The world as it is

L’économie de la planète en quelques chiffres.


1,57 million hectares: surface area of farmland given over to organic production in France.

60 years of independence for Ghana this year.

19% of global contemporary art earnings stem from three artists: Americans Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool and Jeff Koons.

10 of Michelin’s tripled-starred restaurants are in Paris.


The new cathedrals of commerce

Since the creation of Bennetts Irongate, a department store founded in 1734 in Derby, England; Le Bon Marché in Paris; and la Rinascente, built in Milan in 1865, urban shopping centers have been constantly expanding and diversifying their array of wares. Following on from the American malls of the 1960s, however, today’s trend is to draw shoppers to the likes of Le Millénaire in the northern Parisian suburb Gennevilliers, or Il Centro Shopping Center in Arese, near Milan. Logistical reasons are cited, as is the upmarket repositioning of the original buildings in congested city centers. People now flock to these behemoths covering tens of thousands of square meters in the city outskirts. It’s hard to ascertain what shoppers think of these new temples to consumerism; but what’s certain is that architects are really going to town on them. The impressive Blaak Markt in Rotterdam won plaudits from most quarters.


45 000 charging stations for electric cars by 2020 in France.


10% of electricity consumed in Europe is generated by wind turbines.


Left at
the asteroid

The year 2016 saw progress in our colonization of the solar system: Earthlings got a selfie from Rosetta and Philae at comet Churi, feted the return of three astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) in September, and tasked Osiris-Rex with collecting samples on Bennu, one of the many asteroids orbiting around the sun. This project of primarily scientific ambitions (planetologists hope to collect between 60 g and 2 kg of dust) is bound to whet certain appetites and fuel certain dreams. Meantime, it’s a taste of what space might look like in the not-so-distant future: a heavy traffic zone. First we need to clear the stratosphere of all the debris that has been accumulating over the course of the past 60 years since the launch of the first artificial satellite, “traveling companion” Sputnik 1. Some have estimated the number of space junk items at a minimum of 500,000. The Japanese aerospace agency JAXA sent a prototype, a long stainless steel electrodynamic tether, to the ISS, to collect the clutter. If it ever works, engineers reckon we’ll need massive nets (between 5 and 10 km long) to tackle this herculean task.


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