Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 19 hours 16 min ago

Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 8:28am

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

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UK schools banning school run to protect pupils from air pollution

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 7:38am

Thousands of schools closing roads and setting up park and stride schemes

Schools across the country are moving to ban the school run amid growing concern about the devastating impact of air pollution on young people’s health.

The Guardian has found that thousands of schools in cities and towns – from Edinburgh to London, Manchester to Ellesmere Port – are taking measures to try to deter parents using their cars. These include closing roads, setting up “park and stride” schemes, walk-to-school initiatives and “playing dead” protests.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 6:33am

Pacific walruses, Tapanuli orangutan twins and a moon bear are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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UK imports salad from US, Spain and Poland as heatwave hits crops

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 4:50am

Wholesale prices soar by more than 30% and farmers have to renegotiate with supermarkets

Lettuce is being flown in from the US, and imported from Spain and Poland as soaring temperatures increase demand but hit crops in the UK.

The cargo carrier IAG Cargo said it had flown 30,000 heads of lettuce from Los Angeles to the UK in the past week alone.

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'Bad things happen in the woods': the anxiety of hiking while black

Fri, 2018/07/13 - 2:00am

Three African American hikers describe fears and stereotypes they have faced – and why they love hitting the trails

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UK passes 1,000 hours without coal as energy shift accelerates

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

Revival of last eight coal plants when ‘beast from the east’ hit Britain proved to be brief

Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating.

The UK’s last eight coal power plants staged a brief revival when the “beast from the east” pushed up gas prices earlier this year, causing coal plants to fire up.

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Categories: Environment

'Disaster': half a million hectares of forest bulldozed in Great Barrier Reef catchment

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 10:03pm

Conservationists, Labor and the Greens condemn clearing over four years

More than half a million hectares of forest was cleared in the Great Barrier Reef catchments over four years – an area more than twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory.

Official environment and energy department data shows that 596,000 hectares of forest was cleared between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2016.

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Climate change poses threat to UK's historic churches, trust warns

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 12:00pm

Strong winds, more frequent storms and arrival of termites to put towers and spires at risk

The UK’s historic churches are at serious risk from the impact of climate change, including higher levels of rainfall and invasive pests such as termites, according to the National Churches Trust. Roofs, towers and spires are threatened by strong winds and more frequent storms.

The trust saw a 26% year-on-year increase in applications for grants for urgent repairs, maintenance and development projects in 2017, its annual review says.

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Categories: Environment

Recycling crisis: why don't we have a national container deposit scheme?

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 11:00am

Difficult to coordinate, yes. But it could ameliorate Australia’s waste and recycling woes

In June, a wide-ranging Senate inquiry into the state of Australia’s recycling system recommended a national container deposit scheme (CDS) be rolled out across the country.

Of all 18 inquiry recommendations, a national scheme is one that is at least part way there, all states except Tasmania and Victoria with an existing scheme or one soon to be implemented.

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Categories: Environment

Greenpeace and GetUp launch campaign to kill national energy guarantee

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 11:00am

Exclusive: Television ads in Victoria and Queensland aim to get state governments to veto Turnbull’s set piece policy

The Queensland and Victorian governments will be hit with a new television advertising campaign in an effort to persuade them to torpedo the national energy guarantee at a critical meeting in early August.

The activist group GetUp has combined with Greenpeace to bankroll what it describes as hard-hitting television advertisements targeting the two Labor-held states ahead of a meeting of energy ministers in August that will make or break the Turnbull government’s signature energy policy.

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A whale would have been a right catch for a Roman fisherman | Letters

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 9:58am
Far more likely the Romans merely exploited any dead whales found floating or cast ashore, suggests Pete Eiseman-Renyard

The researchers first quoted in your article (Romans had whale industry, research suggests, 11 July) have made a very bold extrapolation from very small evidence. I would agree with Dr Erica Rowan, cited towards the end of the piece, that one might expect documentary evidence if the Romans actually had a whaling industry. Far more likely they merely exploited any drift whales (dead whales found floating or cast ashore).

Right whales (so called because they were the right whale to catch, being slow-swimming, floated once killed, and had a thick layer of blubber and a mouth full of baleen) certainly were exploited in the post-Roman period, and the Biscayan community had been rendered extinct by the Basque whalers by medieval times.

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Ireland becomes world's first country to divest from fossil fuels

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 8:12am

Bill passed by parliament means more than €300m shares in coal, oil, peat and gas will be sold ‘as soon as practicable’

The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.

The state’s €8bn national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat “as soon as is practicable”, which is expected to mean within five years. Norway’s huge $1tn sovereign wealth fund has only partially divested from fossil fuels, targeting some coal companies, and is still considering its oil and gas holdings.

