Guardian Environment News

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Watchdog permits 170,000 wild bird killings in five years

Fri, 2019/02/22 - 6:39am

Exclusive: birds and eggs from 70 species, some rare, have been licensed for destruction

The government’s conservation watchdog has issued licences to destroy 170,000 wild birds, eggs and nests, including rare and declining species such as curlews and swifts, in the past five years.

Natural England has given permission to kill birds of more than 70 species, or have their nests and eggs destroyed. These include peregrine falcons, barn owls, buzzards and red kites, alongside garden favourites such as robins, blackbirds and blue tits. A licence was even issued to destroy a wrens’ nest to “preserve public safety” in South Yorkshire.

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Categories: Environment

School curriculum fails to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis

Fri, 2019/02/22 - 12:00am

Informed students are prompting adults to act on the issue

I draw three circles on the board as my class watches.

“So, what might this gas be?”

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Categories: Environment

Colombian tribe calls for action on alleged effects of UK oil firm

Fri, 2019/02/22 - 12:00am

In part two of our series, indigenous Siona people claim their health is being affected by apparent contamination of river

María Isaura Cuaran, an indigenous Siona woman, is displaying a rash that has appeared at the base of her neck. It is barely visible, but there nonetheless. Pulling her turquoise top off her left shoulder and tugging down on her bead necklace, Cuaran talks about “the company” and how, she alleges, it has affected the local river.

“Stomach problems, coughing, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, welts, little spots, little blotches, general malaise …”

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Categories: Environment

Bike theft affects the young and poor most – why is it not taken seriously?

Fri, 2019/02/22 - 12:00am

National cycle crime strategy set to launch after survey finds 50% of victims feel police don’t take the offence seriously

For many people a bicycle is the only transport they can afford and the only exercise they get. These people are often among society’s most vulnerable, and the impact of the loss of their bike can be devastating. So why is cycle theft so often seen as a minor crime?

According to the police, 96,210 bikes were stolen in 2018, and about one in 50 bicycle-owning households are victims of cycle theft each year, but it’s a crime disproportionately visited on the young and the poor.

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Categories: Environment

World's food supply under 'severe threat' from loss of biodiversity

Thu, 2019/02/21 - 4:05pm

Plants, insects and organisms crucial to food production in steep decline, says UN

The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.

The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals.

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Categories: Environment

Grand Canyon tourists possibly exposed to radiation at museum, whistleblower says

Thu, 2019/02/21 - 1:20pm

Park safety director alleges buckets of uranium sat near exhibit for almost 20 years, but interior department says there’s no risk

For almost 20 years, workers and visiting schoolchildren at a Grand Canyon museum may have been unknowingly exposed to radiation from three buckets of uranium sitting next to a taxidermy exhibit, according to allegations from a National Park Service safety director.

The whistleblower says officials learned about the buckets last year and tried to hide the revelation, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. This month, Elston “Swede” Stephenson emailed all park staff and brought the matter to the attention of the head of the interior department, which oversees the park service, and the agency’s internal watchdog.

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Categories: Environment

World's largest bee, missing for 38 years, found in Indonesia

Thu, 2019/02/21 - 7:00am

Biologists discover single female Wallace’s giant bee inside a termites’ nest in a tree

As long as an adult thumb, with jaws like a stag beetle and four times larger than a honeybee, Wallace’s giant bee is not exactly inconspicuous.

But after going missing, feared extinct, for 38 years, the world’s largest bee has been rediscovered on the Indonesian islands of the North Moluccas.

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Categories: Environment

British Gas owner loses 742,000 customers and issues price cap warning

Thu, 2019/02/21 - 3:56am

Centrica says it will take £300m hit on cap on energy bills and lowers 2019 cashflow outlook

The owner of British Gas, Centrica, lost about three-quarters of a million customers last year and warned it will take a £300m hit from the government’s price cap on energy bills.

Shares in Britain’s biggest energy company dropped more than 10% after the company lowered its cashflow outlook for 2019, leading investors to fear Centrica’s dividend could be cut.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change 'cause of most under-reported humanitarian crises'

Thu, 2019/02/21 - 3:00am

Report says few headlines sparked by food crises that ravaged Madagascar, Ethiopia and Haiti

Climate change was responsible for the majority of under-reported humanitarian disasters last year, according to analysis of more than a million online news stories.

Whole populations were affected by food crises in countries ravaged by by drought and hurricanes such as Ethiopia and Haiti, yet neither crisis generated more than 1,000 global news stories each.

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Categories: Environment

'Moment of reckoning': US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 11:00pm

Residents of cities like Chester, outside Philadelphia, fear a rise in pollution from incinerators after China’s recycling ban

The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yoghurt containers and other items into recycling bins.

Related: Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie

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Categories: Environment

Glencore pressured to withdraw from new coalmines to prove climate change commitment

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 10:35pm

Australia’s largest coal producer says decision to cap production doesn’t mean it intends to drop greenfield coal projects

Green groups say Australia’s biggest coal producer Glencore should commit to withdrawing from new coalmining projects if it is serious about aligning its business with the goals of the Paris agreement.

The company has moved to cap its output of thermal and coking coal at current production levels of 145m tonnes a year after pressure from investors who want companies to take stronger action and factor in the financial risks of climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Gen X has survived its gloomy formative years. Now we will have to deal with climate change | Jason Wilson

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 5:08pm

The baby boomers gave us Trump and Brexit. Can my generation age more gracefully?

