Environment

Sadiq Khan to tell London councils they should ban fracking

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 5:01pm

Health dangers and high water use of shale gas extraction make it unacceptable, says mayor’s draft plan for the capital

Sadiq Khan will in effect ban fracking in London – and warns that extracting shale gas represents a toxic health risk.

In a controversial move, the London mayor will set out in plans to be published this week that councils across the capital should block the exploration, appraisal or production of shale gas via hydraulic fracturing, which sees rocks blasted with water to release the gas.

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Categories: Environment

North Atlantic’s greatest survivors are hunted once more

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 3:02pm

After decades of recovery, right whales are now under threat from industrial fishing

One of the more hopeful ecological stories of recent years – the slow restoration of numbers of the North Atlantic right whale – has taken a disastrous turn for the worse. Marine biologists have found their population has plunged abruptly in the past few years and that there may now only be around 100 reproductively mature females left in the sea. Many scientists fear the species could soon become the first great whale to become extinct in modern times.

The principal cause for the North Atlantic right whale’s precipitous decline has been the use of increasingly heavy commercial fishing gear dropped on to the sea bed to catch lobsters, snow crabs and hogfish off the east coast of North America. Whales swim into the rope lines attached to these sea-bed traps and their buoys and become entangled. In some cases hundreds of metres of heavy rope, tied to traps weighing more than 60kg, have been found wrapped around whales. “We have records of animals carrying these huge loads – which they cannot shake off – for months and months,” said Julie van der Hoop, of Aarhus University in Denmark.

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Categories: Environment

As the lobbying gets louder, coal power stations may not go quietly

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 9:38am
Energy companies in Italy and Spain have faced unexpected local opposition to their own plans to shut polluting plants

Europe’s race to quit coal has hit a speed bump as energy companies face local political resistance to the closure of power stations burning the polluting fuel.

ScottishPower owner Iberdrola said this month that it was closing its last two coal power stations in Spain as part of its plan to cut carbon emissions and switch to cleaner power generation. But days later the Spanish government reacted by blocking the shutdowns, starting the process for a royal decree that would give ministers the final say on any power station closure if it was deemed to affect energy security.

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Categories: Environment

Protecting The Netherlands' Vulnerable Coasts With A 'Sand Motor'

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 5:52am

Though a quarter of the country is below sea level, the Netherlands has kept itself dry with ingenious water management. A recent innovation: an artificial sand peninsula that keeps the sea at bay.

(Image credit: Rijkswaterstaat/Jurriaan Brobbel)

Categories: Environment

Mexico creates vast new ocean reserve to protect 'Galapagos of North America'

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 5:38am

Fishing, mining and new hotels will be prohibited in the ‘biologically spectacular’ Revillagigedo archipelago

Mexico’s government has created the largest ocean reserve in North America around a Pacific archipelago regarded as its crown jewel.

The measures will help ensure the conservation of marine creatures including whales, giant rays and turtles.

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Categories: Environment

The article that changed my view … of humanity's impact on the planet

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/11/25 - 1:16am

Guardian supporter Matt Bowden explains why an article by the author Robert Macfarlane helped him understand the ‘Anthropocene generation’

Matt Bowden, 34, works in the textiles industry. He is from Durham, UK and currently living in Taipei, Taiwan

I came across Robert Macfarlane’s article Generation Anthropocene: how humans have altered the planet forever, as part of my MA course last year. It was recommended reading and ignited a deep interest in humans’ impact on the planet, and an impetus to reimagine my relationship with the environment.

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Categories: Environment

Less Waste, More Taste: A Master Chef Reimagines Thanksgiving Leftovers

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 8:00am

Over this Thanksgiving week, Americans will toss almost 200 million pounds of turkey alone. Massimo Bottura helps us fight food waste by showing us how to turn leftovers into a world-class new meal.

(Image credit: Beck Harlan/NPR)

Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 7:00am

Brown bears, grey seals and an errant crocodile are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

To Save Water, Should You Wash Your Hands Of Hand Washing Dishes?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 6:00am

The sustainable choice between the dishwasher and a manual scrub-down may just boil down to your washing style — but it's hard to beat today's efficient machines.

(Image credit: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Amazon tribe saves plant lore with ‘healing forests’ and encyclopedia

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 5:40am

In a bid to safeguard knowledge the Matsés in Peru have been planting “medicinal agroforestry” plots and written a 1,044-page two-volume book.

The seven indigenous Matsés elders were slowly meandering through the forest. They were explaining how different trees and plants are used for medicinal purposes, exchanging stories about how they had acquired their extraordinary knowledge and put it to good use. There were memories of an encounter with a jaguar and someone’s father struck by some kind of pain in the eye - “not conjunctivitis!” - while claims were made for successfully treating women haemorrhaging, snake-bite, a swollen leg and constipation.

The forest we were in was actually more of a garden - or “healing forest” or “medicinal agroforestry” plot - planted late last year by six young Matsés men under the expert guidance of elder Arturo Tumi Nëcca Potsad. “There are all types [of trees and plants] here,” Arturo told the Guardian, holding a spear made of peach palm and looking about him. “About 100 types, 3,000 plants.”

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Categories: Environment

Black Friday to cause spikes in air pollution and plastic waste, warn environmentalists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 4:50am

The shopping frenzy will see 82,000 diesel delivery vans on UK streets, with plastic toys and electronic goods among the most popular purchases

The online shopping frenzy of the Black Friday weekend will see 82,000 diesel vans and trucks on UK roads, raising concerns of air pollution spikes on residential streets as more than £7bn of purchases are delivered.

