Trump presidency 'opens door' to planet-hacking geoengineer experiments

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 10:05pm

As geoengineer advocates enter Trump administration, plans advance to spray sun-reflecting chemicals into atmosphere

Harvard engineers who launched the world’s biggest solar geoengineering research program may get a dangerous boost from Donald Trump, environmental organizations are warning.

Under the Trump administration, enthusiasm appears to be growing for the controversial technology of solar geo-engineering, which aims to spray sulphate particles into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s radiation back to space and decrease the temperature of Earth.

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Categories: Environment

Nick Xenophon signals support for tax cuts in exchange for emissions intensity scheme

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 9:55pm

Senator criticises Coalition for abandoning intensity scheme for electricity once championed by Malcolm Turnbull

The key crossbench senator Nick Xenophon has signalled publicly to the Turnbull government he will look at cutting tax for big companies if the government guarantees it will implement a bipartisan emissions intensity trading scheme in the electricity sector.

The NXT leader has been saying for months he is not inclined to support tax cuts for business with annual turnover of more than $10m but, on Monday, suggested he would come to the table if the government made a concrete offer on energy policy.

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Categories: Environment

The blackbird hour, when the hedgerows thrill with song

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 9:30pm

Marshwood Vale, Dorset It’s gentle at first, a fine drizzle of notes, and then the volume swells and they warble full-throatedly

Mid-afternoon on a still, overcast day that feels as if the air will thicken into rain. Clusters of slim, pale, wild daffodils light the under-storey of the roadside hedge, still bare and broken from its winter flailing. In the Victorian language of flowers, they represented hope, folly and unrequited love. Lower down, the bank is patched with early dog violets, their tiny, scentless blooms scrunched into frowns of concentration. Both sides of the lane are splashed yellow with primroses and shiny celandines.

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Categories: Environment

Barnaby Joyce wants Australia's Leadbeater's possum off endangered list to boost logging

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 8:27pm

Deputy prime minister calls for critically endangered status to be downgraded to try to save Victorian logging jobs

Barnaby Joyce is pushing for the conservation status of the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum to be downgraded to open up areas of protected forests in Victoria for logging, in an effort to save 250 jobs at the Heyfield sawmill.

Joyce wrote to Victorian premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday criticising the decision to reduce the sawlog quota offered to Heyfield mill operators Australian Sustainable Hardwood from 155,000 cubic metres a year to 80,000 cubic metres in 2017-18 and 60,000 cubic metres in 2018-19 and 2019-20, in order to protect habitat used by the possum.

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Categories: Environment

New Zealand anger as pristine lakes tapped for bottled water market

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 6:06pm

Residents and greens groups demand action to stop plan to plunder natural resources by companies that pay next to nothing to remove water

A plan to extract millions of litres of water out of a Unesco world heritage site, send it by pipe to the coast and ship it to foreign markets for bottling has ignited a campaign over water resources in New Zealand.

An export company is proposing to collect 800m litres a month of the “untapped” glacial waters of Lake Greaney and Lake Minim Mere, mountainous dams that are fed by rainfall on the Southern Alps.

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Categories: Environment

There is no gas crisis in Australia, but there is an attack on our natural assets

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 5:54pm

Governments are using the confected gas crisis to push destructive projects like the Pilliga gas project on communities that don’t want them

It’s ludicrous to say there is a gas crisis in Australia when we are set to overtake Qatar to become the world’s biggest gas producer. Australia has plenty of gas to meet our needs and the world has three times as much fossil fuel reserves that can be used to keep global temperature rises below 2C.

We have so much gas that we export most of it. The gas companies are shipping off huge amounts of it because they can reap greater profits overseas, leaving Australian households and businesses to squabble over what’s left at inflated prices.

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Categories: Environment

New cars much less fuel efficient than manufacturers claim, research finds

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 3:31pm

Australian Automobile Association finds fuel use on average 25% higher than claimed on consumption label displayed on new cars

New cars are using vastly more fuel on the road than in laboratory tests, raising further questions about the veracity of car manufacturers’ claims in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

The Australian Automobile Association-commissioned research found fuel use was on average 25% higher than claimed on the government-mandated fuel consumption label displayed on all new cars.

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Categories: Environment

In Conflict With Trump Agenda, California Sets Stricter Auto Emissions Standards

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 3:26pm

California put itself on a collision course with the Trump Administration as the state's clean air agency moved forward with stricter emissions requirements for trucks and cars.

Categories: Environment

Landcare funding boost to include $15m for new Indigenous protected areas

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 1:51pm

Greens leader Richard Di Natale says funding will mean ‘healthier communities’ and ‘more Indigenous ranger jobs for families to stay on country’

A $100m funding package to Landcare will include $15m for new Indigenous protected areas, raising hopes of further federal support for the environmental policy and its related Indigenous ranger program.

The funding, secured by the Greens last year in a deal with the government over the backpacker tax, has been undetailed until now, and will also support Landcare projects, the work of Landcare Australia and the National Landcare Network, and a small grants program for sustainable agriculture.

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Categories: Environment

Trump to sign executive order undoing Obama's clean power plan

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 12:59pm

EPA head Scott Pruitt, who sued to halt plan as Oklahoma’s AG, claims ending restrictions on coal power plants will be ‘pro-growth and pro-environment’

Donald Trump will on Tuesday sign an executive order to unravel Barack Obama’s plan to curb global warming, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Sunday, claiming the move would be “pro-growth and pro-environment”.

Related: The climate change battle dividing Trump’s America

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Categories: Environment

UK energy firms including big six miss smart meter deadline

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 10:48am

Ofgem considering further steps to protect billpayers as a result of suppliers’ failure to cut back-bills’ limit from 12 to six months

Britain’s leading energy providers are under fire again after missing a deadline to help households with smart meters avoid being hit with unexpected bills.

