Environment

Stop the slaughter of the waxwing: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2014/04/06 - 2:31pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 6 April 1914

A Wigan correspondent reports the murder of one more waxwing. When will this stupid slaughter be stopped? This year we have had one of those extraordinary sporadic invasions of this beautiful bird. It is ten years since the last of any importance. Very many parties of the birds have been reported since the late autumn, when they were first noticed, and I regret to say that I have counted the obituary notices of no fewer than 75; it is a sickening business. The Wigan bird was killed by a boy with a catapult; Bird Protection Acts and Orders are of little use, for the waxwing, rare though it is, was not included in the schedule of the original Act! One of the first reports of the invasion occurred in these notes; just before Christmas I mentioned that a little party had been seen, and not even shot at, at Chapel-en-le-Frith, but alas! the Wigan bird was not the only one killed in Lancashire. The only good sporting trophy of waxwings was obtained by my friend Miss E. L. Turner, who photographed three as they fed on cotoneaster berries in a Cambridgeshire garden; needless to say, these three were allowed to depart in peace when they had, unconsciously, left their portraits behind.

The cheery little willow wren is not the only abnormally early migrant, for on the 2nd and yesterday I listened to the chattering song of the sedge warbler, and watched the neat little singer as it flitted amongst the osiers through which the early bumble bees were booming in their hunt for honey. Reports of other willow wrens have reached me from Cheshire localities and from St. Annes, and many more sand martins have been noticed; one party alone included over a hundred birds.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Country diary: Lake District, Bassenthwaite: A penny for your thoughts

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2014/04/06 - 1:00pm
Lake District, Bassenthwaite: This tranquil world, with its Arcadian views, is enough for one Cumbrian veteran, who sometimes just 'sits and thinks' and at other times 'just sits'

"A penny for them?" repeated the elderly gentleman, echoing my question. "Nay, lad, that would be telling." He was seated on the bench above St Margaret's church at Beck Wythop and wore a Herdwick wool jumper that was the colour of Skiddaw slate. Resting his gnarled hands on the ram's-horn handle of his walking stick, he continued taking in the Arcadian view across the northern end of Bassenthwaite, the only so-called "lake" in the Lake District, and out towards the "pudding basin" mound of Binsey, a favourite of Melvyn Bragg.

There was so much to see from all around the emerald flanks of Sale Fell, which was also one of Alfred Wainwright's choice areas. "Nothing pleased me more then the shy Wythop Valley," he wrote. "It is so easy to walk, so charming and unspoilt, a little tranquil world apart."

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

The secret life of the slippery eel

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2014/04/06 - 11:00am
Once they were nearing extinction. Now, down in Somerset, a group of fisherman have assembled to catch a million of them in a single night. What has changed?

Last Monday, an hour after sunset on the Taunton Road in Bridgwater, a cluster of white vans gathered behind the BMW garage. Beside them, a small crowd of fishermen laden with plastic buckets and wooden trays of baby glass eels stood waiting for the night's haul to be weighed. The eels slithered and roiled. High tide and a full moon had brought an extraordinary number to these shores. And on the banks of the River Parrett and the Severn, fishermen and conservationists assembled with the aim of catching a million of the creatures in a single night and since their migratory route had been blocked by dams, weirs and flood defences redistributing them further along the river.

The first ever eel conference was held here in 2009. It had been a hard year for eels; numbers had dwindled starkly. Over the past 200 years, we have drained and destroyed 80% of our wetlands, while 25,000 hydropower stations and tens of thousands of unscreened waterpumps across Europe threatened the species further. Early the following year, the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) was established, and a regulation introduced, requiring each country to devise an eel-protection plan. "In Britain," says Andrew Kerr, chairman of SEG, "we lead in unblocking the eels' migratory pathways."

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Feds Hope $5 Billion Settlement A Lesson For Polluters

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2014/04/05 - 2:40am

The Justice Department wants the settlement with mining company Kerr-McGee to send a powerful message: corporations can't shirk their responsibility to clean up the toxic legacies of their operations.

» E-Mail This

Categories: Environment

The Power of Poop: A Whale Story

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2014/04/05 - 2:39am

Whales are famous for spouts and blowholes. Turns out there's another whale opening that's just as important, but I'm too polite to mention it.

» E-Mail This

Categories: Environment

The Power Of Poop: A Whale Story

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2014/04/05 - 2:39am

Whales are famous for spouts and blowholes. Turns out there's another whale opening that's just as important, but I'm too polite to mention it.

» E-Mail This

Categories: Environment

Waters Will Flood Part Of Colorado River, For Just A Few Weeks

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 1:30pm

Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water is flowing to 35 million people in both countries along the Colorado River Delta. At least for now.

» E-Mail This

Categories: Environment

Clean air should be a human right | @guardianletters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 1:00pm

Health warnings on air pollution should not be seen as isolated incidents (Editorial, 3 April). In recent years we have seen rates of major respiratory illnesses increase and in London alone an extra 4,000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of poor air quality. The European commission recently launched legal action against the UK for failing to meet mandatory air pollution targets. If we want to avoid dramatic government interventions like banning half of all cars on the road in major cities which Paris has enacted we need to adopt a much more proactive approach. Helping people to take simple, practical steps to rethink their travel plans can have a dramatic impact on air pollution.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Country diary: Sandy, Bedfordshire: Relics thrown to the surface by long-dead rabbits

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 1:00pm
Sandy, Bedfordshire: In Victorian times, the narrow bed of fossils was dug out to make the world's first artificial fertiliser

In a field beside the quarry, rabbits have been digging out whelk after whelk, after whelk. The shellfish leftovers of a Victorian lunch have come to the surface. The long-eared archaeologists that raked down into the hard, moss-topped ground have thrown up a spoil heap full of bright treasure. Some of the bleached shells are intact, brilliant white on the light-brown sandy soil. Others have shattered into spiral columns and opaque curved pieces. Fresh rabbit pellets are scattered all around, a reminder there is still life down the hole.

