Not everyone who has walked through the beautiful pueblos of Spain knows that the country is named after rabbits. Likewise, you may have revelled in the sun-kissed beaches of Maldives, not knowing that the natives called their place a garland of islands. A beautiful name for a beautiful place, really. In an awesomely nerdy project that indulges our interest in travel, the Australian company Credit Card Compare created a map with the literal meaning of all the country names in the world.
“Learning the etymology – the origin of words – of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favourite travel destinations and the people who first lived there,” the company says. Zooming in on continents and regions, from Europe to South America and Africa, the map offers a different perspective.
Varied reactions sprung up online, ranging from pure fascination to a personal need to verify the facts and study further, but one thing is for sure: the company’s research provides us with valuable insight to see the places we have been and the places we have yet to be in a new light.
“The interest has been enormous far beyond Australia because of some of the unexpected names. People are contacting us with their positive feedback and reasons for some corrections to one or two names. We plan to release even high-def downloads suitable for big poster-sized prints.”
A while ago, I wrote about the many different ways you can maximize your weekend. It could be difficult—though definitely not impossible!—to cram an exhilarating getaway in that two-day window. But sometimes, when you cannot go out there yet and travel, relaxing at home and making discoveries about the places you dream to explore could suffice. Make yourself a hot chocolate or a mojito, cozy up, and start with this map.
Australia has been making waves in the environmental newsfeed this past year with some fantastic headlines: its energy sector powered 70% of the country’s homes using only renewable sources, a huge permaculture farm fed dozens and dozens of families with only organic produce, and even without human help, a supposedly extinct species of insectivore suddenly showed up. But this Sunday, Australia made just about its biggest wave yet.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull pledged more than 500 million Australian dollars for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef — the greatest single investment that this reef or any other coral ecosystem in the world has ever received.
[T]he Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a national non-profit . . . will use the money to counter water pollution, combat coral-eating starfish, increase public awareness, boost reef monitoring, and improve the environmental impact of surrounding businesses . . . The funds will also be used to expand reef restoration efforts, including trialling new techniques that can breed corals resistant to high temperatures and light stress.
For a while now, the Great Barrier Reef, which hosts about 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, is known to be in great danger. Its damage — including coral bleaching and ocean acidification — can be traced to climate change as a consequence of burning fossil fuels, harmful coastal development, and continuous fishing despite the already-present negative effects. A 2016 study even said that more than 90% of the reef has already been affected by coral bleaching.
However, Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, is confident that “the right plan and the right investment” will help secure what he describes as a “remarkably resistant” reef . . . “The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it . . . Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef.”
Of course, we must inevitably mull over the damage humans have caused the beautiful coral ecosystem in the past decades, but it seems to have been resilient in maintaining itself and in forgiving us. Perhaps the millions of dollars pledged to its protection can finally help us start to make up for the damage and deserve its forgiveness. I honestly can’t help but hope it’s better late than never for us and the Great Barrier Reef.
When it comes to vehicles of the future, it seems the possibilities are limitless. Planes, in particular, have broken boundaries — running on electric or on no motor at all. Many advancements are still under wraps, or completely theoretical, save for Qantas’ latest shocking achievement. The airliner successfully piloted a trans-Pacific flight on 10% eco-fuel derived from mustard seeds.
The biofuel is reportedly capable of reducing carbon emissions by over 80 percent as compared to regular jet fuel. This means that the blended fuel used in… [the] flight should have resulted in a 7 percent reduction, which works out to 18,000 kg (39,683 lb) in reduced carbon emissions.
The Carinata mustard plant makes a perfect contender as the world’s leading aviation biofuel. Able to thrive under unsuitable conditions, the little-seed-that-could also improves soil quality and prevents erosion.
“Our work with Agrisoma will enable Australian farmers to start growing today for the country’s biofuel needs of the future,” says Qantas International CEO, Alison Webster.
Qantas’ ultimate goal is to maintain a near million acres of Carinata and produce 200 million liters of biofuel annually. If you’ve ever doubted the impact of agriculture, you may now consider switching gears.
Showing off an arsenal of life-saving capabilities, drones have been tending to rural patients at a shocking rate. Treatment lies in the form of deliveries, mostly medical tools and blood packets. In any event, the machinery itself hasn’t yet made any direct rescues — until making its way to New South Wales. On account of his search drone, lifeguard Jai Sheridan managed to save two drowning boys.
“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes,” Sheridan said.
The drone, meant to scout for sharks, ejects a detachable floatation device. The boys, about half a mile into the water, safely paddled to shore on the floater. Sheridan’s “miracle” drone isn’t like any other in that you won’t be able to score it at your local Apple store.
It was a sophisticated UAV called “Little Ripper” described by its corporate sponsor, Westpac, as having a carbon fibre air frame and aircraft grade aluminum components.
Drones are tricky things — but their new and improved counterparts are surely making up for past slip-ups.
