Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 19 hours 17 min ago

US meatpacking workers face new hazard: threat of deportation by Ice

Fri, 2018/06/29 - 3:00am

In industry where one-third of workers are immigrants, Ice’s largest raid at an Ohio plant strikes fear in local communities

Meatpacking has never been the safest, or the most pleasant, job. Now, under the Trump administration, workers are facing another hazard – the threat of deportation.

“We were working in the plant and the agents showed up with machine guns and started taking everyone outside,” 20-year-old “Carlos”, a meatpacker at the Fresh Mark meatpacking plant in Salem, Ohio, told the Guardian.

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Categories: Environment

Norway pledges £12m to global fight against forest crime

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 11:00pm

Money will be spent on expanding an Interpol taskforce dedicated to investigating the gangs driving illegal deforestation

The Norwegian government has announced a pledge of 145m kroner (£12m) to help fight forest crime such as illegal tree clearances.

The money will be shared by Interpol, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Rhipto Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, which collects data on illegal logging. The funds will allow Interpol to expand its dedicated taskforce from six to 15 detectives.

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Categories: Environment

Birdbrainy: New Caledonian crows make tools using mental images

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 5:38pm

Study finds birds have design templates in their minds and may pass them on to future generations

New Caledonian crows use mental pictures to twist twigs into hooks and make other tools, according to a provocative study that suggests the notoriously clever birds pass on successful designs to future generations, a hallmark of culture.

“We find evidence for a specific type of emulation we call mental template matching,” co-author Alex Taylor, director of the Language, Cognition and Culture Lab at the University of Auckland, told AFP.

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Categories: Environment

Ending 'aqua nullius': calls for laws to protect Indigenous water rights

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 5:00pm

Five-year report makes a case for how Aboriginal custodianship can revitalise ailing rivers

A “ground breaking” new plan to enshrine Aboriginal water rights in law and practice has been released, which gives governments a way to overturn “aqua nullius” and demands Aboriginal people have more say in how water is allocated and managed across Australia.

The national cultural flows research project is the “unfinished business of national water reform,” Nari Nari man and chair of the Murray lower Darling river Indigenous nations (MLDRIN) Rene Woods said.

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Categories: Environment

Heatwave forces UK farmers into desperate measures to save cattle

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 8:34am

Water shortages cause alarm over crop yields and keeping livestock alive

While millions of Britons are enjoying the heatwave, the dry weather is causing problems for farmers who are concerned about their crops and livestock, forcing some into desperate measures to keep their cattle alive.

Guy Smith, the deputy president of the National Farmers Union, said it was too early to predict a disastrous harvest, but every day of heat and lack of rain was likely to make it smaller.

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Categories: Environment

Biodiversity is the 'infrastructure that supports all life'

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 8:17am

Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN assistant secretary general and executive secretary of the convention on biological diversity, discusses Half Earth, a future biodiversity agreement and where to find the money to save life on Earth

Dr. Cristiana Pașca Palmer has a big job ahead of her: planning the 2020 UN Biodiversity Convention in Beijing. As the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Pașca Palmer is in charge of forming new goals with governments for the natural world post-2020. At the same time, a growing group of scientists are calling for a serious consideration of the Half Earth idea – where half the planet would be placed under various types of protection in a bid to prevent mass extinction.

Do you support the Half Earth model? What tweaks would you make to it?

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Categories: Environment

Scientists call for a Paris-style agreement to save life on Earth

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 8:17am

Conservation scientists believe our current mass extinction crisis requires a far more ambitious agreement, in the style of the Paris Climate Accord. And they argue that the bill shouldn’t be handed just to nation states, but corporations too.

Let’s be honest, the global community’s response to the rising evidence of mass extinction and ecological degradation has been largely to throw crumbs at it. Where we have acted it’s been in a mostly haphazard and modest way — a protected area here, a conservation program there, a few new laws, and a pinch of funding. The problem is such actions — while laudable and important — in no way match the scope and size of the problem where all markers indicate that life on Earth continues to slide into the dustbin.

