Storms cut Big Sur off from the world. But for a price, the trip of a lifetime awaits

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/06/19 - 5:00am

Winter storms lashed this stretch of coastal California, rendering many parts inaccessible, but now wealthy tourists are helicoptering in to this exclusive idyll

When winter storms hammered the 90-mile ribbon of coastal California known as Big Sur, the results were calamitous.

A bridge collapsed in the north and landslides buried chunks of highway further south, cutting off segments totaling 35 miles in between. People fled, abandoning homes and businesses.

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Categories: Environment

New South Korean president vows to end use of nuclear power

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/06/19 - 1:49am

Moon Jae-in said he would lead country towards a ‘nuclear-free era’ following fears of a Fukushima-style meltdown

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power, warning of “unimaginable consequences” from a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Moon, a left-leaning liberal who won last month’s presidential election by a landslide following the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye, said he would increase the role of renewable energy and lead South Korea towards a “nuclear-free era”.

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Categories: Environment

In thrall to the nightjar's ghostly song

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/06/18 - 9:30pm

Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent As if wanting us to appreciate more fully the weird loveliness of its song, the nightjar flew towards us

We found the nightjar on the edge of a young conifer plantation, just before 10pm. The weather rumbled ominously in the background as dusk settled around us, the trees soughing and shushing in the breeze. Willow warblers carolled in the canopy and a fat woodcock roded over.

Luke lit a cigarette, I slapped at midges. We saw the nightjar before we heard him (which is unusual). Just enough light to see white wing patches, plumage like wave ripples on sand. He flew over, tentative, circling, standing on the handle of his tail and clapping his wings a few times, before arrowing off into the trees.

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Categories: Environment

100 years ago: tireless swifts climb, dive and glide

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/06/18 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 21 June 1917

The soil responds quickly now to every genial touch. Meadows and clover fields which, after they had been cut and the hay gathered, appeared brown and sere two days ago were this morning, after a spell of rain, as green almost as in spring. The foot sank among rich young leaves and blades along the ditch side below, where wild pink roses have opened as if by some quick stroke or call. On the very top of flowering brambles yellowhammers perched, preening their feathers, and started a little song the last note of which drew out longer than the others. There was a pause and a spell of silence until the song was run through again, the heads of the birds bobbing yellow in the sunshine all the while.

With a rising wind at evening, grey clouds, almost black, came sweeping up the down, scattering the white fruit of dandelions. In the distance they seemed heavy and low enough to envelop you in darkness, but presently it was nothing but a slightly damp flicker wafting across your face. Higher the sky was a clear blue, with long thin flecks depending, which scarcely moved, and in the middle distance swifts circling, diving, now going higher with a tireless flutter of wings, then gliding as they pleased without apparent sign of any kind of power. No matter which way you turn now there are always swifts, and within a few minutes a pair will come down with sharp but sweet cries as they dash above and around. Another and yet another two or three will join them, until, waywardly, all shoot up towards the sky again. So many are they that a lark, strong as his singing is, seems lonely.

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Categories: Environment

A weird encounter in deepest Amazonia

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/06/18 - 1:30pm

With its unusual name and even more unusual habits, the hoatzin is a clear frontrunner for the title of the world’s most bizarre bird

We left Romero Rainforest Lodge just before sunrise, heading down the Manú River and into the unknown. The sickly-sweet scent of uvos – a mango-like fruit – wafted across the murky waters, hanging heavy in the humid air.

As dawn broke, birds started to appear out of nowhere. Flocks of sand-coloured nighthawks lived up to their name, hawking acrobatically over the surface of the water to seize unseen insects with their broad bills. As the sky began to lighten, they were joined by black skimmers: elegant, tern-like birds whose huge bill is longer at the bottom than the top, as we could see when one kept pace with our speedboat. Overhead, pairs of gaudy blue-and-yellow macaws flew high over the rainforest, as if in slow motion.

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Categories: Environment

Weather system revamp hopes to bring sunshine to US economy

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/06/18 - 6:00am

New legislation requires NOAA to improve weather research and forecasting, boosting industries from farming and airlines and improving the public warning system

Farmers have been obsessed with weather for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Babylonians sought guidance on planting and harvest by surveying the sky for patterns in clouds and stars and by communing with gods – through prayers and animal sacrifices. Modern-day farmers, such as Steve Pitstick, a fifth-generation farmer in Illinois, count on sophisticated instruments for predicting the weather instead.

Related: Thank you: with your help, we raised $50,000 to cover America's public lands

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Categories: Environment

Go To New York City For The Whales

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2017/06/18 - 4:45am

Humpback whales have been showing up in the waters around New York City. Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with founder of Gotham Whales Paul Sieswerda, who says it's because of environmental efforts.

Categories: Environment

The eco guide to fair trade lite

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/06/17 - 10:00pm

Sainsbury’s has launched a new ‘Fairly Traded’ tea range. Well and good, but the fear is they may seek to swerve Fairtrade’s tough regulations

We know the drill. An appealing product gets listed by a major retailer, becomes well loved by consumers only for that retailer to replace it with an own-brand version.

Sainsbury’s says its new system is up to date, focusing more on climate change

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Categories: Environment

The latest threat to Antarctica: an insect and plant invasion

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/06/17 - 1:54pm
Rise in tourism and warmer climate bring house flies – and the growth of mosses in which they can live

Antarctica’s pristine ice-white environment is going green and facing an unexpected threat – from the common house fly. Scientists say that as temperatures soar in the polar region, invading plants and insects, including the fly, pose a major conservation threat.

More and more of these invaders, in the form of larvae or seeds, are surviving in coastal areas around the south pole, where temperatures have risen by more than 3C over the past three decades. Glaciers have retreated, exposing more land which has been colonised by mosses that have been found to be growing more quickly and thickly than ever before – providing potential homes for invaders. The process is particularly noticeable in the Antarctic peninsula, which has been shown to be the region of the continent that is most vulnerable to global warming.

