‘Eight, nine, ten …’ Why people are counting sheep in Cheddar Gorge

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/18 - 5:04pm
The audit of a feral flock at the Somerset beauty spot is significant

There is a shaggy creation myth surrounding the feral sheep of Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. The story goes that during a poker game in the village in 1992 one of the gamblers, running out of money, put his seven sheep up as his stake. He lost, so the winner took the animals home and put them in his garden. The next morning the winner’s wife looked out of her window to see the new arrivals eating the garden ... and the sheep had to go.

Where they went is what draws 35 people to a layby in the chilly morning shadow of Cheddar Gorge. The winner of the two rams and five ewes deposited them on the craggy hillside there a quarter of a century ago, where they have been ever since – the seven becoming 10, becoming 50, then within five years 100 and now, well, who knows?

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Categories: Environment

To Save Their Water Supply, Colorado Farmers Taxed Themselves

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/11/18 - 3:43pm

The recent drought in the West forced people to take a hard look at how they use water. In Colorado, some farmers tried an experiment: make their water more expensive without hurting business.

(Image credit: Luke Runyon/KUNC)

Categories: Environment

Senate May Approve Drilling In Alaskan Wilderness With Tax Bill

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/11/18 - 5:01am

The Republican push to pass a major tax overhaul may also include another long-held GOP goal — opening up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Polluting UK coal plants export power to France as cold weather bites

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/18 - 1:39am

UK’s last eight coal stations are working to exploit falling temperatures and absence of offline reactors in France to export power across the Channel

Polluting coal power stations in Britain have been profiting from the woes of the low-carbon French nuclear industry this month, according to analysis of energy generation data for the Guardian.

Tricastin, one of France’s biggest nuclear power stations, was closed by the French regulator in September so that works could be undertaken to address a flood risk.

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Categories: Environment

Nasa map of Earth's seasons over 20 years highlights climate change

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 8:12pm

The visualization shows spring coming earlier and the Arctic ice caps receding over time

Nasa has captured 20 years of changing seasons in a striking new global map of planet Earth​.

The data visualization, released this week, shows Earth’s fluctuations as seen from space.

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Categories: Environment

Trump postpones decision on allowing import of elephant parts

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 7:36pm
  • President to delay action ‘until such time as I review all conservation facts’
  • Leonardo DiCaprio: decision to reverse ban on elephant parts ‘reprehensible’

Donald Trump said he would delay his administration’s decision to allow the importing of elephant body parts from Zimbabwe “until such time as I review all conservation facts”.

The postponement came just one day after the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) indicated it would reverse an Obama administration ban on importing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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Categories: Environment

UK considers tax on single-use plastics to tackle ocean pollution

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 5:01pm

Chancellor to announce call for evidence on possible measures to cut use of plastics such as takeaway cartons and packaging

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, will announce in next week’s budget a “call for evidence” on how taxes or other charges on single-use plastics such as takeaway cartons and packaging could reduce the impact of discarded waste on marine and bird life, the Treasury has said.

The commitment was welcomed by environmental and wildlife groups, though they stressed that any eventual measures would need to be ambitious and coordinated.

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view on climate talks: Brexit’s heavy weather | Editorial

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 12:14pm
If Brexit goes ahead, Britain will need to shape a green politics with devolution and social justice at its core. And make sure that politicians cannot renege on our international obligations

The tragedy of climate change, as the governor of the Bank of England has put it, is one of the horizon. The catastrophic impacts of altering the atmosphere impose an enormous cost on future generations that the current generation creates but has no incentive to fix. To focus the minds of today’s decision-makers the 2015 Paris agreement sent a clear signal that the era of fossil-fuel-powered growth was coming to an end. The signatories agreed to limit global warming to no more than a two-degree celsius rise, the threshold of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become irreversible. The real genius of Paris is not that it is rooted in science but its timing and its structure. While the 2C target was binding, the national targets agreed by each nation were not. Those non-binding targets do not add up to a 2C world – they would, if followed to the letter, lead us to a 3C one, unthinkable in terms of the devastation it would cause. So upping them was part of the point of this year’s UN climate meeting in Bonn, which closed on Friday, and will be the main issue at next year’s, and the year after next.

The US under Donald Trump reneged on the deal before this year’s talks began. There is some solace in the fact that Washington cannot formally withdraw until 4 November 2020, the day after the next presidential election. The rest of the world, rightly, is moving on. Given what is at stake, it is worth pausing to consider where – and how quickly – the globe is going. Backwards – if one considers that China will almost single-handedly cause global emissions of carbon dioxide to grow in 2017. Canada and Britain, meanwhile, began a new 19-nation alliance in Bonn aimed at phasing out the use of coal power by 2030. This sounds like an important move until one realises that members of the “powering past coal alliance” account for less than 3% of coal use worldwide. Germany, which is not a member, held the climate talks an hour’s drive from a village that is being demolished to make way for a coalmine. These green talks, which are fundamentally about ethical concerns, are nevertheless becoming more like discussions about trade. In the case of climate change these involve transitions from one way of producing, distributing and consuming energy to another, cleaner way of doing so. It would be good if this could be seen only as a process of mutual support. However, as the talks in Bonn show, they are also hard-nosed negotiations which revolve around the exchange of concessions.