Generational politics is bullshit, but a Gen X guy would say that. I sometimes wonder, though, whether whatever is distinctive in my generation’s experience (and haunting our minds) might have something to offer the future.

After a brief flurry of interest in the 1990s, thinkpieces on my demographic quickly waned. There were never that many of us; the meat in the sandwich was and is meagre.

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Categories: Environment

Ban gas boilers in new homes by 2025, says Committee on Climate Change

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 5:01pm

Government advisers suggest homes are heated using low-carbon energy instead

Gas hobs or boilers should be banned from being installed in new homes within the next six years, government advisers have recommended.

A report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says that from 2025 at the latest, no new homes should be connected to the gas grid – with super-efficient houses and flats heated using low-carbon energy instead.

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Categories: Environment

Mexican activist shot dead before vote on power project he opposed

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 3:35pm

Environmental campaigners against electric plant and pipeline say Samir Flores Soberanes’s murder is a ‘political crime’

A Mexican environmental activist has been murdered before a referendum on a controversial thermal-electric plant and pipeline that he opposed.

Samir Flores Soberanes, an indigenous Náhuatl, was killed in his home during the early hours of Wednesday in the town of Amilcingo in Morelos state, 80 miles south of Mexico City. He was a human rights activist, producer for a community radio station and long-time opponent of the Proyecto Integral Morelos (the integral project for Morelos) – which includes the plant and pipeline.

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Categories: Environment

'Yanked from the ground': cactus theft is ravaging the American desert

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 1:46pm

Hipster tastes have fueled a spike in succulent poaching. Now conservationists are finding creative ways to rescue them

When most people drive through the Cactus Forest in Saguaro national park, their gazes are fixed skyward. Towering saguaros fill the view on either side of the road, rising 40, even 60ft high, their human-like arms outstretched.

But on a recent December afternoon, Ray O’Neil was focused on the ground. He was looking for holes. As the park’s chief ranger, O’Neil is on constant alert for an unusual menace: cactus poachers. Saguaros aren’t just beautiful to look at; they also fetch a hefty price, up to $100 a foot, on the black market, where they are enormously popular with landscapers.

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Categories: Environment

Island of garbage: the all-female voyage to battle Earth's plastic crisis

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 1:44pm

Plastic is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere – potentially posing serious risks to our health. A crew of scientists and activists is conducting a hands-on investigation

When I arrive at the marina in Victoria on a late-July morning, the sky and water are complementary shades of azure. On the deck of the 72ft shiny-bright Sea Dragon, moored here in the island capital of British Columbia for just one day, are four young women, part of the crew of the research voyage “eXXpedition”. They’re hauling buckets of black sludge up to the deck from the ocean floor.

The team will meticulously pack the wet sand from the harbor floor into little glass jars. These jars will be added to a library of sand, water and air samples that they’ve collected over the past six weeks from across the north Pacific. They’ll ship some of those samples off to Plymouth, England, to be analyzed by eXXpedition’s marine scientist Imogen Napper. The idea is that by cataloging this library, she and the team will begin to get a better sense of what kind of plastic is out there in the ocean.

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Categories: Environment

White House climate change panel to include man who touted emissions

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 12:31pm

William Happer, a physicist who has suggested higher levels of carbon dioxide are beneficial, would be on committee

The White House is planning to assess how climate change impacts national security and will involve a prominent doubter of the scientific consensus that manmade warming is putting the US at risk.

Related: US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

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Categories: Environment

Why the zebra got its stripes: to deter flies from landing on it

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 12:00pm

Pattern seems to confuse flies, researchers who dressed horses up as zebras find

The mystery of how the zebra got its stripes might have been solved: researchers say the pattern appears to confuse flies, discouraging them from touching down for a quick bite.

The study, published in the journal Plos One, involved horses, zebras, and horses dressed as zebras. The team said the research not only supported previous work suggesting stripes might act as an insect deterrent, but helped unpick why, revealing the patterns only produced an effect when the flies got close.

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Categories: Environment

How Republicans have seen red over Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 10:49am

Republicans have claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional resolutions will mean the end of ice cream, hamburgers and the US military. Where are they getting it from?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the American political right’s objet socialiste du jour, recently introduced a Green New Deal – a joint Congressional resolution with Democratic senator Ed Markey calling for a “10-year national mobilization” overhauling nearly every aspect of American society to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those who have read through it will find a hopeful and ambitious but dry legislative document.

However, Ocasio-Cortez says that all Democratic presidential candidates support the Green New Deal, which has sent conservatives into a nonsensical tailspin, claiming it would mean the end of ice cream, hamburgers and the US military.

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Categories: Environment

Extinction Rebellion co-founder 'shut out' at London fashion show

Wed, 2019/02/20 - 8:39am

Clare Farrell ‘barred’ from Bethany Williams show despite role in producing fashion line

Clare Farrell, co-founder of the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion, claimed she was barred from entering a show at London fashion week two days after helping to organise a protest against the British Fashion Council to highlight the industry’s role in fuelling climate change.

About 150 people from Extinction Rebellion formed human roadblocks and brought traffic to a standstill outside event venues on Sunday to cause disruption and urge the industry body to declare a climate emergency.

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Categories: Environment