Zigzag elm sawfly attacking trees in UK, warn experts

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 10:27am

Elm leaf-eating pest has gradually travelled across Europe from Japan, leaving mark reminiscent of that by Zorro’s sword

A pest which leaves a signature trail of destruction on elm leaves reminiscent of the mark of the fictional sword-wielding hero Zorro appears to have arrived in the UK, experts have warned.

The zigzag elm sawfly, originally found in Japan, feeds only on elm leaves and has been progressing steadily through Europe.

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Categories: Environment

Cocaine in rivers harming endangered eels, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 8:54am

Tests show drug causes eels to become hyperactive and damages their muscles, possibly hindering their ability to migrate

Tiny amounts of cocaine flushed into rivers cause eels to become not only hyperactive but to suffer from muscle wastage, impaired gills and hormonal changes, a study has found.

The impact of traces of cocaine on the physiology of European eels could be hindering their epic migrations through the oceans to reproduce, according to researchers who examined the impact of the drug.

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Categories: Environment

Iced coffee is ruining the environment – and your body

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 8:18am

From plastic straws to almond milk, the season of cold brews is officially ruining the planet

It’s iced coffee season – and this year, the coolest accessory to beat the heat and consume your caffeine conscientiously may well be an eco-friendly stainless steel straw.

The single-use plastic straw, you’ve probably noticed, has become increasingly socially unacceptable. A number of cities around the world have banned or are considering banning the straws, and more and more companies are starting to phase them out. McDonald’s, for example, announced that it will stop using using plastic straws in its British restaurants next year and Ikea also recently committed to removing all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 2020. When multinationals like McDonalds turn away from straws, you know the movement has gone mainstream.

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Categories: Environment

Malta's 'barbaric' finch traps ruled illegal by EU court

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 4:52am

Campaigners hail court verdict, which bans trapping of several species of the bird

Malta has broken EU law by allowing the hunting and trapping of several finch species, the European court has ruled.

The Mediterranean island will face potentially substantial fines unless it ends a derogation it introduced in 2014 allowing the songbirds to be captured.

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Categories: Environment

Saving Britain's swifts - in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 4:18am

Swifts are one of the most recognisable birds of summer, returning to the UK to breed in early May each year. But in the last 20 years, the breeding population has halved, with a lack of nest sites and declining insects among the causes. This week marks the first UK Swift Awareness week, which aims to highlight the plight of swifts and the rescue efforts to save them

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Categories: Environment

Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever | Bill McKibben

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 3:00am

From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope

If you’re looking for good news on the climate front, don’t look to the Antarctic. Last week’s spate of studies documenting that its melt rates had tripled is precisely the kind of data that underscores the almost impossible urgency of the moment.

And don’t look to Washington DC, where the unlikely survival of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to prove the political power of the fossil fuel industry. It’s as if he’s on a reality show where the premise is to see how much petty corruption one man can get away with.

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Categories: Environment

Tourism preventing Kenya's cheetahs from raising young, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/06/21 - 2:10am

Research in Maasai Mara linked areas with high density of vehicles to lower numbers of cubs raised to independence

High levels of tourism can lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of cheetahs able to raise their young to independence, new research has found.

A study in Kenya’s Maasai Mara savannah found that in areas with a high density of tourist vehicles, the average number of cubs a mother cheetah raised to independence was just 0.2 cubs per litter – less than a tenth of the 2.3 cubs per litter expected in areas with low tourism.

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Categories: Environment

Millions of British children breathing toxic air, Unicef warns

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 10:01pm

More than 4.5m affected, says UN group, while tests suggest children’s shorter height increases exposure on busy roads

More than 4.5 million children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, the UN children’s organisation Unicef has warned.

Tests suggesting that children walking along busy roads are exposed to a third more air pollution than adults, as their shorter height places them close to passing car exhausts, were also released on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

Tony Abbott and allies could scupper national energy plan, warns ACT minister

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 1:16pm

Shane Rattenbury says Josh Frydenberg is being locked into a no-compromise position by federal conservatives

The ACT has warned it will be “very difficult” to sign on to the national energy guarantee in early August if Josh Frydenberg fails to give any ground in the remaining weeks before the definitive meeting of the Coag energy council.

Related: An unconventional gas boom: the rise of CSG in Australia

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Categories: Environment

Scientists genetically engineer pigs immune to costly disease

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 10:00am

Gene-editing technology could be propelled into commercial farms within five years

Scientists have genetically engineered pigs to be immune to one of the world’s most costly animal diseases, in an advance that could propel gene-editing technology into commercial farms within five years.

The trial, led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, showed that the pigs were completely immune to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), a disease that is endemic across the globe and costs the European pig industry nearly £1.5bn in pig deaths and decreased productivity each year.

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Categories: Environment

Shetland scallop fishery retains eco label despite dredging protests

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 9:34am

Review rejects conservation groups’ complaints that use of dredging gear damages seabed

A scallop fishery in Shetland has retained its coveted eco label after an independent review rejected allegations that it damaged the marine environment.

The marine conservation charity Open Seas and the National Trust for Scotland protested that the fishery’s use of dredging gear to harvest scallops caused unjustifiable damage to the seabed and other marine species.

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Categories: Environment

The Refugees The World Barely Pays Attention To

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 8:25am

They're known as 'climate refugees.' But there's not even an international definition for them, let alone recognition or protection.

