Environment

Life history trade-offs: why tropical songbirds have fewer chicks | @GrrlScientist

Guardian Environment News - 1 hour 19 min ago

Tropical songbirds produce fewer, high-quality nestlings per breeding effort than do songbirds that breed in temperate zones, according to a study published today. This study reports that tropical songbirds’ nestlings grow longer wings, and faster, which means they spend less time in the nest where they are vulnerable to predators

It has been a long-standing ornithological mystery as to why tropical songbirds have smaller clutches of eggs and raise fewer chicks per breeding effort than do temperate songbirds. But today, a study published in the journal Science argues that life history strategies lie at the heart of this conundrum. In this study, evolutionary ecologist Thomas Martin, an Assistant Unit Leader and Senior Scientist at the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Montana, compares nestling growth rates between closely-related species of tropical and temperate songbirds. He documents that nestlings of tropical songbirds grow longer wings, and grow them faster, than do nestlings of temperate songbirds. Longer and faster wing growth means that the nestlings leave the nest sooner, thereby reducing their risk of predation. Further, because tropical songbirds have more resources available to invest into their offspring, they produce fewer chicks per breeding effort and invest more resources into each individual, thereby giving their offspring a higher survival rate after they fledge (leave the nest). In contrast, temperate songbirds have fewer resources available to nurture their chicks and their offspring suffer a higher mortality rate after they leave the nest, so temperate songbirds compensate by producing a greater number of lower-quality offspring.

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Categories: Environment

Peter Hall obituary

Guardian Environment News - 2 hours 2 min ago

As a lecturer in tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University, my father, Peter Hall, showed students at the university’s Hollings campus and on field studies in areas as diverse as the Peak District, Snowdonia and Budapest the benefits and limits of sustainable tourism. Peter, who has died aged 78, also enjoyed a long association with the Open University as a lecturer in the arts.

He began his academic career in the general studies department at what was then Hollings College, teaching industrial and interpersonal communications skills. He had been recruited from Granada Television, where he worked as a researcher, scriptwriter and editor on both factual programmes and dramas such as Coronation Street.

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Categories: Environment

Slashing household solar subsides will kill off industry, government told

Guardian Environment News - 2 hours 31 min ago

Renewable energy sector condemns proposal to cut feed-in-tariff for small-scale solar installations by almost 90% from 1 January

The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry.

The potential reductions in the level of feed-in tariff (FIT), contained in a long-awaited consultation document released by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (Decc), and are far larger than expected.

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Categories: Environment

The day we stopped Europe’s biggest polluter in its tracks | John Jordan

Guardian Environment News - 3 hours 36 min ago
Earlier this month, 1,500 protesters forced the temporary closure of a vast lignite mine in Germany. It was terrifiyng, exhilarating – and direct action at its best

This month, I broke the law. I wasn’t alone; I was with 1,500 others, many of whom had never broken any law for their beliefs before. Together we managed to shut down Europe’s biggest source of CO2 emissions: RWE’s lignite mines in the Rhineland in Germany.

In total, around 800 of us were arrested, and hundreds of us refused to cooperate with the authorities by withholding our names and IDs. This hampered the bureaucracy so badly that we were released without charge. It was the world’s largest act of disobedience against the mining of fossil fuels – and it might be the spark that ignites a rising, cross-border movement of disobedience for climate justice.

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Categories: Environment

European ‘extreme weather belt’ linked to worst drought since 2003

Guardian Environment News - 3 hours 45 min ago

Severe droughts that stretched across a central European band this summer are consistent with climate models for a warming continent, experts say

A swathe of central Europe has suffered the most severe drought since 2003 in what EU climate experts see as a harbinger of climate changes to come.

Rainless weeks and relentless heat desiccated a vast tract of central European land separating the continent’s drier south from its wetter north between 1 April and 31 July, according to a report by the European drought observatory (EDO).

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Categories: Environment

Middle East faces water shortages for the next 25 years, study says

Guardian Environment News - 4 hours 28 min ago

Rising population and dwindling water supplies will affect millions of people and exacerbate conflict in the region

Water supplies across the Middle East will deteriorate over 25 years, threatening economic growth and national security and forcing more people to move to already overcrowded cities, a new analysis suggests.

