A guide to the EPA data under threat by the Trump administration

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/15 - 5:00am

EPA data is kept in dozens of databases and represents decades of monitoring the American environment in fine detail. Here are some examples

Several highly publicized campaigns are taking place to save the data maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from becoming inaccessible to the public under the Trump administration.

“There is no reason to think the data is safe,” says Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, a program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The administration, so far, hasn’t given any indication it will respect science and scientific data, especially when it’s inconvenient to its policy agendas.”

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Categories: Environment

'Sea sparkle' plankton turns water blue off Tasmania – video report

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/15 - 4:25am

Waters off the coast of Tasmania turn a shimmering blue, caused by Noctiluca scintillans – also known as sea sparkle. Despite people flocking to photograph the eerie scenes, scientists have warned that they are, in fact, a worrying sign of climate change

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Categories: Environment

Millions of single-use plastic soft drink bottles sold every year, report shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/15 - 4:05am

A survey of five of the six biggest soft drinks firms found just 7% of throwaway plastic bottles are made from recycled materials

More than two million tonnes of throwaway plastic soft drinks bottles are sold each year, with only a small proportion made from recycled materials, research reveals.

A survey by Greenpeace found five of six global soft drinks firms sold single-use plastic bottles weighing more than two million tonnes – only 6.6% of which was recycled plastic.

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Categories: Environment

EPA Reopens U.S. Rules Setting Vehicle Efficiency Standards For 2025

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/03/15 - 3:37am

U.S. automakers may not have to reach fuel efficiency standards that were set during the Obama administration, which had set a target of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year.

(Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Life returns to a Cornish orchard

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 10:30pm

Harrowbarrow, Tamar Valley Short twigs of February-grafted cherries already show swelling buds above the yellow plastic tape

The new tall fence should help protect Mary and James’s orchard from the attention of roe deer, which come from the valley’s sheltering woodland to nibble leaves, bark and the precious shoots of new grafts, as well as shed their potentially dangerous ticks.

Most of the fruit trees are more than 30 years old, but this diverse and catalogued collection of once widely grown apples, cherries and pears is constantly being refined and added to. Short twigs of February-grafted cherries already show swelling buds above the yellow plastic tape that binds specific varieties to vigorous root-stocks. Lanky poor specimens of cherries have been dug out and the spaces infilled with more apples.

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Categories: Environment

Tasmania's coastline glows in the dark as plankton turn blue

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 10:28pm

Eerie scenes on north-west coast show bioluminescent waters caused by ‘sea sparkle’

The waters along Tasmania’s north-west coastline have taken on a bizarre, glowing appearance in recent days. Photographs taken off Preservation Bay and Rocky Cape showcase bioluminescent waters caused by Noctiluca scintillans (AKA sea sparkle), tiny plankton emitting blue light in self-defence.

The phenomenon, which is best seen in calm, warm seas, is foreboding. “The displays are a sign of climate change,” Anthony Richardson, from the CSIRO, told New Scientist after an occurrence in Tasmania in 2015.

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Categories: Environment

Renewables roadshow: how Daylesford's community-owned windfarm took back the power

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:58pm

In the first of a series about Australian communities building renewable energy projects, we look at how Victoria’s Hepburn Shire overcame local opposition to deliver a new homegrown, community-owned generator

From the fertile spud-growing country of Hepburn Shire, 90km northwest of Melbourne, has sprung what many hope will become a revolution in renewable energy in Australia.

On Leonards Hill, just outside the town of Daylesford – famed for its natural springs – stand two wind turbines that not only power the local area, but have also added substantial power to the community-owned renewable energy movement in Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Renewables roadshow – Daylesford: 'The windfarm is a symbol of our community'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:57pm

Kicking off our six-part series highlighting innovative community renewable energy projects across Australia, we visit the town of Daylesford in Hepburn Shire in rural Victoria. Despite early local opposition, residents have tackled the electricity crisis by building their own renewable energy projects, starting with a cooperative-owned windfarm and moving into the hydro power that was once a feature of the town

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Categories: Environment

‘Countless lives at stake’ warn NGOs as hunger in east Africa prompts major appeal

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:10pm

The Disasters Emergency Committee calls for urgent response to humanitarian emergency unfolding in east Africa, with 16 million people facing hunger

A major appeal is being launched on Wednesday to help more than 16 million people facing hunger in east Africa.

The Disasters Emergency Commission is calling for funds to scale up the response to drought in the region and prevent “hunger on a massive scale”, while aid agencies warn that “countless lives are at stake”.

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Categories: Environment

Why a gas generator, South Australia? There are better options to lower power prices | Tristan Edis

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:55pm

Jay Weatherill was backed into a corner to produce an energy plan. But it is a grab bag of overlapping ideas that don’t really make sense

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is a politician panicked by a cynical and misleading campaign by his SA Liberal party opponents and the federal government to blame the state’s high power prices and recent blackouts on his 50% renewable energy target.

