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Oliver Schmidt jailed for seven years for Volkswagen emissions scam

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 3:08pm
  • Judge in Detroit imposes $400,000 fine on former VW executive
  • German was arrested trying to return home from holiday in Florida

A senior Volkswagen executive was sentenced to seven years in prison by a US court on Wednesday after being found guilty of concealing software used to evade pollution limits on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Oliver Schmidt, a German national who was the general manager in charge of VW’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan, had pleaded guilty to his part in the cover-up and argued he was “misused” by VW in its attempts to circumvent US emissions tests.

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Categories: Environment

Dozens Of Mayors Sign Pact To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 3:04pm

Mayors from across the country also agreed to meet goals similar to those in the Paris climate accord, which President Trump announced earlier this year the U.S. would withdraw from.

(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The Latest On The Wildfires In California

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 2:33pm

Multiple wildfires are burning in Southern California. In Los Angeles, the hills around The Getty Center museum are on fire. A massive fire in Ventura County has caused tens of thousands of people to evacuate as well. Accounts of the damage done and the effort to control the fires.

Categories: Environment

New Mayor Of Ventura, Calif., Faces Wildfires The Day After Taking Office

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 2:33pm

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Mayor Neal Andrews about the wildfire that has consumed more than 50,000 acres and thousands of homes. Andrews took office the evening the fire started.

Categories: Environment

Switch to electric transport will not lead to surge in power demand | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 11:53am
Andrew Warren of the British Energy Efficiency Federation says that Rolls-Royce’s calls for public subsidies are unwarranted

You report that the defence firm Rolls-Royce has been lobbying for government funds to assist it to diversify into building nuclear reactors (Millions on offer to develop small nuclear plants, 4 December). It is arguing that the switch to electric transport will “drive up future demand”.

The National Grid concludes that, provided that vehicle recharging is concentrated into non-peak demand hours, even large-scale electrification of surface transport requires an increase in electricity system capacity by around 15%.

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Categories: Environment

Iter nuclear fusion project reaches key halfway milestone

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 10:00am

After a series of set backs the international project is back on track, say scientists, giving tentative hope for a major new source of clean power by 2025

An international project to generate energy from nuclear fusion has reached a key milestone, with half of the infrastructure required now built.

Bernard Bigot, the director-general of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter), the main facility of which is based in southern France, said the completion of half of the project meant the effort was back on track, after a series of difficulties. This would mean that power could be produced from the experimental site from 2025.

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Categories: Environment

Is this the end of the road for Adani’s Australian megamine?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 10:00am

Australian and Chinese banks have turned it down, and analysts say Adani’s failure to secure funding for the Carmichael mine leaves it high and dry

Adani’s operations in Australia appear to be hanging on by a thread, as activists prove effective at undermining the company’s chances of getting the finance it needs.

China seems to have ruled out funding for the mine, which means it’s not just Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine that is under threat, but also its existing Abbot Point coal terminal, which sits near Bowen, behind the Great Barrier Reef.

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Categories: Environment

Korean energy firm rescues UK's Moorside nuclear power project

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 7:45am

State-owned Kepco confirmed as preferred bidder to build reactors in Cumbria

A state-owned South Korean energy firm is to take over construction of a troubled nuclear power station planned in north-west England, in a significant boost for the UK government’s nuclear ambitions.

Kepco has been declared the preferred bidder for the NuGeneration consortium, which looked doomed earlier this year after the Japanese owner Toshiba was hit by writedowns and the eventual bankruptcy of its US nuclear subsidiary.

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Categories: Environment

Environmental crusaders risk their lives to save Philippine paradise

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 5:36am

A small group of civilian para-enforcers is taking the protection of Palawan’s threatened rainforest from illegal loggers into their own hands

Tata gives hand signals for his men to drop to the rainforest floor as the searing whine of a chainsaw fades, their mission to save a critically endangered piece of paradise in the Philippines suddenly on hold.

Former paramilitary leader Efren “Tata” Balladares has been leading the other flip flop-wearing environmental crusaders up and down the steep mountains of Palawan island for the past 15 hours in the hunt for illegal loggers.

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Categories: Environment

Trump's cuts to national monuments are an assault on our humanity – fight them

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 5:07am

Reducing Utah’s national monuments is not simply about economics, archeology, ecology or grazing. The degradation of our public lands is a degradation of our humanity

Monday, 4 December, in a much anticipated announcement, US President Donald Trump called for the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument by 84%, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50%. This is just the latest in a series of assaults on cultural heritage under this administration.

In October President Trump announced that the US would pull out of Unesco. It was disheartening, to say the least. This was not an decision that went un-remarked. Many cultural groups and institutions have condemned the attacks, and both the Washington Post and the Guardian have discussed how this move is part of a larger pattern of protectionism and withdrawal from the international community – at a time when, arguably, we need international cooperation more than ever, with 21st century issues such as climate change crossing national borders.

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Categories: Environment

An orangutan stole my camera and took close-up selfies – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 4:42am

Wildlife photographer Ian Wood has been capturing great apes in the wild for decades, but when a young orangutan discovered his hidden camera on a recent Borneo trip he got some truly unexpected results

One of the challenges of wildlife photography is trying to come up with ways to take images that haven’t been shot before. Through my conservation work with orangutans I’ve had numerous opportunities to photograph these great apes over the last couple of decades, but on a recent annual fundraising trip to Tanjung Puting national park in Borneo I got some unexpected, close-up results.

