Would you eat whale or dolphin meat after visiting a marine sanctuary?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:30am

After visiting a whale sanctuary in Iceland there is also the chance to eat whale at a nearby restaurant. It seems like a bizarre idea, but what are the ethical and culinary implications?

Should you eat whale meat? Reports on Iceland’s new retirement home for beluga whales note that, after viewing the animals – rescued from a Shanghai marine park – tourists can then visit a harbourside restaurant where they can dine on whale meat. Last week, Iceland resumed whaling after a three-year hiatus, killing a 20-metre fin whale on the country’s west coast.

The Iceland sanctuary has been set up with the assistance of the highly reputable Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation. Danny Groves of WDC notes that only 3% of Iceland’s local population now eat whale. He points out that the country’s whale-watching industry far outweighs whaling economically. “The sanctuary ... should be championed as an alternative to the cruel practises of whale and dolphin hunting and the keeping of these animals in captivity,” he says.

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Categories: Environment

China lifts ban on British beef

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:21am

£250m deal allows official market access negotiations to begin, 20 years after beef was banned following the BSE outbreak

British beef will be back on the menu in China for the first time in more than 20 years, after it officially lifted the longstanding ban on exports from the UK.

More than two decades since the Chinese government first banned British beef after the BSE outbreak, the milestone is the culmination of several years of site inspections in the UK and negotiations between government officials.

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Categories: Environment

Cheap bacon: how shops and shoppers let down our pigs

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 5:19am

With Brexit looming our animal welfare standards are vulnerable. We’ve got welfare reform wrong in the past - how can we get it right in the future?

“When it came to the crunch the retailers let us down,” says Ian Campbell. When he took over the running of a Norfolk farm in the early 1990s, pig farming was a successful, relatively healthy British sector.

But within a few years a government ban on the use of gestation crates, combined with a rise in the value of the pound and a pig meat glut in Europe, would decimate the industry. The number of UK farmers would be nearly halved, while cheap meat from other countries with lower welfare requirements would come flooding in.

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Categories: Environment

Trump should inspire us all, but not in the way you might guess | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 3:00am

Joe Romm’s new book details the sticky messaging tactics successfully employed by Trump and others

Scientists like me – and really, everyone – can learn from President Donald Trump’s mastery of viral messaging.

True, he has turned the United States into a pariah nation, one reviled for ripping immigrant children from their parents and from withdrawing from our only real chance at stabilizing the climate, the Paris Accord.

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Categories: Environment

UK environment policies in tatters, warn green groups

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 1:59am

‘Disastrous decisions’ such as Heathrow expansion and rejection of Swansea tidal lagoon spark concern over government direction

Environmental campaigners and clean air groups have warned that the government’s green credentials are in tatters after a flurry of “disastrous decisions” that they say will be condemned by future generations.

The government’s plan to expand Heathrow won overwhelming backing in the Commons on Monday – with more than 100 Labour MPs joining the majority of Tory politicians to back the plan – despite grave concerns about its impact on air pollution and the UK’s carbon emissions.

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Categories: Environment

Cannabis growth is killing one of the cutest (and fiercest) creatures in the US

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 1:00am

The Humboldt marten could soon be an endangered species in California as the weed industry threatens its habitat

Fierce yet adorable, Humboldt martens have been described as the west coast’s own Tasmanian devils. The biologist Tierra Curry compares the red-chested mammal to another small, tenacious creature: “It’s a kitten that thinks it’s a honey badger,” she said. “It will crawl right into a bee nest and eat the honeycomb and larvae, getting its face stung the whole time.”

But there are some dangers that the marten cannot withstand – such as marijuana cultivation.

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Categories: Environment

One football pitch of forest lost every second in 2017, data reveals

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 12:00am

Global deforestation is on an upward trend, jeopardising efforts to tackle climate change and the massive decline in wildlife

The world lost more than one football pitch of forest every second in 2017, according to new data from a global satellite survey, adding up to an area equivalent to the whole of Italy over the year.

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Categories: Environment

'There is no oak left': are Britain's trees disappearing?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/27 - 12:00am

The first national ‘tree champion’ is charged with reversing the fortunes of the country’s woodlands and beleaguered urban trees

England is running out of oak. The last of the trees planted by the Victorians are now being harvested, and in the intervening century so few have been grown – and fewer still grown in the right conditions for making timber – that imports, mostly from the US and Europe, are the only answer.

