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Barack Obama heads to Alaska on mission to highlight climate change

Guardian Environment News - 4 hours 56 min ago

The president will trek across melting glaciers and visit threatened coastal communities but critics decry decision to allow Shell to drill for oil in Arctic

Barack Obama will use a trek across Alaska’s melting glaciers and permafrost to showcase the fight against climate change during a three-day visit to the state starting on Monday.

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Categories: Environment

Watchdog group calls for less processed meats in school cafeterias

Guardian Environment News - 5 hours 2 min ago

• Report found the USDA paid more than $500m in 2013 to meat and dairy companies for school lunch products, including processed meats
• Watchdog asked USDA to recommend less meat and more vegetables for schools

A handful of American food and agriculture companies are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars by selling processed meats that are ending up in school lunchrooms and contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, a new report claims.

The study, Who’s Making Money from Overweight Kids?, published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit that promotes a vegetarian or vegan diet, found that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) paid more than $500m dollars in 2013 to 62 meat and dairy companies for products that wound up in school cafeterias.

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Categories: Environment

There’s only one reason for this badger cull – votes | Patrick Barkham

Guardian Environment News - 8 hours 15 min ago
The latest cull is not honest, scientific or even effective at containing bovine TB. It is simply a political move to appease countryside voters

Join me, dear urban dwelling, bunny-hugging Guardian reader, in setting aside your ethical and environmental concerns about killing our biggest surviving carnivorous wild animal, and follow this, the most rational case that can be made in favour of England’s badger cull.

Small dairy farmers are struggling. Bovine TB is a genuine problem in West Country hotspots and although farmers receive compensation for slaughtered cattle, it doesn’t cover their costs. Cattle and badgers transmit the disease to each other, with the latter being just one “wildlife reservoir” of a poorly understood disease that is spread by everything from pigs to deer. An eight-year scientific study estimated that a rigorous badger cull could reduce the rate of increase in cattle TB by 12-16% over nine years.

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Categories: Environment

Citi report: slowing global warming would save tens of trillions of dollars | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - 11 hours 43 min ago

A report from America’s 3rd-largest bank asks why we’re not transitioning to a low-carbon economy

Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (GPS), a division within Citibank (America’s third-largest bank), recently published a report looking at the economic costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report considered two scenarios: “Inaction,” which involves continuing on a business-as-usual path, and Action scenario which involves transitioning to a low-carbon energy mix.

One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario.

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Categories: Environment

The luxuriance of early autumn: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - 12 hours 5 min ago

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 4 September 1915

The luxuriance of early autumn is seen in the open wood not less than in the orchard. Leaves of the horse chestnut and the sycamore litter the ground, but the beech and the oak are beautifully green. There is a great show of acorns this year; they will be very useful for the cottagers and young porkers. Most of the gleanings, or leasings, as some country folk call them, will probably be used for mixing with the strong bitter fruit of the oak. Of old they used, after gathering the corn, a long and slow process, to take aprons full across to a watermill worked by a stream - where the fishing is as good as ever; but the mill has gone, steam and steel have captured all: the millstone stands upright against a worn beam of the wall, and the water-rat comes up to stroke his whiskers on its edges. Bread from leased corn always had a fuller, sweeter flavour than you get now from the finely dressed flour. Only “pollard” for the June calf and “sharps” for the trough were taken out of the ground corn, then, worked up with barm, baked and kept on a dairy shelf, it cut as ripe and sweet as a russet apple. Now we rub or beat the grain out for the fowls, and they enjoy it finely until the more masterful ducks come up and simply hustle them about the yard. Geese and ducks have no respect for the proper amenities of farmyard life.

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Categories: Environment

Obama's Climate Change Words And Actions Don't Match, Alaskans Say

NPR News - Environment - 12 hours 6 min ago

President Obama is visiting Alaska this week to highlight his push to fight global warming. Two weeks ago, the Obama administration approved drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

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Categories: Environment

Queensland 'relying on meanie greenies' to oppose Acland coal plan

Guardian Environment News - 12 hours 27 min ago

As Lock the Gate prepares to challenge approval to expand the Darling Downs project, campaigners say they are doing the government’s dirty work

The Queensland government is relying on “meanie greenies” to take the heat for standing up to a controversial coalmine expansion, according to a veteran activist.

