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The ethics scandals that eventually forced Scott Pruitt to resign

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 4:39pm

Pruitt was accused of a litany of corrupt practices, any one of which would have ended the career of an ordinary politician

After months of scandals, investigations and public protest, Scott Pruitt has finally resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. During his relatively short time in the role, he was accused of a litany of corrupt practices, illegal activities and misuse of public funds, any one of which would have ended the career of an ordinary politician. Pruitt was far from ordinary, though. He had such an apparent disregard for government ethics and political norms, that many questioned whether he would ever leave office. But as CNN reported that Pruitt had kept a secret diary of meetings he didn’t want the public to know about because he thought it would “look bad”, his Teflon finally flaked away.

Related: Scott Pruitt, Trump's embattled EPA chief, resigns after ethics scandals

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Categories: Environment

Trump's promise to 'drain the swamp' proves false even with Scott Pruitt out

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 3:35pm

Pruitt seemed indestructible as the administration cycled through resignations, with Trump standing by him even at the end

Towards the end of his 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump discovered a new slogan: “Drain the swamp!” He admitted being surprised at how well it went down with crowds at his rallies and kept repeating it.

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Categories: Environment

Scott Pruitt is out but his impact on the environment will be felt for years

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 2:44pm

Pruitt’s actions at the EPA have left a demoralized agency where staff fear their ability to protect public health is diminished

Scott Pruitt, who has finally stepped down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a long-rumbling corruption scandal, rose to public prominence on the back of a series of increasingly outlandish ethical controversies.

Related: Scott Pruitt resigns: Trump's scandal-ridden EPA chief steps down

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Categories: Environment

Hidden in plain sight: what the recycling crisis really looks like

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 11:00am

The recycling industry is in crisis, yet for most Australians it’s out of mind beyond the rattle of the recycling bin pickups each week. So what does this crisis really look like? Guardian Australia visited three processing sites to find out what happens to bins once they leave the kerb

The recycling industry has been in crisis mode in Australia since January when China, which previously bought 50% of the recycling we collect, implemented a ban that cut out 99% of what we used to sell.

Recycling companies had relied on this export revenue stream to stay afloat – the amount of waste recycling we create exceeds the demand we have to buy and use within Australia. Without an outlet, some companies began stockpiling recycling or sending it straight to landfill.

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Categories: Environment

Global temperature rises could be double those predicted by climate modelling

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 11:00am

Researchers say sea levels could also rise by six metres or more even if 2 degree target of Paris accord met

Temperature rises as a result of global warming could eventually be double what has been projected by climate models, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries.

Sea levels could also rise by six metres or more even if the world does meet the 2 degree target of the Paris accord.

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Categories: Environment

Tidal power to the people | Letters

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 9:50am
Alicia Hull on tidal energy being more efficient than nuclear, Liam O’Keeffe underlines its benefits, and Sue Roaf shines a light on solar

In his letter, Jim Waterton (30 June) protests too much. If tidal energy cannot be allowed without the possibility and costs of storage being certain, how is it that nuclear has been allowed when the costs and feasibility of storing the used fuel for countless lifetimes is equally unknown and likely to be much higher?

He describes tidal energy as intermittent, when it is regular and very suitable as a base power source. In contrast, he describes nuclear power as consistent when this is far from the truth. Quite apart from their hopeless record on delivery dates, rising costs and concern that they will work, they’re also offline from time to time. The station at Sizewell is offline for maintenance for five to six weeks every 18 months. By November last year there had been 16 planned outages. But there had also been unplanned outages when dangerous faults have been identified.

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Categories: Environment

Shell would support UK bringing forward petrol ban from 2040

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 7:04am

CEO says earlier date would ease investment decisions and shift consumer attitudes

Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, has backed calls for the UK to bring forward its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch group, said he welcomed the idea of bringing forward the ban, as it would provide clarity and make it easier for companies like Shell to make investment decisions and also shift consumer attitudes.

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Categories: Environment

Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 6:46am

IUCN fears planet is entering sixth wave of extinctions with research from Australia revealing more risks to reptiles

More than 26,000 of the world’s species are now threatened, according to the latest red list assessment of the natural world, adding to fears the planet is entering a sixth wave of extinctions.

New research, particularly in Australia, has widened the scope of the annual stocktake, which is compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and revealed the growing range of risks to flora and fauna.

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Categories: Environment

'Y'alright love': crow welcomes tourists to Yorkshire castle – video

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 5:44am

A pied crow's hearty greeting at Knaresborough Castle in North Yorkshire has been captured on film by two visitors. Lisa and Mark Brooks heard the bird chattering inside the castle grounds and started filming.

'I found it absolutely hilarious. It must be a local, it has a proper Yorkshire accent. We were there for 15 minutes and it switched between saying ‘darling’ and ‘love’. Other people started coming over and were just in shock,' says Lisa Brooks. 

Crows are from the corvid family of birds, which are known for the ability to mimic human voices 

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Categories: Environment

Baltic Sea oxygen levels at '1,500-year low due to human activity'

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 5:15am

Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are likely to be to blame, scientists say

The coastal waters of the Baltic have been starved of oxygen to a level unseen in at least 1,500 years largely as a result of modern human activity, scientists say. Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are thought to be to blame.

