Norfolk playing catch-up in the anti-littering stakes | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 10:10am
First-class degrees | Female saints | Rambutan | Tennis and nationality | Sheep v giant hogweed | Litter

Gosh! How clever we have all become. Fifty years ago, only the top 2% of the population went to university and about 10% of them got firsts, so 0.2% of the population. Now, 30% go to uni, and 25% of them get firsts (Number of UK degree students receiving firsts soars, theguardian.com, 20 July), making 7.5% of the population. The universities say there is no grade inflation so we must be more than 30 times cleverer! Impressive or what?
Rob Symonds

• How refreshing, considering the Guardian’s stance on attitudes at the BBC, to find that of the 13 saints in your Wordsearch grid (20 July), just one is female, and that AnneMarie Ciccarella is “a fast-talking 57-year-old brunette” (The long read, 18 July). Do you need to know my hair colour to print this?
Alison Robinson
Seer Green, Buckinghamshire

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Categories: Environment

Pepsico, Unilever and Nestlé accused of complicity in illegal rainforest destruction

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 9:30am

Palm oil plantations on illegally deforested land in Sumatra – home to elephants, orangutans and tigers – have allegedly been used to supply scores of household brands, says new report

Pepsico, Unilever and Nestlé have been accused of complicity in the destruction of Sumatra’s last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers together in one ecosystem.

Plantations built on deforested land have allegedly been used to supply palm oil to scores of household brands that also include McDonald’s, Mars, Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble, according to a new report.

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Categories: Environment

Mega farms, palm oil and plastic pollution – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 9:04am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

Michael Gove’s green dream: like Brexit, the reality awaits

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 7:39am

Gove’s vision for the environment is undoubtedly ambitious but it is at odds with much government action – making it real will be a gargantuan task

Who knew? Environment secretary Michael Gove, arch Brexiter and seen just months ago grinning and thumbs up in eco-villain Donald Trump’s lair, turns out to be – in words, at least – a deep green.

His first major speech railed against “corporate greed and devil-take-the-hindmost individualism”, “extractive and exploitative political systems” and the “selfish agenda” of vested interests.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 6:00am

A pod of pilot whales, nesting storks and a clan of hyenas are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Cross-party group of MPs call on Gove to adopt clean air bill

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 5:18am

Sixty-five MPs have written to the environment secretary urging him to include the measures in his new strategy to tackle the air pollution crisis

A cross party group of MPs is calling on Michael Gove to adopt a clean air bill in his new strategy to tackle the crisis of air pollution in the UK.

Sixty five MPs have written to the environment secretary as he prepares to address the most pressing issue in his intray – a demand by judges for a new air quality strategy by 31 July to cut illegal levels of pollution from diesel vehicles.

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To Shrink Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Releasing 20 Million Mosquitoes

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 2:25am

Scientists plan to release millions of sterile, male bacteria-infected mosquitoes in California, to breed with wild females. They're hoping for a "steep decline" in the species that carries Zika.

(Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Undercover police target London drivers who pass too close to cyclists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 2:11am

Drivers who fail to give cyclists enough space when overtaking will be pulled over, and officers will explain how to overtake cyclists safely

London’s police force has launched a new initiative to tackle drivers who pass cyclists too closely, using plain clothes officers.

From Friday, the Space for Cyclists initiative will be carried out by UK’s only cycle-mounted police command, the Met’s cycle safety team, after months spent adapting the tactic for London’s roads from a West Midlands Police initiative, introduced last year.

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Categories: Environment

World Faces Global Sand Shortage

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 2:04am

The world is running out of sand. So much so that some countries have banned exports of sand, and there is a thriving black market for it. David Greene talks to freelance journalist Vince Beiser.

Categories: Environment

Al Gore: Climate Change Issue Will Be A 'Much Bigger Political Plus' For Democrats

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/07/21 - 2:04am

Former Vice President Al Gore tells NPR the partisan divide over climate change is fading. Politicians, he says, are told by their pollsters to focus on other issues, but "that's changing."

(Image credit: Claire Harbage/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Organic forces take over Brontë's land of secrets

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 9:30pm

North Lees, Derbyshire The site of the old smelting works felt wholly reclaimed, and as the rain ended the air filled with insects and soon after wrens

The rain started as I crossed the pasture above North Lees Hall, the model, it is widely accepted, for Thornfield Hall in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre. It’s a house the author visited more than once, staying with her friend Ellen Nussey in nearby Hathersage, and the intertwining of the names – thorn being an anagram of north and lee derived from the Anglo-Saxon for field – coupled with the detailed description Brontë gives, are persuasive.

