Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 10 hours 59 min ago

Hume Coal mine would net NSW just $120m in 20 years, locals told

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 7:04pm

The chief concern over the proposed underground mine in the southern highlands is the loss of bore water for farmers and landholders

A controversial underground coalmine that will threaten the water supply of 71 landowners in NSW’s southern highlands will net the state government just $120m over two decades, locals have been told.

A multinational steelmaker, Korea-based Posco, is seeking approval for an underground coalmine near Berrima in the southern highlands of New South Wales, part of Sydney’s drinking-water catchment.

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Categories: Environment

TfL to spend £18m on preparing London for new electric black cabs

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 9:24am

Upgrade of capital’s power grids will enable energy companies to install 300 fast-charging stations by 2020

Transport for London is spending £18m on upgrading the capital’s power grids to charge the first generation of battery-powered black cabs.

From 1 January 2018, all new black cabs will have to be battery-powered electric models by law as part of TfL’s effort to reduce toxic pollution from diesel engines.

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Categories: Environment

California ‘super bloom’ visible from space – video report

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 6:42am

Wildflowers have erupted across California deserts in the past month in a phenomenon known as a ‘super bloom’. After heavy rainfall ended months of drought, the flowers carpeted such vast areas that the transformation was visible from space

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Categories: Environment

Satellite Eye on Earth: March 2017 – in pictures

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 6:19am

Mount Etna, India’s ship graveyard and trees in Africa are among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month

The Mackenzie river system is Canada’s largest watershed, and the 10th largest water basin in the world. The river runs 4,200km (2,600 miles) from the Columbia icefield in the Canadian Rockies to the Arctic Ocean. If your vehicle weighs less than 22,000lb, you can drive the frozen river out to Reindeer Station. The bitterly cold ice road runs for 194km between the remote outposts of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. White, snow- and ice-covered waterways of the east channel of the Mackenzie river delta stand out amid green, pine-covered land. The low angle of the sunlight bathes the higher elevations in golden light. The pond- and lake-covered lands around the river are home to caribou, waterfowl, and a number of fish species. Several thousand reindeer travel through this area each year on the way to their calving grounds.

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Categories: Environment

Anger after farm worker who admitted animal cruelty is not jailed

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 6:10am

Animal rights activists criticise suspended sentence given to apprentice Owen Nichol who was filmed attacking cow and calves

Animal rights activists have criticised a decision not to jail a farm apprentice who was secretly filmed hitting, stamping on and throwing newborn calves at a Somerset farm.

Owen Nichol, 18, who attacked the calves and a cow and repeatedly swore at the animals, was given a suspended prison sentence.

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Categories: Environment

Trump review threatens to rip up Obama protections for wilderness areas

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 5:38am
  • Interior secretary to review past presidents’ national monument designations
  • Trump says ‘massive federal land grab’ should never have happened

Donald Trump has triggered a review of protections that cover more than a billion acres of US public land and waters in a move that could potentially rescind the designation of several national monuments declared by previous presidents.

Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order relating to the Antiquities Act, a law introduced by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 which gives presidents the ability to name areas of federal land and waters as national monuments. The order directs Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, to review about 30 national monuments that are larger than 100,000 acres and have been declared since 1996.

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Categories: Environment

The government just announced a gamechanger for cycling in England – Sam Jones

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 3:45am

The new cycling and walking investment strategy is the first legislation of its kind to legally bind the government to long-term funding for cycling and walking provision

Unless you’re an avid transport campaigner, it’s likely that among the rush of government announcements made last week, you will have missed one very important one: the publication of the cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS),

The government’s intention to launch a CWIS was first announced in January 2015. It took more than two years, but we now have the first legislation of its kind in England to bind the government with legal commitments to invest in cycling and walking provision.

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Categories: Environment

Milkwort steals the show at Figsbury Ring

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 9:30pm

Figsbury Ring, Wiltshire Sewn like gems into the sward, these little blue flowers take shelter in the lee of the earthwork rings

Bluer than the sky, bluer than the sheen on rooks and the lustre of oil beetles, the milkwort flowers are sewn like gems into the sward. Polygala calcarea is the chalk milkwort, with a gentian-blue far brighter than the common milkwort flowers I’m used to seeing on Wenlock Edge. High on Salisbury Plain, open to the winds and shafts of sunlight through distant showers, the little blue flowers take shelter in the lee of earthwork rings, an archaeological monument within the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in north-west Europe.

Milkwort gets its name not from increasing milk yield in grazing cattle but from herbalists prescribing it to new mothers to aid breastfeeding, although I’m not sure anyone would now. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory and a hepatoprotector (against liver damage), but perhaps its most important cultural role here was that it was collected at Rogationtide.

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Categories: Environment

Baby whales 'whisper' to mothers to avoid predators, study finds

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 7:41pm

Scientists reveal unique, intimate form of communication between humpback mothers and calves as well as silent method to initiate suckling

Newborn humpback whales and their mothers whisper to each other to escape potential predators, scientists reported Wednesday, revealing the existence of a previously unknown survival technique.

“They don’t want any unwanted listeners,” researcher Simone Videsen, lead author of a study published in Functional Ecology, said.