“We are now using the oaks our ancestors planted, and there has been no oak coming up to replace it,” says Mike Tustin, chartered forester at John Clegg and Co, the woodland arm of estate agents Strutt and Parker. “There is no oak left in England. There just is no more.”

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Categories: Environment

Senate launches inquiry into threatened species 'extinction crisis'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 10:59pm

Inquiry initiated by Greens follows Guardian investigation exposing funding and management failings

The Senate has launched an inquiry into Australia’s threatened species crisis after an investigation of national threatened species management by Guardian Australia revealed problems including poor monitoring and a lack of funding.

The inquiry, initiated by Greens senator Janet Rice and supported by Labor and crossbenchers on Wednesday, will examine issues including the country’s alarming rate of species decline, the adequacy of Commonwealth laws that are supposed to protect threatened wildlife, and the effectiveness of funding for threatened species.

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Categories: Environment

Consumers 'need more protection from energy firms' poor service'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 10:01pm

Citizens Advice urges action after small supplier generates record complaints

Record levels of complaints against a small energy supplier have prompted the consumer watchdog to call for stronger regulation to protect households from poor customer service.

The plea by Citizens Advice came as the group published a customer service league table of energy companies that ranked Iresa, which was the cheapest on the market, as the UK’s worst.

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Categories: Environment

Farmers' groups withhold data from $9m Great Barrier Reef water quality program

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 9:43pm

The government-funded program was designed to reduce polluted run-off to the reef

Agriculture industry groups have refused to show the Queensland government the results of a government-funded program that aims to improve Great Barrier Reef water quality.

The Queensland Audit Office, in a report to parliament, said the farming industry groups had withheld data about the best management practices program due to “privacy concerns” and that its effectiveness might be “overstated”.

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Categories: Environment

Could seaweed solve Indonesia's plastic crisis?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 8:00pm

In a country of more than 17000 islands, seaweed might be the ideal raw material for a bio-plastics revolution.

Indonesia produces more marine plastic pollution than any other country except China. This is perhaps unsurprising: the world’s biggest archipelago is also its fourth most populous. Limited income and cash flow means that poorer communities rely on cheap single-use plastics like bags, water cups and shampoo sachets. Waste management systems are rudimentary and each year millions of tonnes of trash ends up in waterways and eventually the ocean.

Last year Indonesia pledged US$1 billion to cut its marine waste by 70% by 2025. The country will have to tackle the issue on multiple fronts if this ambitious target is to be met. Besides changing consumer habits and improving waste management infrastructure, industry needs to move away from single use plastics and quickly introduce and scale up biodegradable alternatives.

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Categories: Environment

Bumblebees thrive in towns more than countryside

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 4:01pm

Urban bumblebees have better access to food, allowing them to produce more offspring

Bumblebee colonies fare better in villages and cities than in fields, research has revealed.

Bumblebees are important pollinators, but face threats including habitat loss, climate change, pesticide and fungicide use and parasites. Now researchers say that bumblebee colonies in urban areas not only produce more offspring than those on agricultural land, but have more food stores, fewer invasions from parasitic “cuckoo” bumblebees, and survive for longer.

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Categories: Environment

Canada's largest national park risks losing world heritage status

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 1:34pm

Wood Buffalo national park also faces danger from oil and gas development and hydroelectric projects, government report says

The world’s second-largest national park is under threat from a destructive combination of climate change, oil and gas development and hydroelectric projects, according to a new report from the Canadian government.

Related: Canada's National Parks: from Hollywood beauties to beautiful beasts – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

No end to climate wars if energy pact offers concession to coal, Labor warns

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 11:00am

A new subsidy would ‘destroy any chance of the government attracting broad support’

Labor has warned the government that new subsidies for coal as part of any internal settlement on the national energy guarantee will scuttle the chances of securing peace after 10 years of warring over climate and energy policy.

The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia that the construction of any new coal-fired power stations “will paralyse Australia’s transition to clean energy” and “run against all the advice of industry and business, including Snowy Hydro”.

