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Why a gas generator, South Australia? There are better options to lower power prices | Tristan Edis

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:55pm

Jay Weatherill was backed into a corner to produce an energy plan. But it is a grab bag of overlapping ideas that don’t really make sense

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is a politician panicked by a cynical and misleading campaign by his SA Liberal party opponents and the federal government to blame the state’s high power prices and recent blackouts on his 50% renewable energy target.

He has rushed out a so-called energy plan which is more like a grab bag of overlapping ideas that will do little to lower power prices. Meanwhile, they run the risk of saddling SA energy consumers or taxpayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs to support gas-fuelled generators that don’t materially improve energy security when there’s a lack of gas to fuel them.

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Categories: Environment

Groundwater supplies low after dry winter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:30pm

Underground aquifers are usually replenished from October through to March, but hydrographs reveal progress was slow until January

In the UK, about one third of the water that comes out of our taps is sourced from groundwater. The south of the country is particularly dependent on this underground store of water, with Cambridge Water and Cholderton Water relying entirely on the water found in the chalk and sandstone rock formations of the south-east.

After a dry winter, groundwater levels are lower than normal for the time of year, and scientists from the British Geological Survey are keeping a close eye on the situation.

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Categories: Environment

Timor-Leste could be 'architect of its own demise', gas treaty inquiry told

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 2:07pm

The ripping up of gas treaty in pursuit of a greater share of revenue from Sunrise gas field could create a failed state if no new agreement is forged, expert says

Timor-Leste’s decision to rip up a treaty with Australia on the carve-up of future revenue from Greater Sunrise oil and gas reserve in the Timor Sea could make it an “architect of its own demise”, experts have told a parliamentary inquiry.

In January Timor-Leste announced it wished to terminate the treaty which split future revenue 50-50 with Australia and put a 50-year moratorium on a permanent maritime boundary.

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Categories: Environment

World's spiders devour 400-800m metric tons of insects yearly – experts

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 1:25pm

‘We hope that these estimates and their significant magnitude raise public awareness and increase the level of appreciation for spiders,’ study authors say

The world’s spiders eat 400-800m tonnes of insects every year – as much meat and fish as humans consume over the same period, a study said Tuesday.

In the first analysis of its kind, researchers used data from 65 previous studies to estimate that a total of 25m metric tonnes of spiders exist on Earth.

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Categories: Environment

Flying high: why peregrine falcons are kings of the urban jungle

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 10:04am

Last century, the cliff-dwelling bird of prey almost became extinct in Britain. Now it has reinvented itself as a city creature. What is behind this spectacular recovery?

By the four chimneys of Battersea power station, between tower cranes and builders’ cabins, is an unobtrusive metal mast. At the top, a watchful figure looks down upon the 3,000 workers bustling around this vast £9bn construction site.

“Female,” says David Morrison, with a deft glance through his binoculars. “She’s protecting her nest site. There was an intruding female about half an hour ago.”

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Categories: Environment

Natural Environmental Swings Cause Up To Half Of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 7:43am

Researchers say 30 percent to 50 percent of the ice loss is due to natural variation in temperature and humidity, while human-caused warming is responsible for the rest.

(Image credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

Categories: Environment

Trump and climate chaos: a letter to my daughter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:11am

Jeremy Hance writes a letter to his young daughter as a part of the Letters to the Revolution initiative

First published on January 2nd, 2017 at Letters to the Revolution.

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Categories: Environment

Risky business: do companies pay a price for expressing political views?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 5:00am

Staying politically neutral on Trump administration policies is proving difficult for businesses in the face of mounting public pressure

American companies have a long history of weighing in on political and social issues. But the election of Donald Trump has fueled public pressure on businesses to go much further to take a stand on specific policies – and made it difficult for those that wish to remain neutral.

Trump’s recent decision to revoke a legal guidance that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice drew a round of protests from companies such as Yahoo and Apple. Before that, his actions on immigration, environment and women’s reproductive health – along with his propensity for tweet-attacking companies he doesn’t fancy – had already fanned intense public outrage that in turn has forced many businesses to publicly take sides.

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Categories: Environment

'Spinning sail' rebooted to cut fuel and make ocean tankers greener

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/14 - 4:57am

Invented a century ago, rotating columns fixed to ship’s deck interact with wind to provide forward thrust and could make 10% fuel saving

An ocean-going tanker is to be fitted with a type of “spinning sail” invented almost a century ago in a step that could lead to more environmentally friendly tankers worldwide.

The unusual sails are rotating columns fixed to the deck of the ship, whose interaction with the wind provides forward thrust. The trial is backed by Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping companies and Shell’s shipping arm.

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Categories: Environment

Tasmanian bill to extend wilderness logging sparks federal intervention call

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:41pm

The bill ‘spells doom’ for species including Tasmanian devil, wedge-tailed eagle and swift parrot, says Bob Brown

A proposal to allow logging access to more parts of Tasmania’s wilderness has sparked calls for federal government intervention.