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Categories: Environment

Can Norway help us solve the plastic crisis, one bottle at a time?

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 3:10am

A bottle deposit hub on the outskirts of Oslo has had a stream of high-level international visitors. Can its success be replicated worldwide?

Tens of thousands of brightly coloured plastic drinks bottles tumble from the back of a truck on to a conveyor belt before disappearing slowly inside a warehouse on the outskirts of Oslo.

As a workman picks up a few Coke bottles that have escaped, Kjell Olav Maldum looks on. “It is a system that works,” he says as another truck rumbles past. “It could be used in the UK, I think lots of countries could learn from it.”

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Categories: Environment

Rising ocean waters from global warming could cost trillions of dollars | John Abraham

Thu, 2018/07/12 - 3:00am

We’ll need to mitigate and adapt to global warming to avoid massive costs from sea level rise

Ocean waters are rising because of global warming. They are rising for two reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, ice is melting. There is a tremendous amount of ice locked away in Greenland, Antarctica, and in glaciers. As the world warms, that ice melts and the liquid water flows to the oceans.

The other reason why water is rising is that warmer water is less dense – it expands. This expansion causes the surface of the water to rise.

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UK accused of 'green Brexit hypocrisy' over regulation of suspected carcinogen

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 3:01pm

Exclusive: UK attempted to weaken new EU regulations of a lucrative whitening chemical, Ti02, found in cosmetics and sunscreens

Michael Gove has been accused of “green Brexit hypocrisy” for trying to weaken regulation of a suspected carcinogen found in sun creams, paints and toothpastes, in a proposal seen by the Guardian.

The European commission had proposed mandatory labelling and a cosmetics ban for titanium dioxide (TiO2) – a whitening chemical – after the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) declared it a “suspected carcinogen” last year.

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Categories: Environment

Whitehall’s ‘potty’ plan to keep NI lights on if no Brexit deal

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 12:06pm

Flotilla of barges with energy generators would be sent to Northern Ireland if UK crashes out of the EU

A flotilla of barges would be sent to the coast of Northern Ireland with energy generators after Brexit to keep the region’s lights on in the event of no deal, according to reports on Wednesday.

The scheme, which has been described as “potty” by business leaders in Northern Ireland, is said to be part of contingency planning by Whitehall mandarins in case the UK crashes out of the EU, smashing Ireland’s all-island electricity supply in its wake.

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Categories: Environment

National energy guarantee: Queensland warned it risks 'writing a blank cheque'

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 11:00am

Smart Energy Council says state should reject Neg or make support for guarantee conditional

The Smart Energy Council is urging the Queensland government to make any support for the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee conditional, or it will risk dealing itself out of leading the effort on emissions reduction.

With the fate of the Neg to be determined at a definitive meeting of state and federal energy ministers in early August, the Queensland government has called in stakeholders for a meeting on Thursday to help determine its position on the policy.

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Categories: Environment

Coal seam gas: NSW licences effectively extended indefinitely due to legal loophole

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 11:00am

Gladys Berejiklian’s government accused of allowing companies to conduct ‘production by stealth’

Licences needed for coal seam gas exploration in New South Wales have been effectively extended indefinitely past their expiry date, due to a legal loophole.

Gas exploration – both conventional and coal seam gas – in the state requires a petroleum exploration tenement. Analysis of the NSW government’s tenements database shows 14 titles listed under “current titles” that are past their expiry date.

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Heatwave seems to make manmade climate change real for Americans

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 10:08am

The record-breaking high temperatures across much of North America appear to be shaping people’s thinking, a survey finds

The warm temperatures that have scorched much of the US appear to be influencing Americans’ acceptance of climate science, with a new poll finding a record level of public confidence that the world is warming due to human activity.

Related: Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say

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Categories: Environment

Charles Gimingham obituary

Wed, 2018/07/11 - 9:52am
Leading expert on heather and moorland landscapes who was a dedicated environmentalist

Travel north through the uplands of Britain in August and you enter the world heartland of the purple, heather-quilted landscape known as moorland. Its principal plant, ling heather, known scientifically as Calluna vulgaris, and the fire and grazing management that governs its growth and distinctive appeal, was the subject of Charles Gimingham’s pioneering research and quiet advocacy.

Based at the University of Aberdeen from 1946, first as research assistant, then lecturer, and promoted on to be professor of botany from 1969 until 1988, Charles, who has died aged 95, became the foremost expert on heather and moorland landscapes, and a considerable force for scholarly environmentalism.

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Categories: Environment