Sighting of sperm whales in Arctic a sign of changing ecosystem, say scientists

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/11/05 - 10:03am

Rare sighting in the Canadian Arctic as a growing number of species expand their range into warming waters

A rare sighting of sperm whales in the Canadian Arctic is the latest sign of a quickly changing ecosystem, say scientists, as a growing number of species expand their range into warming Arctic waters.

Brandon Laforest, a marine biologist with the World Wildlife Fund, and guide Titus Allooloo were working on a project monitoring the effect of marine traffic on the region’s narwhal population when they spotted the pair of large whales just outside Pond Inlet, a community at the northern tip of Baffin Island in September.

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Categories: Environment

Energy cost of 'mining' bitcoin more than twice that of copper or gold

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/11/05 - 9:00am

New research reveals that cryptocurrencies require far more electricity per-dollar than it takes to mine most real metals

The amount of energy required to “mine” one dollar’s worth of bitcoin is more than twice that required to mine the same value of copper, gold or platinum, according to a new paper, suggesting that the virtual work that underpins bitcoin, ethereum and similar projects is more similar to real mining than anyone intended.

One dollar’s worth of bitcoin takes about 17 megajoules of energy to mine, according to researchers from the Oak Ridge Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, compared with four, five and seven megajoules for copper, gold and platinum.

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Categories: Environment

America's marijuana map: how things might change after the midterms

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/11/05 - 4:00am

Four states across America are on the eve of introducing new cannabis legislation

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Categories: Environment

Childhood obesity linked to air pollution from vehicles

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/11/04 - 3:00pm

Research suggests first year ‘critical window’ in which toxic air can increase weight gain

Early exposure to air pollution from vehicles increases the risk of children becoming obese, new research has found.

High levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by diesel engines, in the first year of life led to significantly faster weight gain later, the scientists found. Other pollutants produced by road traffic have also been linked to obesity in children by recent studies.

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Categories: Environment

Government faces new legal challenge over plans to speed up fracking

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/11/04 - 9:45am

Opponents say revised definition of fracking will allow energy firms to bypass planning rules

The government is facing a fresh legal challenge to its proposals to fast-track new fracking sites by loosening planning regulations.

Ministers said this summer they would drop the requirement for shale gas wells to obtain planning permission by designating fracking sites as national infrastructure projects.

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Categories: Environment

Beyond Plastic Bans: Creating Products To Replace It

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2018/11/04 - 6:00am

Beyond straw bans, there's mounting pressure on companies to not use plastic packaging. That's creating a budding market for alternative products.

(Image credit: Cassandra Profita/OPB)

Categories: Environment

David Attenborough: too much alarmism on environment a turn-off

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/11/03 - 11:00pm
Veteran broadcaster says Dynasties, his new BBC wildlife series, will be gripping, truthful and entertaining but not overtly campaigning

Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most famous wildlife storyteller, believes repeated warnings about human destruction of the natural world can be a “turn-off” for viewers – a comment that is likely to reignite the debate about whether the veteran broadcaster’s primary duty is to entertain or educate.

Ahead of the launch of Dynasties, a new five-part BBC documentary series, the presenter of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II said the impact of habitat loss, climate change and pollution were evident everywhere, but sounding the alarm too often could be counterproductive.

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Categories: Environment

Young Activists Can Sue Government Over Climate Change, Supreme Court Says

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/11/03 - 11:12am

The 21 plaintiffs, many of whom are minors, say government policies infringe on their rights. "We need to as a country, do much bigger things," Leigh-Ann Draheim, the mother of one plaintiff said.

(Image credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Categories: Environment

Man-eating tiger shot dead in India after high-profile hunt

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/11/03 - 9:38am

Tiger known to hunters as T1 and as Avni to wildlife lovers had killed more than a dozen in two years

A man-eating tiger that claimed more than a dozen victims in two years has been shot dead in India, officials say.

One of India’s most high-profile tiger hunts in decades ended on Friday night when the mother of two 10-month-old cubs – known to hunters as T1 but Avni to wildlife lovers – was shot dead in the jungles of Maharashtra state.

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Categories: Environment

This crab could save your life - if humans don't wipe it out first

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 11:00pm

The Horseshoe crab outlived the dinosaurs but is no match for medicine’s hunger for its blood

Few people in the world are aware their wellbeing may one day depend on a blue-blooded crab that looks like a cross between the facehugger from Alien and a gigantic louse. Fewer still realise this ancient creature now faces its greatest threat in more than 450m years.

The American horseshoe crab outlived the dinosaurs and has survived four previous mass extinctions, but is now menaced by the pharmaceutical industry, fishing communities, habitat loss, climate change and, most recently, choking tides of red algae off the east coast of the United States.

