National Grid boss says Labour plan will stall green energy drive

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 11:05pm

John Pettigrew claims switch to public ownership will disrupt transition to cleaner forms of energy

Labour’s plan to take the National Grid back into public ownership would harm the UK’s switch to green energy, the grid’s chief executive has said. John Pettigrew said renationalisation was “the last thing the industry needs” as it invests to accommodate more wind and solar power on the UK’s power grids.

“Clearly, on nationalisation, we do not think it is a good idea,” Pettigrew said, as the company reported operating profits up 14% to £4.7bn for 2016-17. Its market capitalisation is about £38bn, including its US business.

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Categories: Environment

Could British homes be powered by Icelandic volcano?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 10:00pm

Commercial interest is growing in plans to harness geothermal energy from Iceland’s magma lakes and use it to supply the UK and Europe

Harnessing the power of Iceland’s volcanoes to provide energy to British homes is one of those ideas that resurfaces every few years, but sounds too good – or whacky – to be true.

However, interest from a clutch of international companies in a geothermal project in northern Iceland suggests the idea is not just achievable but commercially viable too.

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Categories: Environment

Immersive plunge for bored young dipper

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 9:30pm

Milldale, Derbyshire The adult whirred downstream. The juvenile, sat still for a bit, gaped, grew restless, then launched itself into the stream

The grassy east bank of the river Dove below the packhorse bridge at Milldale, in the Peak District, is popular with picnickers and we had to drift downstream to find a little space. Once prone, bagel in hand, I half dozed, half watched insects forming clouds over the river, catching sunlight like chaff.

But then I snapped awake as I realised I was being watched. A rich brown eye glistened as it fixed on mine from no more than three metres away – a juvenile dipper clamped to a broken branch jammed in the rocks, deep in shadow, breaking the flow of water.

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Categories: Environment

Electricity trial to pay users to cut power during high demand or natural disasters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 8:08pm

Arena and Aemo to trial program that would pay South Australian and Victorian customers to reduce their use

South Australian and Victorian electricity users will be paid to voluntarily forego power use during times of extreme stress on the power grid under a trial program announced by national energy regulators.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) are looking to trial the program next summer, following outages earlier this year in South Australia and New South Wales caused by “an unprecedented level of demand”.

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Categories: Environment

How Australia can use hydrogen to export its solar power around the world

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 4:42pm

Recent innovations in hydrogen generation, storage, transport and use could transform it into the ultimate source of clean energy

Nearly a century ago, British scientist JB Haldane saw an energy future in which wind power would be used to generate hydrogen; a fuel he described as, weight-for-weight, the most efficient known method of storing energy.

He thought this future was four hundred years away, but the so-called “hydrogen economy” may arrive a lot sooner thanks to a recent burst of innovations in hydrogen generation, storage, transport and use. And it could open a new energy export market for Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Energy Companies Urge Trump To Remain In Paris Climate Agreement

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 3:32pm

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden says he wants the U.S. to remain in the 2015 Paris climate accord. Energy companies like Exxon Mobil and BP have also urged President Trump to continue supporting the deal.

(Image credit: Peter Dejong/AP)

Categories: Environment

Tree clearing may have killed 180 koalas in Queensland in two years, says wildlife group

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 1:25pm

World Wildlife Fund calls for public pressure on the Palaszczuk government to reduce habitat destruction

Tree clearing may have killed as many as 180 koalas in south-east Queensland in the two years after the former state government relaxed vegetation protection laws, according to an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund.

The environmental group says a crisis gripping koala populations has its root in a surge in tree clearing given the political green light in both Queensland and New South Wales.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists Glued Fake Caterpillars On Plants Worldwide. Here's What Happened

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 12:28pm

Predators that attacked the clay caterpillars left telltale bite marks, which were later analyzed to help figure the critter's risk of getting eaten. That analysis revealed a striking pattern.

(Image credit: Chung Yun Tak/Science)

Categories: Environment

Cylindrical space for a crab to call home | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 11:30am
Brown hares and hunting | Water in Bagno Vignoni | 35mm film canisters | Letter from the Tories | Granny Seaside and Granny Cat

A repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act would accelerate the demise of our iconic brown hares, already listed in 2011 for potential extinction by 2050 (May pledges free vote on hunting, 10 May). One third of the hunts (with dogs) in England and Wales target these declining hares, not foxes. The act outlaws hare coursing, but a repeal would further encourage this intrusive and destructive activity, already so distressing to farmers and problematic to police forces countrywide.
John Rimington
Technical liaison officer, Hare Preservation Trust

Related: Washing your hair with mineral water or champagne – what lengths would you go to?

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Categories: Environment

Climate change is turning Antarctica green, say researchers

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 9:00am

In the past 50 years the quantity and rate of plant growth has shot up, says study, suggesting further warming could lead to rapid ecosystem changes

Antarctica may conjure up an image of a pristine white landscape, but researchers say climate change is turning the continent green.