As the region, which is home to over 350 million people, begins to recover from a series of deadly heatwaves which have seen temperatures rise to record levels for weeks at a time, the World Resources Institute (WRI) claims water shortages were a key factor in the 2011 Syria civil war.

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Categories: Environment

Ocean warming and acidification needs more attention, argues US

Guardian Environment News - 5 hours 42 min ago
  • Concern growing over climate change-induced warming on marine life
  • US to raise issue in Paris climate talks and call for more research

The US government has urged the international community to focus more on the impact of climate change on the oceans, amid growing concern over changes affecting corals, shellfish and other marine life.

Related: Naomi Klein on climate change: 'I thought it best to write about my own raw terror'

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Categories: Environment

Louisiana fishermen battle back from a decade of hurricanes and oil slicks

Guardian Environment News - 5 hours 55 min ago

After a rough decade, the fishing industry around New Orleans is struggling to recover from the lingering damage from Katrina and the BP oil spill

Like Louisiana’s largest city, New Orleans, the state’s verdant, marshy coastline is wild and diverse: a fat, largemouth bass might snatch the same topwater lure in the same fishing spot where you just landed a 30lb bull redfish. Just beyond the beady iridescent eyes of a freshwater gator emerges the fin of a benevolent porpoise. The coastal fishery’s singular bounty has traditionally provided for many.

It’s tempting to ask how Louisiana fishing culture is faring 10 years after Katrina. But given the abuse doled out to the state’s fisherman since that famous storm – including three more hurricanes and the effects of the 2010 BP oil spill – it’s a wonder Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry hasn’t gone extinct even sooner than most local fishermen now predict.

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Categories: Environment

Canadian agency deciding Shell’s offshore drilling includes ex-Shell official

Guardian Environment News - 6 hours 20 min ago

News of Tory-appointed official follows on Environment Minister granting Shell up to 21 days to stop underwater oil spills

The agency tasked with giving approval for Shell’s deep-water drilling off Canada’s east coast includes a Tory-appointed official who worked for Shell for decades, it has emerged.

Shell’s billion-dollar plans for exploratory drilling 200 km from Nova Scotia’s southern shore have been green-lighted by Canada’s Environment Minister, but they await a final review this fall by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

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Categories: Environment

Lammy and Khan commit to divestment if elected as London mayor

Guardian Environment News - 7 hours 53 min ago

Labour MPs say they will ditch Boris Johnson’s policy and pull out City Hall’s £4.8bn pension fund from oil, coal and gas companies

Boris Johnson has come under increased pressure to move the capital’s finances of out fossil fuels, as Labour party’s Sadiq Khan and David Lammy both committed to do so if they are elected as London mayor next May.

“We’ve got hundreds of millions of pounds invested in all sorts of things. I’m going to lead by example and say we’re not going to invest anymore in fossil fuels,” Khan said in an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones on Monday.

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Categories: Environment

Taking the fun out of it: should climate campaigns give hedonism a free pass?

Guardian Environment News - 8 hours 6 min ago

Environmental campaigns targeting fun things like holidays and Christmas lights are doomed to fail. For now, enjoyment should be exempt from the carbon audit

I remember the worst idea for a climate change campaign I’ve ever heard.

It was November 2008, and a well-meaning friend – having just discovered how much household energy bills can rise at Christmas with all the extra lighting in use – suggested that the wastefulness of the festive season could be a great “hook” for getting people thinking about energy consumption.

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Categories: Environment

Farmworkers See Jobs, Earnings Shrivel In California Drought

NPR News - Environment - 10 hours 13 min ago

More than 21,000 are out of work this year from California's drought, a study says. The majority are farmworkers, and those lucky enough to have a job are often working longer hours for less money.

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Categories: Environment

What will happen to oil and gas workers as the world turns carbon neutral?

Guardian Environment News - 12 hours 20 min ago

Building a wind farm or solar energy project is nothing professionals in fossil fuels can’t manage, but there are too few programmes to help them retrain

Adriaan Kamp used to be a die-hard oilman. After 17 years at Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, the 54-year-old Dutchman now runs a consultancy based in Oslo advising national governments on transitioning to cleaner energy.

“In 2007 to 2008, we were looking at future energy scenarios in the Shell Group [and] there was a question on my desk about how do we play with renewables,” he says. “And from there, the journey started.”