Lock the Gate will help fund a state land court challenge to the New Acland coal project, which has received draft environmental approval from the Palaszczuk Labor government despite its previously expressed reservations about a project run by a major Liberal party donor.

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Categories: Environment

How Are U.N. Climate Talks Like A Middle School? Cliques Rule

NPR News - Environment - 12 hours 42 min ago

Tiny island nations, Latin American developing countries and even non-joiners like Switzerland have all found more power and influence in climate negotiations after forming or joining a group.

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Categories: Environment

The farmer who’s starting an organic revolution in Cuba

Guardian Environment News - 12 hours 48 min ago
Fernando Funes Monzote’s theories of ‘agroecology’ bear fruit as he aims to inspire others to make the most of their land

Like all homestead stories, Fernando Funes Monzote’s starts with an epic battle against harsh elements and long odds. Funes, a university-trained agronomist, settled on a badly eroded, brushy hillside outside Havana four years ago and began digging a well into the rocky soil. The other farmers nearby thought he was crazy, or worse – a dilettante with a fancy PhD whose talk of “agroecology” would soon crash into the realities of Cuban farming.

Funes had no drill, so he and a helper had to break through layers of rock with picks and hand tools. Seven months later and 15 metres down, they struck a gushing spring of cool, clear water. “To me, it was a metaphor for agroecology,” said Funes, 44, referring to the environmentally minded farm management techniques he studied here and in the Netherlands. “A lot of hard work by hand, and persistence, but a result that is worth the effort.”

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Categories: Environment

Five near-blind monk seals become ambassadors for vanishing species

Guardian Environment News - 13 hours 32 min ago

For the first time, Hawaiian monk seals are on public display outside of the Aloha State. Conservationists hope the new ambassadors at the Minnesota Zoo will help bring more attention (and funds) to the endangered, declining species

The Hawaiians call their monk seals ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua or “the dog that runs in rough water,” but when I see my first one, I think: whoa, that’s more like a bear. And indeed, a female Hawaiian monk seal weighs up to 240 kilograms – about the size of a Eurasian brown bear. Although the Hawaiian monk seals are clearly powerful, hefty animals – twice as heavy as an English mastiff – their wide, black, velvety eyes make them hard to resist. And I find myself quickly enamoured.

You may think I’m on a Hawaiian beach soaking up the sun when I see my first living, breathing monk seals, but I’m not. I’m thousands of miles away in the cold, landlocked Midwest at a press event a few days before the public debut of five female seals at the Minnesota Zoo. It’s a landmark debut: these are the first Hawaiian monk seals on public display outside of the Aloha State.

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Categories: Environment

Shenhua coalmine faces legal challenge over risk to koala population

Guardian Environment News - 14 hours 54 min ago

NSW government sources acknowledge Upper Mooki Landcare group has strong case and Chinese state-owned company could have to restart approval process

The $1.2bn Shenhua coalmine faces a significant setback after local landholders launched a legal challenge to the New South Wales government approval process over whether it properly considered the impact of the mine on the local koala population.

The Upper Mooki Landcare group has challenged the approval given to the Shenhua Watermark mine project, specifically whether the open-cut mine on the Liverpool Plains would place a viable population of koalas at risk of extinction.

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Categories: Environment

Pure water from the depth of the mountain

Guardian Environment News - 17 hours 14 min ago

Helvellyn, Lake District This fresh running drinking water is always available, whether there has been rain or drought; it is an elixir from Mother Nature’s cooler, with or without ice (in winter)

Of all the places in Lakeland where you can be guaranteed to find fresh running drinking water, Brownrigg Well is the highest. It graces Helvellyn (950m) 100m or so below the summit and has long assuaged the thirsts of shepherds and fell runners. Knowing its location means there is less need to carry bottled water uphill. Although called a “well”, this is not a place to retrieve water in a bucket, but a spring that flows from the hillside. Always available, whether there has been rain, as in recent weeks, or drought, it is an elixir from Mother Nature’s cooler, with or without ice (in winter). I can testify to this after tasting a bottle of the stuff brought down by friends.