But a few scientists are beginning to call for more ambition — much more — and they want to see it enshrined in a new global agreement similar to the Paris Climate Accord. They also say that the bill shouldn’t just fall on nations, but the private sector too.

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Categories: Environment

Deepwater Horizon disaster altered building blocks of ocean life

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 7:03am

Oil spill disaster reduced biodiversity in sites closest to spill, report finds, as White House rolls back conservation measures

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster may have had a lasting impact upon even the smallest organisms in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have found – amid warnings that the oceans around America are also under fresh assault as a result of environmental policies under Donald Trump.

Lingering oil residues have altered the basic building blocks of life in the ocean by reducing biodiversity in sites closest to the spill, which occurred when a BP drilling rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and spewing about 4m barrels of oil into the Gulf.

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Categories: Environment

BP buys UK's biggest electric car charger network for £130m

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 4:34am

Acquisition of Chargemaster, with 6,500 charging points, praised as milestone towards cleaner motoring

BP has bought the UK’s biggest electric car charging network, in the latest sign of major oil producers addressing the threat that low-carbon vehicles pose to their core business.

The acquisition of Chargemaster, which has more than 6,500 charging points across the country, will begin to result in the deployment of fast chargers at BP’s 1,200 forecourts over the next year.

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Categories: Environment

Meet America's new climate normal: towns that flood when it isn't raining

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 3:00am

In this extract from Rising, Elizabeth Rush explains ‘sunny day flooding’ – when a high tide can cause streets to fill with water

I spend the afternoon in Shorecrest, a neighborhood a couple of miles north of downtown Miami. To get there I leave the beach behind and drive past Arky’s Live Bait & Tackle, Deal and Discounts II, Rafiul Food Store, Royal Budget Inn, Family Dollar and Goodwill. As I continue north, the buildings all lose their mirrored glass and their extra floors, until most are single story and made from stucco.

Related: Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study

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Categories: Environment

Housing and car industries should be ‘ashamed’ of climate record

Thu, 2018/06/28 - 1:08am

Failure to build energy-efficient homes and clean cars risks UK missing its carbon targets, says government’s climate adviser

The homebuilding and carmaking industries “should be ashamed” of their efforts to tackle global warming, according to the UK government’s official climate change adviser.

Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said housebuilders were “cheating” buyers with energy-inefficient homes and that motor companies were holding back the rollout of clean cars.

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Categories: Environment

With incentives, industry could tackle Australia's waste crisis | Veena Sahajwalla

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 1:00pm

If waste is burned for energy, recyclable material is lost forever. There are better solutions

The vast recycling problem facing communities right around Australia has been a ticking time bomb.

With China’s restriction of imports of foreign waste now in place and responsible for increased stockpiling around the nation, prices for waste streams such as glass are at a low point. It is now cheaper to import than recycle glass.

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Categories: Environment

Thames Water drains chief's bonus over missed leak targets

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 11:29am

Steve Robertson’s bonus stopped for two years after firm hit with £55m Ofwat fine

Thames Water will not pay its chief executive a bonus for the next two years and after that will link it to leak and pollution targets being met.

Britain’s biggest water company was recently fined £55m by the watchdog Ofwat and ordered to pay £65m to customers for failing to adequately tackle leaks in 2017. It has warned it will miss its leak targets again this year.

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Categories: Environment

Adani coal port under threat of stop order amid concern for sacred sites

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 11:00am

Juru traditional owners say Adani has ignored demands to inspect “unauthorised” cultural assessments

Indigenous traditional owners from north Queensland have threatened to try to pursue an order that could shut down Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal, amid concern that sacred sites in the area have not been properly protected.

Guardian Australia can reveal Adani has ignored repeated demands by Juru traditional owners to inspect “unauthorised” cultural assessments conducted by former directors of the embattled Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation.

