Environment

No picnic – extreme sport for teddy bears

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 9:29pm
Henstridge, Somerset Only a few intrepid bears opted for free fall, but all were safely gathered in by children holding a sheet below

It has been the time for seasonal festivals. Of our three local villages, Templecombe (inspired by its history of Knights Templar) has had its medieval pageant; Horsington its traditional fete and an open garden day at a fine 17th-century house, the Grange; and Henstridge has had its “Jostle”. Baffled by the name, I made enquiries and was referred to a dictionary: “Jostle (noun) An experience at which jostling (a crowding or bumping together) occurs”.

There have been Henstridge jostles on a royal theme, with the landlord of the Bird in Hand as a monarch knighting village worthies, but a clue to the character of this year’s jostle was a figure, seen for a while before the event, slightly less than life-size, leaning casually against a wall as you entered the village. He had grey whiskers, a black Stetson hat and a guitar, and looked like an extra from the hoedown scene in Oklahoma!, as did other figures dotted round the village.

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Categories: Environment

Kiribati president says Australia's loyalty to coalmines 'selfish and unjust'

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 7:17pm

Anote Tong, whose island nation is threatened by rising seas caused by climate change, says Australia has moral obligation to worry about at-risk countries

The president of Kiribati has criticised Australia’s commitment to new coalmines on economic grounds as a “very selfish perspective” that illustrates the “fundamentally unjust” dynamics of climate change.

Anote Tong, whose small Pacific island nation is threatened by rising sea levels, has written to other national leaders calling for a worldwide moratorium on new mines ahead of UN climate talks in Paris in December.

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Categories: Environment

You're crazy if you believe Labor's emission cuts would cost $600 bn | Greg Jericho

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 6:24pm

Despite the fear-mongering, the Coalition’s own modelling shows if emissions were cut 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, GDP growth would stay above 2%

When a government is embarrassed about something, it puts it out late on Friday afternoon without even a media release.

Such was the case last Friday, when the release of the government’s modelling of emissions cuts was put online without any fanfare, and with a fair degree of embarrassment. It showed the cost of emissions reductions is much less than suggested by the prime minister in parliament.

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Categories: Environment

Beaches on NSW mid-north coast open again after shark attack

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 2:32pm

Bodyboarder Dale Carr is recovering in hospital after suffering serious injuries in attack at Lighthouse beach on Saturday

Beaches have reopened on NSW’s mid-north coast after a shark mauled a bodyboarder.

Dale Carr, 38, is recovering in hospital after suffering leg, back and stomach injuries in the attack at Lighthouse beach on Saturday afternoon.

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Categories: Environment

Degenerate behaviour of the wasp: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 27 August 1915

Wasps, now numerous, are sadly degenerating; they are giving up their useful work of destroying flies, and, lured from the path of virtue by too many sweets, are destroying the ripe fruit. On the tall reeds, whose floral tufts are now at their best, there are swarms of aphides, and scores of wasps crawl amongst and over them, greedily sipping the honey-dew. This does not matter, but when one nearly picks a ripe gooseberry and finds it is but a hollowed-out sham from which the business of an intoxicated wasp protrudes, the rest of the insect buried in the pulp, it is a little annoying. No sooner did the gooseberries ripen than the wasps attacked them, and they take each fruit in turn as it ripens, plums and pears being special favourites. However, these raiders have ceased to be useful members of their communities, and if we slay them we shall not lessen the future stock, for the queens are safe at home.

“E. E. H.,” who has often sent information, picked up at Longnor another kind of wasp, the giant ichneumon, sawfly, or tailed wasp, really one of the wood-boring sawflies, Sirex gigas. He submitted it to a well-known entomologist, who, to my surprise, says he has not come across one in the Buxton district for twenty years. This insect, being large and striking in appearance, is often sent to me for identification, and numbers are found in Manchester and the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, whither they come in timber. It is fairly common in the Delamere country and other parts of Cheshire.