The late Ernie Brownrigg, who was the shepherd for Manchester Waterworks, once took me to task for suggesting the well was named after him. “Don’t listen to the ‘lees’ that folk tell you,” he said, twanging his galuses (braces) while playing dominoes in the King’s Head Inn at Thirlspot by the A591. “Don’t claim I was that Brownrigg. I don’t ken who it was.”

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Categories: Environment

India: No country for wild tigers? | Janaki Lenin

Guardian Environment News - 18 hours 4 min ago

Authorities seek to widen a road that would cut wildlife corridors and put the future sustainability of three tiger reserves at risk

If the tigers of Panna are under threat of being displaced by a dam, the tigers of nearby Kanha, Pench, and Navegaon Nagzira tiger reserves in the two central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are in danger from a highway.

The National Highways Authority of India proposes to widen a 50-km (31-mile) stretch of road to a four-lane divided highway connecting Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, with Nagpur, Maharashtra. While allowing humans to hurtle between these two cities, the road slices two tiger corridors: Pench-Nagzira corridor in Maharashtra and the Pench-Kanha corridor in Madhya Pradesh. Although National Highway 7 (NH7) exists already, widening it will aggravate the problem it poses to wildlife. Central Indian forests hold about 33% of India’s tigers, 688 of them.

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Categories: Environment

Guerrilla Furniture Design - Review

Holy Scrap - 18 hours 31 min ago

This week I watched Portlandia on my laptop and read a book about furniture design written by a guy from Portland while living in the home of a furniture maker in Portland. Some kind of hint?

Right away I thought this book was interesting because the project are not too hard. While skimming the pages I thought, "Yeah, I could make that." Some of the cool things author Will Holman included are a illustrated timeline of what influenced design through various periods and description of how what was happening at the time influenced materials and how things looked. He translates this into style.

Foraging and maker spaces made the pages and there's even a size chart for figuring out how to make furniture that matches your unique size. Cool. The author, I'm guessing, has his some OCD issues, which is probably another reason that I like this book. The details are specific, particular and good. Like he shows the kind of mistakes beginners are likely to mess up on and suggests ways to avoid making those mistakes. Have you ever watched a shelf tilt to the right or left and then made weird attempts to prop it so that it will stand straight? His visual diagram about sheer force is all one needs to remedy the problem.

This book is all about readily available materials like cardboard, wrapping paper tubes, and traffic cones, and had me thinking of the kind of urban crap I see spilled about like litter all over this city, free for the taking. Or the pouring over free boxes that I walk by every day but resist looking into since I live in a car and don't need anything. I love how risk free this kind of making is, so you mess up and have to toss the metal street sign chair. You learn a lot by having tried, the sign already existed, no new materials were created for your chair, and it was free.  The whole book had me feeling that the projects are worth giving it a go.

Click book cover image to find it on Amazon.
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs


The Field Lab - 21 hours 22 min ago

Is he lying about his faith, or just one of the frozen chosen?
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Obama To Rename Continent's Highest Peak From Mount McKinley To Denali

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2015/08/30 - 4:10pm

Efforts to change the mountain's name back to Denali date back to 1975. The White House says changing the name back "recognizes the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives."

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Categories: Environment

'Boil water notice' lifted in Chorley, Preston and South Ribble

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/30 - 2:16pm

A further 86,000 households no longer have to boil their tap water after cryptosporidium was detected at a water treatment works in Preston

Another 86,000 households in Lancashire have been told they no longer have to boil their water following the outbreak of a parasitic bug in the main supply.