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Categories: Environment

Australia's marine parks face cuts to protected areas

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 9:02pm

Big reductions in no-take marine protected areas are being considered, going beyond those recommended by an earlier federal government review

Australia’s marine protected areas look set to be slashed by the federal government, with plans announced for cuts that go beyond those recommended by a review commissioned by the previous Abbott government.

Draft management plans released by the Director of National Parks on Friday propose that large areas of Queensland’s Coral Sea, as well as off the coast of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales, will lose or have their protection downgraded, to make way for expanded long-line fishing and seafloor trawling – which have been shown to damage the conservation value of the oceans.

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Categories: Environment

All hell breaks loose as the tundra thaws

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 1:30pm

A recent heatwave in Siberia’s frozen wastes has resulted in outbreaks of deadly anthrax and a series of violent explosions

Strange things have been happening in the frozen tundra of northern Siberia. Last August a boy died of anthrax in the remote Yamal Peninsula, and 20 other infected people were treated and survived. Anthrax hadn’t been seen in the region for 75 years, and it’s thought the recent outbreak followed an intense heatwave in Siberia, temperatures reaching over 30C that melted the frozen permafrost.

Long dormant spores of the highly infectious anthrax bacteria frozen in the carcass of an infected reindeer rejuvenated themselves and infected herds of reindeer and eventually local people.

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Categories: Environment

Is It A Good Idea To Pay Villagers Not To Chop Down Trees?

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 1:30pm

Governments dole out millions each year. Researchers debate whether the payouts actually work. A new study from Uganda offers some answers.

(Image credit: Megan Kearns/Courtesy of Innovations for Poverty Action)

Categories: Environment

GOP Effort To Make Environmental Science 'Transparent' Worries Scientists

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 12:58pm

There's a push in Congress to rewrite how science gets used in regulation — and that has researchers worried. The industry-backed bill would let business nitpick raw data and ignore valid results.

(Image credit: David Zalubowski/AP)

Categories: Environment

Dirty coal to dirty politics: everything is connected through a malformed political economy | David Ritter

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 11:00am

The life of our reef is intimately linked to the health of our politics and the future of our communities. Coal has no role to play

  • David Ritter is chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Ten years ago, David Simon’s iconic TV series The Wire portrayed contemporary Baltimore as wracked by illegal drug use, violent crime and failing institutions. But underneath the symptoms were the structures of political economy. As the show’s tagline had it, “everything is connected”. Simons explained that the show was intended to depict “a world in which capital has triumphed completely, labour has been marginalised and moneyed interests have purchased enough political infrastructure to prevent reform.”

A world away and the idea that everything is connected through a malformed political economy is also central to Anna Krien’s recent Quarterly Essay, The Long Goodbye. Coal, Coral and Australia’s Climate Deadlock. In Krien’s Australia, it is the power of the coal industry that is the fundamental problem.

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Categories: Environment

Mexico launches pioneering scheme to insure its coral reef

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 8:25am

Hotels and local government in Cancún will pay premiums, and insurance industry will pay out if the reef is damaged by storms

A stretch of coral reef off Mexico is the testing ground for a new idea that could protect fragile environments around the world: insurance.

The reef, off the coast of Cancún, is the first to be protected under an insurance scheme by which the premiums will be paid by local hotels and government, and money to pay for the repair of the reef will be released if a storm strikes.

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Tensions rise at fracking site in UK after police and activists clashes

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 8:17am

Scuffles and accusations of aggression increase at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas exploration site near Blackpool

Tensions at Britain’s most high-profile fracking site have risen after an increase in violent clashes between protesters, security guards and police. One demonstrator said she had been left unconscious after a “pretty brutal” scuffle with security officers on Wednesday, and another activist fell from his wheelchair, the same day, when police officers pulled him out of the way of a 40-tonne lorry.

Both protesters said they planned to report the incidents that had occurred at energy firm Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, near Blackpool, to Lancashire police.

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Categories: Environment

Son of Cecil the lion killed by trophy hunter

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 7:50am

Six-year-old Xanda was shot and killed by hunters when he roamed outside the protected area of the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe

A son of Cecil the lion has been killed by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, meeting the same fate as his father whose death in 2015 caused a global outcry.

Xanda was six years old and had fathered a number of cubs himself. He was shot on 7 July just outside the Hwange national park, not far from where Cecil died, but news of the death only became public on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

Lawsuit aims to force EPA to crack down on air polluters in Texas

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/07/20 - 7:00am

Environmental groups accuse agency of turning blind eye as Texas ‘renders useless’ pollution controls by issuing lax permits for oil and gas facilities

Campaign groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to force it to clamp down on industrial air pollution in Texas.

Related: Texas companies penalized in less than 3% of illegal air pollution cases – report

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