Electricity and gas suppliers, including the big six and smaller providers, had pledged that by the end of 2016 they would cut back on sending backdated or catchup bills to customers whose smart meters inaccurately measured their energy usage. However, not one of the big six or dozens of smaller suppliers have met the self-imposed target of cutting the limit for back-bills from 12 months to six months.

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Categories: Environment

In Chile, Landowner Makes The Largest Private Donation Of Land To A Government

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2017/03/26 - 5:14am

Kristine Tompkins, whose husband founded The North Face clothing company, tells Lulu Garcia-Navarro about her decision to donate a million acres of land she owns in Patagonia to Chile's government.

Categories: Environment

Shrinking Arctic sea ice threatens the majestic Beluga whale

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/25 - 11:59pm
The Arctic sea ice hosts algae, which sustain a food chain up to the beluga whale. But the ice is decreasing – and in summers, it may be gone entirely by 2050

The beluga whale is one of the most extraordinary species of marine creature known to science. It is a gregarious, pure white Arctic dweller that emits strange, high-pitched twitters that have given it its nickname: the sea canary. Belugas are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s “near threatened” list, because of past whaling and the impact of water contamination.

Now scientists have discovered that Delphinapterus leucas is facing a new global threat. Like many other species that live in the far north, their lives are being disrupted by global warming, according to Thomas Brown of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams), who has been studying belugas for several years.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to keeping your recycling muscles fit

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/25 - 10:00pm

It’s desperately important that we redouble our efforts to combat pollution and waste

Recycling is a bit like fitness. The moment you stop putting in the effort, you lose your muscle.

This was on my mind as I watched microwavable black plastic containers whizzing up a conveyer belt at a recycling depot in Kent. This is progress. Innovation in plastic chemistry means these trays can now be recycled.

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Categories: Environment

‘Who knows what we’ll find next?’ Journey to the heart of Mozambique’s hidden forest

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/25 - 2:00pm
Since it was identified on Google Earth in 2005, the forest of Mount Mabu has amazed scientists with its unique wildlife. Jeffrey Barbee joins explorer Professor Julian Bayliss on the first trip to its green heart

The soggy boots of the team slide backwards in the black mud as they struggle up towards the ridge line separating the forest edge from one of the last unexplored places on Earth.

The rain is an incessant barrage of watery bullets firing down through the tree canopy. Thunder crashes. Tangles of vines and spider webs make for a Hollywood movie scene of truly impenetrable jungle.

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Categories: Environment

The hidden treasures of Mount Mabu – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/25 - 2:00pm

In the mid-2000s, in a room at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Professor Julian Bayliss used Google Earth to discover a hidden rainforest in Northern Mozambique which is home to dozens of new species of flora and fauna. Professor Bayliss and Alliance Earth Director Jeffrey Barbee ventured with a team into the heart of the forest.

To find out more about the expedition click here

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Categories: Environment

Foreign companies flock to build nuclear plants in the UK

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/25 - 9:00am
A South Korean firm is just the latest to be lured by Britain’s atomic amibitions as safety concerns and cost stalk the industry

Nuclear energy faces an uncertain future globally as concerns over safety and cost dog the industry. But in the UK, foreign investors are queueing up to back projects. The latest is South Korea. Its biggest power company is in talks to join the consortium backing a nuclear power station in Cumbria, in a sign of the continuing allure of Britain’s atomic ambitions to international companies. Kepco said last week it was interested in taking a stake in NuGen, which is 60% owned by Japan’s Toshiba and 40% by France’s Engie, confirming what had been an open secret in the industry for months.

Kepco’s president, Cho Hwan-eik, said that once the terms of a potential deal were ironed out, “we will be the first to jump into the race”.

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Categories: Environment

Fell race tests even the spectators

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/24 - 10:30pm

Dent Fell, west Cumbria Runners in the Jarrett’s Jaunt race have little time to appreciate the fell’s panoramic views of the Solway Firth

By hump-backed Wath Brow bridge, weary fell runners step gingerly down slippery banking into the icy waters of the river Ehen, swollen by overnight rain. Ah, the blessed relief as they rub and knead their calves with fingers and thumbs, jabbing deep into the muscles, soothing aches caused by scaling fellsides so steep they sometimes needed hands to help.

Related: Cumbria’s iron man

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Categories: Environment

Why reignite Tasmania's forest wars – to produce logs no one will buy? | Lenore Taylor

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/24 - 3:37pm

The state government’s determination to open up protected land for logging is a saga that moves from ridiculous to absurd

I thought I’d seen the turbid depths of policy driven by ideology and perceived political self-interest, but then I turned my attention back to the Tasmanian forest “wars”.

I first started reporting on this issue in 1988 when Bob Hawke and his environment minister Graham Richardson appointed a former judge, the late Michael Helsham, to investigate whether parts of the Tasmanian forest were worthy of world heritage listing. That resulted in the first of many agreements over the decades (in 1989, 1997, 2005 and 2013) in which federal and state governments paid hundreds of millions of dollars to “end the forest wars once and for all” by restructuring the industry and determining which forests should be protected and which should be open to logging.

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Categories: Environment

Inspectors find safety irregularities at Creusot nuclear forge in France

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/24 - 2:57pm

Evidence of doctored paperwork found at Areva-owned forge, which has made parts for Hinkley Point

An international team of inspectors has found evidence of doctored paperwork and other failings at a forge in France that makes parts for nuclear power stations around the world.

The UK nuclear regulator said the safety culture at the site, which has produced forgings for British plants including Sizewell B and the planned new reactors at Hinkley Point, fell short of expectations.

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