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Only 2% of lithium-ion batteries in Australia are recycled, report says

Tue, 2018/07/17 - 12:18am

CSIRO says lack of consumer awareness is ‘number one issue’ affecting recycling

Australians have to boost their recycling of lithium-ion batteries, a new CSIRO report has found.

Consumers only recycle 2% of our lithium-ion batteries, and an estimated $813m to $3bn worth of valuable components is in landfill. The commonly-used rechargeable batteries are used in mobile phones, laptops, household appliances and, increasingly, electric vehicles.

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Categories: Environment

IEA warns of 'worrying trend' as global investment in renewables falls

Tue, 2018/07/17 - 12:00am

Fossil fuels increased share of energy supply investment last year – the first time since 2014

The world’s energy watchdog has sounded the alarm over a “worrying” pause in the shift to clean energy after global investment in renewables fell 7% to $318bn (£240bn) last year.

The International Energy Agency said the decline is set to continue into 2018, threatening energy security, climate change and air pollution goals.

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Categories: Environment

Swan upping on the Thames: counting the Queen's birds – in pictures

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 11:00pm

This week marks the annual stocktake of the crown’s swans on the River Thames, known as swan upping. The process of counting the swans on the river and identifying them as belonging to the Queen or one of the two City livery companies that also have rights to them – has been carried out since the 12th century, when the birds were so prized for their meat that all wild swans in England were appropriated as property of the crown. The pomp, finery and techniques of swan upping would be familiar to the villagers who looked on centuries ago

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Categories: Environment

Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet | John Harris

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 10:00pm

The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industry

It was just another moment in this long, increasingly strange summer. I was on a train home from Paddington station, and the carriage’s air-conditioning was just about fighting off the heat outside. Most people seemed to be staring at their phones – in many cases, they were trying to stream a World Cup match, as the 4G signal came and went, and Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi proved to be maddeningly erratic. The trebly chatter of headphone leakage was constant. And thousands of miles and a few time zones away in Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the world’s largest concentrations of computing power was playing its part in keeping everything I saw ticking over, as data from around the world passed back and forth from its vast buildings.

Most of us communicate with this small and wealthy corner of the US every day. Thanks to a combination of factors – its proximity to Washington DC, competitive electricity prices, and its low susceptibility to natural disasters – the county is the home of data centres used by about 3,000 tech companies: huge agglomerations of circuitry, cables and cooling systems that sit in corners of the world most of us rarely see, but that are now at the core of how we live. About 70% of the world’s online traffic is reckoned to pass through Loudoun County.

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Categories: Environment

Endangered bandicoot 'should never have been brought to South Australia'

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 5:43pm

Researchers say the western barred bandicoot was actually five species and those ‘reintroduced’ would never have lived in SA

An endangered Australian bandicoot that was reintroduced to the Australian mainland is now believed to be one of five distinct species, and researchers say it may have been a mistake to introduce it to South Australia.

Scientists working for the Western Australian Museum have published research that concludes that what has been known as the western barred bandicoot is in fact five distinct species – four of which had become extinct by the 1940s as a result of agriculture and introduced predators. The species were closely related but occurred in different parts of Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Heatwave to bring hosepipe ban to north-west England

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 4:01pm

United Utilities says 7 million customers will be affected by first ban since 2012

Millions of households in the north-west of England will face the first hosepipe ban in the country since 2012 after the UK’s longest heatwave in more than 40 years.

The water company United Utilities said 7 million customers would be affected by the ban, which is due to come into force on 5 August.

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Categories: Environment

Rights not 'fortress conservation' key to save planet, says UN expert

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 8:00am

Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples calls for a new, rights-based approach to conservation

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has released a report highly critical of the global conservation movement and calling for indigenous peoples and other local communities to have a greater say in protecting the world’s forests. Titled Cornered by Protected Areas and co-authored with the US-based NGO Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the report is an explicit condemnation of “fortress conservation.”

