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Q&A: panellists spar over coal as energy debate dominates

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 2:38pm

Doctor says respiratory and cardiovascular implications of coal should be top of Australia’s energy debate and warns Adani mine threatens health of millions

The health implications of coal-fired power should be a main concern in Australia’s debate over energy generation, doctors have argued.

Speaking on the ABC’s Q&A program, the chair of Doctors for the Environment New South Wales, Dr John Van Der Kallen, asked panellists why health was not a primary consideration in the discussion over the closure of coal-fired power stations such as the Liddell plant in the Hunter Valley “when we know that the pollution from these coal-fired power stations contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular illness, as well as premature death?”

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Categories: Environment

10 national monuments at risk under Trump's administration

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 1:22pm

The US interior secretary has identified a total of 10 national monuments to reshape or repurpose in order to allow for logging, mining and grazing

A total of 10 US national monuments are in the Trump administration’s sights to be either resized or repurposed, in order to allow activities such as mining, logging and grazing within their borders. Environmental groups have vowed legal action to stymie any alterations to the protected areas. Here are the 10 national monuments identified for change by Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior.

Related: The Trump administration's national monuments 'review' is a sham | Brian Calvert

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Categories: Environment

More national monuments should be opened for exploitation, Zinke says

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 11:37am

In leaked memo, Trump interior secretary recommends 10 protected areas be modified to allow for ‘traditional uses’ such as mining, logging and hunting

The Trump administration faces a fresh legal battle from environmental groups after the interior department recommended that 10 national monuments be resized or opened up to mining, logging and other industrial purposes.

Related: The Trump administration's national monuments 'review' is a sham | Brian Calvert

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Categories: Environment

Australia's record-breaking winter beats average highs by 2C, Climate Council says

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 11:00am

‘Less of an opportunity to clear the mind,’ is the verdict from Bidyadanga, where winter highs of 33C were replaced by 36C as records tumbled across the country

It’s always hot in Bidyadanga but a few degrees can make a big difference in the remote Aboriginal community, about 190km south of Broome in Western Australia.

“It’s always hot – it’s the desert – but the difference between 33C and 36C can be quite oppressive,” said Shaun Burgess, a teacher in the community.

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Categories: Environment

Nuclear must be part of the low-carbon mix | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 10:48am
Agneta Rising of the World Nuclear Association and Dr Alexander Bannara reply to criticisms of the industry

Re David Lowry’s criticisms of nuclear energy (Letters, 17 September), it is true that nuclear plants stop generating temporarily for maintenance and repair, but the same is true for most other forms of electricity generation. However, on average these outages represent a much smaller quantity of lost generation compared to the day-to-day intermittency of wind or solar. Nuclear plants spend a high proportion of the time generating at their maximum capacity.

On emissions, some proponents of both nuclear and renewables do fall into the habit of referring to their technologies as “zero-carbon”, even though there are some greenhouse gas emissions produced with all forms of generation. But there is remarkable academic agreement that the emissions from nuclear, wind, solar and many other non-fossil generation sources are similarly low per unit of electricity generated and these emissions are tiny fractions of those associated with burning coal and gas. We desperately need to cut emissions in our electricity mix to as low as possible.

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Categories: Environment

MP welcomes 'swift' BBC rebuke of presenter over climate sceptic tweet

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 10:28am

Adam Rutherford may have compromised BBC’s impartiality by criticising Labour MP Graham Stringer, a climate change sceptic, standards team says

The BBC has reprimanded the presenter of Radio 4’s Inside Science after he called on his Twitter followers to write to their local MPs about the reappointment of Graham Stringer, a climate change sceptic, to a parliamentary committee.

Adam Rutherford “potentially compromised the BBC’s impartiality” by publicly criticising the Labour MP’s return as a member of the Commons science and technology committee, the broadcaster’s editorial standards team said.

