Environment

Barnaby Joyce: water theft allegations 'an issue overwhelmingly for NSW'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 6:28pm

Water minister responds to allegations first aired on Four Corners that billions of litres reserved for the environment were being pumped out by irrigators

Barnaby Joyce has said allegations of water theft are “overwhelmingly” an issue for New South Wales and anyone who has broken the law will be dealt with.

In his first response to allegations raised on Four Corners on Monday night, the federal water minister and deputy prime minister likened water thieves to cattle and sheep rustlers but stressed there were only allegations of water theft at this stage.

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Categories: Environment

Call for action to protect Scotland's endangered capercaillie birds

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 4:01pm

Survey finds Highlands population has halved since 1990s, believed to be because of climate change and human activity

Conservationists have called for action to protect the capercaillie, one of Scotland’s rarest and most treasured birds, after data showed its population had fallen 50% in just over two decades.

An extensive field survey of capercaillie breeding grounds in the Highlands estimated a population of only 1,114 birds between 2015 and last year, compared with an estimate of 2,200 between 1992 and 1994.

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Britain to ban sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 2:38pm

Plans follow French commitment to take polluting vehicles off the road owing to effect of poor air quality on people’s health

As part of a government strategy to improve air quality, Britain is to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a major risk to public health.

The commitment, which follows a similar pledge in France, is part of the government’s much-anticipated clean air plan, which has been at the heart of a protracted high court legal battle.

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Mega-farms’ devastating effects go far beyond the chicken shed | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 11:01am
Ben McCarthy of Plantlife, Ruth Borthwick of the creative writing charity Arvon, Minette Batters of the NFU, Graeme Willis of the CPRE, Tracy Worcester of Farms not Factories and Gwyn Jones of RUMA respond to reports on the increase in intensive factory farming of poultry, pigs and cattle in the UK

The “unnoticed” expansion of mega-farms raises serious concerns about farm animal welfare and our food system (Mega-farms transforming UK countryside, 18 July). Even less visible is the air pollution generated by intensively housed animals and the devastating impact it is having on nearby wildlife.

At high concentrations, such as from these mega-farms, ammonia and other nitrogen emissions cause direct damage to lichens, mosses and other plants, including bleaching and discolouration.

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Categories: Environment

Solar energy and moonshine politics | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 11:00am
Energy policy | Civil partnerships | Codeword puzzles | Dramatic accents | Irritating BBC presenters

Did I invent the solar panels scheme which paid a generous feed-in tariff to install panels on your roof? I think I may also have imagined a green deal which was so advantageous that nobody much took it up. I fear this new initiative (UK ‘on verge of clean energy revolution’, 25 July) is going to place a similar strain on my mental faculties when it vanishes without trace under the label “green crap”.
Murray Marshall
Salisbury

• Paul Brownsey (Letters, 24 July) takes a negative view of civil partnerships that is not shared by many same-sex and heterosexual couples, who view them as a way of conferring the same legal and financial protection that is provided by marriage, without taking on board all the religious and societal baggage of that institution. As such many see them as superior rather than inferior to marriage.
John Mills
Stoneleigh, Warwickshire

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Categories: Environment

Pittsburgh officials may have 'deflected' attention from lead-contaminated water

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 10:43am

According to a report obtained by the Guardian, health officials in Pittsburgh have downplayed the dangers of lead contamination discovered in local water

Health officials in a major American city downplayed dangers of lead contamination in water even as officials in Flint, Michigan, faced a criminal investigation, according to a report obtained by the Guardian.

Related: Philadelphia water department faces class action lawsuit over water testing

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Categories: Environment

Google enters race for nuclear fusion technology

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 8:38am

The tech giant and a leading US fusion company develop a new computer algorithm that significantly speeds up progress towards clean, limitless energy

Google and a leading nuclear fusion company have developed a new computer algorithm which has significantly speeded up experiments on plasmas, the ultra-hot balls of gas at the heart of the energy technology.

Tri Alpha Energy, which is backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has raised over $500m (£383m) in investment. It has worked with Google Research to create what they call the Optometrist algorithm. This enables high-powered computation to be combined with human judgement to find new and better solutions to complex problems.

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Categories: Environment

Vote in the Observer Ethical Awards 2017

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 7:04am

Vote in the Observer Ethical Awards, now in their 11th year. You can vote in as many or as few categories as you like using the form below.

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Trump proposes scrapping Obama-era fracking rule on water pollution

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 4:31am

Bureau of Land Management says it is moving to discard 2015 regulation as it duplicates state rules and ‘imposes unjustified costs’ on oil and gas industry

The Trump administration has proposed scrapping an Obama-era rule that aimed to ensure fracking for oil and gas does not pollute water supplies.

Related: Pennsylvania nuns oppose fracking gas pipeline through 'holy' land

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New swimming spot on Paris canal reopens after closure due to pollution

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 4:24am

Higher than normal levels of enterocci sparked bathing ban at Canal de l’Ourcq structure that drew queues of Parisians trying to beat the heat

A new public swimming area on Paris’s Canal de l’Ourcq has reopened after it was temporarily closed due to higher than normal bacteria levels following weekend rains.

The floating structure that has been put in place for the summer has allowed Parisians to legally swim in the canal at La Villette for the first time in decades. It proved very popular when it opened this month and was hailed by the Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, as the beginning of a “dream” to launch open swimming areas in other city waterways, including on the river Seine in 2024 if Paris succeeds in its bid to host the Olympics that year.

