• A study sheds new light on insect populations.
  • The Pentagon has released video footage of UFOs.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope turns 30.
  • Europe has experienced its warmest year ever.

As coronavirus continues to dominate the news agenda, here’s a selection of other stories from around the world.

1. Study shines a light on global insect numbers

Insect populations are not what they used to be. Bugs are declining in number and some species have completely disappeared, representing an ongoing crisis for nature and everything that depends on it.

A new study has looked at data going back to 1925 to get the most comprehensive picture yet of what’s happening. While land insects are in a slow decline, freshwater insects are seeing a slow uptick, with an annual increase of about 1%, or potentially 38% growth in the next 30 years.

The scientists don’t know the exact reason for these trends, but point to habitat destruction as the most likely cause of declines of insects on land and effective protections in place for those in freshwater.

Read more here

2. Pentagon releases videos of UFOs

The perennial quest for evidence of UFOs is back in the news, with the release by the US Department of Defense of three declassified videos showing what it describes as “unexplained aerial phenomena”.

The videos, which had previously been leaked, were filmed by US Navy fighter pilots and show objects hovering, spinning and flying across the Pacific Ocean. With the release, Pentagon sources confirmed the videos are genuine, but stop short of confirming stories on social media linking the UFO to alien spacecraft.

Read more here

3. Hubble telescope marks 30th birthday with amazing starbirth picture

After three decades in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to capture stunning images of the universe, recently beaming back an incredible picture of a star-forming region 163,000 light years away from Earth.

The image, according to NASA nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef" because it resembles an undersea world, shows a giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbour (NGC 2020). At the centre of NGC 2014 is a group of stars each 10 to 20 times bigger than the sun.

Read more here

4. Last year was Europe’s warmest on record

Globally, 2019 was the second warmest on record, the BBC reports, but for Europeans it was the hottest ever.

Europe has seen average temperatures over the past five-year period climb 2°C over pre-industrial times, which is twice as high as the 1°C global average and exceeds the limit set by the Paris climate agreement.

Read more here

swarm desert locusts africa environment climate change biodiversity agriculture food hunger sustainable
Agricultural losses are on an unimaginable scale.
Image: Reuters/Baz Ratner

5. ‘Extremely alarming’ locust infestations in east Africa

Food supplies are under threat in east Africa as swarms of desert locusts infest the region. Gathering in countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, a single swarm can contain up to 150 million insects with a range of 150 kilometres each day, decimating enough food to feed tens of thousands of people.

Called “extremely alarming” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the new generation of locusts leave many communities in their path facing an uncertain future. With some countries in the region already on the brink of starvation, looming food shortages could lead to a humanitarian disaster.

Read more here.