Beckhams, extreme weather, biofuels and other green stories of the week

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The Independent Online

Some of the major green and environmental stories of the past week (July 16-22), including extreme weather in the United States, famine in Africa, the Beckhams as bad role models and the effect of biofuels on food prices are rounded up below. 

African famine - changing weather patterns and increasingly frequent cycles of drought have led to a severe famine affecting thousands across Somalia and the horn of Africa. ( CNN)

Beckhams bad role models - with the world's population expected to reach seven billion this year, some environmental campaigners have labeled the Beckhams as "bad role models" following their decision to have a fourth child - Harper Seven. ( Guardian)

Biofuel demand drives prices - the demand for biofuels in the United States is the driving force behind the high food prices being experienced around the world this year, claims a new study. ( UTV)

Cairn vs. Greenpeace - the ongoing battle between Greenpeace and Cairn Energy reached a new level when Cairn took the environmental organization to court to prevent it publishing any documents it had obtained in a recent occupation of Cairn's offices. ( BBC news)

Fish bones against toxic waste - fish bones are being touted as the solution to one of America's largest toxic waste problems - lead contamination. The fish bones are being used to transform lead waste into a form that the human body cannot absorb, thereby reducing the risk of contamination. ( New York Times)

Fuel cells of the future - futuristic fuel cells able to store and distribute green energy on demand have been invented by Japanese company NEC Corporation. It is hoped the fuel cells will reduce the strain on power companies and reduce electricity consumption levels. ( Independent)

Heat wave - extreme weather patterns continue across the globe with a heat wave in the United States that has so far killed at least 22 people; temperatures have reached in excess of 37 Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). ( New York Times)

Maritime emissions cut - the international Maritime Organization agreed, late on Friday July 15, on the first ever energy efficiency design standards intended to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of new vessels. ( The Business Times)  

Nissan Leaf - car manufacturer Nissan has announced details of the 2012 version of its electric car the Nissan Leaf; updates include a battery heater and increased charging station compatibility. ( Earth Techling)  

Palm oil auditors appointed - Indonesia, the world's largest producer of palm oil, has appointed around 12 independent auditors to ensure that the palm oil firms operating in the country do so in a green and environmentally friendly manner. ( Reuters Africa)