Environment

'So much land under so much water': extreme flooding is drowning parts of the midwest

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 11:00pm

As relentless rain wreaks havoc in the farm belt, many struggle to cope

Even with half of the houses on her street underwater, Dina Barker looked at the numbers and calculated that it was worth holding out.

The rate at which water was pouring out of the rain-swollen Keystone dam less than 10 miles up the Arkansas River had been enough to submerge most of Barker’s neighbourhood in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, last week. But her house sits on a small rise just feet from the pop-up lake that rose in hours as the surging river broke the town’s flood walls.

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Categories: Environment

Pensions must do right thing on climate crisis, says minister

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 10:01pm

Call for support for schemes moving people’s money from fossil fuels into renewables

Pension schemes should be supported for moving people’s money out of fossil fuels and into renewables because the financial risks from the climate crisis are “too important to ignore”, a government minister will say on Monday.

The pensions minister, Guy Opperman, is due to tell a conference that pension and investment managers must “do the right thing” and take their environmental and social responsibilities seriously to help combat the climate emergency.

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Categories: Environment

'They are amazed': New York City sees extraordinary leap in whale sightings

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 10:00pm

A total of 272 whales were spotted last year, compared with five in 2011, thanks to legislation mopping up pollution, experts say

For most New Yorkers, wildlife spotting is confined to squirrels, the odd raccoon and anguished encounters with rats. But in the waters surrounding the city a very different animal experience is quietly booming: sightings of whales.

A total of 272 whales were spotted in New York City waters last year, according to the citizen science group Gotham Whale. That is an extraordinary leap from 2011, when just five of the huge cetaceans were witnessed frolicking near the most populated urban area in the US.

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Categories: Environment

We must mobilise for the climate emergency like we do in wartime. Where is the climate minister? | Ian Dunlop and David Spratt

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 5:59pm

Unfortunately, much scientific knowledge produced for climate policymaking is conservative and reticent

The second Morrison ministry contains no one with nominal responsibility for “climate” in any sense, despite the fact that it is the greatest threat facing the country. Angus Taylor, who spent much of his pre-parliamentary career fighting windfarms, claiming repeatedly that there is “too much wind and solar” in the system, is now minister for energy and emissions reduction. No mention of climate here, despite the fact that climate is what it is all about, or should be.

Sussan Ley has been made the environment minister, but more intriguing, David Littleproud is minister for water resources, drought, rural finance, natural disaster and emergency management. Let’s take another look at this: water (or lack thereof) … drought … disaster … emergency management.

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Categories: Environment

To Some Solar Users, Power Company Fees Are An Unfair Charge

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 6:01am

Alabama has some of highest solar fees in the U.S. and critics say it's hurting solar customers. It's one of several states where utilities are proposing or raising fees for homes with rooftop solar.

(Image credit: Julia Simon for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Mapping For Future Floods

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 5:22am

The flood risk maps put out by the federal government are notoriously outdated. Many elected officials have suggested fixing the problem by prioritizing funding for a mapping technology called LiDAR.

Categories: Environment

Candidate to run global food body will 'not defend' EU stance on GM

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 3:57am

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle tells US she would be more open to its interests in UN role

Europe’s candidate to run the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which guides policymakers around the world, has promised the US she will “not defend the EU position” in resisting the global spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In a bid for US support, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle told senior US officials at a meeting in Washington on 15 May that under her leadership the FAO would be more open to American interests and accepting of GMOs and gene editing, according to a US official record of the meeting seen by the Guardian.

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Categories: Environment

A 99, sprinkles and no diesel: here come the electric ice-cream vans…

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2019/06/02 - 12:00am

Battery equipment that can make 600 cones an hour being trialled as concerns over diesel pollution rise

The Mr Whippys of Britain have not had the best start to the year. Ice-cream vans have been facing mounting criticism after campaign groups and parents complained they were delivering their vanilla cones and 99s with a topping of diesel fumes.

This weekend, however, they are savouring a double helping of good news: not only have temperatures been soaring, helping to boost custom up and down the country, but an all-new, non-polluting electric ice-cream van may be about to hit the roads.

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Categories: Environment

Scotch on the rocks: distilleries fear climate crisis will endanger whisky production

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2019/06/01 - 11:00pm

Scotland’s whisky-makers reveal they had to halt production in 2018 heatwave because they ran out of water

Scotland’s nature conservation agency last week painted an apocalyptic vision of a country devastated by the climate crisis, from polluted rivers to eroded peatlands and forests devoid of birds. Now comes a warning about another part of Scottish culture which could, it is feared, also be hit by global heating: whisky.

Scottish distilleries have revealed that during last year’s blistering heatwave, they had to halt production because they ran out of water. In a summer marked by high temperatures and little rainfall, water levels in springs and rivers fell so low that in the Scottish Highlands some whisky makers missed up to a month’s production.

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Categories: Environment

Germany’s love of fast cars runs into the barricades in Berlin

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2019/06/01 - 11:00pm
New road that requires demolition of homes and cultural spaces stirs fury in country where Greens recently surged in polls

The cement mixer, decorated with disco ball glass, shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight, rotating gently as ravers danced at the foot of a Berlin bridge. Almost a thousand people showed up last weekend for what looked like an impromptu dance party but was actually a protest designed to draw attention to a €560m German government plan to plough a motorway through three Berlin city neighbourhoods.

Despite the fact that German voters last week elevated the Green party to second place in the European parliamentary elections, the country’s Social Democrats and Christian Democrat politicians are moving ahead with plans to erect a six-lane highway that would require the demolition of several popular cultural spaces, nightlife venues and apartment blocks, plus part of a park.