“Dead zones” – areas of sea, typically near the bottom, with a dearth of oxygen – are caused by a rise in nutrients in the water that boosts the growth of algae. When these organisms die and sink to the seafloor, bacteria set to work decomposing them, using up oxygen in the process.

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Categories: Environment

Two amputations a week: the cost of working in a US meat plant

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 4:00am

As unions warn of serious injuries, plans to take speed limits off the lines at pig plants are causing anxiety

Amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma are just some of the serious injuries suffered by US meat plant workers every week, according to data seen by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

US meat workers are already three times more likely to suffer serious injury than the average American worker, and pork and beef workers nearly seven times more likely to suffer repetitive strain injuries. And some fear that plans to remove speed restrictions on pig processing lines – currently being debated by the government – will only make the work more difficult.

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Categories: Environment

Researchers race to make bioplastics from straw and food waste

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 3:24am

Scientists looking to replace oil as the source of the world’s plastic are harnessing everything from wood-eating bugs to chicory

New bioplastics are being made in laboratories from straw, wood chips and food waste, with researchers aiming to replace oil as the source of the world’s plastic.

The new approaches include genetically modifying bacteria to eat wood and produce useful chemicals. But the bioplastics are currently significantly more expensive to make than fossil fuel-based plastics.

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Categories: Environment

Native Americans seek to rename Yellowstone peak honoring massacre perpetrator

Thu, 2018/07/05 - 2:00am

Activists also target valley named for advocate of extermination amid nationwide fight to reject legacy of racism

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Categories: Environment

Adani coal port faces possible 'stop order' after traditional owners object

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 10:41pm

Exclusive: Queensland government must rule on application to cease work around Abbot Point coal terminal

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Adani is facing the prospect of being ordered to cease work in the vicinity of its Abbot Point coal terminal and planned rail corridor, after Juru traditional owners applied for a “stop order” to protect sacred sites.

Guardian Australia understands the application was lodged with the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships on Thursday by lawyers for Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL).

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Categories: Environment

Fake chews? New Zealand MP fears 'existential threat' of synthetic burgers

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 5:37pm

The Impossible Burger, being served on Air New Zealand, has also drawn the ire of acting prime minister Winston Peters

A veggie burger that “bleeds” fake blood has been accused of posing an “existential threat” to New Zealand’s beef industry, amid a growing row over synthetic meat.

The Impossible Burger, which is being served on the national carrier Air New Zealand, has drawn the ire of the acting prime minister Winston Peters, who has said he is “utterly opposed to fake beef,” and the airline should be using real animal products.

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Categories: Environment

Sydney fog: spectacular misty morning delays ferries, flights and traffic

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 4:01pm

Ferries cancelled and warnings issued after thick bank of fog rolls into city

Flights and ferry services were cancelled after thick fog covered Sydney Harbour on Thursday morning. Sydneysiders shared photos of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other landmarks as they disappeared from sight.

Domestic and international flights at Sydney Airport were delayed due to low visibility procedures in force until just before 8am.

Airservices Australia advised passengers to check with their airlines for any cancellations.

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Categories: Environment

Flying ants cause chaos during Wimbledon invasion

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 11:09am

No 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki visibly struggled with swarm during her shock defeat

Flying ants made an unwelcome return to Wimbledon on Wednesday, prompting complaints from the reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki.

The bugs, which swarm in warm weather, caused problems for players last year when the British No 1 Johanna Konta said she had swallowed some.

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Categories: Environment

First test tube rhino embryos could bring extinct species back from dead

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 10:00am

The northern white rhino is essentially extinct – just two females remain – but new research paves the way for its resurrection

The first rhino embryos have been created in a test tube and could help save the northern white rhino, which is essentially extinct.

There are just two northern white rhino (NWR) females left alive. The last male, called Sudan, died in March in Kenya, meaning the subspecies is doomed to die out unless the new IVF techniques bear fruit.

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Categories: Environment

Child's asthma death linked to illegal levels of air pollution

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 8:18am

‘Striking association’ found between nine-year-old’s hospital admissions and local spikes in air pollution

The repeated hospital admissions of a girl who died in an asthma attack at the age of nine show a “striking association” with spikes in illegal levels of air pollution around her home in London, legal documents have revealed.

Ella Kissi-Debrah, from Hither Green, near the capital’s busy South Circular Road, experienced seizures for three years prior to her death in February 2013. Her family are calling for a new inquest into her death following fresh evidence that air pollution was a contributory factor.

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Categories: Environment

Declare energy independence with carbon dividends | Joseph Robertson

Wed, 2018/07/04 - 3:00am

A carbon tax and dividend system could usher in an era of clean energy independence

Taking action on climate is about a lot more than our energy economy. Climate disruption is the leading threat to our built environment, an accelerant of armed conflict, and a leading cause of mass migration. Its effects intensify and prolong storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods — resulting in the US spending as much on disaster management in 2017 as in the three decades from 1980 to 2010.

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Categories: Environment