(Image credit: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

A world without puffins? The uncertain fate of the much-loved seabirds

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 5:00am

On the small Welsh island of Skomer, puffin numbers are booming. But in former strongholds in Scotland, Norway and Iceland, the picture is ever more worrying

Bryony Baker lies spreadeagled at the edge of a cliff and reaches her hand deep into a hole in the ground that is almost entirely hidden beneath a clump of grass. She pushes further in and her arm disappears up to the shoulder. It is a little like watching a vet getting up close and personal with a labouring cow. “Ouch!” she exclaims suddenly, her face creasing in pain. She pulls her arm out and inspects her fingers, already covered in scars. “That one’s definitely a puffin. They look sweet, but they can be pretty aggressive.”

She presses her lips together in anticipation of another nip and pushes her hand in again. A large, dirty white egg emerges from the burrow – “warm, good” – and she places it safely on a cushion of moss. She reaches into the ground again. When she withdraws it, a second later, she’s holding an irritated puffin by its orange beak. She rings it, notes its number – this is now Bird EZ88918 – then gently replaces it and its precious egg in the burrow.

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Categories: Environment

'Barnacled angels': the whales of Stellwagen Bank – a photo essay

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 2:29am

Off the tip of Cape Cod, pods of humpbacks return every summer to feed. For the past 18 years, Philip Hoare has been joining them to witness this incredible display

At the tip of Cape Cod, a sandy spit reaches out into the Atlantic, like an arm, towards a vast underwater plateau where humpbacks gather each summer to feed. This is the US marine sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank, where for the past three weeks I’ve been a guest on the Dolphin Fleet whalewatch boats, working out of Provincetown.

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Categories: Environment

'The entire habitat is gone': Hawaii's natural wonders claimed by lava

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/06/20 - 1:00am

The Kilauea eruption has wiped out rare sites and whole ecosystems. As the island mourns a tragedy, it also accepts the brutal cycle of nature

In Puna, the area of Hawaii island that’s been hardest hit by the Kilauea volcano eruption, those who lived nearest to the lava flows watched the forest around their homes begin to die first. They said the fruit trees, flowers and ferns began turning brown, languishing in the noxious, sulfur-dioxide-filled air. Then the lava came. Now large swaths of formerly verdant forest have been replaced by rough and barren volcanic terrain.

“Before the eruptions, that area was probably the best forest left in the state of Hawaii,” said Patrick Hart, a biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. “There were areas where the native Ohia forest extended right up to the ocean, and you just don’t see that in the rest of Hawaii,” he said. Now it’s covered with 20 to 30ft of lava.

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Categories: Environment

More tigers live in US back yards than in the wild. Is this a catastrophe?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/19 - 11:00pm

It is easier to buy a tiger in some states than to adopt a rescue dog – and only 6% of the animals are housed in approved facilities. This is bad for the big cats – and for humans

According to estimates, the population of tigers in people’s back gardens in the US outnumbers those in the wild. Seven thousand of the big cats live in US captivity, whereas, despite increases, there are as few as 3,890 wild tigers worldwide. Most of the captive animals are kept in unregulated conditions, as the BBC reported last week. Only 6% are housed in zoos or facilities approved by the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The rest live in private breeding facilities, back yards, even urban apartments. In some states, it is easier to buy a tiger than to adopt a rescue dog.

Leigh Henry, a species policy expert at the World Wildlife Fund, says the situation threatens the work that has been done to conserve wild populations in Asia. “A patchwork of regulations governs these tigers, meaning no agency can say how many there are, when they are born, when they die and what happens to their valuable parts when they do. Illegal trade in tiger parts remains the primary threat to tigers in the wild, and the last thing we want is parts from captive tigers helping sustain or even fuel this black market.”

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Categories: Environment

Senate to probe Great Barrier Reef grant of $444m to small charity

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/19 - 9:12pm

Inquiry will look at what the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is capable of delivering

A parliamentary inquiry will examine how a $444m grant for work on the Great Barrier Reef was awarded to a small not-for-profit charity, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, with no competitive tender process.

Labor, Greens and crossbench senators have backed the inquiry, which was moved by a Greens senator, Peter Whish-Wilson.

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Categories: Environment

Prehistoric platypus-like fish reconstructed by Australian scientists

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/19 - 6:23pm

Brindabellaspis had nostrils in its eye sockets and a long bill with jaws

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Palaeontologists have reconstructed an ancient Australian fish that swam on the sea floor like a stingray and had the long bill of a platypus.

Fossils that date back 400m years have allowed scientists to piece together a revealing picture of the strange fish, which had nostrils coming from its eye sockets and a long bill or snout with jaws.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking: Labor pledges to tighten regulations to protect water resources

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/19 - 11:00am

Shale gas not covered in by existing water regulations in ‘glaring omission’, Labor’s environment spokesman says

Regulations on unconventional gas development across Australia would be tightened up if Labor wins the next election.

Labor’s shadow minister for the environment Tony Burke says the party, if elected, will keep the commitment it took to the 2016 election to broaden the “water trigger” to include other forms of unconventional gas extraction. The current water trigger, introduced by the Gillard government in 2013, assesses water resources as a matter of national significance only in relation to coal seam gas and coal mining.

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Categories: Environment

Rogue beekeepers and dirty tricks blamed for rise in Belgian hive heists

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/06/19 - 9:26am

150,000 bees stolen near Tessenderlo in latest incident, as interest in hobby grows

Dirty tricks by rival beekeepers have been blamed for a rise in hive thefts in Belgium after huge growth in interest in the hobby.

Following the disappearance of 150,000 bees from hives near the Flemish town of Tessenderlo, keepers have been advised to keep a keen eye on their insects and alert the police to suspicious activity.

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Categories: Environment
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