Researchers Test Hotter, Faster And Cleaner Way To Fight Oil Spills

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 8:50pm

The Flame Refluxer is essentially a big copper blanket: think Brillo pad of wool sandwiched between mesh. Using it while burning off oil yields less air pollution and residue that harms marine life.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Categories: Environment

Cane toad that may have 'hitchhiked' to Mount Kosciuszko prompts disease fears

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 7:39pm

National Parks and Wildlife Service says amphibian chytrid fungus could affect endangered frog species

The discovery of a cane toad that may have “hitchhiked” to Mount Kosciuszko has prompted concerns about the spread of dangerous diseases to native frog species.

The dead cane toad was found by the side of the road at Charlotte Pass earlier this month, near a popular viewing platform that looks out to Australia’s highest mountain and the surrounding alpine high country.

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Categories: Environment

Renewables roadshow: how the 'nonna effect' got Darebin's pensioners signing up to solar

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 6:31pm

In our new series on Australian renewable projects, we visit a suburb where an investment scheme makes solar energy accessible to those who need it most

In Darebin in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, solar installations have spread rapidly through the area’s low-income households.

“We call it the ‘nonna effect’,” says Trent McCarthy, a Greens councillor in Darebin. “The nonna in the street has her solar on her roof. She’s very proud, she tells all of her friends. It’s social marketing 101.”

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Categories: Environment

Renewables roadshow – Darebin: 'I save money, and there's a feelgood factor' – video

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 6:30pm

In the second of our series highlighting innovative renewable energy projects across Australia we show how many older residents of a Melbourne suburb have embraced solar energy, backed by a council scheme where they can pay for panels in instalments. One of the early adopters was a 102-year-old man. ‘He understood that the benefits lasted way beyond his lifespan,’ reports Kate Nicolazzo of Positive Charge. The residents say they are making big savings on their energy bills and doing their bit for the environment too

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Categories: Environment

'Better de-horned than dead' – zoo chops rhino horns to foil poachers

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 6:25pm

Czech zoo takes saw to the horns of its 21 rhinoceroses in response to deadly attack at Paris wildlife park this month

A Czech zoo has started to remove the horns from its 21 rhinos as a precaution after the recent killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park in France by assailants who stole the animal’s horn.

With rhino horns considered a wonder cure in Asia – for everything from cancer, colds and fevers to high blood pressure, hangovers, impotence and other ailments – poachers have killed thousands of the animals in Africa and elsewhere.

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Categories: Environment

World Water Day: one in four children will live with water scarcity by 2040

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 5:01pm

Unicef report says climate change and conflict are intensifying risks to children of living without enough water, and that the poorest will suffer most

One in four of the world’s children will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040 as a result of climate change, the UN has warned.

Within two decades, 600 million children will be in regions enduring extreme water stress, with a great deal of competition for the available supply. The poorest and most disadvantaged will suffer most, according to research published by the children’s agency, Unicef, to mark World Water Day on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Crocodile blamed for death of spearfisherman killed in north Queensland

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 4:39pm

Rangers trap and kill four-metre crocodile near where Warren Hughes disappeared on Saturday

Rangers have killed a four-metre crocodile blamed for a fatal attack on a spearfisherman in Queensland’s far north.

The crocodile was trapped and killed about 10pm on Tuesday, at the mouth of the Russell river close to where Warren Hughes, 35, disappeared on Saturday.

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Categories: Environment

Dakota Access pipeline: ING sells stake in major victory for divestment push

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 12:09pm

The financial giant is the first of a group of 17 banks to divest from the loan that financed the pipeline as the embattled project is set to begin transporting oil

The financial giant ING has sold its stake in the $2.5bn loan financing the Dakota Access pipeline, the latest victory for the anti-pipeline divestment campaign that comes as the project is set to begin transporting oil.

The Dutch banking and financial services company is the first of a group of 17 banks to divest from the loan that financed the project. ING’s share in the loan was $120m.

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Categories: Environment

The snow bunting’s drift takes them much further than Somerset | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 11:38am

Anent the admirable Stephen Moss’s remark (Birdwatch, 20 March) that his snow bunting on the Somerset coast was “probably the furthest south they ever get”, I have been spotting snow buntings all across the Alps for more than 40 years. In winter they are common, often seen in flocks around picnic spots, in all the high ski resorts.

My last sighting was in January. While photographing Alpine choughs on the summit of the Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites at just under 11,000ft, joining the choughs was a pair of snow buntings. Back at our hotel, a small flock of fieldfares, also breeders in Arctic latitudes, were feeding on berries. I suspect that both species were drifting northwards from even further south.
Jim Freeman
Croftamie, Loch Lomondside

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Categories: Environment

Oil theft 'provides billions for terrorists and drug cartels'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 11:12am

$1bn of oil is stolen in Mexico each year, while EU loses massive revenues, says the Atlantic Council thinktank

Oil theft is fuelling terrorist groups and drug cartels around the world, according to a new analysis.

Mexican drug gangs can earn $90,000 (£72,000) in seven minutes from tapping a pipeline of refined oil, while insurgents in Nigeria financially benefit from a share of the third of the country’s refined oil exports that is lost to theft, said the Atlantic Council.

