Air pollution is killing wildlife and people | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 12:14pm
Measures to cut air pollution need to be extended beyond urban areas, say representatives of six wildlife organisations. Plus Dr Richard Carter warns that avoiding main roads won’t protect you from small particulates

On National Clean Air Day, Thursday 15 June, we’re calling for action to cut air pollution which threatens our native wildlife (Nature needs fresh air too, 2 June). The UK government’s air quality consultation, closing on 15 June, focuses on “tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities”. That issue deserves urgent action – but it’s not enough. Air pollution is a problem in both rural and urban areas, for people and wildlife. We need to tackle the sources and solutions as a whole.

Nitrogen in air pollution acts as a fertiliser, making conditions too rich for many wild fungi and plants. That’s why you’re more likely to see nitrogen-tolerant species, such as common orange lichen, nettles and hemlock, on road verges and field margins – rather than bird’s foot trefoil, harebells or orchids, which are more sensitive. In 63% of special areas of conservation, our best wildlife sites, nitrogen levels are already too high. This has dire consequences for animals, including pollinating insects, that depend on wild fungi and plants for food, nutrients and shelter. This affects us all, as biodiversity is vital to our health and wellbeing, our culture and our economy.

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Categories: Environment

Push for Adani to appear before Senate inquiry into infrastructure fund

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 11:00am

Greens say miner should be grilled on environmental history and ‘allegations of fraud, corruption and the use of tax havens’

The Greens will push for Adani to front a federal Senate inquiry into Australia’s infrastructure fund and “grill” the miner on its overseas environmental and business record.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a motion for an inquiry into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is considering a $900m concessional loan to Adani for a railway as part of its massive proposed Queensland coal project.

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Categories: Environment

Global oil glut set to continue despite efforts to prop up price

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 10:26am

Increasing production from US and non-Opec countries means growth in oil supply will outstrip demand in 2018

The world’s oil glut is likely to persist next year in a blow to efforts by major producers to shore up the oil price by cutting output, according to a leading energy authority.

Growth in oil supply will outstrip growth in demand during 2018, driven by increasing production from US shale and other countries outside Opec, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

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Categories: Environment

EPA: air pollution rule should be delayed – despite its effect on children

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 9:07am

Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges postponing Obama administration measure might have ‘disproportionate’ effect on young people

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed delaying a federal air pollution rule for two years, despite acknowledging that children will be disproportionately harmed by the decision.

The regulator plans to suspend standards aimed at preventing leaks from the oil and gas industry while it reconsiders the rule, which was introduced in June 2016 under Barack Obama’s administration.

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Categories: Environment

‘Plankton explosion’ turns Istanbul’s Bosphorus turquoise

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 6:35am

Transformation of the usually blue waters of the Bosphorus is not caused by pollution, say scientists

A sudden change in the colour of the Bosphorus Strait that divides the continents of Europe and Asia in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul has surprised residents, with scientists putting it down to a surge in a species of plankton across the Black Sea.

The sudden transformation of the usually blue waters of the Bosphorus to a milky turquoise since the weekend had alarmed some residents.

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Categories: Environment

Thames Water given maximum £8.5m fine for missing leak target

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 3:38am

Penalty for ‘unacceptable’ water leaks comes three months after the company received a record fine for an untreated sewage leak

Thames Water will pay a £8.5m penalty after failing to meet its target to cut water leakage from its pipes. Ofwat, which regulates the privatised water industry, called the failure “unacceptable” and said the penalty was the maximum possible.

Leaks from Thames Water’s network rose by 5% in the last year, or 35m litres per day. In May, the Guardian revealed that amid fears of a drought and with some water companies asking customers to save water, the vast amount of water that leaks from company pipes every day across England has not fallen for at least four years.

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Categories: Environment

New research may resolve a climate ‘conundrum’ across the history of human civilization | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 3:00am

The new study also confirms the planet is warming 20 times faster than Earth’s fastest natural climate change

Earth’s last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago. The warmer and more stable climate that followed allowed for the development of agriculture and the rise of human civilization. This important period encompassing the past 12,000 years is referred to as the Holocene geological epoch. It also created a “conundrum” for climate scientists, because global temperatures simulated by climate models didn’t match reconstructions from proxy data.

To be specific, the overall temperature change during the Holocene matched pretty well in reconstructions and models, but the pattern didn’t. The best proxy reconstruction from a 2013 paper led by Shaun Marcott estimated more warming than models from 12,000 to 7,000 years ago. Then over the past 7,000 years, Marcott’s reconstruction estimated about 0.5°C cooling while model simulations showed the planet warming by about the same amount.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change study in Canada's Hudson Bay thwarted by climate change

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 2:00am

Warm temperatures create perilous ice conditions off Newfoundland, trapping fishing boats and tankers: ‘It’s not something you would expect to see there’

Scientists in Canada have been forced to abandon an expedition to the Hudson Bay to research the impact of climate change, after warming temperatures created perilous ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland.

In late May, 40 scientists from five Canadian universities set off from Quebec City on the icebreaker and Arctic research vessel CCGS Amundsen. The expedition was the first leg of a four-year, C$17m research project designed to delve into the effects of climate change on Hudson Bay.

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Categories: Environment

George Christensen signals he won’t vote for Finkel's clean energy target

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 1:33am

LNP backbencher says he and most of the Nationals won’t vote for any clean energy target that penalises coal

The LNP backbencher George Christensen has signalled he won’t vote for a new clean energy target because it won’t end the decade long climate wars – because Labor will “out Finkel us on Finkel”.

Christensen said on Wednesday evening that he saw no prospect of achieving policy stability on climate and energy policy through bipartisanship, because the gulf between the major parties was too wide.

