Pollutionwatch: Cold snap worsens air quality

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:30pm

Particle pollution increases as the wind slows down and chilly weather prompts the lighting of more wood fires

The last days of the “beast from the east” cold spell caused air pollution problems across large parts of the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Within the UK particle pollution reached between five and 10 on the UK government’s 10-point scale over parts of south Wales and areas of England south of a Merseyside to Tyneside line, except the far south-west.

Pollution from industry, traffic and home wood and coal burning can stay in the air for a week or up to 10 days. This means that pollution emitted in one part of Europe can cause problems hundreds of miles away. If the wind slows down then particle pollution can build up over a whole region.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists Are Amazed By Stone Age Tools They Dug Up In Kenya

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 12:12pm

The discovery suggests an earlier start to the Middle Stone Age in Africa than previously documented. It also offers clues to early social networks and symbolic art by human ancestors.

(Image credit: Jay Reed/NPR )

Categories: Environment

Awkward questions about biodiversity | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 9:41am
Academics and environmental campaigners from the Beyond Extinction Economics (BEE) network say challenging questions about confronting the risk to global biodiversity were left unanswered by a recent Guardian briefing article

Damian Carrington are to be congratulated on a wide-ranging and informative article on the urgency and scale of the current global threat to biodiversity and the Guardian (What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?, theguardian.com, 12 March). However, we of the Beyond Extinction Economics (BEE) network have reservations about the article’s diagnosis of its causes, and proposals for addressing the crisis.

First, to say “we” or “human activity” is responsible for biodiversity loss sidesteps the more serious challenge of identifying the specific socio-cultural, and, more centrally, economic drivers of destruction. Second, to slip easily from population rises to industrial development, housing and farming as the causes of the destruction of wild areas evades critical questions about what sort of industry, producing what sort of consumer goods and what kind of farming and food distribution system – let alone questions as to who has the power to decide and who gets to consume and who doesn’t.

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Categories: Environment

New oil threat looms over England's national park land, campaigners warn

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 9:21am

More than 71,000 hectares of protected countryside in the south-east face risk of drilling

More than 71,000 hectares (177,000 acres) of protected countryside, including national park land, in the south-east of England are at risk from a new wave of oil drilling, environmental campaigners have warned.

Under threat are areas of outstanding natural beauty in the Weald, which runs between the north and south downs, and the South Downs national park, Greenpeace said.

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Categories: Environment

It's 50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out | Richard Wiles

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 7:47am

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

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Categories: Environment

VIDEO: We Went Foraging For Winter's Wild Edibles

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 4:00am

People might not think of winter as a fruitful season for foraging wild edibles, but nutritionist and expert forager Debbie Naha says there's actually a lot out there that you can find year-round.

(Image credit: NPR)

Categories: Environment

Who owns water? The US landowners putting barbed wire across rivers

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 3:00am

New Mexico is a battleground in the fight over once public waterways, sparking fears it could set a national precedent

As Scott Carpenter and a few friends paddled down the Pecos river in New Mexico last May, taking advantage of spring run-off, the lead boater yelled out and made a swirling hand motion over his head in the universal signal to pull over to shore. The paddlers eddied out in time to avoid running straight through three strings of barbed wire obstructing the river.

Swinging in the wind, the sign hanging from the fence read “PRIVATE PROPERTY: No Trespassing”.

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Categories: Environment

Sheffield MPs urge council to pause tree felling

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:43am

Protests continue to grow over controversial PFI contract that has resulted in thousands of trees being cut down

Two Labour MPs in Sheffield have called on the city’s Labour-run council to pause tree felling in the city, as protests grow over a controversial road maintenance contract that has resulted in thousands of trees being cut down and replaced with saplings.

Related: For the chop: the battle to save Sheffield’s trees

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Categories: Environment

Marine Biologist Studies Climate's Effects On Adelie Penguins

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:02am

The Antarctica peninsula is shrinking as global temperatures rise. David Greene talks to scientist James McClintock about why warm weather is killing off penguin populations.

Categories: Environment

Camera attached to a minke whale captures rare footage – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 11:26pm

For the first time ever, scientists in Antarctica have attached a camera to a minke – one of the most poorly understood of all the whale species.  The camera (attached with suction cups) slid down the side of the animal – but stayed attached – providing remarkable video of the way it feeds.

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Categories: Environment

UK car industry must pay up for toxic air 'catastrophe', super-inquiry finds

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 11:01pm

Unprecedented joint inquiry by four committees of MPs demands polluters pay for air pollution causing ‘national health emergency’

The car industry must pay millions of pounds towards solving the UK’s toxic air crisis under the “polluter pays” principle, according to an unprecedented joint inquiry by four committees of MPs.