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Categories: Environment

Anti-pipeline activists are fighting to stop Line 3. Will they succeed? | Bill McKibben

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 10:59am

The oil industry is building yet another pipeline - but Native American groups and progressive activists are fighting back

American democracy appears to have had at least a little success this week: steadily mounting pressure - including everything from marches to tweets to phone calls to Congress - seems to have convinced President Trump that his approval ratings were in danger unless he back-pedaled on his administration’s abusive immigration policies on the US-Mexican border. So now we have an executive order allowing children to be stored in cages alongside their parents — an admittedly mixed victory, but at least Trump was forced to retreat. And now we have a motivated army of progressive Americans ready to keep on fighting.

We’ll need them, because another fierce political battle is about to boil over - this time on the US’s northern border, with Canada. Local citizens there are mobilizing against another controversial project to pump oil from the Canadian “tar sands” to the US. Like the infamous Keystone pipeline through Nebraska or the Kinder Morgan pipeline through British Columbia, this pipeline - known by the innocuous name “Line 3” - has roused grassroots resistance from local citizens concerned about the project’s environmental and cultural impact.

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Categories: Environment

UK home solar power faces cloudy outlook as subsidies are axed

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 9:09am

Lower costs and battery technology offer hope – but industry says it needs support

“I’m 87% self-powered today. Yesterday I was 100%,” Howard Richmond said, using an app telling him how much of his London home’s electricity consumption is from his solar panels and Tesla battery.

The retired solicitor lives in one of the 840,000-plus homes in the UK with solar panels and is part of an even more exclusive club of up to 10,000 with battery storage.

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Categories: Environment

Government got its sums wrong on Swansea Bay tidal lagoon | Letters

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 9:07am
The rejected Welsh tidal power scheme is a missed opportunity on many fronts, says the chair of the planning inspectors who studied the proposal

The rejection by ministers of the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon (Report, 26 June) must be the final nail in the coffin of what was once claimed would be “the greenest government ever”.

When I and my fellow planning inspectors spent the best part of a year examining and reporting on both the principle and the detail of the project in Swansea, it was clear that this pathfinder project had important environmental, cultural and regeneration benefits.

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Categories: Environment

'The war goes on’: one tribe caught up in Colombia’s armed conflict

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:33am

Part 1 of a report on the indigenous Siona people in the Putumayo region in the Amazon

Placido Yaiguaje Payaguaje, an indigenous Siona man, was standing right where his 80-something mother was blown apart by a land-mine. There was a crater about the size of a beach ball. Surrounding foliage had been shredded, and on some of the leaves and fronds you could still see the dynamite.

This was a 20 metre, steepish climb down to the banks of the River Piñuña Blanco, deep in the Colombian Amazon. Placido’s mother had come here to fish in a lagoon nearby. It was a popular spot for singo, sábalo and garopa.

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Categories: Environment

Would you eat whale or dolphin meat after visiting a marine sanctuary?

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:30am

After visiting a whale sanctuary in Iceland there is also the chance to eat whale at a nearby restaurant. It seems like a bizarre idea, but what are the ethical and culinary implications?

Should you eat whale meat? Reports on Iceland’s new retirement home for beluga whales note that, after viewing the animals – rescued from a Shanghai marine park – tourists can then visit a harbourside restaurant where they can dine on whale meat. Last week, Iceland resumed whaling after a three-year hiatus, killing a 20-metre fin whale on the country’s west coast.

The Iceland sanctuary has been set up with the assistance of the highly reputable Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation. Danny Groves of WDC notes that only 3% of Iceland’s local population now eat whale. He points out that the country’s whale-watching industry far outweighs whaling economically. “The sanctuary ... should be championed as an alternative to the cruel practises of whale and dolphin hunting and the keeping of these animals in captivity,” he says.

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Categories: Environment

China lifts ban on British beef

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:21am

£250m deal allows official market access negotiations to begin, 20 years after beef was banned following the BSE outbreak

British beef will be back on the menu in China for the first time in more than 20 years, after it officially lifted the longstanding ban on exports from the UK.

More than two decades since the Chinese government first banned British beef after the BSE outbreak, the milestone is the culmination of several years of site inspections in the UK and negotiations between government officials.

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Categories: Environment