What exactly is meant by that? It is “the idea that to protect forests and biodiversity, ecosystems need to function in isolation, devoid of people,” the Rapporteur told the Guardian. “This model - favoured by governments for over a century - ignores the growing body of evidence that forests thrive when Indigenous Peoples remain on their customary lands and have legally recognised rights to manage and protect them.”

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Categories: Environment

UK politicians 'failing to rise to the challenge of climate change'

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 4:45am

Government’s top climate adviser warns policymakers will be judged harshly by future generations if they don’t act now

The government’s official climate change adviser says politicians and policymakers are failing to rise to the challenge of a rapidly warming planet and will be judged harshly by future generations unless they act now.

Lord Deben, chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), said “anyone who read the news” could see mounting evidence of alarming trends – from melting polar ice to record heatwaves and rising sea levels. He called on politicians to “make the connections” between these events and act with more urgency.

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Categories: Environment

Comprehensive study: carbon taxes won't hamper the economy | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 3:00am

But global warming will.

Eleven teams participated in a recent Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project, examining the economic and environmental impacts of a carbon tax. The studies included “revenue recycling,” in which the funds generated from a carbon tax are returned to taxpayers either through regular household rebate checks (similar to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby [CCL] and Climate Leadership Council [CLC] proposals) or by offsetting income taxes (similar to the approach in British Columbia).

Among the eleven modeling teams the key findings were consistent. First, a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution, although the structure of the tax (the price and the rate at which it rises) are important. Second, this type of revenue-neutral carbon tax would have a very modest impact on the economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). In all likelihood it would slightly slow economic growth, but by an amount that would be more than offset by the benefits of cutting pollution and slowing global warming.

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Categories: Environment

Two tarantulas may be on loose after babies found in Derbyshire car park

Mon, 2018/07/16 - 1:40am

Baby spiders were abandoned in pots and RSPCA says witness saw parents scuttling away

Two tarantulas may be on the loose in a village after three of their babies were found abandoned in a car park.

The RSPCA said it had rescued the baby Brazilian bird-eating spiders after they were found discarded in pots in Derbyshire.

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Categories: Environment

Is UK science and innovation up for the climate challenge?

Sun, 2018/07/15 - 11:05pm

The government has shaken up the UK research system. But fossil fuels, not low-carbon technologies, still seem to be in the driving seat.

A new report by Richard Jones and James Wilsdon invites us to question the biomedical bubble - the slow but steady concentration of research and development (R&D) resources in the hands of biomedical science.

A provocative case, it’s already generated some discussion. Here, I want to pick up a point that might be easily missed amongst fights over the role of biomedicine: the all-too-small amount of resource being put towards decarbonising energy.

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Categories: Environment

Waste incineration set to overtake recycling in England, Greens warn

Sun, 2018/07/15 - 10:01pm

Amount of rubbish burned by local authorities triples while household recycling rates stall

England is on the brink of burning more of its rubbish in incinerators than it recycles for the first time, according to a new analysis.

The amount of waste managed by local authorities and sent to incinerators, or energy-from-waste plants, tripled between 2010-11 and 2016-17. By contrast, household recycling rates have stalled since 2013.

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Categories: Environment

Country diary: I looked into the eyes of Britain's most savage killer

Sun, 2018/07/15 - 9:30pm

Aigas, Highlands: The weasel may be tiny, but this fierce predator can dispatch and drag off a full-grown rabbit 25 times its size – and has a stare that even humans can find unnerving

If I asked you to name Britain’s most savage wildlife killer, you might say fox or peregrine or goshawk, or perhaps even the golden eagle or the Scottish wildcat if you knew about such exciting rarities. But I think you would be wrong. Savage and killers they all are, no question, but in my book none comes close to the smallest UK mustelid, the weasel, Mustela nivalis, so tiny that its skull can pass through a wedding ring.