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Categories: Environment

'The most intellectual creature to ever walk Earth is destroying its only home' | Jane Goodall

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 11:00pm

Introducing the Guardian’s new series The Age of Extinction, the renowned primatologist describes the dramatic vanishing of wildlife she has witnessed in her lifetime – and how we can all play a vital role in halting its destruction

During my years studying chimpanzees in Gombe national park in Tanzania I experienced the magic of the rainforest. I learned how all life is interconnected, how each species, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has a role to play in the rich tapestry of life – known today as biodiversity. Even the loss of one thread can have a ripple effect and result in major damage to the whole.

I left Gombe in 1986 when I realised how fast chimpanzee habitat was being destroyed and how their numbers were declining. I visited six chimpanzee range states and learned a great deal about the rate of deforestation as a result of foreign corporations (timber, oil and mining) and population growth in communities in and around chimpanzee habitat, so that more land was needed for expanding villages, agriculture and grazing livestock.

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Categories: Environment

Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 11:00pm

The world has two years to secure a deal for nature to halt a ‘silent killer’ as dangerous as climate change, says biodiversity chief

The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.

Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pașca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.

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Categories: Environment

'Is our life just worth a photo?': the tragic death of a couple in Yosemite

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 10:00pm

More than 10,000 Instagram fans followed Meenakshi Moorthy and Vishnu Viswanath’s travels. But their mysterious death raises concerns about selfie culture

From the Grand Canyon to the California coast, Meenakshi Moorthy and Vishnu Viswanath documented a life of travel and and natural beauty in their adopted homeland for more than 10,000 Instagram followers.

The pair had immigrated to Silicon Valley from India. Moorthy described herself as the “high-spirited storyteller” who penned their social-media entries. Viswanath, she said, was the “head photographer of our most pretty pics”. Posting online was about more than just receiving “likes”, she often remarked. And she warned about the dangers of scaling high places just for photographs.

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Categories: Environment

Adani yet to sign royalties deal despite claiming to be close to financing mine

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 12:00pm

Exclusive: slimmed-down Carmichael plan calls into question eligibility to delay royalties payment

The Adani mining company has still not signed a royalties agreement with the Queensland government, despite its claims to be just weeks away from green-lighting the Carmichael mine.

This week, Adani’s Australian mining head, Lucas Dow, gave a series of interviews claiming the company was close to financing a slimmed-down, $2bn integrated Carmichael mine, rail and port proposal.

Analysts say the strategy is to get the mine into production while spending as little upfront cash as possible. Guardian Australia understands it relies heavily on vendor financing agreements, in which payments to contractors and suppliers are effectively withheld for several years.

Adani now insists it can start Carmichael for a fraction of the investment previously required. But Queensland government sources say the slimmed-down plan calls into question Adani’s eligibility to delay payment of royalties.

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Categories: Environment

Antarctic's future in doubt after plan for world's biggest marine reserve is blocked

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 10:16am

Environmental groups say Russia, China and Norway played part in rejecting plan

A plan to turn a huge tract of pristine Antarctic ocean into the world’s biggest sanctuary has been rejected, throwing the future of one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems into doubt.

Environmental groups said Russia, China and Norway had played a part in blocking the proposal, with the other 22 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the organisation set up to protect Antarctic waters, backing the proposal.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 9:15am

A Bengal tiger, oystercatchers and a new species of butterfly are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Palau, In Western Pacific, Is First Nation To Ban 'Reef-Toxic' Sunscreens

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 12:41am

The bio-diverse country says it has a responsibility to conserve its reefs. However, researchers say there are more effective and less toxic sunscreens available.

(Image credit: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Displaced villagers in Myanmar at odds with UK charity over land conservation

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/11/02 - 12:00am

Karen people in Tanintharyi region fear project to protect 800,000-acre area will cut them off from ancestral lands

A British conservation charity has become embroiled in a row with villagers displaced by civil war in Myanmar over plans to protect pristine forests housing wild Asian elephants, tigers and sun bears.

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) is helping to finance the $21m (£15.8m) ridge to reef project, which is led by the UN’s development programme and aims to protect up to 800,000 acres of the country’s south-eastern Tanintharyi region from threats like poachers, loggers and palm oil companies.

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Categories: Environment

Summers could be entirely powered by clean energy by 2050

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/11/01 - 11:01pm

Demand for the rest of the year and lower solar output will still keep energy firms in business

British summers could be entirely powered without fossil fuels by the middle of the century without breaking the economics of the energy market, according to a report.

But while wind, solar and nuclear power would provide nearly 91% of the country’s electricity by then, up from about 50% today, gas power stations are still expected to be needed during winters.

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Categories: Environment

Pacific island to introduce world-first 'reef-toxic' sunscreen ban

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/11/01 - 5:32pm

From 2020, lotions containing any of 10 chemicals linked to coral bleaching will be outlawed

The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau will ban “reef-toxic” sunscreens from 2020 in what it claims is a world-first initiative to stop chemical pollution killing its famed corals.

Palau, which lies in the north-west Pacific, east of the Philippines and directly north of Australia, is regarded as one of the world’s best diving destinations, but the government is concerned its popularity is coming at a cost.

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