Week in Review: Here are some stories you may have missed last week

  • World leaders are convening for the United Nation’s latest climate conference in Katowice, Poland to discuss the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions globally to limit the worst effects of climate change.Ironically, this two-week meeting is taking place in the heart of Poland’s coal country. As a fuel source, coal accounts for roughly half of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, but the conference center currently dedicated to cutting these emissions is literally decorated with mounds of coal.

    Poland is by far the EU’s largest producer of hard coal, and Katowice is known to have terrible air quality due to the area’s strong reliance on burning coal for energy. The country relied on coal for about 80 percent of its electricity in 2015.

    Poland has been slowly moving away from coal as part of the EU’s larger mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But in his opening remarks Monday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said coal “does not contradict the protection of the climate and the progress of climate protection.”

    If the world is to truly prevent climate change—and the extreme weather disasters and rising seas that accompanies it—the attendees of the UN climate conference will have to disagree with Duda.

  • Given their perennial popularity, it’s perhaps surprising that we haven’t seen more of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts gang on screens in recent years. Fox’s rather good 2015 movie was the first since the 1980s, but didn’t immediately lead to a follow-up. That’s all about to change, however, since Apple have now landed a huge deal for new Peanuts series, specials and shorts for their streaming service.Deadline likens the deal to the recent one struck by Netflix for the entire Roald Dahl canon. The arrangement gives Apple a wealth of Peanuts characters and material that it can cross-pollinate in a streaming TV “universe”.
  • They say an elephant never forgets, and those at Elephants World in Thailand will certainly never forget Paul Barton. Barton is the man who introduced these elephants to classical music.

    Barton is a classical pianist who has shared his talents with some very big audiences — literally big. He spends a lot of his time performing for elephants. Barton shares his experiences with these giant creatures in vlogs on his YouTube channel and on Facebook, and his videos have gone viral.

    It all started when he and his wife first discovered the sanctuary, Elephants World, online, Barton explains in a video. “We liked the sound of the place being a retirement center for old, injured and handicapped former logging and trekking elephants,” Barton said. “So we paid them a visit. I wondered if these old rescue elephants might like to listen to some slow classical music.”

    Barton asked the employees at Elephants World if he could bring his piano and serenade the elephants some time, and they said yes. The first time Barton played his piano at Elephants World, a blind elephant that was eating his breakfast stopped in his tracks when he heard Beethoven for the first time.

    “[He] was often in pain, and I like to think maybe the soothing the music gave him some comfort in the darkness,” Barton said in the video. The musician said this was the first elephant to really take to his music. Sadly, the gentle giant died of an infection, Barton said. “I was heartbroken when he died,” he said.

    The musician returned to Elephants World to perform for the other ailing animals. The sanctuary is home to older elephants, and a few of them are blind. Barton said he believes the music helps calm the elephants.

    The musician’s videos have gained widespread attention. One elephant in particular, Lam Duan, received 20,000 views.

    Barton usually describes the composer and piece of music he’s playing as well as the elephant he’s playing for. “Clair de Lune by Debussy on piano for a gentle female elephant called Ampan. Ampan is 80 years old,” Barton wrote for one video. “Bach on Piano for Blind Elephant,” he titled Lam Duan’s video.