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Categories: Environment

Save the polar bears, of course … but it’s the solenodons we really need to worry about

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2019/06/01 - 5:48am

Helping the critically endangered mammal is vital because it’s the last survivor on its branch of the evolutionary tree

Solenodons are some of Earth’s strangest creatures. Venomous, nocturnal and insectivorous, they secrete toxins through their front teeth – an unusual habit for a mammal. More to the point, the planet’s two remaining species – the Cuban and the Hispaniolan solenodon, both highly endangered – have endured, virtually unchanged, for the past 76 million years. Other related species have become extinct.

And that makes solenodons very important, according to Professor Sam Turvey, of the Zoological Society of London. “They are the last fruits on an entire branch of the tree of evolution,” said Turvey, who was last month awarded one of the most prestigious awards in zoology, the Linnean medal, for his work on evolution and human impacts on wildlife. “There are no close counterparts to solenodons left on Earth, yet they have been on the planet since the time of the dinosaurs.”

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Categories: Environment

No Move To Tighten Building Codes As Hurricane Season Starts In Florida

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2019/06/01 - 5:48am

Last year, Hurricane Michael shredded thousands of houses in Panama City, Fla., and surrounding areas that have long had some of Florida's weakest building codes.

(Image credit: William Widmer for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Extreme weather in the US: tornadoes, floods and snow – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2019/06/01 - 3:00am

Severe weather has spawned multiple tornadoes, flooding and even snow across America’s Midwest and Northeast

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Categories: Environment

Nectar swaps BP for Esso amid criticism by climate campaigners

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 11:01pm

UK petrol station loyalty shifts as Nectar card is criticised for encouraging fossil fuel use

A major UK consumer loyalty programme has been criticised by environmental campaigners for making Esso – whose parent company ExxonMobil has been under fire for its track record on climate change – its new fuel partner.

Petrol company BP has axed its 16-year partnership with the Nectar loyalty card, which means that from Saturday the 20 million holders of the card – owned by Sainsbury’s – will no longer be able to earn points with BP and will instead pick up Nectar points at Esso-branded sites when filling up their tank.

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Categories: Environment

US scientists to investigate spike in deaths of gray whales

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 6:17pm

About 70 creatures found washed up on coast of North America but federal agency believes it is a small fraction of total fatalities

US government scientists have launched an investigation what has caused the deaths of an unusually high number of gray whales found washed up on the west coast of North America.

About 70 whales have been found dead so far this year on the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, the most since 2000. About five more have been discovered on British Columbia beaches.

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Categories: Environment

Youth climate activists set for nationwide rallies ahead of landmark case

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 2:49pm

Young people to hold day of action on Saturday highlighting lawsuit as youth-driven climate movement grows

Students in Austin, Texas, want you to veg out. Kids in Westport, Connecticut will screen a film. And in rural North Carolina, activists will draw on a toxic spill to commemorate the environmental justice movement.

All of these rallies will be part of an international campaign on Saturday to spotlight environmental issues. Their message: I Am Juliana.

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Categories: Environment

Major River Flooding, Outbreaks Of Tornadoes: Is This What Climate Change Looks Like?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 1:25pm

This week the central U.S. has flooded and experienced deadly and damaging tornadoes. When it comes to what Americans could see more of due to climate change — the links are present, but complicated.

Categories: Environment

'Sordid Chapter' Ends As Philippines Sends Back Canada's Trash

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 12:37pm

"Baaaaaaaaa bye," one Philippine official said as 69 shipping containers of rubbish started the journey back across the Pacific.

(Image credit: Nilo Palaya/AP)

Categories: Environment

Space has potential – we need to look up | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 9:02am
Terraforming holds the key to colonising Mars, writes Jan Miller. And we already have a sizeable nuclear fusion reactor, writes David E Hanke

I don’t agree with Philip Ball’s thesis (Life on Mars? Sorry, Brian Cox, that’s still a fantasy, 27 May) – ever since I studied planetary geology in the 1970s I have been excited by the idea of terraforming – if you read Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy you will find it eminently plausible. It’s not about leaving this planet because we have trashed it and starting to do the same on another planet, but about us having overcrowded it so badly that we have to move a large chunk of the population to a new planet where we can revive a dormant landscape into a new paradise. It is all about vision and political will – if we could get all the fanatical warlords on Earth just looking up at the potential of space – we can do it. That is how we will get the drive and the money to start the colonisation of Mars, just like the exodus to the New World in the 17th century.

Yes there will be thousands of people who want to take the one-way trip, and yes there will be various religious fanatics and self-serving people among them; but the survival difficulties on Mars will be such that they will be forced to cooperate. And this time we will not be subjugating an indigenous population or an existing biosphere; we will be creating our own new one. CO2 to warm Mars will be generated by introducing plants and a new greenhouse effect from our activities. Just imagine!
Jan Miller
Holywell, Flintshire

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Categories: Environment

Burying pet rabbits in gardens could spread deadly virus, vets warn

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2019/05/31 - 8:52am

While comforting to children, practice may help circulate rabbit virus RVHD2

Burying dead pet rabbits in the garden is a sad, but consoling childhood ritual that many adults recall with fondness. No longer: rabbit owners are being warned that garden burials may be helping to spread a deadly virus across the UK’s rabbit and hare populations.

The first cases of rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (RVHD2), which causes death by internal bleeding, were reported in the UK in 2013. It is believed to have spread among wild rabbits, and cases in wild hares have also appeared recently.

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Categories: Environment
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