Related: Speaking for the trees: hope, despair, and regrowth in Tasmania's charred wilderness |

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Categories: Environment

South Australia's $550m energy plan – video explainer

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:20pm

The South Australian government has announced it will intervene in the national energy market in a $550m plan that seeks to tame the state’s turbulent power supply and prices. The premier, Jay Weatherill, says his government will build a gas-fired power station and Australia’s largest battery storage unit

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Categories: Environment

Jay Weatherill's big energy call is a survivalist fix of last resort | Katharine Murphy

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:15pm

South Australia’s premier has committed to a high-stakes rebuild of the state’s energy market – but what choice did he have?

If you happen to be looking on at events in South Australia on Tuesday with confusion, let’s keep it simple.

Think of South Australia as an energy survivalist, battening down the hatches and hoarding the canned goods, and perhaps it will start to make more sense.

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Categories: Environment

World's first fluorescent frog discovered in South America

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:02pm

In normal light the polka-dot tree frog has a dull complexion – but under UV light it glows bright green

The world’s first fluorescent frog has been discovered near Santa Fe in Argentina.

Scientists at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires made the discovery by accident while studying the pigment of polka-dot tree frogs, a species common across the continent.

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Categories: Environment

A sudden threat scatters the downland birds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 10:30pm

Wepham Down, West Sussex The hen harrier raises its wings as air brakes, using the wind to lift, stall and loop backwards

A skylark rises up in loud, breathless song, claiming its breeding territory. The bird hovers with vibrating wings, unmoved by the strong gusts of wind. It climbs into the air in steps, each new phrase propelling it further up into the sky, until I can no longer see it. Another skylark answers in the distance.

Fieldfares hop across the grass – they’ll be moving on, returning to northern Scandinavia to breed, within days. Black and white lapwing patrol a bare patch of soil. They feed in quick down-up motions, as if bowing to each other. This large flock will also soon disperse, many returning to the continent, but some will stay here to nest.

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Categories: Environment

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls loses seat to Labor after attack from mining lobby

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 9:24pm

Grylls thanks supporters on Facebook after Colin Barnett’s government loses Western Australian election

Brendon Grylls, the leader of the Western Australian National party, who spearheaded a campaign to increase charges paid by Australia’s two biggest mining companies, has lost his seat to Labor.

Grylls is yet to make a formal statement but told Australian Associated Press on Tuesday that he had conceded the seat, saying: “I can’t come back from this.”

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Categories: Environment

South Australia to build battery storage and gas-fired power plant in $550m energy plan

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 5:56pm

Premier Jay Weatherill announces drastic measures for the state to take control of its energy sources, saying Australia’s energy market is ‘failing the nation’

• South Australia’s energy plan – as it happened

The South Australian government has announced it will intervene in the national energy market in a $550m plan that seeks to tame the state’s turbulent power supply and prices.

Launching the plan, the premier, Jay Weatherill, said it was “clear the national energy market is failing the nation, as well as South Australia. And this is pretty extraordinary given we are a country that has an abundance of solar, wind and gas resources. For a country of that sort to be facing an energy crisis is a disgrace.”

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Categories: Environment

Music to our ears: sustainability headlines Womadelaide festival

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 3:47pm

From encouraging bike riding and compostable plates to better recycling, organisers have diverted 98% of waste from landfill – and they want to do more

For all the good vibes and communal spirit, when it comes to environmental sustainability there isn’t a great deal to celebrate about the average music festival.

As anyone who has gazed upon the aftermath of one can attest, these orgies of consumption typically leave in their wake a trail of plastic cups and dumped tents strewn about a wasteland of churned earth.

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Categories: Environment

NT gas pipeline approval puts fracking moratorium in question

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 12:00pm

Pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa could bring gas from the territory into the eastern states market amid power crisis

An $800m gas pipeline from the Northern Territory to Queensland is one step closer after the federal government granted environmental approval for construction.

The approval, which carries conditions to protect the native death adder snake, had not been expected by the NT government for several weeks, and follows Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that his government will consider “all measures” to ensure energy security.

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Categories: Environment

Why do we love Love Actually? | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 11:34am

Sharp intake of breath on reading Chitra Ramaswamy’s statement that Pembrokeshire is the only coastal national park (Last Night’s TV, G2, 8 March). True, it is the only fully coastal one, but here in North Yorkshire we have the best national treasure of all in a park with heather moors, beautiful villages nestling in valleys, heritage and craftspeople aplenty as well as a delightful varied coastline.
Felicity Brown
Nether Poppleton, North Yorkshire

• Why is Richard Curtis’s film so popular (Love Act-two-ally, G2, 13 March)? It features a prime minister who stands up to an American president. Could only happen in fiction.
John Loader
Leyburn, North Yorkshire

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Categories: Environment

Death toll from rubbish dump landslide in Ethiopia rises to 65

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/03/13 - 10:57am

Rescue workers search 74-acre site for survivors, with residents blaming construction of biogas plant for disaster

At least 65 people were killed in a giant landslide at Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump this weekend, officials said on Monday, with entire families including children buried alive in the tragedy.

“The rescue operation is still ongoing. Security personnel and rescuers are trying their level best to locate any possible survivors, while searching for the dead,” said communication minister Negeri Lencho.

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Categories: Environment
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