Gold bars on display. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Gold bars on display. Picture: BLOOMBERG

1. Hold back the water

For the first time in 1,200 years, the Italian city of Venice has successfully held back floodwaters. Usually, when the city faces acqua alta — the regular flooding caused by high tides — residents have to raise furniture and appliances off the floor of their homes, or risk losing them. But on the weekend, the city was able to prevent a 135cm high tide, which would normally flood half the city, through the use of flood barriers. It raised 78 barriers from the seabed to stop the water from flooding the Venetian lagoon and the city — and it worked.

2. Going for gold

Ghana, the continent’s largest gold producer, plans to sell the rights to most of its gold royalties. The deal, which some see as a model for other resource-rich developing countries, will give the country cash now against income from royalties in the future. It hopes to take advantage of gold’s strong performance this year. Hard hit by the pandemic, Ghana’s economy is struggling to sustain public spending. Its debt is expected to reach 70% of GDP this year.

However, the planned $500m listing of its gold royalty fund in London this month faces political opposition. Critics say a rushed and opaque process doesn’t inspire confidence.

3. Death of a rainforest

Large parts of the Amazon could be on the verge of switching from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savannah as a result of the climate crisis, The Guardian reports. Rainforests are sensitive to changes in rainfall, fire and drought. Changes can result in a shift to a savannah-like mix of woodland and grassland, though in the Amazon, this change was thought to be decades away. New research shows that this tipping point could be closer. As much as 40% of the rainforest is now at a point where it could exist as a savannah instead of as rainforest, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

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