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'It's all very Orwellian': readers on creeping pseudo-public space

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 4:15am

From problems with poor disabled access to restrictions against photographers, readers describe mixed experiences of privately owned public spaces in London following a Guardian Cities investigation

John Law was photographing Canary Wharf at night when he was threatened with arrest. The problem, he was told by security guards, was that he was using a tripod. In truth, it was because he was standing on privately owned land.

A Guardian Cities investigation into pseudo-public spaces in London – open areas which look and feel like public space but are actually privately owned and subject to private restrictions – has prompted widespread disquiet and debate among city residents.

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Categories: Environment

Commissioner accused of 'cronyism' as his force stops policing fracking protests

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 2:59am

North Wales’ Arfon Jones, a former anti-fracking activist, had queried why his force was helping Lancashire police

The North Wales police and crime commissioner has been accused of “cronyism” after his force withdrew from policing anti-fracking protests following his intervention.

Arfon Jones, a member of Plaid Cymru and former police inspector, was an anti-fracking campaigner before being elected to the police and crime commissioner job last year.

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Categories: Environment

Calif. Lawmakers Extend Cap-And-Trade Program Through 2030

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/07/25 - 2:00am

David Greene talks to Gov. Jerry Brown about the program which sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions while issuing permits for emission of pollutants which companies can sell.

Categories: Environment

Alien species invasions and global warming a 'deadly duo', warn scientists

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 10:30pm

Foreign animals and plants can cause huge damage, with the march of Argentine ants in the UK a new example of how climate change is boosting the threat

Invasions by alien species and global warming form a “deadly duo”, scientists have warned, with the march of Argentine ants in the UK a new example. The public are being asked to be on alert for invaders such as the raccoon dog and Asian hornet, as eradication can be near impossible after a species becomes established.

As trade and human travel has become globalised many thousands of species have crossed oceans or mountain ranges and become established in new regions, with some causing “invasional meltdown” and over a trillion of dollars of damage a year.

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Categories: Environment

Dozens of Laotian elephants 'illegally sold to Chinese zoos'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 10:00pm

Laos accused of breaching Cites treaty to protect endangered species and China of encouraging trade in live animals

Dozens of elephants from Laos are being illegally bought by China to be displayed in zoos and safari parks across the country, according to wildlife investigator and film-maker Karl Ammann.

According to Ammann, so-called captive elephants in Laos sell for about £23,000 before being walked across the border into China by handlers or “mahouts” near the border town of Boten. Thereafter they are transported to receiving facilities, which buy them from the agents for up to £230,000 per animal. “That is a nice mark-up,” says Ammann, “and makes it exactly the kind of commercial transaction which under Cites rules is not acceptable.”

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Categories: Environment

A plant to make a man as merry as a cricket

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 9:30pm

Allendale, Northumberland The melancholy thistle’s heads are magenta shaving brushes lighted on by hoverflies and bees

The garden is all heat and light on this summer afternoon, pulsing and multilayered with insect sounds and constant movement.

Wild flowers jostle with the cultivated, in varieties chosen for their nectar and pollen. Bumblebees wiggle up into the blue throats of viper’s bugloss, hoverflies taste scabious, dabbing with their tongues, soldier beetles clamber over wild carrot, bumping into each other before hurriedly parting.

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Categories: Environment

Unapproved land clearing an unfolding environmental crisis, green groups say

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 7:30pm

Satellite analysis shows clearing of more than 100 hectares at Cape York’s Olive Vale station in year after minister’s intervention

Land is being cleared in north Queensland without federal government approval despite concerns about threatened species in the area, in what conservation groups have claimed is an unfolding environmental crisis.

Four peak environmental bodies on Tuesday released satellite analysis showing more than 100 hectares at Olive Vale station in Cape York were cleared without approval in the year following the intervention of the federal environment minister in 2015.

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'Out of control': saltwater crocodile attacks terrorise Solomon Islands

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 6:55pm

Steps to control protected reptiles have seen 40 killed this year and could bring an end to the ban on exporting their skins

A growing number of crocodile attacks is forcing police in the Solomon Islands to shoot the animals and to consider lifting a 30-year ban on exporting their valuable skins in order to control the population.

There have been more than 10 crocodile attacks on people this year, as well as dozens of assaults on livestock and domestic animals around the Solomon Islands, which is home to 600,000 people.

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Murray-Darling basin: allegations of water theft spark calls for judicial inquiry

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 5:46pm

Outrage and demand for Icac investigation follows ABC report alleging that taxpayer-bought water was being pumped out for cotton growing

The South Australian government, key senators, Indigenous and environmental groups are calling for urgent investigations into allegations that water was being harvested by irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling basin to the detriment of the environment and downstream communities.

The SA water minister, Ian Hunter, wants a judicial inquiry, Senate crossbencher Nick Xenophon wants the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate “stolen” water and he joined South Australian senator Sarah Hanson-Young in calling for a Senate inquiry with full parliamentary privilege to protect witnesses.

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Religious leaders occupy environment minister's office to protest Carmichael coalmine

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/24 - 5:34pm

Rabbi, Uniting church reverend, former Catholic priest and Buddhist leader call for Frydenberg to withdraw support for mine

Religious leaders from several faiths have occupied the electorate office of Josh Frydenberg today, demanding the federal environment minister withdraw his support for Adani’s Carmichael mine, and vowing to stay there until he does so.

Related: Fresh legal challenge looms over Adani mine risk to endangered finch

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