Devoted animal activists are doing what they can to prevent dwindling wildlife populations from perishing. While Kazakhstan is manually reintroducing wild tigers, Indonesian authorities are catching pangolin smugglers red-handed. For the “extinct” crest-tailed mulgara, no human intervention brought the carnivorous critter back to life. It simply showed up after an entire century.
“Next year we are due to begin introduced predator and rabbit eradication for a large area, which will no doubt help the mulgara,” Reece Pedler, project coordinator of Wild Deserts, says.
The tiny, blonde insect-muncher is a cousin to the Tasmanian devil and acts as a midday lunch for foxes and cats. For a hundred years, passersby only experienced the mouse-like creature in bone fragments. Now, Australia is prepared to keep the species alive.
The conservation project will set up Sturt National Park as a sanctuary with two fenced exoclosures to keep predators away. After those have been erected, locally extinct mammals… will be reintroduced.
Looks like athletes aren’t the only ones making a comeback!
As a solar-powered train, it may not be the first, but Byron Bay’s eco-railway is completely emissions-free. Carrying up to 100 passengers, the refurbished antique-on-wheels is a breakthrough in clean commuting.
“Of course the major difference is it’s got solar panels on the roof so it can recharge itself. For those cloudy days we’ve also got 30 kilowatts of solar panels in this [station’s] roof here so we can also plug it in.” [says mastermind and businessman Brian Flannery.]
The resort-owner-slash-techie hopes the train will also draw in tourists. Still, the project itself is a giant leap towards greener transport systems. The “red rattler” is also bringing disused tracks back into business, drawing old and new together.
“I think everyone knows that Byron’s very conscious about anything to do with the environment,” [Byron Bay Railroad Company’s Jeremy Holmes] said. It’s really nice to be able to run a train that’s zero emissions and powered by the sun.”
Running on a three-kilometer track, the solar train has (literally) a long way to go. But I can’t say I’m not impressed with where it stands.
With dogs acting as cleaners for polluted rivers, it’s safe to say China isn’t taking in any more trash. As a large producer of waste, China has also become a dumping site for countries like Australia. In the hopes of getting clean, the world’s densest country is putting an end to foreign waste imports.
“The real opportunity in Australia is to create that circular economy that’s happening overseas and that’s what China is moving towards, where they’re saying we produce that material, we actually want to recycle that material and reuse it back in the economy,” said Gayle Sloan, the chief executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia.
The ban covers 24 categories of solid waste, among other things. In a single year, China will get to kiss 30 million tons of trash goodbye. However, the ban is forcing Australian recyclers to get creative. Recycling systems are getting a makeover, while startups are beginning to emerge.
“It’s unfair to create waste in the first instance without thinking where it’s going to go and how it’s going to be re-used.”
The ban may be tricky, but it’s also encouraging nations to take responsibility for the trash they produce. Anyway, it isn’t always another man’s treasure.
Never underestimate the potential of renewable energy. From it, we can produce food and even maintain an entire village. Lately, it’s made its greatest impact on Australia, powering 70% of its homes.
The first Australian Renewable Energy Index, produced by Green Energy Markets, finds the sector will generate enough power to run 90% of homes once wind and solar projects under construction in 2016-17 are completed.
The project is slashing carbon pollution to the effect of removing half of Australia’s cars off the road. Breezy! The country’s renewable energy sector is also providing jobs to those who need them. Approximately, there have been up to 10,000 openings. However, Australia doesn’t have the government to thank.
“Instead we can thank the thousands of everyday Australians who stood up and defended the national [RET] from Tony Abbott’s attacks, who saved [the Australian Renewable Energy Agency] from federal government budget cuts, and who pushed their state governments into showing some leadership on clean energy.”
It’s no surprise that locals are accountable for the push to invest in renewable energy. After all, it could save them $1.5 billion off electricity bills in the next 10 years. Who doesn’t want that?
Now that drones have proven themselves vital in the technological universe, gadget firms are pushing its limits even further. From delivering blood transfusions to restoring forests, drones are now making more conventional deliveries. Thanks to Alphabet, Australians will be receiving spontaneous burrito bags by — you guessed it — drone.
Project Wing has teamed up with Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez, along with pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse to allow customers to order items through a dedicated app. The drones are then sent off to collect goods from the stores’ loading sites and dropping off to the testers at their homes, traveling at up to 120 km/h.
Part of Project Wing, the drones are giving Alphabet the breakthrough they’ve been after. The company is targeting the Australian Capital Territory, which is a 40-minute round trip to the nearest store. Gauging from the success of rural deliveries, Alphabet is challenging the precision of its drones.
Project Wing is training its drones to deliver items anywhere, using its sensors to identify new obstacles and each time that it does so, improving the onboard algorithms and its capacity to pick out a safe spot for delivery.
While accuracy is a must for any drone-related activity, I wouldn’t mind a splattered burrito. Anyway, it’s all about taste.