Crashing Cassini

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 8:06am

It's always best to go out with a bang.

(Image credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ SSI)

Categories: Environment

Once-common ash trees and antelope added to red list of endangered species – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 6:47am

North American ash trees, that face extinction due to an invasive beetle, and African antelope join the latest IUCN list that includes 25,000 species at risk of extinction

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Categories: Environment

Red list: ash trees and antelopes on the brink of extinction

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 5:00am

Scientists warn once-common species are disappearing faster than they can be counted as North America’s ash trees join IUCN’s list of endangered species due to threat of an invasive beetle

Native ash trees, abundant across North America, are on the brink of extinction as an invasive beetle ravages forests, according to the new red list of threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Related: Once-common ash trees and antelope added to red list of endangered species – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

Greek oil spill forces closure of Athens beaches

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 4:39am

Leak described as ecological disaster with authorities accused of failing to recognise scale of threat from sunken tanker

An emergency operation is under way to clean up an oil spill from a sunken tanker that has blackened popular beaches and bays in Athens’ Argo-Saronic gulf.

What had been thought a containable spill is being described by officials as an ecological disaster after thick tar and oil pollution drifted toward residential coastal areas.

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Categories: Environment

Elon Musk: Tesla electric lorry to be unveiled in late October

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 4:39am

Electric Semi truck will be ‘tentatively’ ready for first test rides and is ‘worth seeing in person’, but can batteries and self-driving trucks really replace diesels?

Tesla is set to launch its first electric lorry, which is expected to be able to drive itself, in late October as the company attempts to break into the commercial market.

Chief executive Elon Musk said that the “Tesla Semi truck” is “tentatively scheduled” for unveiling and first test rides one month behind schedule on 26 October in Tesla’s hometown of Hawthorne, California.

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Categories: Environment

Cyclist set to finish record-breaking 'around the world in 80 days' cycle a day early

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 3:23am

British athlete Mark Beaumont is expected to complete his world tour on Monday after 79 days in the saddle, smashing the previous record of 123 days

Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont is expected to arrive in Paris on Monday 18 September, 79 days after setting off on his attempt to cycle around the world in 80 days.

The Guardian joined Beaumont in Lisbon on Wednesday, where he arrived on an overnight flight from Halifax in Canada to start the final leg of his record-breaking challenge. Despite cycling an average of 240 miles over 16 hours every day since 2 July, he looked fresh and sounded upbeat as we ticked off more miles on our way to the Spanish border. Yet he admitted the ride has taken its toll on him, both mentally and physically.

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Categories: Environment

The entrepreneurs turning carbon dioxide into fuels

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 3:13am

The race is on to prove that CO2 can be taken from the air and recycled into profitable, carbon neutral fuels. But cost and investment obstacles remain

In an industrial greenhouse about 30km from Zurich, plump aubergines and juicy cherry tomatoes are ripening to perfection. Growing Mediterranean crops in Switzerland would traditionally be energy intensive but these vegetables are very nearly carbon-neutral. The greenhouse uses waste energy from a nearby refuse plant, and carbon dioxide from the world’s first commercial direct air capture plant.

The facility, designed by Zurich-based start-up Climeworks, pumps the gas into greenhouses to boost the plants’ photosynthesis and increase their yield, it hopes, by up to 20%. Climeworks says it will extract around 900 tonnes of CO2 a year from the air.

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Categories: Environment

VIDEO: Snot Otters Get A Second Chance In Ohio

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 2:03am

North America's largest amphibian, the Hellbender salamander, is in trouble. They are endangered in several states. A team in Ohio is trying to save them before it's too late.

(Image credit: Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures RM/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Air Pollution From Industry Plagues Houston In Harvey's Wake

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/09/14 - 2:00am

Flooding in Houston and utility outages led to belches of fumes from refineries and other industrial sites. Residents of a region already struggling with air pollution wonder: Is it safe to breathe?

(Image credit: Claire Harbage/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Shark hunt: Sea Shepherd activists bring Timor-Leste police to Chinese-owned boat

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 10:49pm

Environmental activist group says it is detaining vessels for Timorese police after Chinese-owned fleet allegedly targeted sharks

The ocean activist group Sea Shepherd says it has delivered armed Timor-Leste police on to a Chinese-owned fishing vessel in a dawn raid and is detaining the vessels for the police after it was found targeting sharks.

Following a two-week hunt for the Pingtan Marine Enterprises fleet, the Sea Shepherd boat M/Y Ocean Warrior found the vessels 150km south of Timor-Leste, allegedly fishing with gill nets anchored to the bottom of the sea, which would suggest they were targeting bottom-dwellers such as sharks.

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Categories: Environment

Rare white giraffes sighted in Kenya conservation area

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 8:09pm

A pair of giraffes with leucism, a condition that inhibits pigmentation in skin cells, have been filmed by conservationists for the first time

A pair of rare white giraffes have been spotted in Kenya, to the delight of local residents and conservationists.

The reticulated giraffes, a mother and child, suffer from a genetic condition called leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, which explains the white giraffes’ dark eyes and other colouring.

