent of his bodyweight...

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A golden age

The city of Jerash is an archaeological titan among the Roman relics of the east. But what sparked its monumental constructions?

Aivolie

In their magnificent forum, one can only wonder what the wealthy citizens of Jerash got up to. The city became a booming trade centre in Roman times, as evident by its grandiose facilities: paved and colonnaded streets, towering temples, fine theatres, public squares, city gates, fountains and baths. It became a prime example of Roman urbanism. How? Well, because it could afford it.

The city is among the best preserved ancient civilisations known to man. For reasons to be explained, it was gradually abandoned after the eight century. It was later covered in sand, and remained undiscovered until the early 1800s...

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Idyllic island

From ‘agrotourism’ to serene walks, coastal biking trails and ancient ruins, Cyprus offers more than its size suggests.

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The history of Cyprus may involve its fair share of turbulence, but contemporary visitors are likely to discover an environment of tranquillity. The 9,250-square-kilometre island (3,500 square miles), the third largest in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, is a haven for beach holidays, but also for slow, mind-clearing walks along the coastline. Also on the menu are biking, archaeology and rustic resorts. Action-packed adventures will have to wait: here, it is all about taking it easy.

The island’s arch-typical selling point is that of sandy beaches and scorching heat...

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Down by the river

Each year more than one million wildebeest cross the rivers to graze in Kenya’s grasslands. But not everyone completes the journey.   

Eric-Isselee(1)

They call it the Great Migration, but it is in fact nothing of the sort. Throughout the year, nearly 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras travel in a continuous cycle that stretches across the vast plains of Tanzania and southern Kenya. The climax of the journey is some of the river crossings, where hordes of wildebeest sprint across murky waters infested with large crocodiles. But before even reaching that stage, they have a long way to go.

The setting of the wildebeest’s journey is loosely defined as the ‘Serengeti ecosystem’: an area of 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles) comprising of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation...

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Create an eco-friendly home

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Conceptions and aspirations of the eco home are no longer confined to the domain of the ‘eco warrior’ in a grass-roofed hut. The modern ecological home can look like any other, hiding its clever environmentally friendly or economical features in inconspicuous ways. However, the ultimate eco-friendly home cannot be achieved in one easy step; it requires several significant changes from the way an ordinary house is built and managed. If you’re building a house, a cabin or a second home, here are some tips for building in an eco-friendly way and creating an eco-friendly living facility.

Start with the design

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Starting in the design process with an eco home in mind is preferable to ‘retrofitting’ to achieve an eco-friendly build...

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Rulers of old

In a large shallow embayment on the Australian west coast lies one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

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They look unspectacular, but these stone-like objects hold information that reveals how life evolved billions of years ago. The organisms, located in Shark Bay, a vast marine area on the Australian west coast, are colonies of algae that have formed hard, dome-shaped deposits. For three-quarters of the entire history of life, they dominated the Earth’s ecosystem. Quite simply, they ruled the world. Those left today are living samples of how Earth once was.

The Shark Bay area, listed by UNESCO in 1991, is famous for other things than its ‘living fossils’...

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Spicy delights

Let us guide you through five classic meat-free dishes of the Indian cuisine – the world’s vegetarian wonderland.

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The Indian cuisine is a galaxy of diverse and tasteful plates. In a country of more than 1.2 million people, every region has its own take on how food should be prepared. A signature dish in one area may be virtually unknown in another. More generally, Indian food has been heavily shaped by both religious and historic factors. Trade routes, foreign invasions and colonialism have had strong influences, with Persians, Arabs and Brits all leaving their mark.

India is also a haven for vegetarians. According to a study in 2006, as much as 40 per cent of its households consider themselves to be vegetarian. That is more people than the rest of the vegetarian world combined...

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Green retreat

Businesses seeking sustainable solutions could do worse than book in at Green & Away – Europe’s only tented conference facility.

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In a field where innovation is highly prized, the Green & Away conference centre is exploring the boundaries of sustainable living. Here air-conditioned meeting rooms and excessive corporate facilities make way for wooden cabins, organic bars, solar-powered showers and compost toilets. The reason, says co-ordinator Helen Cranston, is simple: “We want people to make changes in their lives to be more sustainable by experiencing low-impact living.”

Green & Away was set up for a camping weekend in 1990 on a farm in Gloucestershire, England...

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Strange world

Described as the most alien-looking place on earth, Socotra Island is a treasure chest of endemic species. But its future is at a crossroads.