In the UK online shoppers are expected to spend up to £1.35bn today alone, according to analysts at IMRG, the UK’s online retail association. Plastic toys, games and electronic goods are among the most sought after items in the biggest weekend of shopping in Britain and the US, with environmentalists and health experts warning that it will add to the mountain of plastic waste and increase air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

The Sea Level Threat To Cities Depends On Where The Ice Melts — Not Just How Fast

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 4:00am

Identifying where ice melts can help cities in planning for a future with elevated sea levels. In New York City, the sea level would be affected more by melting ice in northern Greenland than Canada.

(Image credit: David Goldman/AP)

Categories: Environment

Experience: I am a kayaktivist

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 3:00am

It can be dangerous – we get close to moving supertankers. Then there’s the worry about how private security will react

My first political epiphany concerned the world trade protests in 1999. I was 17 and had a feeling globalisation was a good thing – until I realised it was about money and economics, not people and culture; so in the early 2000s I joined some anti-globalisation protests in Quebec.

Several years later, I heard about kayaktivism. I’d kayaked before, and been an activist, but never married the two. My first kayak protest was in Quebec’s Saint Lawrence estuary in 2014. TransCanada wanted to build a supertanker port in a beluga whale nursery. Our mission was to kayak to a boat doing seismic testing, unfurl a banner and take a picture. It wasn’t about stopping the boat, but drawing attention to what was happening.

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Categories: Environment

New high-speed trains go slow on provision for cyclists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 12:43am

The new service by Great Western Railway has reduced bike space, a troublesome booking system and fails to meet the needs of disabled, elderly or less mobile cyclists

Great Western Railway’s (GWR) new high-speed Intercity Express trains made headlines last month with their gaffe-filled launch that saw new trains temporarily taken out of service after several on-board malfunctions, on a service that arrived 41 minutes late, with the transport secretary on board.

There could be more bad news down the line for those travelling with cycles, with the prospect that bike space on the new trains is reduced to zero at times, and those who have not booked a bike ticket told they won’t be able to board at all, whether there is free bike space or not.

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Categories: Environment

Blood flows and rivers run dry as Honduras prepares to go to the polls – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/11/24 - 12:00am

With the country poised for Sunday’s elections, the murder of environmentalists in Honduras is being directly linked with water and food shortages, violence and migration. Photographer Sean Hawkey visited what has become a frontline of climate change conflict

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Categories: Environment

Queensland farmers suspected to have defied tree clearing controls in 'deforestation frenzy'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 8:13pm

Native vegetation was home to several threatened species and was in a Great Barrier Reef catchment

Queensland farmers are suspected of having defied rare federal government intervention and cleared a large swath of land without commonwealth approval, according to conservationists.

The native vegetation was in a reef catchment, meaning the clearing could worsen pollution on the Great Barrier Reef. Government-commissioned studies show it provided habitat to several threatened species.

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Categories: Environment

The government's white paper clings to the past as the rest of the world moves on | Tony Milne

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 5:19pm

Instead of imagining the kind of world we want to live in and the role Australia could play in it, the foreign policy paper paints a bleak picture for our future

There are moments in history that come to define the world changing. After years or even decades of doing things a certain way, suddenly, everything changes. We look back, often in bemusement, shame or anger, and wonder how people accepted a certain way of doing things.

Changes once fiercely resisted become archaic: corporal punishment in schools, slavery, women and Aboriginal people denied the right to vote, the death penalty, LGBTIQ people denied the right to marry, the institutionalisation of people with disabilities … the list goes on.

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Categories: Environment

Where have all our insects and birds gone? | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 11:53am
Rosemary Mason notices a decline in insects in south Wales; Kate Phillips says there is a major shift in insect and bird life in Buckinghamshire; and Eyke Shannon questions the role played by the Forestry Commission and the RSPB in Suffolk

With regard to David Marjot’s letter about lost insects in Surrey (18 November), we too have noticed a sharp decline in insects over the last 10 years in south Wales, but there are no neonicotinoids used in the area. In fact, as he noted in Surrey, spiders were the first to disappear. However, Dakar Pro, a commercial preparation of RoundUp, is sprayed on city pavements to eradicate weeds. Have any other readers had similar experiences?
Rosemary Mason
Swansea

• I am in need of an answer. We have had the best crop of apples from our (very) old Cox’s Pomona tree in the nearly 50 years we have been here – reason, no insect damage. We have seen almost no wasps: every year we have at least one nest in the loft, garden store, ground, but not this year. We have practically no small birds coming to the bird table – the food I put out goes to the pigeons, the one robin and a few passing tits – where are they all? There have been few hoverflies, few houseflies and no bluebottles. Is it the pesticides, sprayed over the nearby agricultural land, is it the plethora of red kites happily soaring above, or the hornets seen for the first time a couple of years ago?

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Categories: Environment

Floods in north-west England prompt criticism over missing defences

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 10:23am

Cumbria MP says government is dragging its feet, as torrential rain causes flooding in area hit by Storm Desmond in 2015

Torrential rain has forced dozens of families from their homes and caused disruption across the north-west of England, prompting a local MP to accuse the government of dragging its feet over £25m of flood defences promised two years ago.

Lancaster and the nearby village of Galgate were the worst-affected areas, with 70 people rescued by firefighters and 27 people evacuated from their homes as rivers burst their banks and drains overflowed. Emergency services said they received 500 flood-related calls and attended 100 incidents in Lancashire overnight.

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Categories: Environment

Could octopus DNA reveal the secrets of west Antarctica’s ice sheet collapse?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 10:00am

Understanding what happened to the ice sheet will be key to knowing what the future holds for global sea levels

There are a lot of scientific eyes on west Antarctica right now, for some pretty obvious reasons.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) holds a lot of water – enough to push up sea levels around the world by 3m or so.

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