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Turnbull says own rooftop solar not inconsistent with 'clean-coal' message

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 9:31pm

Prime minister agrees his personal 14.5kW system on the roof of his Sydney home, with battery storage, is a ‘large array’

Malcolm Turnbull has hit back at suggestions that his house’s large personal rooftop solar and battery system sends a message contrary to the government’s endorsement of “clean coal”.

He rejected the idea that he had ever been critical of the renewables sector and dismissed his treasurer’s brandishing of a lump of coal in question time as “theatrics”.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists to repeat 19th-century ship's crossing of polar ice cap

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 5:01pm

Ambitious Mosaic expedition will study weather patterns and life in melt ponds from vessel drifting with the ice current

In 1893 the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen embarked on a mission of extraordinary boldness and ingenuity. He planned to become the first person to reach the north pole by allowing his wooden vessel, the Fram, to be engulfed by sea ice and pulled across the polar cap on an ice current.

Ultimately, Nansen ended up abandoning the Fram and skiing hundreds of miles to a British base after he realised he was not on course to hit the pole, but the ship made it across the ice cap intact and the expedition resulted in groundbreaking scientific discoveries about the Arctic and weather patterns.

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Categories: Environment

Thaw livens up the hedge-frequenters: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 3:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 20 February 1917

On Saturday a grey crow was perched on the topmost rotten branch of an oak beside the river, and was as communicative as usual. Perhaps it enjoyed watching the ice sheets floating past and hearing them scrunch as they piled together at the bend. Yesterday there were three paddling on the sloppy ice of the mere, still talking as they cleaned up the various bird remains. I thought the note was always repeated three times in quick succession, but as often as not four caws follow one another rapidly after each pause of a few seconds’ duration. The grey crow’s call is shriller than the carrion’s but deeper than the rook’s.

The thaw livened up the thrushes and starlings and started the dunnocks afresh: everywhere these little hedge-frequenters are shuffling their wings and trilling vigorously. The blackbirds, silent since last summer, immediately tuned up; I heard my first on Saturday, and to-day many are in excellent mellow voice. Herring gulls have not yet left the mere; they have been about for several weeks, for the first appeared long before the waters were ice-bound; they raised a joyous chorus yesterday, their full, clear calls sounding quite vernal. Like the crows, they consorted with the living blackheads and fed upon the dead ones. Near the bank a three-foot eel was embedded in the ice, and crow or gull had got through a weak spot, and reached a few inches of the fish, picking it to the bone.

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Categories: Environment

In search of Tanzania's bee-eaters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 2:30pm

In the Selous Game Reserve you can see seven different bee-eaters. Each one sports impossibly beautiful colours

Bee-eaters are the supermodels of the bird world: slim, glamorous – and hopelessly out of reach for us mere mortals. But in the Selous Game Reserve, in southern Tanzania, you can see seven different species of bee-eater hawking for insects under sun-filled skies. Each one sports impossibly beautiful colours, outcompeting even the half-a-dozen species of kingfisher we saw here. On a game drive from Selous Impala Camp, in the heart of Africa’s largest wildlife reserve, we went in search of the “magnificent seven”.

The two commonest species, white-fronted and white-throated, may have similar names, but they are very different in appearance. The white-throated is, by bee-eater standards, almost austere: a plain, foliage green body topped with a black-and-white head.

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Categories: Environment

Images of new bleaching on Great Barrier Reef heighten fears of coral death

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 12:00pm

Exclusive: Coral bleaching found near Palm Island as unusually warm waters are expected off eastern Australia, with areas hit in last year’s event in mortal danger

The embattled Great Barrier Reef could face yet more severe coral bleaching in the coming month, with areas badly hit by last year’s event at risk of death.

Images taken by local divers last week and shared exclusively with the Guardian by the Australian Marine Conservation Society show newly bleached corals discovered near Palm Island.

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Categories: Environment

How to win the war on air pollution | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 11:31am

Damian Carrington is half right (The war against air pollution has begun – and it will be fought in cities, 13 February) in that cities bear a terrible burden from air pollution and municipal action is critical to address it. However, city governments cannot succeed alone. Much of urban pollution stems from outside city limits and significant progress will only be achieved with policies that also require national, regional and even international commitment.

A significant part of city air pollution drifts in from regional sources like wood-burning rural households, coal-fired power plants, industries and the open burning of agricultural waste and rubbish. Commuters driving in from car-centric suburbs and transport between cities contribute to urban congestion and pollution too, stymying smart city initiatives like investments in public transportation and safer streets for walking and cycling.

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Categories: Environment

Organic food sales soar as shoppers put quality before price

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/02/19 - 12:00am

Retailers say demand is at its highest for a decade with popularity spreading from fruit and vegetables to other groceries

Demand for organic food is at its highest for more than a decade, according to major retailers.

That’s good news for an industry that was hit hard by the economic downturn but now seems to be returning to rude health as more shoppers say organic food is worth paying the premium for. This week the Soil Association will release its annual report on the state of the organic food market, which is expected to show that it has grown for the fourth consecutive year.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition says it may change Clean Energy Finance Corporation rules to fund coal plants

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 6:48pm

Josh Frydenberg says rules could allow CEFC to invest in projects that do not reduce emissions by 50% or more

The Coalition is considering changing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation rules to fund new coal-powered plants.

One week after the CEFC chief executive, Oliver Yates, told a Senate committee that investment in new coal plants were a very risky proposition for taxpayers, the energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, said the change was an option because “it’s called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, not the renewable energy corporation”.