I had decided to hide a GoPro camera near to where orangutans often appear, hoping to get some close-up wide-angle images of them in the forest. I figured that in the worse case, if an orangutan found my camera it would realise it wasn’t food and discard it.

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Categories: Environment

US government report finds steady and persistent global warming | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 4:00am

All of nature’s thermometers indicate a rapid rise in global temperatures.

The US Global Change Research Program recently released a Climate Science Special Report. It is clearly written – an authoritative summary of the science, and easy to understand.

The first main chapter deals with changes to the climate and focuses much attention on global temperatures. When most people think of climate change, they think of the global temperature – specifically the temperature of the air a few meters above the Earth surface. There are other (better) ways to measure climate change such as heat absorbed by the oceans, melting ice, sea level rise, or others. But the iconic measurement most people think of are these air temperatures, shown in the top frame of the figure below.

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Categories: Environment

BMW electric car ad banned over misleading 'clean car' claims

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/12/06 - 3:46am

Ruling by advertising watchdog could have knock on effect on other electric car advertising

The car company BMW has been censured by the UK’s advertising watchdog for claiming an electric car equipped with a small petrol engine was “clean” and “zero emissions”, in a ruling that could have a knock-on effect on other electric car advertising.

The advertising was published in the form of a Facebook post that used testimonials from real customers to extol the virtues of the BMW i3. That model is unusual among electric vehicles, as in addition to the electric drive, it also has a small petrol engine. However, unlike “hybrid” cars, which have a petrol-driven engine that can take over from the electric system when it runs out of charge, on longer journeys or at higher speeds, the i3’s petrol engine is only used to maintain the charge on the electric drive.

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Categories: Environment

Traffic fumes in city streets 'largely wipe out exercise benefits for over-60s'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 4:30pm

Groundbreaking study reinforces urgent need to reduce emissions, and advises over-60s to avoid polluted air by walking in parks and green spaces

The over-60s should stick to green spaces and parks when they go for a walk and avoid the city streets, according to a groundbreaking study that says air pollution from traffic fumes largely wipes out the health benefit from the exercise.

Walking is often recommended for older people, but the study from Imperial College London and Duke University in the USA suggests that the over-60s and those with lung and heart problems should steer clear of urban areas with heavy traffic. The negative effect may well be the same in younger people, say the authors, and it reinforces the urgency of reducing emissions in city streets.

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Categories: Environment

Air pollution harm to unborn babies may be global health catastrophe, warn doctors

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 4:30pm

New UK research links toxic air to low birth weight that can cause lifelong damage to health, raising fears that millions of babies worldwide are being harmed

Air pollution significantly increases the risk of low birth weight in babies, leading to lifelong damage to health, according to a large new study.

The research was conducted in London, UK, but its implications for many millions of women in cities around the world with far worse air pollution are “something approaching a public health catastrophe”, the doctors involved said.

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Categories: Environment

the butt doc

The Field Lab - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 4:02pm
Met my colonoscopist today...former New Yorker so we exchanged big city stories.  I told him I bet he didn't expect to see another a**hole from NY since he moved to Texas.  Procedure is scheduled for next Wednesday.  Stocked up on supplies and now hunkering down for 2 really crappy days with a slight chance of snow on Thursday.  47,58,46,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Tens Of Thousands Evacuated As Wildfire Grows In Southern California

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 2:42pm

A fast-moving wildfire in Southern California has burned more than 70 square miles north of Los Angeles. Santa Ana winds are fanning the flames and about 30,000 people have been evacuated.

Categories: Environment

Future of Adani coalmine hanging by a thread after Chinese banks back out

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 2:27pm

Bob Carr says decision could be the end for controversial Carmichael project, adding: ‘It couldn’t have been more emphatic’

Adani’s Carmichael coalmine project will not be funded by Chinese banks, the Chinese embassy has said, in a move some see as dooming the project, and potentially Adani’s operations in Australia.

Bob Carr, the former New South Wales premier and former foreign minister, told the Guardian he had been lobbying Chinese businesses and government for three weeks before receiving confirmation from the Chinese embassy in Australia that no Chinese bank would be financing the controversial project.

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Categories: Environment

Ryan Zinke recommends Trump shrink two more US national monuments

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 2:17pm
  • Interior secretary aims to reduce Cascade-Siskiyou and Gold Butte monuments
  • Zinke hits back at Patagonia after ad said ‘the president stole your land’

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke has announced recommendations to shrink two more national monuments in the western US – Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, and Gold Butte in Nevada.

Related: Trump slashes size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah

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Categories: Environment

Turnbull’s department head says Tony Abbott damaged public service

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/12/05 - 12:00pm

Martin Parkinson says Abbott sacked him for following legally mandated directions of Rudd and Gillard governments

The head of Malcolm Turnbull’s department says he has no “personal animus” towards Tony Abbott, but he says the former prime minister damaged the public service when he sacked him for following the legally mandated directions of the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Martin Parkinson was sacked by Abbott from the Treasury department after he came to power in 2013, alongside a handful of other departmental heads. He was brought back to the public service by Turnbull to be secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet.

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Categories: Environment
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