He has rushed out a so-called energy plan which is more like a grab bag of overlapping ideas that will do little to lower power prices. Meanwhile, they run the risk of saddling SA energy consumers or taxpayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs to support gas-fuelled generators that don’t materially improve energy security when there’s a lack of gas to fuel them.

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Categories: Environment

Groundwater supplies low after dry winter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:30pm

Underground aquifers are usually replenished from October through to March, but hydrographs reveal progress was slow until January

In the UK, about one third of the water that comes out of our taps is sourced from groundwater. The south of the country is particularly dependent on this underground store of water, with Cambridge Water and Cholderton Water relying entirely on the water found in the chalk and sandstone rock formations of the south-east.

After a dry winter, groundwater levels are lower than normal for the time of year, and scientists from the British Geological Survey are keeping a close eye on the situation.

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Categories: Environment

Timor-Leste could be 'architect of its own demise', gas treaty inquiry told

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:07pm

The ripping up of gas treaty in pursuit of a greater share of revenue from Sunrise gas field could create a failed state if no new agreement is forged, expert says

Timor-Leste’s decision to rip up a treaty with Australia on the carve-up of future revenue from Greater Sunrise oil and gas reserve in the Timor Sea could make it an “architect of its own demise”, experts have told a parliamentary inquiry.

In January Timor-Leste announced it wished to terminate the treaty which split future revenue 50-50 with Australia and put a 50-year moratorium on a permanent maritime boundary.

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Categories: Environment

World's spiders devour 400-800m metric tons of insects yearly – experts

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 1:25pm

‘We hope that these estimates and their significant magnitude raise public awareness and increase the level of appreciation for spiders,’ study authors say

The world’s spiders eat 400-800m tonnes of insects every year – as much meat and fish as humans consume over the same period, a study said Tuesday.

In the first analysis of its kind, researchers used data from 65 previous studies to estimate that a total of 25m metric tonnes of spiders exist on Earth.

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Categories: Environment

Flying high: why peregrine falcons are kings of the urban jungle

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 10:04am

Last century, the cliff-dwelling bird of prey almost became extinct in Britain. Now it has reinvented itself as a city creature. What is behind this spectacular recovery?

By the four chimneys of Battersea power station, between tower cranes and builders’ cabins, is an unobtrusive metal mast. At the top, a watchful figure looks down upon the 3,000 workers bustling around this vast £9bn construction site.

“Female,” says David Morrison, with a deft glance through his binoculars. “She’s protecting her nest site. There was an intruding female about half an hour ago.”

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Categories: Environment

Natural Environmental Swings Cause Up To Half Of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 7:43am

Researchers say 30 percent to 50 percent of the ice loss is due to natural variation in temperature and humidity, while human-caused warming is responsible for the rest.

(Image credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

Categories: Environment

Trump and climate chaos: a letter to my daughter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:11am

Jeremy Hance writes a letter to his young daughter as a part of the Letters to the Revolution initiative

First published on January 2nd, 2017 at Letters to the Revolution.

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Categories: Environment

Risky business: do companies pay a price for expressing political views?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:00am

Staying politically neutral on Trump administration policies is proving difficult for businesses in the face of mounting public pressure

American companies have a long history of weighing in on political and social issues. But the election of Donald Trump has fueled public pressure on businesses to go much further to take a stand on specific policies – and made it difficult for those that wish to remain neutral.

Trump’s recent decision to revoke a legal guidance that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice drew a round of protests from companies such as Yahoo and Apple. Before that, his actions on immigration, environment and women’s reproductive health – along with his propensity for tweet-attacking companies he doesn’t fancy – had already fanned intense public outrage that in turn has forced many businesses to publicly take sides.

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Categories: Environment

'Spinning sail' rebooted to cut fuel and make ocean tankers greener

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 4:57am

Invented a century ago, rotating columns fixed to ship’s deck interact with wind to provide forward thrust and could make 10% fuel saving

An ocean-going tanker is to be fitted with a type of “spinning sail” invented almost a century ago in a step that could lead to more environmentally friendly tankers worldwide.

The unusual sails are rotating columns fixed to the deck of the ship, whose interaction with the wind provides forward thrust. The trial is backed by Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping companies and Shell’s shipping arm.

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Categories: Environment

Tasmanian bill to extend wilderness logging sparks federal intervention call

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:41pm

The bill ‘spells doom’ for species including Tasmanian devil, wedge-tailed eagle and swift parrot, says Bob Brown

A proposal to allow logging access to more parts of Tasmania’s wilderness has sparked calls for federal government intervention.

Related: Speaking for the trees: hope, despair, and regrowth in Tasmania's charred wilderness |

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Categories: Environment

South Australia's $550m energy plan – video explainer

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:20pm

The South Australian government has announced it will intervene in the national energy market in a $550m plan that seeks to tame the state’s turbulent power supply and prices. The premier, Jay Weatherill, says his government will build a gas-fired power station and Australia’s largest battery storage unit

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