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Categories: Environment

Climate summit goes slow and steady but King Coal looms

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 11:58am

Little drama in Bonn other than some star turns and a pantomime villain. All eyes are now on Poland, the next summit host

For an issue that often seems to lurch from crisis to catastrophe, the steady but vital progress at the UN’s global climate change talks in Bonn was reassuring. But there remains a very long way to go before the world gets on track to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming.

There was little drama as the diplomatic sherpas trekked up the mountain of turning the political triumph of the 2015 Paris agreement into a technical reality, with a rulebook that would allow countries to start ramping up action. They got about as far as expected in turning the conceptual into the textual, but no further.

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Categories: Environment

‘Planet at a crossroads’: climate summit makes progress but leaves much to do

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 9:54am

The UN negotiations in Bonn lay the groundwork for implementing the landmark Paris deal, but tough decisions lay ahead

The world’s nations were confident they were making important progress in turning continued political commitment into real world action, as the global climate change summit in Bonn was drawing to a close on Friday.

The UN talks were tasked with the vital, if unglamorous, task of converting the unprecedented global agreement sealed in Paris in 2015 from a symbolic moment into a set of rules by which nations can combine to defeat global warming. Currently, the world is on track for at least 3C of global warming – a catastrophic outcome that would lead to severe impacts around the world.

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Categories: Environment

Clues In That Mysterious Radioactive Cloud Point Toward Russia

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 9:34am

Western scientists say they may never know the source of the cloud of ruthenium-106 that hovered over Europe last month. But what little data there is suggests a research facility inside Russia.

(Image credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Highs and lows of the Bonn climate talks – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 8:48am

The successes and disappointments this week in Germany, where the world’s nations gathered for the 23rd annual conference of the parties to prevent dangerous global warming

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Categories: Environment

If we act on climate change now, the economic prize will be immense | Felipe Calderón

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 8:27am

Acting on climate can certainly be driven by pure pragmatism: the economics of it are clear, writes Felipe Calderón

Climate negotiators are meeting in Bonn. Beyond the intricacies of the negotiations, here is one key thing to remember instead: about $1tn is already being invested in climate solutions, ranging from renewables and energy efficiency to public transport.

To put it simply: for those that act on climate now, the size of the economic prize will be immense.

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Categories: Environment

Chester Zoo successfully breeds rare Catalan newt

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 8:06am

Twelve Montseny newts – one of world’s rarest amphibians - hatched as part of joint breeding project with Catalan authorities

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have successfully bred one of the world’s rarest amphibians – the Catalan newt – in an attempt to save it from extinction.

The zoo is the first organisation outside Catalonia to become involved in the breeding project for the newt, the rarest amphibian in Europe.

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Categories: Environment

‘We lost a great leader’: Berta Cáceres still inspires as murder case takes fresh twist | Liz Ford

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 7:00am

As friends and followers of the late Honduran activist continue her battle for indigenous land rights, their cause has been boosted by a damning legal report

María Santos Domínguez heard about the death of her good friend Berta Cáceres on the radio. She had just given birth to her youngest daughter, so she wasn’t with Cáceres the week she was murdered.

“It was a double blow because we were very close, we worked together in the communities,” said Santos Domínguez, a coordinator for the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh), the organisation Cáceres co-founded 24 years ago to stop the state selling off the country’s ancestral lands to multinational companies.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 7:00am

Stranded whales, smuggled parrots and a rediscovered salamander are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Lentils are so 2013 – an on-trend guide to glitter alternatives

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 6:38am

A nursery has banned children from making Christmas decorations using glitter, suggesting the sustainable alternatives of rice and lentils. But what about quinoa?

A nursery chain has identified glitter as a harmful pollutant, and banned children from using it when making Christmas decorations this year. Instead, Tops Day Nurseries is now promoting rice and lentils as substitute festive materials. However, not everyone has access to rice and lentils, so here are some other environmentally friendly glitter alternatives.

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Categories: Environment

Why are cyclists one minority group the BBC feels it's OK to demonise? | Peter Walker

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 4:59am

The BBC’s usual standards of impartiality and respect too often fall short when it comes to cyclists, as one show this week – where a pundit labelled them fanatics and even compared them to Nazis – sadly demonstrates

The scene is a BBC talk show. The subject is a particular niche pursuit enjoyed by a very disparate group of people who otherwise have nothing in common. And things aren’t going well.

The presenter – a man known for actively disliking this group – has assembled a seemingly balanced two-person panel, but repeatedly interjects to make it clear he finds the people being discussed annoying and weird.

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Categories: Environment

Tesla Roadster: nine things we know about the 'smackdown to gasoline cars'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 4:11am

New electric supercar will break records according to Elon Musk, with blistering acceleration and 630-mile range. Here’s everything we know

Tesla announced a new version of its very first car, the Roadster, turning it into an electric supercar described as a “hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars” by company founder Elon Musk.

The new sports car was unveiled alongside Tesla’s new electric truck, and promises to wow drivers with some extraordinary statistics that make it look like a Top Trumps card turned into an electrified reality.

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Categories: Environment

Climate Change Ripens Prospects For German Winemakers

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/11/17 - 3:00am

While Spanish and Italian growers worry heat will dry out vines, in Germany, warming has made for better Rieslings. And one scientist says they couldn't be making red wine so good otherwise.

(Image credit: Daniella Cheslow for NPR)

Categories: Environment
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