Further up the incline, older burrow diggings have grassed over, but the long-dead rabbits from this part of the warren threw out relics too a smattering of lumpy orange nodules. They might pass for mere stones except that a few are bow-shaped and have parallel cuts, the precise slashes a potter might make in unfired clay. These are bits of fossil ammonites, sea creatures that lived here 200m years ago.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Conservatives to promise ban on new onshore windfarms

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 11:16am
Manifesto will focus on solar power and offshore wind instead in attempt to show Cameron is not abandoning green agenda

The Conservative party is planning to pledge in its manifesto for next year's general election that it will introduce a moratorium on future onshore windfarms from 2020 on the grounds that they have now become "self-defeating".

In an attempt to show that David Cameron is not abandoning the green agenda, the Tories will also pledge in their 2015 manifesto to press ahead with an intensification of offshore windfarms.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Windfarms have the power to change communities and political allegiances

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 9:05am
The Big Field Wind Farm in north Cornwall is dividing local opinion and may well influence voters in the general election

Beef farmer Stuart May looked across the Cornish valley where if an energy company gets its way 11 wind turbines will soon soar skywards, and shook his head.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Caroline Lucas: 'The Green movement has to talk about the positives'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 8:32am
The UK's first Green MP has plenty to be concerned about choking air pollution, the IPCC's climate-change warnings, scant progress on renewable energy, and her trial after the Balcombe anti-fracking protest but she's positively Pollyannaish

Caroline Lucas was standing for parliament the last time we met, and this time round she's standing trial. As far as I can establish, she's the first sitting MP to be prosecuted over a matter of principle since a Labour member refused to pay the poll tax 25 years ago and she hasn't even been in the Commons for a full term yet. But her reason for risking arrest is exactly the same as the reason she ran for election: she is frightened that we're heading for environmental Armageddon. It's not exactly a reason to be cheerful and we meet in her Brighton constituency this week just as air pollution began swaddling the country, only hours after the latest IPCC report warned that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the planet, causing heatwaves and floods. But if she was relentlessly cheerful last time round, this time she's practically Pollyannaish.

Lucas must wait until 17 April for her trial to conclude, when she will discover whether magistrates find her guilty or not of causing an obstruction during an anti-fracking protest last summer in Balcombe so there are some legal constraints on what she can say now.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Solar farms 'will not spread unrestricted across British countryside'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 8:28am
Greg Barker says he does not want large solar farms to become as controversial as onshore wind power

Solar farms must not spread unrestricted across the British countryside and become as controversial as onshore wind turbines, a minister warned on Friday.

Instead, solar panels will be rolled out on millions of homes, businesses, schools and government buildings, said energy and climate change minister Greg Barker.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife - in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 7:35am

Hungry hyenas, damp dragonflies and peeping polar bears are among the pick of this week's images from the natural world

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

The climate change uncertainty monster more uncertainty means more urgency to tackle global warming

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 5:30am
A new two-part study shows that higher uncertainty means larger climate risks and more need to cut carbon emissions Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Badgers should be gassed, says Princess Anne

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 3:45am
Royal intervenes in badger cull debate advocating gassing of infected animals to curb bovine TB a practice illegal since 1982

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Fracking firm to drill on former explosives site

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 3:32am
Dart Energy says the site is safe, but opponents warn of unexploded bombs and incomplete safety tests

A leading fracking firm is to start drilling on the former site of a huge explosive factory, in a decision described as "beyond comprehension" by the local MP.

Dart Energy, which is expected to begin drilling this weekend, says the site is "absolutely" safe. But opponents say there is a risk of unexploded bombs and that safety tests have not yet been completed. The revelations add to concerns about the regulation of "unconventional" gas exploration in the UK, which has seen deformed wells go unreported, planning rules breached and trespassing.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Cocks of the walk - Malaysian ornamental chickens in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2014/04/04 - 12:00am
Photographer Ernest Goh has captured the beauty and personalities of Malaysian ornamental chickens reared and groomed by dedicated owners for participation in pageants in his new book Cocks: The Chicken book. Here, four Ayam Seramas and a Silkie hen show their colourful side.
For prints and book sales visit ernestgoh.com
Facebook
Twitter Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Pollution levels forecast to drop in England and Wales

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2014/04/03 - 11:33pm

Fresh air mass is expected to push the pollution eastwards over the North Sea, weather forecasters say

Air pollution levels remain high across parts of England and Wales but are expected to reduce later today.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reports that more than 20 areas from northern England down to the South East are still gripped by high levels of pollution this morning.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Creation of Australias largest marine sanctuary a win for rare whale species

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2014/04/03 - 10:30pm

Expansion of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve will help safeguard wildlife, say conservationists

The government has created Australias largest fully protected marine reserve near two far-flung islands, in a move which environmental groups say will help safeguard rare whale species.

The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve has been expanded by 6,200 sq km following a scientific assessment of its conservation values.

Continue reading...
Categories: Environment
Syndicate content