Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 16 hours 21 min ago

Jay Weatherill renews warning Labor states could go it alone on energy policy

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 5:35pm

South Australian premier signals possible collaboration on alternative to clean energy target, and urges Turnbull to face down rightwing pressure

Podcast: ‘They’re insatiable’ – Jay Weatherill on his clash with the Coalition

The South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill, has renewed his warning that Labor-led state governments could go it alone on energy policy if the Turnbull government can’t resolve its internal battle over the clean energy target.

If we are going to do it ourselves we might as well design the best system

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Categories: Environment

Moss may prove cheap city pollution monitor, study finds

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 10:23am

Common moss changes shape in areas of high nitrogen pollution and drought and has potential to be big bioindicator, say scientists

Delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution, according to Japanese scientists.

Moss, a “bioindicator”, responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or by disappearing, allowing scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations, said Yoshitaka Oishi, associate professor at Fukui Prefectural University.

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Categories: Environment

Serious farm pollution breaches rise in UK – and many go unprosecuted

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 9:04am

Environment Agency figures show severe incidents are weekly occurrence as farms struggle with cost of pollution prevention despite subsidies

Serious pollution incidents in the UK from livestock farms are now a weekly occurrence, leading to damage to wildlife, fish, farm livestock and air and water pollution.

The Environment Agency in England and its devolved counterparts in Wales and Scotland recorded 536 of the most severe incidents between 2010 and 2016, the worst instances among more than 5,300 cases of agricultural pollution in the period across Britain. In England and Wales the figures relate to pig, poultry and dairy farms whereas in Scotland they refer to all livestock farms.

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Categories: Environment

Subsidised farm causes acres of damage to Sussex countryside

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 9:00am

Noxious byproducts from slurry spill at Crouchland biogas farm poisoned neighbouring land and led to deaths of animals

Lynda and Richard Whittemore bought Quennells farm in the quiet Sussex countryside six years ago. They were hoping for what Lynda calls “an idyllic lifestyle”, tending their flock of 400 pedigree sheep and 45 cattle on 180 acres of farmland.

“We have an undulating field at the back of the stream, winding to the other corner,” Lynda says. “Usually it has lovely clear water, with a gentle slope down to the water supply. It’s picturesque – the [livestock] don’t need troughs, they can walk down to drink the water.”

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Categories: Environment

Mont Blanc: mayor tries to stop ill-equipped 'hotheads' tackling peak

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 7:04am

Saint-Gervais mayor warns that people who try to climb France’s highest mountain without proper kit face fines after series of deaths and accidents

French authorities are calling for police to enforce fines against climbers who attempt to scale Mont Blanc without proper clothing and equipment.

The move follows a series of deaths and accidents on Europe’s highest mountain. Earlier this month, a Hungarian woman and her nine-year-old twins were helicoptered off the peak by mountain rescuers.

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Categories: Environment

Prince Charles's estate was warned about beach danger before man died

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 4:50am

Duchy of Cornwall was told in April that storm damage had left Crantock beach where Oneil Din died more dangerous

Prince Charles’s private estate was repeatedly warned about the danger posed by a Cornish beach it owns before an incident in which a man died after being swept out to sea.

Councillors told the Duchy of Cornwall as the summer season approached that someone could die at Crantock beach because storm damage had made the water more dangerous.

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Categories: Environment

Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia

Mon, 2017/08/21 - 2:40am

Campaign group Mighty Earth says aerial drones, satellite imaging and field research show farmers carried out forest-burning for fast food giant’s soy suppliers

The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report.

Jaguars, giant anteaters and sloths have all been affected by the disappearance of around 700,000 hectares (1,729,738 acres) of forest land between 2011 and 2015.

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Categories: Environment

Trump's decision to allow plastic bottle sales in national parks condemned

Sun, 2017/08/20 - 12:25pm

Reversal of ban shows ‘corporate agenda is king and people and environment are left behind’, say campaigners

The Trump administration’s decision to reverse a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles in some of America’s most famous national parks, including the Grand Canyon, shows “the corporate agenda is king and people and the environment are left behind”, campaigners have said.

Related: Day of doom for national monuments is approaching

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Categories: Environment

Trump's day of doom for national monuments approaches

Sun, 2017/08/20 - 10:13am

Created by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument protects Oregon’s extraordinary biodiversity, from butterflies to trout. But a Trump review threatens to open the landscape to the timber industry

Dave Willis, a grizzled woodsman and backcountry outfitter, has spent decades laboring to protect the mountains of south-western Oregon, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse regions in the country.

Through grassroots activism, Willis and his conservationist allies have won the support of two US presidents. In 2000, Bill Clinton created the roughly 52,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou national monument, proclaiming it an “ecological wonderland”. Located just outside of Ashland, it was the first such monument established solely for its extraordinary species diversity. It’s a place that harbors rare lilies and endemic trout, Pacific fishers and goshawks, black bears and a stunning array of butterflies.

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Categories: Environment

BHP’s shale sale could happen: this is not a drill

Sat, 2017/08/19 - 11:00pm
The mining giant will give a critical results presentation this week, with activist investors lobbying impatiently for divestments

It has been a turbulent few years for BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining and petroleum company.

First came the Samarco tragedy in Brazil, when the collapse of a dam at its iron ore mine unleashed a flood and killed 19 people. The company is still facing the prospect of criminal charges and a potential $47bn settlement over the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to Electric Vehicle hype

Sat, 2017/08/19 - 10:00pm

Don’t get spooked by the pro-fossil fuel lobby: when we abandon petrol and diesel, our whole world is going to change

When it comes to cars, I had a bit of luck this summer. No, I wasn’t loaned the new Tesla Model 3. My street underwent a pavement improvement scheme. All the parking bays were suspended and minicabs no longer idled their engines during the night. I found myself living in an accidental Low Emissions Zone. It was wonderful.

