South Australia to use explosives to scare seals away from fishing areas

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 11:02pm

A huge rise in the population of long-nosed fur seals has led to calls for a cull, but also non-lethal deterrents to keep the marine mammals away

The South Australian government will use explosives to scare fur seals away from fishing areas, after rejecting a call to start killing the animals.

The number of long-nosed, or New Zealand, fur seals around Coorong has soared in recent years to about 100,000. The seals, which are found along southern Australia and New Zealand, have irked fishing crews by eating their catches and ripping holes in their nets.

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Categories: Environment

Indian companies target children to push green messages ... and sell products

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 11:00pm

Wipro, Unilever and other India-based businesses are tapping into the younger generation to promote sustainability. Does it matter that the end aim is to increase sales?

As the UN finalises the new sustainable development goals to replace the millennium development goals, India is a living example of the importance of ensuring that growth is sustainable.

India ranked 155th out of 178 countries in a recent survey on environmental quality and came almost last in air pollution exposure. Thirteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, according to a WHO survey.

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Categories: Environment

Can the sun cool down Earth? - video

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 11:00pm
Every hour, enough sunlight blasts the earth to power humanity for a year. By 2050, across the entire world, solar energy could power our computers, phones, lights, hot water – anything we use electricity for today. There would be no need to pollute the planet with oil, coal or gas. Plus, solar panels are cheap at the moment. What better way to save a heating planet? Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Japanese zoo plans cockroach races to recast hated insect as our best friend

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 10:33pm

Zoo staff hope exhibition of hundreds of cockroaches will combat the insect’s ‘bad image’ and prove they have an important role

A Japanese zoo is trying to improve the reputation of cockroaches through an exhibition on one of the world’s most hated insects.

Staff at Shunanshi Tokuyama Zoo in Yamaguchi, western Japan say cockroaches perform an important role and do not deserve the loathing they often incite.

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Categories: Environment

The flycatcher and the fly – an eternal dance on the wing

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 9:30pm

Wenlock Edge In that moment, bird and fly are immune to the forces of gravity and exist in a time and space around which everything else spins

The spotted flycatcher pauses to consider approaching figures for a second before looping through the air between fence posts. The bird pauses mid-flight to snip an insect also in flight. In that moment, bird and fly are immune to the forces of gravity and exist in a time and space around which everything else spins. Like TS Eliot’s “still point of the turning world” (Burnt Norton), the spotted flycatcher is a blur of brown light: a smudge of wings, striated breast, pencil-point beak and eye shiny beetle black – stilled. The bird is poised, as is the gnat it plucks, dancing in a sunbeam between trees and the open field.

Both creatures were anonymous flecks in the stuff of landscape lush with summer rain, setting seed, warming clammily in a July afternoon, until now. This one moment when bird snatches insect – an act repeated by this and millions of other birds, and a fate that befalls a zillion flies – feels auspicious as the magnitude of it escapes into the surrounding world.

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Victorian farmers and green groups firm on CSG fracking ban as inquiry fires up

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 8:01pm

As parliamentary inquiry into ramifications of drilling gets under way, farmers fear state’s moratorium on coal seam gas may be lifted

Farmers and environmental groups have lined up against the oil and gas industry to oppose fracking of unconventional gas in Victoria, as a parliamentary inquiry into its potential benefits gets under way.

A parliamentary committee began hearings in Melbourne on Wednesday morning into the economic, social and environmental ramifications of allowing Victoria to be opened up for gas drilling.

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Categories: Environment

Turtles' future at risk as scientists show rising sea levels affect egg hatchings

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 4:09pm

Eggs submerged under seawater are less likely to hatch, study at world’s largest green turtle nesting site on the Great Barrier Reef shows

Rising sea levels could decimate sea turtle nesting sites around the world, scientists have warned, with the largest rookery site for green turtles increasingly at risk from being swamped by seawater.

Related: Scientists predict huge sea level rise even if we limit climate change

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Categories: Environment

A Strengthening El Nino Could Mean Wet Winter On The West Coast

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 1:52pm

NPR's Melissa Block speaks to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, about a strengthening El Nino season.