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view on tidal energy: cost is not the whole story | Editorial

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 10:43am
Ministers’ decision to shelve a pioneering wave power scheme in Swansea Bay is based on evidence – but also ideology

The UK government’s decision to shelve plans to build the world’s first tidal lagoon off Swansea Bay is a hard blow for Wales. That it comes in the wake of Airbus’s warning that 6,000 jobs at its Broughton factory in Flintshire are being put at risk by continuing uncertainty over Brexit, and on the same day that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders sounded the alarm over the future of car building in the UK, only serves to increase the pain. Ford employs 1,700 people at its Bridgend plant, while a new Aston Martin factory is due to open in south Wales next year. The tidal lagoon project, had it gone ahead, was expected to create 2,200 jobs, plus more in the supply chain. These are the kinds of jobs that Wales, so damaged by steel and coal closures, needs. But the business secretary, Greg Clark, has decided the country can’t have them because they would be too expensive.

It’s true that tidal lagoon power is costly at the moment. The so-called strike price that the government would have to agree for Swansea’s electricity, to get the project off the ground, lay between £92.70 and £150 per megawatt hour (MWh), with the difference accounted for by a Welsh government subsidy, and the duration of the contract. While the UK government’s rejection of the scheme – on which the company says it has spent £35m – was based on the higher figure of £150 over 30 years, the company said that, given a longer contract of 60 years, it could supply electricity at £92.70, the same as Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, the government’s flagship energy project in Somerset (Hinkley Point’s strike price is fixed for 35 years). The Welsh government said that its offer of a £200m subsidy made the Swansea project – meant to be the first of six British tidal lagoons, four of them in Wales – competitive with Hinkley even on a similar time span. Welsh politicians have reacted with understandable fury to Mr Clark’s announcement, which comes almost exactly 12 months after the government abandoned plans to electrify the railway from Cardiff to Swansea, and just a day after MPs voted to press ahead with another expensive infrastructure project: a third runway at Heathrow.

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Categories: Environment

Killdeer Plays Killjoy, Halts Production Of 'Canada's Coachella'

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 8:58am

The birds nest was found in the same location organizers hoped to construct the main stage of the Ottawa Bluesfest.

(Image credit: Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Palm oil ‘disastrous’ for wildlife but here to stay, experts warn

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 5:00am

The deforestation it causes is decimating species such as orangutans and tigers - but the alternatives could be worse, finds authoritative report

It is consumed daily by billions of people but palm oil is “disastrous” for wildlife such as orangutans and tigers, according to an authoritative new report. However, the analysis warns that alternatives are likely to drive biodiversity losses elsewhere, rather than halt them.

The analysis, from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found that rainforest destruction caused by palm oil plantations damages more than 190 threatened species on the IUCN’s red list, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. It also found that palm oil certified as “sustainable” is, so far, only marginally better in terms of preventing deforestation.

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Categories: Environment

Rising seas: 'Florida is about to be wiped off the map'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 4:37am

Sea level rises are not some distant threat; for many Americans they are very real. In an extract from her chilling new book, Rising, Elizabeth Rush details how the US coastline will be radically transformed in the coming years

In 1890, just over six thousand people lived in the damp lowlands of south Florida. Since then the wetlands that covered half the state have been largely drained, strip malls have replaced Seminole camps, and the population has increased a thousandfold. Over roughly the same amount of time the number of black college degree holders in the United States also increased a thousandfold, as did the speed at which we fly, the combined carbon emissions of the Middle East, and the entire population of Thailand.

About 60 of the region’s more than 6 million residents have gathered in the Cox Science Building at the University of Miami on a sunny Saturday morning in 2016 to hear Harold Wanless, or Hal, chair of the geology department, speak about sea level rise. “Only 7% of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the atmosphere,” Hal begins. “Do you know where the other 93% lives?”

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Categories: Environment

All single-use plastics should be banned by 2023 Senate inquiry recommends

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/26 - 2:47am

A national container deposit scheme should be established in response to the recycling crisis, the report says

A Senate inquiry into Australia’s recycling crisis has recommended that all single-use plastics – which could potentially include takeaway containers, chip packets and coffee cups with plastic linings – be banned by 2023.

The wide-ranging report also recommends the establishment of a national container deposit scheme as a response to an unfolding crisis in Australian recycling that forced some councils to tip their recycling into landfill.

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Categories: Environment
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