COVID-19

Some of the non-coronavirus stories you might have missed

A staircase looking like a snail is pictured in a Munich building 'Haus der Bayrischen Wirtschaft' on February 14, 2012.      REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY  - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR2XTZ0

From a Pixar short, to the deep ocean. Image: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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COVID-19

  • Costa Rica allows same-sex marriage and a Pixar short features its first gay lead.
  • New studies find that billions of years of cumulative evolutionary history could be lost, while climate change's impact in the deep oceans could be worse than we feared.
  • And a successful flight for the world's largest all-electric plane.

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

1. Costa Rica gives go-ahead for same-sex marriages

In a first for Central America, Costa Rica lifted a ban on same-sex marriages on Tuesday (26 May). In August 2018, the country's constitutional court had ruled the ban unconstitutional and imposed an 18-month deadline to legislate.

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"This offers us peace of mind," said Margarita Salas, an LGBT+ rights campaigner in Costa Rica and president of the VAMOS political party, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. "This measure gives us the ability to protect and provide security to our family."

2. The loss of evolutionary history

A study in Nature Communications reports the risks facing unique and unusual species around the globe.

The research, led by ZSL and Imperial College London, warns that at least 50 billion years of cumulative evolutionary history is under threat. To put that into perspective, the universe is around 13-14 billion years old.

“Our analyses reveal the incomprehensible scale of the losses we face if we don’t work harder to save global biodiversity,” said lead author Rikki Gumbs. Species at particular risk include the shoebill, a large bird from the African wetlands, and the aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur.

A highly endangered shoebill (Balaeniceps Rex) is seen at the Uganda's Wildlife Education Centre in Enteebe, 42 km (26 miles) south of capital Kampala January 26, 2005. [The prehistoric looking bird, which stands 1.5 meters tall is grey in colour and  has a large beak of about 8 centimetres, and can be found only on marshy warm papyrus swamp areas in Uganda along Lake Victoria and the plains of Rwanda, faces extinction from its natural habitat due to human encroachment on wetland areas. Picture taken on January 26, 2005.] - PBEAHUODDGF
Named for its destinctive beak, the shoebill can grow up to 1.5 metres tall. Image: REUTERS
3. Deep trouble in the ocean

A new study, published in Nature Climate Change, warns of the threat of ocean warming far beyond the water's surface.

While the deep ocean is currently warming slower than at the surface, failure to reduce emissions will see not only much greater surface warming by the end of the century, but this warming will reach deeper, say the study's authors.

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And warming already absorbed at the surface will continue to mix into deeper waters.

"This means that marine life in the deep ocean will face escalating threats from ocean warming until the end of the century, no matter what we do now," explained Professor Anthony Richardson.

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4. 'Out'

A new Pixar short features its first gay main character. The story focuses on Greg, who's afraid to tell his parents about his sexuality, CNN reports.

The short is being shown on the streaming service Disney+ and is part of the studio's SparkShorts series.

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5. Lift-off

The world's largest all-electric plane has taken its maiden flight, reports Reuters. The modified 9-seater Cessna Grand Caravan flew for 30 minutes in the skies south-east of Seattle, Washington in the US.

The plane's developers, magniX and AeroTEC, hope it will enter commercial service next year.

"This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports," magniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told Reuters.

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