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Categories: Environment

Former Greens leader Bob Brown to launch alliance to oppose Adani coalmine

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 10:30am

The Stop Adani Alliance says north Queensland coalmine would ‘fuel catastrophic climate change’

The former Greens leader Bob Brown will launch a new alliance of 13 environmental groups opposed to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine on Wednesday in Canberra.

The Stop Adani Alliance will lobby against the coalmine in northern Queensland, citing new polling that shows three-quarters of Australians oppose subsidies for the mine when told the government plans to loan its owners $1bn.

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Categories: Environment

Access to nature reduces depression and obesity, finds European study

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 7:08am

Trees and green spaces are unrecognised healers offering benefits from increases in mental wellbeing to allergy reductions, says report

People living close to trees and green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive, or dependent on anti-depressants, according to a new report.

Middle-aged Scottish men with homes in deprived but verdant areas were found to have a death rate 16% lower than their more urban counterparts. Pregnant women also received a health boost from a greener environment, recording lower blood pressures and giving birth to larger babies, research in Bradford found.

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Categories: Environment

Ganges and Yamuna rivers granted same legal rights as human beings

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 4:44am

Indian court cites the Whanganui in New Zealand as example for according status to two rivers considered sacred

The Ganges river, considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians, has become the first non-human entity in India to be granted the same legal rights as people.

A court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand ordered on Monday that the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, be accorded the status of living human entities.

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Categories: Environment

Satellite eye on Earth: February 2017 – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/21 - 4:09am

Vibrant vegetation in a Venezuelan lake, Saharan dust in snowy Sierra Nevada, cloud vortices in South Korea, a vast solar farm in China, and a lone ship in the Atlantic are among our satellite images this month

Every so often, a vibrant green colour infuses the waters of Lake Maracaibo. Floating vegetation – likely duckweed – was swirling in the Venezuelan lake when Nasa’s Aqua satellite flew over in February 2017. Most of the time, Maracaibo’s waters are stratified into layers, with nutrient-rich, cooler, saltier water at the bottom, and a warmer, fresher layer near the surface. But after heavy rains, the layers can mix and make the lake an ideal habitat for plant growth. A narrow strait roughly 6km (4 miles) wide and 40 km (25 miles) long connects the lake to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea. The influx of saltwater through the strait makes Maracaibo an estuarine lake. This mixing causes the water currents responsible for the concentric swirl pattern, according to Lawrence Kiage, a professor of geoscience at Georgia State University.

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Categories: Environment

Let the lapwing's joyful call not fade into silence

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 10:30pm

Claxton, Norfolk Lapwing song was the omnipresent soundtrack of all my childhood springs. Now it has gone from behind our family home

Part of the charm of lapwings is that they look silly, a friend says, and I can surmise what she means. It’s the ridiculous crest, the unnecessary breadth of wing, which gives them so much more aerial lift and loop than they require, and then there’s the zaniness of their spring display. Nor should we leave out the high-pitched notes that pass for song and which remind me of a dog’s squeaky play bone wheezing in and out of tune as the animal chews.

Yet lapwings are too ingrained in a lifetime of memory for me to think them only silly. They are the first sounds I awakened to as a naturalist in Derbyshire, whose nests we came upon in the grass like a revelation, and whose blotched-brown Easter eggs seemed a kind of miracle.

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Categories: Environment

Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 5:39pm

Earth is a planet in upheaval, say scientists, as the World Meteorological Organisation publishes analysis of recent heat highs and ice lows

The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.

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Categories: Environment

Charge electric cars smartly to take pressure off national grid – minister

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 12:45pm

SSE trials ‘demand-side response’ where vehicles start charging a few hours after being plugged in, when demand is lower

Electric cars are putting increasing pressure on the UK’s power grids, making it vital they are recharged at the right time of day, a minister has said.

John Hayes, transport minister, said it was important that such battery-powered cars were topped up in smart ways to avoid unduly stressing the energy system.

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Categories: Environment

Four select committees launch joint inquiry into UK air pollution crisis

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 7:52am

MPs say unprecedented investigation will study harm caused by toxic air and scrutinise government efforts to tackle it

MPs from four influential committees are coming together to launch a joint inquiry into the scale and impact of the UK’s air pollution crisis.

In an unusual development, the environmental audit committee, environment, food and rural affairs committee, health committee and transport committee will hold four sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental effects of toxic air.

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Categories: Environment

Most voters in Peter Dutton's electorate oppose subsidising Adani coalmine, poll says

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 6:01am

Poll shows voters’ preference for renewable energy in immigration minister’s seat and 16.8% primary vote for One Nation

Most voters in Peter Dutton’s electorate oppose taxpayer subsidies for the Adani coalmine and more would prefer the government to fund renewable energy rather than coal-fired power plants, a poll has found.

The ReachTel poll of Dickson, commissioned by the Australia Institute, found that, even among Liberal National party voters, more opposed spending taxpayer funds on new coal-powered plants than supported it.

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Categories: Environment

19 House Republicans call on their party to do something about climate change | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/20 - 3:00am

With the Republican Climate Resolution, Climate Solutions Caucus, and Climate Leadership Council, Republicans are trying to end their party’s climate denial

While the Trump administration is veering sharply toward climate science denial, 19 House Republicans have taken steps to pull the party in the direction of reality, and the need to combat the threats posed by human-caused climate change.

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