Scientists studying banks of moss in Antarctica have found that the quantity of moss, and the rate of plant growth, has shot up in the past 50 years, suggesting the continent may have a verdant future.

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Categories: Environment

Sea level rise will double coastal flood risk worldwide

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 7:10am

Small but unstoppable increases will double frequency of extreme water levels with dire consequences, say scientists

Small but inevitable rises in sea level will double the frequency of severe coastal flooding in most of the world with dire consequences for major cities that sit on coastlines, according to scientists.

The research takes in to account the large waves and storm surges that can tip gradually rising sea levels over the edge of coastal defences. Lower latitudes will be first affected, in a great swath through the tropics from Africa to South America and throughout south-east Asia, with Europe’s Atlantic coast and the west coast of the US not far behind.

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Categories: Environment

Stormy Weather: Are We Well Prepared For The Next Disaster?

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 7:06am

Is the country well prepared for a summer of record heat, flash floods and extreme weather?

(Image credit: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Will The Government Help Farmers Adapt To A Changing Climate?

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 5:00am

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may no longer be able to depend on government research to help them adapt to climate change.

(Image credit: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

Categories: Environment

Product designers 'must reduce Pringles factor' to boost recycling

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/05/18 - 2:17am

Recycling Association chief cites crisp brand as one of worst examples of multiple materials being used in single product

Product designers need to retreat from “the Pringles factor” in order to make their packaging more recyclable, an environmental expert has said.

Simon Ellin, the chief executive of the Recycling Association, which represents recyclers, pointed to the snack tube as a prime example of the failure to consider recycling in design – and listed a range of other offenders from Lucozade Sport drinks to whisky packaging.

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Categories: Environment

Boutique food wraps and £18 nappies: is being eco only for the rich? | Michele Hanson

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 11:00pm

Pricey alternatives to plastic wrap and other disposable products are sending out the message that you need to be wealthy to live sustainably

I was giving the daughter a slice of cake to take away, wrapped in plastic, even though the world is drowning in the stuff, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was something to wrap my food in that didn’t leak and wasn’t wrecking the planet?”

And there is. Bee’s Wrap – made of cloth, beeswax and tree resin, washable in soap and cold water, reusable and sealed by the warmth of your hands.

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Categories: Environment

Less than 1% of surplus food from farms and manufacturers used to feed hungry

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 10:31pm

A tiny proportion of excess food is being sent to charities and is instead ending up in landfill or left to rot, figures show

Less than 1% of edible surplus food produced by UK manufacturers and farms is being sent to charities to help feed the hungry, according to new figures.

Vegetables that are perfectly edible are being left to rot in the fields, and other foods not sold to retailers are put into anaerobic digestion or sent straight to landfill, the UK’s largest redistribution charity FareShare has warned.

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Categories: Environment

New types of coffee, parsnips and roses among 1,700 plants discovered last year

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 10:01pm

From a new variety of Turkish parsnip to Madagascar coffee beans, the discoveries offer the prospect of better crops, medicinal uses and new garden displays

From new parsnips and herbs to begonias and roses, the world’s plant hunters discovered more than 1,700 new species last year, offering the prospect of better crops and new colours and scents in the garden.

The State of the World’s Plants report, led by scientists at the Royal Botanical Garden Kew in the UK and published on Thursday, reveals a cornucopia of new plants and assesses the risk to the plant world from pests and invasive species.

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Categories: Environment

Toxin-tolerant plants take root in colliery's spoil tips

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 9:30pm

Middlehope Moor, Weardale Miners who left waste rock beside the burn created a perfect habitat for the spring sandwort

On a grey day in a tree-less landscape, buffeted by a bone-chilling north-easterly wind, only the calls of curlews and oystercatchers that had returned here to breed suggested this must be spring.

But when we reached the stony, undulating, ground near the entrance to the “governor and company’s level”, a mine tunnel driven into a hillside almost two centuries ago by the London Lead Company, we found an infallible floral indicator of the season.

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Categories: Environment

Adani offered $320m deferment of Carmichael coal export royalties

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 7:02pm

Queensland premier will neither confirm nor deny deal under which full royalties due would only be paid in later years

The Queensland government has reportedly offered Adani a royalties pause worth up to $320m as the company decides whether to proceed with its Carmichael mine project.

The deal, in which Adani would pay a discounted $2m a year on exported coal in the mine’s early years, could be signed this week and has concerned some senior Labor figures, the ABC has reported.

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Categories: Environment

Australian oil well leaked into ocean for months – but spill kept secret

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/05/17 - 3:33pm

Offshore oil and gas regulator says there was a 10,500-litre spill in April 2016 but refuses to reveal where it occurred or company responsible

An offshore oil and gas well in Australia leaked oil continuously into the ocean for two months in 2016, releasing an estimated 10,500 litres. But the spill was never made public by the regulator and details about the well, its whereabouts and operator remain secret.

In its annual offshore performance report released this week, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority included a mention of a 10,500-litre spill in April 2016. It provided limited details about, noting that it had been identified during a routine inspection.

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Categories: Environment
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