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Categories: Environment

Ethical apprenticeships that sustain the world through work - in pictures

Guardian Environment News - 13 hours 19 min ago

From beekeeping to working as a River Cottage chef, here are some of the best schemes for apprentices that want to make a difference in their career

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Categories: Environment

Rescued flying fox munching a grape proves bats can be cute too – video

Guardian Environment News - 14 hours 18 min ago

Sully, a pregnant grey-headed flying fox, savours some fresh grapes hours after being found unresponsive on the ground in a Sydney park. She was nursed back to health by a bat rescuer for six weeks before being released, still pregnant. Sully’s carer says bats should not be feared but can carry viruses, so should be handled only by people who are vaccinated

Watch the full recovery story here

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Categories: Environment

Why I ate a roadkill squirrel

Guardian Environment News - 14 hours 19 min ago

If grey squirrels killed every year in the UK were sold for meat, it would be no bad thing. Factory farming is more harmful to the environment

The first hour of the day, before the sun is over the horizon: this is the time to see wildlife. In the spring and summer, when no one else is walking, when there is no traffic and the air is dense, so that the sounds of the natural world reverberate, when nocturnal and diurnal beasts are roaming, you will see animals that melt away like snow as the sun rises.

Whenever I stay in an unfamiliar part of the countryside, I try to wake before dawn and walk until the heat begins to rise. Many of my richest experiences with wildlife have occurred at such times. In this magical hour, I too seem to come to life. I hear more, smell more, I am more alert. I feel that at other times my perceptions are muted, my senses dulled by the white noise of the day.

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Categories: Environment

The battle to protect Alaska’s great wildlife sanctuary | Rebecca Solnit

Guardian Environment News - 14 hours 19 min ago

As Barack Obama opens up the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling, how can this pristine wilderness withstand the human hunger for fossil fuels?

At midnight on 29 June, the sun was directly north and well above the hills. It had not gone down since I arrived in the Arctic, three days earlier, and would not set for weeks. It rolled around the sky like a marble in a bowl, sometimes behind clouds or mountains or the smoke of the three or four hundred wildfires somewhere south of us, but never below the horizon. The midnight sun made the green hilltops glow gold, and lit our walk through the wildflowers and the clouds of mosquitoes to the mountaintop.

Down below, I could see our tents, our camp kitchen, tiny from the heights, and our two rafts, all along the sandy beach and flowery grass bench alongside the shallow Kongakut River. A few days earlier, a couple of bush planes had dropped off our group of nine for a week’s journey 65 miles down the river that threads its way from the Brooks Range of mountains to the northern coast of Alaska.

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Categories: Environment

Thistle and brimstones: explosion in the fluff factory

Guardian Environment News - 14 hours 49 min ago

Ouse Fen, Cambridgeshire It was as if someone had burst a thousand pillows along the bank

There are specks in the sky over every field and garden, silver-spoked seeds of thistledown, the snowflakes of summer. Up there in the blue, some float past to wherever, some bunch up unloved in the corner of a spider’s web, and one has slipped indoors and rests weightless on my windowsill.

The other day, I went to a mass-production fluff factory, the thistle-lined dykes of Ouse Fen outside St Ives.

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Categories: Environment

Global sea levels have risen 8cm since 1992, Nasa research shows

Guardian Environment News - 16 hours 6 min ago

Scientists say warming waters and melting ice were to blame for levels rising faster than 50 years ago and ‘it’s very likely to get worse’

Sea levels worldwide have risen an average of nearly eight centimetres (three inches) since 1992 because of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of Nasa scientists said on Wednesday.

In 2013 a United Nations panel predicted sea levels would rise from between 0.3 and 0.9 metres by the end of the century. The new research shows that sea level rise would probably be at the high end of that, said a University of Colorado geophysicist, Steve Nerem.

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Categories: Environment

Government accused of failing to protect waterways from farm pollution

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/08/26 - 4:01pm

Anglers join conservationists in high court case, saying Cameron government is failing in legal duty to safeguard rivers and coasts from agricultural run-off

Conservationists and angling organisations have joined together in a legal challenge, accusing the government of failing to protect some of England’s “most precious rivers” from agricultural pollution.

WWF UK, the Angling Trust and Fish Legal say they have been granted permission by the high court to pursue their challenge to protect rivers, lakes and coastal areas from further damage. They are seeking a judicial review, arguing that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency are failing in their legal duty to take the necessary action to tackle the problem.

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Categories: Environment
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