It wasn’t all bad

The Week Middle East - - News -

The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer has shrunk to its small­est level since 1988 – and is get­ting smaller still. At its largest point this year, the hole over Antarc­tica was 7.6 mil­lion square miles wide – a huge area, but still 1.3 mil­lion square miles smaller than last year. Sci­en­tists at­trib­uted this year’s un­usual shrink­age to warm weather in the strato­sphere, but said the over­all re­duc­tion over the past three decades is the re­sult of a world­wide ban on ozone-de­plet­ing chem­i­cals. Bri­tain’s most famous high street could be partly pedes­tri­anised by the end of next year. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has un­veiled plans to cre­ate a “traf­ficfree pedes­trian boule­vard” on a half-mile stretch of Ox­ford Street, from Ox­ford Cir­cus to a cou­ple of blocks shy of Mar­ble Arch. All east-west traf­fic – in­clud­ing bi­cy­cles – would be stopped, but some north-south roads cross­ing Ox­ford Street would re­main open. The pro­pos­als are out for con­sul­ta­tion un­til 17 De­cem­ber; sep­a­rate plans, to trans­form the area to the east of Ox­ford Cir­cus, will be con­sulted on next spring. One of the world’s most ex­pen­sive in­gre­di­ents has been grown in Bri­tain for the first time – a rare up­side of cli­mate change. The Périg­ord black truf­fles, which sell for up to £1,700 a kilo, were cul­ti­vated in Mon­mouthshire, by sci­en­tists from the uni­ver­si­ties of Stir­ling and Cam­bridge – and they think that the truf­fles could be grown in other parts of the UK too, rais­ing the prospect of a use­ful new in­come stream for farm­ers. Ow­ing to rising tem­per­a­tures, yields of the truf­fles are fall­ing in Mediter­ranean coun­tries, but global de­mand is rising.

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