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Trash-mapping expedition sheds light on 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 2:16pm
  • Volunteers investigate collection of waste some say is twice the size of Texas
  • Most trash seen in larger chunks, prompting call for urgent cleanup

Scientists and volunteers who have spent the last month gathering data on how much plastic garbage is floating in the Pacific Ocean returned to San Francisco on Sunday and said most of the trash they found is in medium to large-sized pieces, as opposed to tiny ones.

Volunteer crews on 30 boats have been measuring the size and mapping the location of tons of plastic waste floating between the west coast and Hawaii that according to some estimates covers an area twice the size of Texas.

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Categories: Environment

Specieswatch: Wild boar

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 1:30pm

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) have been quietly re-establishing themselves in the woodlands of Britain for a couple of decades, although that statement might be challenged by those who have had their gardens dug up or crops eaten.

Related: Here comes trouble: the return of the wild boar to Britain

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Categories: Environment

Weatherwatch: The future is kite powered

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 1:30pm

Wind turbines are controversial. They are accused of being blots on the landscape, expensive to run and need good winds to work. But the critics could be silenced with a totally new way of generating wind power – using kites. This is a serious proposition. Power-generating kites are far more sophisticated than toy kites, and designed like aircraft wings capable of flying in most conditions.

Related: Our weather pages are now bringing you real sunshine | Chris Elliott: Open door

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Categories: Environment

Ben Lecomte Swam Across The Atlantic; Next He Tries The Pacific

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2015/08/23 - 5:10am

In 1998, Ben Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean. The 47-year-old athlete is planning another historic plunge — this time swimming across the ocean on the other side of the country.

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Categories: Environment

Are my cat and I using more than our fair share of ocean resources?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 9:59pm

It’s a good question: our pets eat 2.48m tonnes of fish a year


Thanks to a decade of “consumer-facing” campaigns à la Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight we know how to seek out (MSC) blue ticks at the supermarket. We’re tentatively trying pollock to take the pressure off depleted stocks. But you’ve identified a real problem. We’re not so great at pet food, where globally 2.48m tonnes of “forage fish”, around a 10th of the global catch, ends up. That’s fish like herring, sardines and anchovies shovelled into the bellies of the world’s moggies. Talk about fat cats – even the global harp and grey seal population only gets through 1.7m tonnes. The average Stateside pet eats 13.6kg of fish a year – double that consumed by the average American human.

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Experts puzzled as 30 whales stranded in 'unusual mortality event' in Alaska

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 12:17pm

Scientists ‘very concerned’ and suspect toxic algae, though Noaa concedes ‘bottom line is we don’t know what’s causing deaths’

Thirty large whales have recently washed ashore on Alaskan coasts, prompting a federal agency to declare an “unusual mortality event” and mount an official investigation into the mystery of what could be killing so many marine mammals.

Related: 'A deaf whale is a dead whale': US navy sonars could be cause of strandings

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Categories: Environment

Fracking: who’s who in the race to strike it rich in the UK

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 9:32am
Situation is similiar to early days of the US shale boom, says industry expert

In The Frackers, a book about the fracking industry in the US, Gregory Zuckerman tells the story of “new billionaire wildcatters” who made fortunes and went on to use their wealth to shake up Hollywood, education, politics and sport. In the UK, a similar book would present a very different narrative, as local anger and government delays slow the expansion of the industry.

But now, with the award of licences for fracking in 27 locations in England, some of those who have doggedly supported the controversial method of extracting gas from deep beneath the ground are hopeful they are about to embark on the first chapter of a new, more profitable, journey.

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Categories: Environment

Tropical Storm Danny Losing Strength, But Still Packs A Punch

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 7:53am

The storm, downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a tropical storm over the course of Saturday, is expected to continue to lose steam as it heads toward the the eastern Caribbean.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous tribe opposes hydropower projects in Tawang | Janaki Lenin

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 11:25pm

An indigenous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, the Monpa, fears its religious and cultural sites will be affected by 15 hydroelectric projects

On 24 and 25 August, the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is scheduled to discuss the impact of 15 hydroelectric projects planned for the Tawang river basin in western Arunachal Pradesh. In an area wedged between China and Bhutan, these dams, with a combined capacity of about 2800MW of power, will submerge 249 hectares (615 acres) of forest. Other construction work such as roads will affect an even larger area of forest.