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Categories: Environment

Ministers launch group to help boost green business investment

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 10:28am

Green Finance Taskforce to assist UK’s shift to low-carbon economy and be led by investors and leading figures from City

A new group led by investors and leading figures from the City of London has been brought together by the government to draw up measures to encourage “green finance” in the UK.

The Green Finance Taskforce will have six months to come up with proposals on how to increase investment in the low-carbon economy and will work with banks and other financial institutions. Chaired by Sir Roger Gifford, former lord mayor of London, the taskforce will look at measures to make the UK’s planned investments in infrastructure, for instance on energy and transport, more environmentally sustainable.

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Categories: Environment

Indian PM inaugurates Sardar Sarovar dam in face of activist anger

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 8:41am

Narendra Modi hits out at ‘misinformation campaign’ as environmentalists warn that 40,000 families’ homes are at risk

A mega-dam that became one of India’s greatest environmental controversies during the three decades it was under construction has been formally declared complete by the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Activists have warned that 40,000 families across hundreds of villages will lose their homes as a result of the construction of the final stage of the dam and are yet to be adequately compensated.

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Categories: Environment

Trump adviser tells UN the US is not looking to stay in Paris climate deal

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 8:39am

Gary Cohn confirmed the US intends to withdraw from the agreement without a renegotiation, but declined to provide details

President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said at the United Nations on Monday the US has not changed its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate pact without a renegotiation favorable to Washington, a step for which there is little appetite in the international community.

Related: Top Trump officials signal US could stay in Paris climate agreement

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Categories: Environment

Ambitious 1.5C Paris climate target is still possible, new analysis shows

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 8:00am

Goal to limit warming to 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change was seen as unreachable, but updated research suggests it could be met if strong action is taken

The highly ambitious aim of limiting global warming to less than 1.5C remains in reach, a new scientific analysis shows.

The 1.5C target was set as an aspiration by the global Paris climate change deal in 2015 to limit the damage wreaked by extreme weather and sea level rise.

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Categories: Environment

Octlantis: the underwater city built by octopuses

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 6:53am

The discovery of aquatic architecture has led scientists to compare the behaviour of cephalopods to humans – but octopus city life is no utopia

If animals are our other, there is nothing quite so other as the octopus. It is the alien with whom we share our planet, a coeval evolutionary life form whose slithery slipperiness and more than the requisite number of limbs (each of which contains its own “brain”) symbolise the dark mystery and fear of the deep.

Now comes news that octopuses have been building their own cities down there. In a story straight out of James Cameron’s The Abyss, scientists have discovered that the wonderfully named “gloomy octopus”, octopus tetricus, are not the loners we once thought them to be.

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Categories: Environment

Women of childbearing age around world suffering toxic levels of mercury

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 3:53am

Study finds excessive levels of the metal, which can seriously harm unborn children, in women from Alaska to Indonesia, due to gold mining, industrial pollution and fish-rich diets

Women of childbearing age from around the world have been found to have high levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin which can seriously harm unborn children.

The new study, the largest to date, covered 25 of the countries with the highest risk and found excessive levels of the toxic metal in women from Alaska to Chile and Indonesia to Kenya. Women in the Pacific islands were the most pervasively contaminated. This results from their reliance on eating fish, which concentrate the mercury pollution found across the world’s oceans and much of which originates from coal burning.

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Categories: Environment

We need to make democracy work in the fight to save the planet | AC Grayling

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 3:16am

For centuries, humans have championed the democratic political system. But can it facilitate the radical change needed to stop the potentially annihilating effects of climate change?

Although individual action to protect the environment – consuming less, recycling more, reducing one’s carbon footprint – might be a contribution if enough people did it, the battle to minimise human-induced climate change has to be a worldwide endeavour among cooperating states. The outcome of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference was one of the most optimistic and encouraging steps hitherto achieved in that battle – that is, until Donald Trump said he intended to withdraw the US, the biggest climate polluter in history, from the agreement. The Paris agreement and President Trump’s decision illustrate the two ends of the spectrum of effort and concern. Our planet cannot be protected from a warming atmosphere – with melting ice caps, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, famines and migrations of desperate populations – without vigorous joint effort by the world’s states.