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Pope laments 'meaningless lives' in tying human trafficking to climate change

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 11:49am

Pontiff follows encyclical on fossil fuels with environmental summit of mayors and links climate change to migration, slavery and ‘uncurtailed growth of cities’

Pope Francis said he had “great hopes” that a fundamental agreement to tackle climate change would be reached in Paris later this year and he believed the United Nations needed to play a central role in the fight against global warming.

“The UN really needs to take a very strong position on this issue, particularly the trafficking of human beings … [a problem] that has been created by climate change,” the pope said.

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Categories: Environment

Arnold Schwarzenegger: climate change is not science fiction

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 9:30am

Terminator star calls global warming a ‘battle in the real world’ that’s bigger than any movie, at the first summit of conscience for the climate in Paris

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been chosen by the French government to join Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, UN secretary generals, spiritual leaders and theologians to make the moral case for the world to act urgently on climate change.

Talking at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate on Tuesday – ahead of the crucial UN climate change meeting in the city in December – the Terminator star and former California governor declared the science debate over, saying planetary catastrophe could only be avoided with ethical action:

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Categories: Environment

Latest chicken recalls highlight a big gap in supply chain transparency

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 8:47am

Where does our food come from? Often, big food brands don’t really know, and that can be a problem

The US Department of Agriculture announced two major recalls last week – by Aspen Foods and Barber Foods – due to possible salmonella contamination. Together, the recalls affected nearly 4m pounds of chicken sold in the US.

Sadly, this is just the latest in a series of food crises, and it points to a larger issue in the food retail industry: a lack of supply chain transparency. While many brands and food retailers like Chipotle and Panera have adopted new transparency practices in recent years to improve consumer safety, compliance and supply chain efficiencies, there’s still much work to be done.

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Categories: Environment

We’re exposed to hormone-disrupting BPA just by breathing

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 8:36am

Manufacturing and wastewater treatment sites are releasing bisphenol A into the air, exposing people to high levels of the chemical, according to a study

Researchers have long known people can be exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in plastic packaging from receipts to the lining of food cans and believed to disrupt human hormones. But a new study has found people also can be exposed to the chemical just by breathing.

Published in May 2015 by researchers at the University of Missouri, the study found high concentrations of BPA in both air and water near industrial sites, indicating that people may be exposed to much larger quantities of the chemical than previously thought.

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Categories: Environment

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledges to cut New York carbon emissions by 40% by 2030

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 8:03am
  • De Blasio among several US mayors at Vatican climate change summit
  • Mayor says papal encyclical ‘is not a call to arms, it is a call to sanity’

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, has pledged to reduce his city’s carbon footprint by 40% by 2030 in a speech in which he praised Pope Francis – who he called the “highest moral authority” – for calling on the world to take bold action on climate change.

The remarks were presented at a rare Vatican meeting of mayors from around the world, who gathered to discuss the environmental challenges facing their cities and the correlation between global warming and modern slavery.

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Categories: Environment

New onshore windfarms still possible without subsidies, says Amber Rudd

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 7:33am

Energy secretary says three large developers have expressed interest in onshore UK wind projects despite the government’s decision to end financial support

New onshore windfarms could be built in the UK without subsidies, according to the energy secretary Amber Rudd.

The Conservative government recently moved to block future onshore turbines by removing financial support and giving local communities the final say. Critics said the step would increase energy bills as additional clean energy from more expensive technologies would be needed to replace wind power.

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Categories: Environment

Orchid Observers: a citizen science project | @GrrlScientist

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 5:30am

Scientists at London’s Natural History Museum recently launched a citizen science project that will document how wild British orchids are responding to climate change

A few years ago, a paper published in the Journal of Ecology reported that an orchid that grows wild in the UK and parts of Europe was blooming earlier than it was 150 years prior. In that paper, the authors examined field records of flowering times for the early spider-orchid, Ophrys sphegodes, for two time periods and compared the shift in peak flowering times to historical springtime temperature variations (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01727.x). The first time period extracted relevant data from herbarium specimens collected between 1848 and 1958; and the second time period recorded observed peak flowering times for this orchid species in the field between 1975 and 2006.

