A stranded whale with plastic in his belly is seen in Wakatobi, southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, on November 19 2018. Picture: KARTIKA SUMOLANG/VIA REUTERS
A stranded whale with plastic in his belly is seen in Wakatobi, southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, on November 19 2018. Picture: KARTIKA SUMOLANG/VIA REUTERS

1. Choking marine life

A dead sperm whale that washed ashore in Indonesia this week had 6kg of plastic in its stomach, including 115 drinking cups, four bottles, 25 bags and two flip-flops, reports the BBC. "Though we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts we see are truly awful," said Dwi Suprapti of WWF Indonesia. In June, a pilot whale died off southern Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags. A report this year warned that the amount of plastic in the ocean could triple in a decade unless litter is curbed.

2. Amba Land scramble

The conflict between Anglophone separatists and government forces in Francophone Cameroon has claimed more than 400 lives since October 1 2017, when the English-speaking south-and northwestern regions declared the independence of a country they call Ambazonia. The split dates back to the end of World War 1 in 1918, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the French and British victors. Leaders of Amba Land (as it is also called), based in Nigeria, were recently deported back to Cameroon. The last thing it wants is to be seen as supporting separatists.

3. Redefining the kg

Finally, some ammunition for users of the customary and Imperial systems, who have long been criticised for sticking to archaic and impractical forms of measurement. As it turns out, the definition of a kilogram is not as clear-cut as most of us would have thought. Metric-system countries have voted to redefine the kilogram and other units of measure, including the kelvin, a temperature metric. The definition of a kilogram has for more than a century been based on a platinum alloy cylinder held in France. But from May 2019, a new, far more scientific system will come into effect.