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Categories: Environment

Record levels of green energy in UK create strange new world for generators

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/06/17 - 8:43am

As renewables play a greater role in the British market, they are making the price of power increasingly unstable

As the sun shone on millions of solar panels and unseasonable gusts turned thousands of turbine blades last Sunday, something remarkable happened to Britain’s power grid.

For a brief period, a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon, as nuclear, solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations. That afternoon was a glimpse into the future, of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets.

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Categories: Environment

Photos Of Somalia: The Drought, The People, The Captured Porcupine

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/06/17 - 4:00am

In Somalia, photographer Nichole Sobecki saw how the worsening drought is transforming people's lives.

(Image credit: Nichole Sobecki )

Categories: Environment

Tranquil moments where the forest meets the sea

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 9:30pm

New Forest South Only on private land can we experience a sense of remoteness that was once commonplace here

Small heath butterflies flirt among the delicate pink flowers of sea-spurrey. A solitary meadow brown flashes past, wind-driven and quickly lost against the muddy crust of dried-out estuarine pools.

There’s bright blue sky overhead, but the spinnaker-ballooning yachts out in the Solent lean over on a choppy white-tipped sea. Oystercatchers hunker down in the gulleys above which three forest ponies graze. Their movement disturbs a group of shelduck sheltering in a dip that bob fleetingly into sight.

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Categories: Environment

Voyage to the sea floor: expedition returns with fascinating finds

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 4:38pm

Museum Victoria collects gelatinous fish, spiny crabs, scarlet sea-spiders, nightmarish cookie cutter sharks and plenty of rubbish

• Gallery: Deep sea discoveries: sea pigs, a dumbo octopus and glow-in-the-dark sharks

There’s no sunlight four kilometres below the waves but there is light.

It comes from a sea cucumber that emits a faint glow from its sticky skin, attracting fish and crabs that try to take bites out of its side. The skin is both a lure and a trap, marking incautious predators with a sticky glowing dot, an “eat me” sign to any passing larger predators.

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Categories: Environment

Deep sea discoveries: sea pigs, a dumbo octopus and glow-in-the-dark sharks

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 4:36pm

Images of bizarre deep sea creatures found in May and June by the research ship Investigator as it travelled along the Australian coastline to the Coral Sea. The scientists aboard the ship mapped the sea floor to a depth of 4,000 metres and collected more than 1,000 different marine species, about a third of which were new to science and half of which showed some kind of bioluminescent quality

• Voyage to the sea floor: expedition returns with fascinating finds

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Categories: Environment

Ecuadorians denounce foreign loggers in Yasuni national park

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 2:17pm

Interview with anthropologist José Proaño on dangers to indigenous peoples in “isolation” posed by timber trade

Three NGOs in Ecuador marked the UN’s World Environment Day last week by releasing a report alleging that illegal loggers are operating in the famous Yasuní National Park in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse places in the world. The loggers are crossing the border from Peru and mainly extracting cedar from territories used by indigenous peoples living in “isolation”, according to the NGOs.

The report focuses on a reconnaissance trip made in May which documented illegal logging in the park, as well as “massive” commercial hunting and the abandonment of premises supposedly run by the Environment Ministry and military. The trip was made, the report states, after several government visits to the region in recent years which confirmed that illegal loggers and hunters were operating, but led to almost no action being taken to stop them. On one occasion illegal wood was confiscated, but it was recovered by Peruvian loggers, it is claimed, in a “possible violent attack against [an Ecuadorian] military post.”

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Categories: Environment

Businesses must promote diversity – not just because it's good for the bottom line | Tim Ryan

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 9:34am

Too many of America’s workplaces are not representative of our communities. In a divided country, we have a duty to advance diversity and inclusion

We’re living in a country of growing division and tension, and it’s having an impact at work. But it’s often the case that when we walk into the office – where we spend the majority of our time – we don’t address these issues.

And yet there’s so much to talk about – from growing societal inequality and America’s racial divide to single-digit minority representation in corporate America. (Just 1% of the nation’s Fortune 500 CEOs are black, only 4% are women, and even fewer are openly gay).

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Categories: Environment

Don’t blame green targets for Grenfell – insulation saves lives | Alice Bell

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 8:49am
Rightwing papers have implicated energy-efficiency measures in the tragedy. But cold homes are dangerous and disproportionately affect poorer people’s health

As the London Fire Brigade’s dogs and drones searched the ruins of Grenfell Tower in west London, Friday’s Daily Mail chose to lead its coverage with the question: “Were green targets to blame?” Reading out headlines on Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, you could hear the scorn in John Humphrys’s voice as he quoted “green energy ticks” in the Sun. So was this disaster, as rightwing newspapers have been quick to suggest, the fault of what former prime minister David Cameron was once said to have termed “green crap” – some unnecessarily expensive, lefty lifestyle fad?

Related: Grenfell shows just how Britain fails migrants | Nesrine Malik

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Categories: Environment

Michael Gove returns, plastic pollution and city cycling – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 7:57am

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

Tesco fined £8m for fuel leak at petrol station in Lancashire

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 6:17am

Supermarket handed record fine for single incident of pollution after 23,500 litres of fuel escaped in Haslingden

Tesco has been fined £8m fine after a massive fuel leak at one its petrol stations polluted a Lancashire river, killing fish and forcing those living nearby to leave their homes.

It is the largest fine for a single incident of pollution and is second only to the £20m in fines and costs Thames Water was ordered to pay in March which related to multiple offences.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/06/16 - 6:00am

A great white pelican, a slow loris and wildebeest on migration in the Masai Mara are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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