The Buddhist Monpa tribe, which lives in Tawang, fears its sacred sites, monasteries, and springs will be affected by the various components of these hydel projects. Villagers organised a huge rally from Tawang monastery to protest the construction of hydroelectric projects, defying a ban on public gathering in December 2012.

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Categories: Environment

Eye to hypnotic eye with a one-horned nanny

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 9:30pm

Glen Strathfarrar, Highlands Not until I uploaded the photographs onto the computer did I realise that she only had one horn

The remnants of the old Caledonian Pine Forest and the river Farrar rushing through the bottom of the glen were attractive and impressive. Yet what drew my attention were the snow patches on the surrounding hills.They seemed to sum up the summer, with its low average temperatures compared with other years, as the snow should have long melted.

Related: Country diary: Glen Strathfarrar

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Categories: Environment

Ecology initiative to encourage more birds, bats and insects to central London

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 4:01pm

Wild West End will link parks with green stepping stones to draw wildlife to built-up streets, with beehives, bird and bat boxes being installed

London’s West End may not seem the ideal habitat for wildlife, but wrens, thrushes and bats are making it their home.

Robin-like black redstarts, common pipistrelle and the rarer Leisler’s bat, pied wagtails, song thrushes and wrens are among those recorded in a recent survey of buildings around Regent Street, Haymarket and Piccadilly Circus.

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Categories: Environment

Yes, The U.S. Is On A Historic Lucky Streak In Dodging Major Hurricanes

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 12:49pm

A major hurricane hasn't hit the U.S. since 2005. There hasn't been a lull that long since 1861 to 1868 — when Abraham Lincoln was president.

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Categories: Environment

Middle East conflict 'drastically altered' air pollution levels in region – study

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 11:54am

Rise of Isis led to substantial decrease in NO2 emissions in Baghdad and central Iraq since 2013, say researchers, with similar trends seen in Egypt and Syria

War, humanitarian catastrophe and economic crises in the Middle East have drastically altered air pollution levels in the region, according to a new study.

In major cities across Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, the levels of nitrogen oxides have dropped by 20-50% since 2010, researchers told the Guardian. Satellite observations show that before 2010, levels had been on a steady and marked rise since the mid 1990s, when monitoring of pollution in the region from space began.

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Lancashire residents still have to boil tap water two weeks after outbreak

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 10:12am

United Utilities says it is ‘step closer’ to lifting notice for 300,000 affected homes as potential compensation bill mounts following cryptosporidium outbreak

Concern and anger are rising in Lancashire more than two weeks after 300,000 homes were warned to boil tap water following an outbreak of a parasitic bug.

Facing a compensation bill of at least £15m, the water company United Utilities has announced new measures to kill off cryptosporidium after first finding the organism in a water treatment plant on 6 August.

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Categories: Environment

Shell will despoil the Arctic. But Barack Obama is the real villain here | John Vidal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 9:49am
Historians will wonder why the US president was so willing to compromise his stance on climate change

The Arctic sea ice starts about three days’ steaming north of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Small, sporadic floes grow larger, the great Atlantic swells flatten out, the bitter polar winds are stronger and the utter stillness begins. If you can handle the monotony of the vast ice-scape that unfolds, it is possible to navigate a ship with a strong hull and a good lookout nearly to the north pole at this time of year.

Three years ago, I got to within a few hundred miles, alongside Greenpeace and a group of international ice researchers. We might have pressed on through the thick sea ice that forms and melts every year, but no one, least of all the scientists, expected that year’s record ice loss, and only a fuel shortage and time forced us back.

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