It wasn’t all bad
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.