 Dmitry-Saparov(3)

Imagine waking up on an empty beach, not knowing where you are. You notice the quiet azure waters beside you; the harsh rock formations towering above. You climb them and discover a dusty and undeveloped landscape. The trees look strange, like giant mushrooms, or flying saucers planted on a stilk. Other trees have stocky, inflated trunks. There are animals you have never seen before. You observe the trails of humans, but there is no infrastructure in sight.

This is Socotra Island, a remote 700-million-year-old island located 380 kilometres (235 miles) off the south-east coast of Yemen...

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The never-ending storm

The Catatumbo Lightning is a continuous thunderstorm that has unfolded at the exact same location for 500 years. But why it happens, no one is able to explain.  

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For up to 250 nights a year, people living by Lake Maracaibo are treated to mother nature’s own fireworks show. From late afternoon to the early morning hours, they can witness a storm of constant flashes and thunderbolts, seen from as far away as 40 kilometres (24 miles). “It lights up the entire area,” says Alan Highton, a local tour specialist. “You can walk around as if it was daytime.” And the next afternoon, it starts all over again.

The location of this phenomenon lies in north-western Venezuela, at the point where the Catatumbo River empties into Lake Maracaibo, a brackish bay that happens to be the largest in ...

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Halfway to heaven

The Metéora monasteries were built atop of giant stone pinnacles in an era of no technology. Here there have been Monasticism, bombings and James Bond scenes.

AlexTois

At some point in the 14th century, on the plains of Thessaly in mainland Greece, a group of monks are likely to have debated the location of a new monastery. They had a habit of preferring remote, inaccessible places, but this time they took it to the extreme: they settled on a series of 400-metre high sandstone pinnacles close to the town of Kalambáka; a near-inaccessible location designed for prayer and spirituality. A few centuries later they had built 24 monasteries on the site, making Metéora the second largest Greek monastic area after Mount Athos, in Macedonia.

The building process was anything but easy...

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Chop and change

Amazonian deforestation has been greatly reduced in recent years, but changes to Brazil’s legislation on natural protection areas have filled conservation groups with skepticism.

Jenny-Leonard

Everyone wants a piece of the Amazon. Last year, the Brazilian government made changes to the forest code, an old law that determines how large an area Amazonian land owners are required to leave untouched. The farmers, represented by the powerful agri-business sector, demanded the legislation be relaxed, so they could develop more land, produce more goods and expand their business. Environmental NGOs argued that more deforestation would further threaten the rainforest’s biodiversity. In the end, the changes appeared to be a compromise between the two sectors. But conservationists were not happy.

The Amazon, ...

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Green city guide: San Francisco

Chintla

San Francisco is not quite like other cities. The mid-1800s gold rush transformed what was a small settlement into a booming city; then, a century later in the post-war period, an influx of liberal activists made it the home of American counter-culture, as epitomised by the 1967 Summer of Love. Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge today, a diverse and energetic society is setting its own agenda. Gay rights, feminist views and political liberals have grown strong roots, as have immigrants from every corner of the world. To call it ‘cosmopolitan’ would be an understatement.

Alongside its rebellious attitude, San Francisco has a history of radical environmental action. Vibrant NGOs and charities hold public conferences, workshops and lectures on green issues...

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Into the wild

In July last year, a ‘bear cam’ was set up in Alaska to livestream bears hunting for food. But it does not compare to the real experience.

Manamana(1)

When you have trekked into the wild and find yourself standing close to a giant bear, there are a few things you should remember. Firstly, that these are among the wild’s most dangerous creatures. Note that they are excellent swimmers, frighteningly intelligent, with a better sense of smell than dogs. They can weigh up to 680kg. Think you can run away? Forget it: in short bursts, bears can run up to 65 kilometres per hour (40 miles). “These are wild animals, and you need to really respect that,” says John Quinley, assistant regional director at Katmai National Park, in southern Alaska. “You don’t want to sneak out a sandwich in front of them...

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The underwater photographer

The oceanic world is full of surprises, and Alastair Pollock has captured them since he was 10 years old. The Sydney-based underwater photographer has produced images from some of the most exotic marine environments, such as Australia, Indonesia, Fiji, the Philippines and the Bahamas, and has featured in a range of international publications. He talks to us about what makes a good photographer, the threats to our marine ecosystems, and what it is like diving with sharks. 

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First of all, how did you get into underwater photography?

I started shooting underwater as a child with cheap disposable underwater film cameras. I managed to shoot a few sharks and a manta ray when I was around 10. Needless to say, these photos weren’t very good, but I still have them.

What is for you the most fasci...

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