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Categories: Environment

Fatal crocodile attacks rising in Northern Territory, data shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 12:06am

Report shows 14 people died following attacks between 2005 and 2014, compared with 10 deaths in the 33 years to 2004

The number of people being killed by crocodiles in the Top End is on the rise, new data shows.

A study by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Royal Darwin Hospital and the Menzies School of Health Research has found croc-related deaths have jumped since hunting was outlawed in 1971.

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Categories: Environment

The pipeline feeding billions to Putin ... evading sanctions on the way

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 11:00pm

Nord Stream 2 will transport gas from Russia to Europe, endangering habitats, fuelling climate change and funding Putin’s regime for decades

Tough western sanctions on Russia may be squeezing the economy – but that’s only half the story. The other half you can understand better by attending a public hearing into a project that will finance the Putin regime for another 50 years.

The project is called Nord Stream 2. It involves piping gas directly from Russia to Germany through the Baltic sea, and it is unaffected by sanctions. Its progress means that Europe is excoriating the Putin regime diplomatically while at the same time promising to inflate the same regime with billions of gas dollars.

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Categories: Environment

Satellite Eye on Earth: May 2017 – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 10:43pm

Vesuvius in Italy and volcanoes in northern Tanzania, lights going out in Syria, and flooding in Sri Lanka are among images captured by Nasa and the ESA this month

A vertical view of Vesuvius in southern Italy, taken by the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the International Space Station. The Proxima mission is named after the closest star to the sun, continuing a tradition of naming missions with French astronauts after stars and constellations. The mission is part of the ESA’s plan to use Earth-orbiting spacecraft as a place to live and work while preparing for future voyages of exploration further into the solar system.

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Categories: Environment

Finkel's target boosts coal industry and does little to cut emissions, modelling shows

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 10:08pm

Jacobs Group modelling suggests clean energy target is also more expensive than an energy intensity scheme

The clean energy target recommended in the Finkel review does relatively little to reduce emissions, extends the life of coal power plants and is more expensive than the alternative energy intensity scheme, the modelling behind the report shows.

Released today, five days after the report itself, the economic models that inform the report reveal the main thing the policy achieves is giving some confidence to power generators – including coal power stations – so they can make informed decisions about investments.

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Categories: Environment

'If we stopped poaching tomorrow, elephants would still be in big trouble'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 10:00pm

Ivory poaching is the most immediate, urgent threat to Africa’s elephants. But even if that can be tackled, they will have to fight humans for land, food and water

It is the dead of night. The day’s red-dust heat has given way to a cooling breeze. A hundred frogs chirp urgently. Tim and his crew are preparing for another stealth raid. Their mission is highly dangerous and now there’s a new threat: armed men are following them.

This is the scene repeated nightly on the eastern fringes of Amboseli national park in Kenya, close to the border with Tanzania. Tim is an elephant who, along with a group of up to 12 other males, has developed a taste for the tomatoes and maize growing on local farms on the outskirts of the park. The armed men are park rangers who have been tasked with keeping him from the crops – and saving his life.

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Categories: Environment

Side street routes to avoid city pollution can cut exposure by half

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 10:00pm

Clean air signposts and online walking maps to sidestep diesel fumes would benefit public health, finds study

Taking a side street route when walking through a city cuts a person’s air pollution exposure by half, according to a new study.

Signposting these clean air routes and providing online maps would keep people away from heavily polluted main streets and would benefit their health, the researchers said. In fact the UK group behind the research have developed a new interactive map of London that allows people to put in any route and be shown a low-pollution walking option.

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Categories: Environment

What's The Difference Between Famine And Hunger? A Food FAQ

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 12:25pm

We asked our readers what they wanted to know about world hunger? So many thoughtful questions came in that we did a roundup of queries about hunger and famine.

(Image credit: Hanna Barczyk for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Voters prefer low emissions target to carbon trading – Guardian Essential poll

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 12:00pm

People were less happy to consider coal generation with 100% capture and storage as a ‘low emission’ energy source

Australian voters would back a new low emissions target over emissions trading as a policy to reduce carbon pollution, but are not sure about including “clean” coal in the mix, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.

The latest survey of 1,785 voters, which follows Tuesday night’s three-hour Coalition party room meeting in which significant concerns were ventilated about the Finkel review, also taps significant community concerns about the rising threat of terrorism in Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Global demand for coal falls in 2016 for second year in a row

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 10:00am

UK leads trend away from coal, with use down 52.5%, while China continues to consume less of the dirtiest fossil fuel

Global demand for coal has fallen for the second consecutive year, according to a BP study, helped by the US and China burning less of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

The UK was described as the “most extreme example” of the trend away from coal, which has resulted in use of the fuel returning to levels not seen since the start of the industrial revolution.

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Categories: Environment

'Industroyer' virus could bring down power networks, researchers warn

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 8:35am

Discovery of new malware shows vulnerability of critical infrastructure, just months after the WannaCry ransomware took out NHS computers

Six months on from a hacking attack that caused a blackout in Kiev, Ukraine, security researchers have warned that the malware that was used in the attack would be “easy” to convert to cripple infrastructure in other nations.

The discovery of the malware, dubbed “Industroyer” and “Crash Override”, highlights the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, just months after the WannaCry ransomware took out NHS computers across the UK.

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Categories: Environment

EDF Energy's Vincent de Rivaz to step down after winning Hinkley battle

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/06/13 - 6:27am

Chief executive will leave post in October after 15 years, having secured deal with UK government over Somerset nuclear plant

The man who helped secure Britain’s first new nuclear power station in a generation will step down as chief executive of EDF Energy in October, marking the end of a 15-year tenure.

Vincent de Rivaz is the longest-serving CEO among the heads of the UK’s big six energy suppliers and will be replaced on 1 November by Simone Rossi, who leads the company’s international division.

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Categories: Environment
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