Related: Lancashire water warning lifted for 80,000 homes

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Categories: Environment

World Pollutionwatch: Fire can kill – far from the flames

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/30 - 1:30pm

Vancouver is normally one of the world’s cleanest cities but this July its air resembled that in Beijing due to smoke and ash from forest fires over 200 kilometres away. Further fires along the western side of the US and Canada have caused numerous health warnings especially at night when smoke settled on valley communities. During August hot weather across southern Europe also led to forest fires in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Related: Pollutionwatch: The world's dirtiest cities

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Categories: Environment

Well Worn Works - Patagonia

Holy Scrap - Sun, 2015/08/30 - 1:00pm
This summer Mikey and I have repeatedly bumped into the Patagonia brand which is adored in the Pacific north west. Of course we see their stores and clothing over the place. But we have also been hearing a lot of news about the Patagonia company and it's founder.

We attended a talk given by runner Jeff Browning at a running store in Bend, OR. Jeff is sponsored by Patagonia and had just been to Patagonia in South America where he had run and climbed in newly reachable areas. He spoke enthusiastically about the good ecological work that was being done by the Patagonia company and told stories of some of the battles they were engaged in in order to preserve the land they bought and named Patagonia Park, in order to protect it. The story was familiar having watched the film 180 Degrees South which sparked my interest in the company.

Patagonia is a hot spot, one of the pristine places on earth not yet wrecked by civilization. The Chilean government is trying to prevent the pillaging of their treasures and recently stopped developers from building two power producing dams on it's wildest rivers.

In the recent press there have been a few interesting stories: one about the brand encouraging consumers to repair clothing before buying new and a slogan, “We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.” The Patagonia web site features another slogan, "Don't Buy This Jacket." Not long ago a video showing animal cruelty acted out by one of Patagonia's wool suppliers had the company up in arms. The supplier was fired. I wonder about how businesses are run that a company would not know the practices of the suppliers they hire. What's missing that this can even happen? Having worked in advertising I know that these ads are compelling. Its exciting to see a brand go against the capitalist credo of, "more more more." Lets just say they have my attention.

On a 26 mile run this week Mikey read (via audio) the book, Let My People Surf, by Yvon Chouinard, the Patagonia company's founder. He was inspired by it and by the great business practices and ideas Chouinard had. He appreciated learning about the company that put doing the right thing in front of business. For example, Patagonia donated large sums of money to Planned Parenthood. When protesters came to try and persuade them to stop supporting Planned Parenthood, Patagonia announced that they will donate $10 to Planned Parenthood for every protester that shows up - protest over.

As a consumer I like companies that accept returns without a time limit. It tells me they make quality goods. I went into a Patagonia store last week where I was drawn to a muted yellow vest of which there was only one. The tag read, Worn Wear which means that Patagonia bought it back from a customer. They pay the seller half of what they resell it for. Yeah, I bought it.

During his talk in Bend Jeff Browning encouraged folks to go down to Patagonia and do trail work for the company. He explained that the Patagonia company puts volunteers up in tent like structures and provide meals. Hummm... maybe next summer?
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

The government’s efforts to kill off the solar industry and lead us to fracking hell | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/30 - 11:25am

On 29 June the Department of Energy and Climate Change told me, on behalf of Amber Rudd, that “as you may know the government’s position remains that we are committed to seeing solar PV, including wide-scale deployment across community homes and rooftops”. On 7 July 2015 I held a party at the Oxford Ecohouse, with its 1995 first solar roof in Britain, to celebrate one million solar homes built in Britain in 20 years. DECC is now proposing to cut the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV installations by as much as 87% (Plans for 87% solar subsidy cut ‘could kill the industry’, 28 August). Big Energy and DECC have realised that if everyone generates their own electricity and heats their water with solar systems, there will be no markets for nuclear electricity and fracked gas. No wonder they are determined to kill off the solar industry. Solar power is citizen power, so – if you do not want a toxic nuclear future or degraded fracked landscapes and lives – keep building those solar roofs, because each single one is a footstep to a cleaner, safer, freer energy future.
Professor Sue Roaf

• Hack away at subsidies for householders who install solar panels? Kill off a promising industry that could have delivered many much-needed and decent jobs – jobs that could even have helped us meet climate change targets? Remove support for budding small and medium-sized enterprises?

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Categories: Environment
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