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Categories: Environment

Asia's glaciers to shrink by a third by 2100, threatening water supply of millions

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 5:45pm

High mountains of Asia hold biggest store of frozen water outside the poles and feed many of the world’s great rivers, including the Ganges

Asia’s mountain glaciers will lose at least a third of their mass through global warming by the century’s end, with dire consequences for millions of people who rely on them for fresh water, researchers have said.

This is a best-case scenario, based on the assumption that the world manages to limit average global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) over pre-industrial levels, a team wrote in the journal Nature.

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view of offshore wind: cheaper and greener | Editorial

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 11:47am
Electricity generated from whirling fans among the waves means that nuclear is rightly vanishing as the answer to meet our energy needs and our climate goals

The precipitous drop in the price of electricity from offshore wind turbines should be a tipping point for green technology. In 2014 the current generated by a forest of giant whirling fans out at sea was priced at around £150 per megawatt hour. In the latest auction this week the comparable cost dropped as low as £57.50/MWh. Even when the cost of providing back-up capacity for still days is added, the cost of producing energy from offshore wind is little more than £70/MWh. Compared to the new Hinkley C nuclear plant which produces electricity at a cost of £92.50/MWh, one has to wonder whether as a nation we should persist with nuclear energy as an option to reduce our greenhouse gas output.

Hinkley looks like a dinosaur even before it arrives on earth. It’s unclear whether the unproven design will ever get built. If it does, the cost of complying with safety and anti-terrorism standards may well be prohibitive. Hinkley was conceived when the conventional wisdom was that we would start to run out of hydrocarbons. Fears of a runaway price for oil and gas now look overheated. The government has however supported plans to install a nuclear power plant, backed by French and Chinese state operators, costing £18bn. Nuclear power has a trump card: it is a zero-carbon technology which delivers a continuous, uninterrupted supply. This may be a consideration in the years ahead if the UK banned petrol engines and only allowed electric cars. Imagine, say nuclear fans, the surge of demand when everyone got home and plugged in their motors. But we are not there yet.

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Categories: Environment

New 'real world' diesel tests fail to prevent rush hour pollution peak

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 11:00am

Exclusive: new tests are intended to close loopholes but cars can still emit excess fumes in slow traffic, data shows

New “real world” emissions tests fail to prevent high levels of pollution from diesel cars during rush hour, according to new data.

Diesel vehicles are the main cause of the UK’s widespread levels of illegal air pollution, with the VW cheating scandal exposing the fact that virtually all diesel cars emitted far more toxic fumes than in official laboratory based tests. Since 1 September, new models must now be tested on real roads, but the new data shows even this does not prevent high levels of fumes in slow traffic, when pollution is at its worst for drivers and other road users.

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Categories: Environment

Montanans Pitch In To Bring Clean Air To Smoky Classrooms

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 10:54am

Montana has recently pushed all their young students indoors because of the unprecedented level of smoke from wildfires. Some community groups are now collaborating to clean up that indoor air.

(Image credit: Eric Whitney/MTPR)

Categories: Environment

Flannels not fatbergs! The eco-friendly alternatives to wet wipes

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 10:25am
A ‘monster’ blockage has been discovered in London sewers and wet wipes are a major contributor. But from makeup removal to household cleaning, what should we be using instead?

Images of melting icebergs have long proved inspirational to environmentalists and politicians seeking to mitigate the threat of man-made climate change. So why is it that images of giant fatbergs clogging our sewers can’t seem to stop people flushing wet wipes down the loo?

These fatty underground tumours, comprised largely of wipes, nappies and cooking grease, have proliferated, backing up plumbing systems as far afield as New York City, San Francisco and Sydney. This month, a 130-tonne fatberg stretching the length of two football pitches was revealed during a routine inspection of the ageing sewage pipes beneath Whitechapel, in east London. Weighing about the same as a medium-sized jetliner, the fatberg is among the largest ever found and, left unchecked, could have sent a deluge of raw sewage on to the streets of London. Thames Water’s sewer chief Matt Rimmer described it as “a total monster” that would take three weeks to clear with shovels and high-powered water jets.

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Categories: Environment

Lessons From The Stars: How To Live On A Climate-Changed World

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 7:55am

Classification of planets offers a way to see how Anthropocenes — and a successful route through them — might be part of a continuum of planetary evolution, says astrophysicist Adam Frank.

(Image credit: Michael Osadciw/Courtesy of University of Rochester)

Categories: Environment

The Islands After Irma

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 7:06am

Many places in the Caribbean will have to rebuild from scratch after the deadly, devastating storm.

(Image credit: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

London's most polluted schools to be given air-quality audits

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 6:42am

Mayor Sadiq Khan announces first 50 schools to undergo audits to help identify measures to minimise the impact of pollution on children

The most polluted schools in London are to be audited as part of the mayor’s drive to clean up toxic air across the capital.

Earlier this year a Guardian investigation revealed that hundreds of thousands of children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries.

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Categories: Environment

Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/09/13 - 5:30am

Exclusive: As global demand for chocolate booms, ‘dirty’ beans from deforested national parks have entered big business supply chains

The world’s chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa, the Guardian can reveal.

Cocoa traders who sell to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands buy beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960.

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