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Categories: Environment

Scientific models saved lives from Harvey and Irma. They can from climate change too | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 3:00am

Climate models have an even better track record than the weather models that saved lives in Texas and Florida

The impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma were blunted because we saw them coming. Weather models accurately predicted the hurricane paths and anticipated their extreme intensities days in advance. This allowed millions of Floridians to evacuate the state, sparing countless lives.

Some contrarians have tried to downplay the rising costs of landfalling hurricanes by claiming they’re only more expensive because there are now more people living along the coasts with more expensive stuff vulnerable to hurricane damages. However, those arguments fail to account for our ability to predict hurricane tracks earlier and more accurately by using better and better scientific models. We’re able to prepare for hurricanes much better today than in the past because we have more warning.

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Categories: Environment

Alan Finkel urges Turnbull to adopt clean energy target before states act

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/09/18 - 12:20am

Chief scientist says conflicting targets at different levels of government could strangle investment and worsen power supply problems

Alan Finkel has urged the Australian government to swiftly commit to the final recommendation of his energy review, warning the longer that commitment takes, the more likely states and territories are to set up conflicting emissions reduction schemes.

Speaking at the Melbourne economic forum at Victoria university on Monday, Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, said that a failure to establish a clean energy target would create more uncertainty for investors, who would have to navigate various state policies.

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Categories: Environment

Most Britons 'dislike prospect of living near mini nuclear station'

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/09/17 - 11:50pm

Survey finds 62% would not be happy living near the small modular reactors backed by government and industry

Most Britons would not be happy living near the mini nuclear power stations that Rolls-Royce and several other international companies want to build in the UK, a survey has found.

The government has promised the developers of small modular reactors a slice of a £250m funding pot in a race to position the UK as the place where the first generation of the power stations should be built.

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Categories: Environment

Scotland’s Sphinx snow patch is in its throes – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/09/17 - 11:15pm

The Sphinx is the closest Britain comes to having a glacier. It has disappeared just six times in the last 300 years, but this year it is almost gone. Murdo MacLeod joins snow expert Iain Cameron to study the state of Scotland’s permanent snow

“It’s a very sorry sight,” says Iain Cameron. It is late August and we are standing in front of Scotland’s very own Sphinx. It never had claws, paws, nor a mysterious countenance, but if it once had they would have melted away, just as the rest is about to do. “Grim,” says Cameron with gravel in his tone. “It’s pretty much in its death throes.”

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Categories: Environment

CSIRO breeds spotted handfish to save species from extinction

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/09/17 - 7:19pm

Fish, which is endemic to Tasmania, was the first Australian marine animal to be listed as critically endangered

Scientists have begun a captive breeding program for the spotted handfish, 11 years after it became the first Australian marine animal to be listed as critically endangered.

Endemic to Tasmania, the spotted handfish or Brachionichthys hirsutus looks like a tadpole in the late stages of development, with a fin atop its head to lure unsuspecting prey and the sour expression of a British bulldog.

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Categories: Environment

Doctor Who Discovered Children Had Elevated Lead Levels Talks About What's Changed

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2017/09/17 - 2:54pm

In 2015, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha discovered the lead contamination after Flint, Mich., switched its drinking water source. She talks with NPR's Michel Martin about helping reverse the problem.

Categories: Environment

Top Trump officials signal US could stay in Paris climate agreement

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/09/17 - 2:31pm

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson and national security adviser HR McMaster both indicated the US is open to negotiations on staying in the accord

Senior Trump administration officials on Sunday signalled a further softening of America’s resolve to leave the Paris climate accord, amid signs that the issue will be discussed at the United Nations general assembly in New York this week.

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson and national security adviser HR McMaster both indicated that the US is open to negotiations on staying in the landmark international agreement to limit mankind’s role in global warming.

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Categories: Environment
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