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Categories: Environment

As a shepherd, I know we have not ‘sheepwrecked’ Britain’s landscape | Annie Meanwell

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 4:38am

Environmentalists are wrong to say that excess sheep are ruining the Lake District. Generations of families like mine have worked to maintain a delicate ecosystem

My family have been farming in Cumbria for at least 500 years. I stayed on my uncle’s hill farm in the school holidays as a child, helping out with lambing time and feeding the calves. Six years ago my husband and I bought a small hill farm in the Rusland Valley, a quiet area of the Lake District between Coniston Water and Windermere, and it is from here that I now breed rough fell sheep, a breed native to Cumbria, along with fell ponies and dexter cattle, and some rare breed sheep such as North Ronaldsay, Ouesssant and Hebridean.

The work I do on the farm depends upon the season, but every day I walk around all of my animals to check they are doing well. My son and I are building up a flock of rough fell sheep, one we can show with pride at agricultural shows, and produce high-quality stock that we can sell for breeding. My son’s involvement is crucial, as breeding such a flock is more than a one-generation project. In the past six years we haven’t been able to pay ourselves any wages, but have covered our animal costs. If the price of lamb doesn’t pick up this year, we are unlikely to make enough money to pay for feed and medication for our ewes over the winter.

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Categories: Environment

EU countries agree textile chemical ban

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 4:25am

Hormone disrupting chemicals found in imported clothing pose ‘unacceptable risk’ to environment, reports ENDS Europe

EU member states have agreed to ban a toxic substance widely found in clothing because it poses an “unacceptable risk” to the environment.

Countries unanimously voted in favour of extending existing restrictions on nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) to imports of clothing and other textile products.

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Categories: Environment

Organic farms don't have the tiny carbon footprint they like to tout. But they could | Julius McGee

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 4:15am

Until we address the problem of many organic farms being all too similar to their conventional counterparts, they won’t help prevent climate change

Can organic agriculture mitigate climate change? If you were to simply Google the question – which, being a millennial I have done – you would be led to believe that it does. I love a good underdog story and, like The Little Engine That Could, I think a lot of things are possible through optimism and hard work. But advocates of for organic farming, like the United Nations Food and Drug Administration, think that it can mitigate climate change without the hard work necessary to truly make it happen.

A recent study by the Rodale Institute found that, if all conventional agricultural land started using organic farming practices, such as mulch tilling and seasonal crop rotations, agriculture could – in theory – capture 100% of annual carbon emissions. The study also found that organic farms have lower greenhouse emissions than conventional farms due to avoidance of synthetic fertilizers, which are compounded with nitrogen and require fossil fuels to produce. However, some studies have argued that it conclusion is premature as lower emissions depend on the amount fertilizers used on organic and conventional farms and the amount of food that can be produced per acre of land.

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Categories: Environment

Mick Fanning survives shark attack only to fall prey to media feeding frenzy

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 1:45am

In a cross between a carnival and a business transaction, the Australian surfer stood before a bloodthirsty press pack hungry for raw emotion

Despite having eyeballed a bloodthirsty predator with a taste for human flesh, Mick Fanning has stood his ground. But enough about the press pack. Let’s talk shark, Fanno!

As if it was not enough he came face to face with a great white shark in South African waters on Monday, Fanning then had to walk through a ravenous media scrum up to five journos deep asking him again and again “what was it like?” And that was just on the way to a press conference at Sydney airport.

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Categories: Environment

Surfer Mick Fanning returns home after surviving shark attack – video

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/07/21 - 1:34am
World champion surfer Mick Fanning is back in his native Australia after coming face to face with a shark on Sunday. Fanning was attacked while competing in the J-Bay Open contest in South Africa, but was able to fight off the shark and reach safety. Speaking at a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday, he says while he escaped physical injury he was traumatised by the experience

See surfer Mick Fanning's lucky escape from the shark Continue reading...
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