A few days ago I watched one hunting. It vanished into a rockery and emerged a few seconds later with a vole dangling from its jaws. Voles, rats and mice, as well as small birds, are a weasel’s staple, but a male will take much larger prey such as a full-grown rabbit, up to 25 times its own weight, kill it, and, incredibly, drag it away into cover. No other British predator does that.

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Categories: Environment

Rethinking recycling: could a circular economy solve the problem?

Sat, 2018/07/14 - 3:00pm

With more funding and product stewardship, the recycling crisis could turn into an opportunity

There’s nothing like a crisis to spur on the search for a solution.

Since January, when China stopped accepting our contaminated recycling, Australia has been struggling with a waste crisis. While some local councils have tried to adapt their processes, some have been stockpiling recycling while others are sending it straight to landfill. And there’s still no long-term solution in place.

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Categories: Environment

Developing new Galilee Basin coalmines will cost 12,500 jobs, analysis shows

Sat, 2018/07/14 - 7:01am

Exclusive: Australia Institute modelling reveals the best way to protect coal jobs in other regions is to stop Galilee developments

Developing new coalmines in the Galilee Basin would cost 12,500 jobs in existing coalmining regions and replace only two in three workers, modelling by the Australia Institute shows.

Job creation has long been an aggressive rallying call for supporters of Adani’s Carmichael megamine and other proposals in the untapped Galilee Basin, which combined would produce 150m tonnes of thermal coal each year.

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Categories: Environment

Huge iceberg threatens tiny Greenland village

Sat, 2018/07/14 - 5:45am

Residents of Innaarsuit fear the 100-metre high berg will break up and cause a tsunami

A 100-metre (330ft) high iceberg has drifted close to a tiny settlement on Greenland’s west coast, prompting fears of a tsunami if it breaks up.

Authorities have told residents of the Innaarsuit island settlement living near the shore to move to higher ground.

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Categories: Environment

'Boaty McBoatface' makes debut in Liverpool

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 11:30pm

Hull of research vessel officially known as RRS David Attenborough launches into the River Mersey

The vessel popularly known as Boaty McBoatface will make its debut on Saturday in Liverpool, where the hull will be launched into the River Mersey before shipbuilders get to work finishing the ship in wet basin.

RRS Sir David Attenborough – the boat was officially named after the naturalist after the internet poll’s top suggestion was rejected – will be used by the British Antarctic Survey for polar research from next year, when it is expected to be completed.

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Categories: Environment

Weatherwatch: Antarctica proves to be even colder than previously thought

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 1:30pm

Data from Nasa satellites has been matched with weather station information to reveal a chilly new low

Where is the coldest place on Earth? Antarctica; yes, but where exactly?

On 23 July 1983, the thermometer at the Vostok station, high on the East Antarctic plateau on recorded the lowest measured air temperature on Earth: a frigid -89.2C. But, in recent years, satellite data has revealed it can get even colder.

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Categories: Environment

‘Pay what you feel’: the supermarket giving wasted food new life

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 1:00pm

The Inconvenience Store in Melbourne is providing fresh produce to people doing it tough

A man places his shopping bag on the counter filled with canned goods, fruit, vegetables and a loaf of bread. He passes it to a woman, who weighs the bag, while her colleague makes a note on a clipboard. Then they wish him luck.

“Come back soon,” 19-year-old Vincent Hui tells him. No money changes hands. Asked why he had come to the shop, the man tells Guardian Australia: “Some days are just tough.”

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Categories: Environment

WeWork says employees can't have any meat at events or on expenses

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 11:40am

The workspace company gave environmental reasons for banning meat from all budgets, including their upcoming festival

WeWork, the real estate company that rents out and manages office space, has announced that they will no longer hold any staff events that include meat, and that staff will not be able to expense any meals that include poultry, pork or red meat.

In an email to staff, WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey also said that WeWork’s upcoming Summer Camp event, a music and food festival which is only open to WeWork members, will not serve any meat options. Tickets to the event cost as much as $409 (£309) – a high price based, in part, on the free food available once on site.

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Categories: Environment