The best I can say about the anti-EV campaign is that it lacks imagination

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Categories: Environment

Britain’s seabird colonies face catastrophe as warming waters disrupt their food supply

Sat, 2017/08/19 - 4:04pm

Populations of gannets, puffins and other marine birds are in freefall, but a crucial scientific study to pinpoint the causes is being blocked, say experts

Bempton Cliffs bird reserve was in fine fettle last week. The last of its population of puffins had departed for the winter a few weeks earlier, while its thousands of young gannets were still being cared for by their parents on the chalk cliffs of the East Yorkshire nature site. For good measure, kittiwakes, cormorants and fulmars were also bathing in the sunshine.

Related: We must stop seabird numbers falling off a cliff. After all, we’re to blame | Adam Nicolson

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Categories: Environment

'They're like the mafia': the super gangs behind Africa's poaching crisis

Sat, 2017/08/19 - 12:00am

Pressure is mounting against multi-faceted smugglers but the legal case, though strong, is enormously complex

Late on 6 June 2014 Kenyan police, acting on a tip-off, raided a used car lot in Mombasa’s industrial area. Inside Fuji Motors East Africa Ltd, in one of the lock-ups, they found two tonnes of ivory.

Days earlier a white Mitsubishi truck, its paperwork claiming “household equipment” but in fact carrying more than 300 elephant tusks secreted beneath a tarpaulin, had pulled into the yard on Mombasa Island’s dirty northern fringe, far from the tourist hotels and beaches for which the city is famous.

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Categories: Environment

Numbers shrinking for Tasmania's weird but much-loved giant freshwater lobster

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 3:07pm

Federal government calls for more areas to be placed in reserve to protect the huge crayfish, the world’s largest invertebrate

The federal government has called for more areas of north-west Tasmania to be placed in reserve as part of a conservation plan designed to protect the endangered giant freshwater crayfish.

The crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, can weigh up to 6kg and live for 60 years. Commonly called the giant freshwater lobster, it is the largest invertebrate in the world and endemic to the cool rivers of northern Tasmania, although habitat restriction and poaching have forced it to retract to areas west of Launceston.

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Categories: Environment

Tanzanian police believe wildlife activist may have been tracked by his killer

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 10:33am

A police insider has told the Guardian that the killers of Wayne Lotter may have been following him

Police believe Wayne Lotter’s killer may have followed and targeted the conservationist when he was shot on Wednesday, according to inside sources.

Lotter was stopped and then fatally shot while travelling by taxi from Dar es Salaam airport to a hotel. He had been working in Tanzania for many years, exposing and jailing wildlife poachers and traffickers, and he had received a number of death threats. Tanzania’s director for criminal investigation, Robert Boaz, said a murder investigation was underway.

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Categories: Environment

Silver linings: the climate scientist who records cloud behaviour

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 10:23am

Clouds cool the planet by reflecting solar energy back to space and also trap heat and radiate it back to Earth. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, physicist Kate Marvel discusses the double-edged effect clouds have on rising temperatures

Clouds perform an important function in cooling the planet as they reflect solar energy back into space. Yet clouds also intensify warming by trapping the planet’s heat and radiating it back to Earth. As fossil fuel emissions continue to warm the planet, how will this dual role played by clouds change, and will clouds ultimately exacerbate or moderate global warming?

Kate Marvel, a physicist at Columbia University and a researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is investigating the mysteries of clouds and climate change. And while she and her colleagues would like to offer definitive answers on this subject, the fact is that few now exist. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she discusses what is known about the behaviour of clouds in a warming world (they are migrating more toward the poles), why strict controls need to be imposed on geoengineering experiments with clouds, and why she is confident that science and human ingenuity will ultimately overcome the challenge of climate change.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 8:47am

Brown bears fishing, a rare white moose, and a puma found in a São Paulo office block are among our images from the natural world this week

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Categories: Environment

Government faces fresh criticism over Green Investment Bank sell-off

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 6:05am

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable questions UK’s commitment to environmental projects after GIB sale to Australian bank Macquarie

The government is facing renewed criticism after pushing through the “disastrous” sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to the Australian bank Macquarie, as fresh concerns are raised over its commitment to environmental projects.

A consortium led by Macquarie agreed to buy the GIB, which was established in 2012 by the coalition government to fund green infrastructure projects such as windfarms and a waste and bioenergy power plant. The consortium also includes Macquarie’s in-house infrastructure fund and the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a pension fund for British higher education institutions.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 2:00am

The small Louisiana town of Cameron could be the first in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels – and yet locals, 90% of whom voted for Trump, still aren’t convinced about climate change

In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, according to the newly published calculations of the Louisiana government. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.

As a result, Cameron, the principal town in this 6,800-person parish (as counties are called in Louisiana), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So it’s here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.

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Categories: Environment

Labor questions if Joyce and Nash can make legally valid decisions as ministers

Fri, 2017/08/18 - 1:47am

As Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash face high court cases over citizenship, the constitution says parliamentarians cannot be ministers if not validly elected

Labor has opened a new front in the Turnbull government’s citizenship crisis, raising the prospect that ministers may be unable to validly execute their ministerial duties under the constitution while there is a question about whether they have been validly elected.

Stephen Jones, the shadow minister for regional communications, wrote to the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on Friday, demanding that he ask the deputy Nationals leader, Fiona Nash, to stand aside while her case is before the high court.

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Categories: Environment