© Greenpeace

Top news: Activist jailed for disrupting US oil and gas auction; Russian nuclear plant tempts fate; Sydney’s greenest building development under scrutiny; Forest fires rage in Russia; Bigger eyes for cloudy days.

#Mixing activism with oil: The Guardian reports that US environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been sentenced to two years in prison for disrupting a Bush Administration’s giveaway of Utah land to the oil and gas industry, by bidding almost two million dollars that he didn’t have. What makes DeChristopher’s imprisonment even more absurd is that the Obama administration later cancelled many of the sales anyway, over doubts about the leasing plan.

# Playing with ‘nuclear’ fire: Greenpeace and nuclear experts are concerned about a plan to build a nuclear power plant in Ulyanovsk, Russia.  Russian nuclear experts argue that the plant would be especially accident prone as it will involve the use of Polonium 210.  A Greenpeace report states that this lethal radioactive element has caused three lethal accidents in the past. To make matters worse, the plant is set to be built on a fault line. Added risks aside, isn’t nuclear energy already dangerous enough?

In other Russian news, the scent of burning can be smelled in Moscow as forest fires rage in Russia. For now they aren’t a threat to human settlements but head of the Greenpeace fire program, Kuksin Gregory says eastern winds could bring the fire to Moscow.  Greenpeace also argues that a fire warning was issued two months later than it should have been.

# “Stop Illegal Timber”: In Australia, seven Greenpeace activists hung a banner reading “Stop Illegal Timber” on one of Sydney’s allegedly greenest building developments.  There is concern that the plywood used in construction comes from trees illegally cut down in the rainforest of Malaysian Born.  This possibility challenges the development’s “five green star “rating while emphasizing the need for a ban on unsustainable timber imports.

# Northern (Under)Exposure: The further north you live, the bigger your eyes, according to scientists from the University of Oxford Our predecessors who lived in northern areas such as Scandinavia were found to have bigger eyes and bigger brains than those living in the south, which means that with the weather we’ve been having here in Amsterdam recently, our eyes should be the size of saucers soon.

Both characteristics were necessary to cope with long winters and cloudy days and does not imply higher intelligence. So once again, the assumption that smart people have large brains has been shot down.  While on the subject of big brains, studies show that our brains, unlike those of chimpanzees are prone to shrinkage. This is particularly true of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Why this occurs is under investigation as our little grey cells continue to baffle scientists.