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Topic Reading-Vol.2113-1/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The trend continues, 2017 one of the hottest years on record
2017 was a warm year around the world. It was one of the warmest years on record. In fact, it could have been the hottest year if La NiƱa, which features cooler than average waters in the Pacific Ocean and consequently cools down the world temperatures, hadn’t occurred. Furthermore, almost all the hottest years have been recorded since the beginning of the millennium, in other words, it has been getting hotter and hotter nearly every year.
What are the causes of such warm climate, or global warming? Everyone knows the answer but only some states and municipalities are making drastic moves. Interestingly, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, an independent agency of the US federal government, is warning to the world how severe and critical the problem is, the US government backed off from the Paris Agreement, to deal with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. On the other hand, its archrival China is setting drastic restrictions and taking action to tackle its pollution problems, such as the closure of air-polluting factories and coal power plants and incentive for electric cars.
Enjoy reading and watching the videos, and predict how warm 2018 is going to be.


Topic Reading-Vol.2112-1/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The 280 million-year-old forest in the South Pole
Indeed, Antarctica is a very cold continent. It has a very long winter without sunlight and a short summer covered with ice. But over 200 million years ago, it was much warmer than today when it was part of the supercontinent, Gondwana, which included present-day Africa, South America, Arabia, India, and Australia. There were plants like ferns as tall as 40 meters in the continent back then. They seem to have endured the severe climate condition until they were eventually extinguished by one of the mass extinctions, which were believed to have occurred on earth numbers of times.
So, just like dinosaurs, those trees and plants existed in the icy continent should have left their fossils. The problem to find such fossils is that they are buried under thick ice. Also, they are hardly distinguishable from rocks. Still, there are people who challenged such painstaking tasks.
Enjoy reading and learning what could be found in Antarctica.


Topic Reading-Vol.2111-1/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
5 ways the world is pulling apart
The world seems to be more divided in several areas, as many might have noticed.
First, inequality in income and wealth. The rich are becoming richer and the poor are left behind. It is a global trend, but the severity of the problem is greater in some countries where corruption and exploitation among elite groups are so pervasive. Also, the gender gap is still a problem in many places, including work participation, income, and education. Political views are consequently more divided and even polarized than ever before. Those who feel left behind or unfairly treated become conservative and harden their minds against global issues, such as climate change and refugees. Moreover, the fact that should be worried the most is unequal opportunities for education because they fuel poverty, hunger and child mortality, limit future job opportunities, and thus reduce prospects for economic growth.
All these issues might make leaders and the public more near-sighted, and keep their eyes away from long-term issues, such as global warming, pollutions and the fundamental causes of the other problems mentioned above.
Enjoy reading and seeing the charts, and think if developing or developed is the term that is still appropriate to classify countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.2110-1/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
America is changing
America is a land of opportunity, and thus it is a land of immigrants. It was how the nation of immigrants started and has been that way ever since, for over 240 years. But racial and ethnic diversity hadn’t been recognized or expanded until the 1960s when civil rights and immigration laws changed the scope of individual identity and their opportunities. For example, in the late 18th century, the census had only three categories for race: free whites, other free persons, and slaves. Now there are over 60 options to choose from and more than one race option can be claimed. Also, only less than four out of every 100 African Americans held bachelor’s degree in 1960, but the number has risen to 23 now.
Equal opportunity and diversity are tightly connected, and they seem to be the driving force of the United States, no matter what the incumbent administration does or says. In fact, the U.S. is expected to become majority minority in 50 years, three centuries after the independence.
Will that cause more problems or bring more prosperity?
Enjoy reading and thinking which should construct the nation, a bridge or a wall.


Topic Reading-Vol.2109-1/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
France's Macron wants baguettes protected by UNESCO
A baguette is a long, thin loaf of French bread. The distinctive shape and crisp crust made it very popular around the world, though what is defined by French law is not the shape but the dough. It is usually sliced and put jam, butter, cheese or pate on, or cut from a longer loaf for sandwiches. Now the president of France says the baguette is French cultural treasure and wants the UNESCO to put it on the list of the intangible cultural heritage.  
What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? It includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. Some food and drinks are recognized as intangible cultural heritage, such as Japanese Washoku, Korean Kimuchi, Pizza Napoletana, and Belgian Beer.
Will the listing help preserve or improve the making of the bread?
Enjoy reading and think what roles UNESCO should be taking in food culture.


Topic Reading-Vol.2108-1/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
UK 'faces build-up of plastic waste'
A huge blow to the kingdom in the short term. The U.K. has been shipping half a million tons of plastic to China for recycling every year, which accounts over a quarter of the total plastic waste in the country. But they were notified by China that it no longer receives plastic waste from the UK.
They now have limited options to deal with this crisis. One way is to incinerate, and the other is to dump it in the landfill, neither of which pleases environmental activists.
In the long run, sustainable and environmentally acceptable solutions may be developed and implemented to reduce plastic waste and improve the recycling efficiency, such as tax incentives and simplified regulations.
Could this import ban cause a trade war? Should the Empire strike back?
Enjoy reading and thinking about the issues the UK needs to deal with for the next few years.


Topic Reading-Vol.2107-1/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What's the kindest way to kill a lobster?
Do you think crustaceans, the animal that lives in water and has a hard-outer shell, such as the lobster and crab, feel pain? Since they neither scream nor contort, their pain isn’t usually recognized by humans. But according to animal welfare scientists, crustaceans seem to feel pain and avoid it at any cost, even by giving up their beloved shelter. Does it matter to you even if they feel pain?
You might since they are often cooked alive. Think of lobsters, crab, and shrimps. They are often put into boiling water. In some cases, live shrimps are put into a bowl of liquor and boiled slowly to death. Are these traditional recipes inhumane?
Some countries, such as Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland, think so and ban such cruel cooking.
Maybe the world should be more considerate of animals’ pain and apply mercy killing to crustaceans as well.
Enjoy reading and think if you’d ask the chef to kill your lobster before cooking.