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Categories: Environment

Will Sonny Perdue, Trump's agriculture pick, stand up for the little guy? Don't bank on it

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 2:58pm

In November, America’s beleaguered rural citizens voted against the status quo – but that’s exactly what Trump’s new agriculture secretary looks set to ensure

Donald Trump owes his election in no small part to the support of farm country. But since entering office, almost all his actions and pronouncements have betrayed an abysmal understanding of farm and rural concerns. No surprise, then, that food and farm advocates have looked eagerly to Sonny Perdue, who was sworn in as agriculture secretary on Tuesday, to educate and temper the president on their issues.

The new secretary has his work cut out for him. The president unveiled a budget blueprint last month that slashed funding for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 21%.

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Categories: Environment

Most global investors recognise financial risk of climate change, report finds

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 1:00pm

Global index reveals 60% of asset owners are now taking some action, but warns there is still ‘enormous resistance’ to managing climate risk

For the first time a majority of global investor heavyweights recognise the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks.

But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk.

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Categories: Environment

Tories 'on very dodgy ground' over delay of air pollution plan, say experts

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 9:02am

Constitutional experts say government is on ‘very dodgy ground’ claiming election purdah forces it to postpone publishing pollution strategy

The government’s attempt to delay publishing its air pollution strategy because of the election is “dishonest” and leaves ministers on “very dodgy ground”, according to constitutional experts.

The government had been under a court direction to produce tougher draft measures to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, which is responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year, by 4pm on Monday. The original plans had been dismissed by judges as so poor as to be unlawful.

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Categories: Environment

A government of death is plundering our ancient Munduruku lands. Help us stop it

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 6:05am

As the UN forum on indigenous issues meets in New York, we, the Munduruku people of Brazil, demand an end to the destruction of our territory

We, the Munduruku people, send our thoughts and words to you who live far away. We echo the cry for help from our mother, the forest, and from all the indigenous peoples in Brazil.

Our home of Mundurukânia and all 13,000 of our people are threatened by the Brazilian government’s plans to build more than 40 hydroelectric dams in the Tapajós basin, as well as an industrial waterway and other major projects.

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Categories: Environment

High court orders UK government to explain clean air plan delay

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 4:12am

Critics say air pollution issue is public health and not political issue and ministers must defend delay in high court

The government has been ordered back to the high court to explain its last-minute bid to delay publication of the UK’s clean air plan.

Politicians and environmental groups had complained that ministers were “hiding behind the election” after they said they could not publish the proposals because of election purdah.

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Categories: Environment

From Congo child soldier to award-winning wildlife ranger – a life in danger

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 3:03am

Forced into the militia as a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rodrigue Katembo has now been awarded a Goldman prize for risking his life fighting to protect his country’s wildlife

As an enforced child soldier, Rodrigue Katembo saw his little brother die and had to carry the news to his mother. Now 41, he remains on the frontline – but today he protects the extraordinary wildlife in the national parks of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from armed militias.

It is exceptionally dangerous work: 160 park rangers have been killed protecting Virunga national park in the last 15 years, outnumbered 10 to one by militias and poachers. Around the world, about 1,000 rangers have died in the line of duty over the last decade. But Katembo, who is awarded the prestigious Goldman environmental prize on Monday, is resolute, despite the attacks he has endured and the risks he continues to run.

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Categories: Environment

March against madness - denial has pushed scientists out into the streets | Dana Nuccitelli

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 3:00am

America’s leaders are playing Russian roulette with our future

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and around the world marched in support of science. Next weekend, the People’s Climate March will follow.

Redglass Pictures and StarTalk Radio created a short film in which the brilliant scientist and communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson – though not specifically talking about the science marches – perfectly articulated the motivations behind them.

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Categories: Environment

Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in DRC

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 2:54am

Joël Meriko Ari and Gerome Bolimola Afokao discovered a group of men with a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass. The rangers leave behind 11 children

Elephant poachers have killed two wildlife rangers in a shootout in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reports African Parks, a not-for-profit conservation group that manages 10 protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.

While out patrolling on 11 April, ranger Joël Meriko Ari and Sgt Gerome Bolimola Afokao of the DRC armed forces heard gunshots, African Parks reported. The patrol unit followed signs and tracks until they discovered a group of six poachers who were chopping up a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass.

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Categories: Environment

Cold snap brings snow flurries to Britain

Tue, 2017/04/25 - 1:35am

Spring on hold until weekend as forecasters predict Arctic blast will be replaced by hail and thunderstorms through to Wednesday

A blast of late winter weather has brought snow flurries to many parts of northern England and the Midlands.

Towns as far south as Norwich woke to a sprinkling of snow on Tuesday morning, with Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the north-east also reporting wintry showers.

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Categories: Environment

10 emperor penguin facts for World Penguin Day – in pictures

Mon, 2017/04/24 - 11:13pm

Emperor penguins are perfectly adapted to survive harsh Antarctic conditions but their habitat is threatened due to climate change. To celebrate World Penguin Day, the WWF has chosen its top 10 emperor penguin facts

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Categories: Environment

Tory windfarm policy endangers cheap energy in UK, commission finds

Mon, 2017/04/24 - 10:19pm

Shell-sponsored group says wind is ‘increasingly the cheapest form of electricity’ and urges Tories to review ban on subsidised onshore windfarms

Conservative opposition to windfarms risks the UK missing out on one of the cheapest sources of electricity, according to the head of a Shell-funded industry group.

Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, said wind and solar power costs had fallen dramatically globally and urged the government to rethink its ban on subsidised onshore windfarms.

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Categories: Environment