The MPs call the poisonous air that causes 40,000 early deaths a year a “national health emergency” and are scathing about the government’s clean air plans. These judged illegal three times in the high court, with the latest plan condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.

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Categories: Environment

'Age and beauty': Darwin farewells one of its six heritage-listed trees

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 8:32pm

After death of milkwood tree, which predates European settlement, five other heritage listed trees left in Northern Territory capital

A heritage-listed Darwin tree that survived at least two devastating cyclones, the arrival of European settlers and a Japanese bombing has died, leaving just five listed trees in the Northern Territory city.

The milkwood tree in downtown Darwin was given protection in 2006 as a rare example of the vegetation that covered the Darwin peninsula before European arrival in 1869.

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Categories: Environment

WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 6:46pm

Researchers find levels of plastic fibres in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.

In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.

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Categories: Environment

If business leaders want to regain our trust, they must act upon climate risk | Ian Dunlop

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 4:29pm

Empty rhetoric from corporates is not enough as climate change is accelerating far faster than expected

Business leaders seem astonished that community trust in their activities is at an all-time low, trending toward the bottom of the barrel inhabited by politicians. To the corporate leader dedicated to the capitalist, market economy success story of the last 50 years, that attitude is no doubt incomprehensible and downright ungrateful.

Related: Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by 'crazy' temperature rises

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Categories: Environment

Death by a thousand cuts: the familiar patterns behind Australia's land-clearing crisis

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 1:09pm

The land-clearing crisis has been hastened by individual decisions, but it’s supported by a network of power brokers, lawmakers and enforcement agencies

The broadscale denuding of the unique Australian landscape is the result of thousands of landholders making a tapestry of individual decisions.

Over the past few years, millions of hectares of land has been cleared of native vegetation, exacerbating climate change, the decline of threatened species and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

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Categories: Environment

Biofuels can help solve climate change, especially with a carbon tax | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 3:00am

We’re not yet optimizing biofuel production for both economic and environmental factors

Facing the reality of human-caused warming, we now look for ways to reduce the problem so that future generations will not inherit a disaster. So, what can we do now to help the future?

The easiest answer is to use energy more wisely and quit wasting our precious resources. Second, we can increase our use of clean energy, particularly wind and solar power. These are great starts but we will still need some liquid fuels and for those, we can make decisions about the best fuels for the environment. There has been extensive conversation recently about biofuels and how they may help solve the climate problem.

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Categories: Environment

Green Investment Bank: why did ministers dodge the real problem? | Nils Pratley

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 2:51am

Government should have got binding commitments a private owner would continue to invest

The government’s £1.6bn sale last year of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to the Australian financial outfit Macquariewas a shambles, it was argued here at the time, and now the public accounts committee agrees. The rough summary of its report runs as follows: in their eagerness to trim a few quid from the national debt ministers accepted a few airy pledges from Macquarie about future investment and called them commitments.

The MPs’ verdict makes a nonsense of the government’s claim that a sale would deliver “the best of both worlds” – value for money and a new owner that would definitely use GIB to support UK energy policy and invest in low-carbon infrastructure. The price tag looks OK since the Treasury made a profit of £186m, but the boast about Macquarie’s good intentions has been exposed as an exercise in hopeful assumptions. The Aussie financiers may decide to play ball, but, if they don’t, there is little the government will be able to do.

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Categories: Environment

Australia's kerbside recycling system in crisis following China ban

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/14 - 12:24am

Recycling industry in Victoria and NSW on verge of collapse, Senate inquiry told

Australia’s kerbside recycling systems are at risk of collapse, a Senate inquiry has heard. China’s ban on importation of recyclable rubbish has left councils and state governments in Victoria and New South Wales scrambling to find space to stockpile growing mounds of waste.

An estimated half of Australia’s recyclable waste was going to China before the ban, the hearing was told, although the precise share of waste exported was not known.

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Categories: Environment

Toast bread straight from the freezer to avoid waste, campaign urges

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/03/13 - 11:01pm

UK households throw away 24m slices of bread each day, says anti-food waste campaign

Around 24m slices of bread are thrown away every day in the UK – more than a million an hour – because people do not get around to using it in time and worry it is stale.

Now a new campaign from the anti-waste charity Love Food Hate Waste is urging consumers to freeze bread and toast it straight from the freezer, and to consider eating toast as a snack at any time of day.

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Categories: Environment

Mummy's boys: young ibises all wrapped up as presents for the gods

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/03/13 - 6:30pm

They might be disparaged as bin chickens now but in ancient Egypt they were revered

In Australia they’re reviled as bin chickens. But in ancient Egypt, ibises were revered and offered as gifts to the gods.

Two mummified ibises have given researchers at the University of Sydney a riveting insight into their ancient appeal.

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Categories: Environment
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