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s new normal … as city temperatures hit 47C people shelter from the deadly heat

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 5:04pm

In Sydney’s baking suburbs, fans have sold out – and fears about the effects of climate change are mounting

Nahid is resting on a bench outside a Target clothing store, her groceries beside her. A cheery, middle-aged woman with a soft Egyptian accent, she is eating a cone of bubblegum ice-cream as though it contains the secret of life. When I ask her if she’s enjoying her ice-cream, it takes her 30 seconds to stop laughing.

“On the weekend I was sick! Sick from the heat! It was like a virus,” she exclaims. “My nephew, he was throwing up from the heat! He couldn’t even take water, he was so sick.

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Categories: Environment

a little better...

The Field Lab - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 2:29pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Fears of ‘dirty meat’ entering food chain after 25% of abattoirs fail tests

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 1:30pm
Audits carried out at more than 300 abattoirs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland find major hygiene failings in more than a quarter of meat plants

One in four slaughterhouses are failing to take basic hygiene precautions to stop contaminated meat reaching high street butchers and supermarkets.

An analysis of government audits carried out at more than 300 abattoirs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland identified major hygiene failings in more than a quarter of the meat plants. The failings could expose consumers to serious food poisoning illnesses such as E coli, salmonella or campylobacter.

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Categories: Environment

A thousand day-old chicks abandoned in Peterborough field

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 6:55am

RSPCA believes baby chickens came from commercial producer but were dumped by a third party

About 1,000 day-old chicks have been abandoned in a field. RSPCA inspectors said members of the public made the discovery of the newly hatched chickens in a field in Crowland, near Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire on Friday.

Many of the chicks are believed to be in good health, although some had died while others had to be put down due to their injuries, the animal welfare charity said.

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Categories: Environment

When Their Food Ran Out, These Reindeer Kept Digging

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 5:54am

Reindeer are thought to face a grim future as climate change threatens lichen, a key winter food source. But on one Alaskan island, reindeer have found a new food source, making scientists hopeful.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paul Melovidov)

Categories: Environment

Hope for Hanoi? New bus system could cut pollution … if enough people use it

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/02/18 - 3:58am

A new $53m BRT (bus rapid transit) system has the power to reduce Hanoi’s dreadful air pollution. Persuading residents of Vietnam’s rapidly expanding capital to ditch their motorbikes and private cars, however, will be another story

From his high-rise office building in Hanoi, Tran Dung can barely see his city’s skyline behind the thick layer of smog. Before leaving work, the 25-year-old executive assistant checks the pollution reading on his AirVisual app, which provides real-time measurements of PM2.5 – the tiny particles found in smog that can damage your throat and lungs.

Hanoi’s PM2.5 levels typically range from 100 to 200 micrograms per cubic metre – regularly within the globally acknowledged “unhealthy” category. But on 19 December last year, they hit “hazardous levels” at 343μg/m3, which was higher than Beijing.

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Categories: Environment

Winged surprise lifts spirits on a cold morning

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 10:30pm

Slufters Inclosure, New Forest This hardy specimen of butterfly has found an ideal basking site among still damp grasses in a bed of fern

On a bright, cold morning, sandwiched between days of rain and nights of frost, we explore Slufters Inclosure, an area first separated in 1862, when it was planted with Scots pine. It is 6C (43F) when we leave home but the southerly slopes here are harvesting the heat of the sun, and the temperature gradually lifts (just) into double figures. It’s enough to bring liveliness to a dormant scene and makes us wonder from a distance what we will find.

Hardly are we in when a dark shape shoots into the sky, does a looping circle around some upper branches and drops to the bankside. This battered red admiral is taking the opportunity offered by a brief change in the weather to soak up some warmth, and transfer it into energy that powers these airborne whorls, and may help to carry the butterfly through the chill days yet to come. A little further down the ride, we spot another, almost immaculate, Vanessa atalanta that has found its ideal basking site among still damp grasses in a bed of hard fern, Blechnum spicant.

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Categories: Environment

Deep-pocketed miners don’t like it when those with different views wield clout | Lenore Taylor

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 4:00pm

The Minerals Council seems mostly intent on using its submission to electoral donations committee to kneecap environmental groups opposed to new mines

In 2010 the mining industry’s $22m campaign against Kevin Rudd’s resources tax helped bring down a prime minister. For years it has spent huge sums on donations and advertising and lobbying to exert enormous political influence. But the deep-pocketed miners really don’t like it when those with different views find the cash and the smarts to wield some clout.

The latest squeal came this week in an appearance by the Minerals Council of Australia before the joint standing committee on electoral donations, which seems likely to reach a bipartisan consensus on banning foreign donations to political parties and other organisations that might influence the outcome of elections – including associated entities (like unions or fundraising foundations) and activist groups like GetUp.

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Categories: Environment

a friday night film

The Field Lab - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 3:59pm

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

In Massachusetts, Coastal Residents Consider How To Adapt To Climate Change

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 2:51pm

Living by the shore in the age of climate change means managing risk. In the community of Nahant, Mass., residents are trying to decide how to adapt.

(Image credit: Lucian Perkins for WBEZ)

Categories: Environment

Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt To Lead Environmental Protection Agency

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 2:32pm

Scott Pruitt is promising an aggressive rollback of regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency. NPR takes a look at what he's likely to target and the challenges he will face.

Categories: Environment

Scott Pruitt confirmed as EPA head despite failure to release emails

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/02/17 - 12:05pm
  • Senate approves former Oklahoma attorney general 52-46
  • Court ordered new environmental head to release emails to fossil fuel industry

Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, has won Senate confirmation to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency he repeatedly sued to rein in its reach during the Obama administration.

The vote on Friday was 52-46 as Republican leaders used their party’s narrow Senate majority to push Pruitt’s confirmation despite calls from Democrats to delay the vote until requested emails are released next week.

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Categories: Environment
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