The big and unfriendly giant hogweed

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 1:30pm

A Victorian garden sensation has become a sensational invasive nuisance. Contact with its toxic sap causes burns and blisters that can take months to heal

It’s a monster towering up to 20ft tall, leaves spreading out like giant hands and flowers arranged in clusters the size of dinner plates. This is the giant hogweed, and the tabloids have been running alarming headlines recently, claiming an explosion in numbers of “Britain’s most dangerous plant” is creating havoc as it spreads in the hot weather this summer.

In reality, the plant only spreads by seed, each plant producing up to 50,000 seeds released from late August onwards and cast into the wind or water. But the giant hogweed is undoubtedly a dangerous plant, armed with highly toxic sap and just brushing past it with bare skin is enough to cause painful skin burns, which blister when exposed to ultraviolet rays in daylight, and can take months to heal. Even years afterwards the skin remains sensitive to sunlight.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking: report warns of risks associated with shale gas extraction

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 11:00am

Report suggests surface water and groundwater should not be used in some instances and warns against fracking during wet season

Residents, environmentalists and pastoralists have welcomed a “balanced” report on fracking in the Northern Territory, which identified a number of risks associated with the industry and a loss of community trust.

The NT government enacted a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the NT when it took office in August, establishing an inquiry to examine if it could be done safely, following concerted campaigning by Indigenous land owners, pastoralists and environmentalists.

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Categories: Environment

'This has been my life for past six years': on the anti-fracking frontline

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 9:05am

Inside the Lancashire protest camp aiming to disrupt new Cuadrilla wells with direct action tactics

It is a battle that has gone on for years, pitting tireless local residents and environmentalists against a major gas exploration company hoping to get rich – and solve a future energy crisis – by fracking under the Fylde coast.

Last October the government overruled Lancashire county council and gave Cuadrilla the green light to begin drilling, but anti-fracking activists have refused to give up their fight.

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Categories: Environment

'Groundbreaking': Cornwall geothermal project seeks funds

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 7:38am

The UK’s first commercial geothermal plant could come online as soon as 2020 – research suggests the technology generate a fifth of the nation’s power

A pioneering project to produce power from hot rocks several kilometres under the ground in Cornwall will begin drilling early next year, if a multimillion-pound fundraising drive succeeds.

Abundance, a crowdfunding platform overseen by the main City regulator, will this week launch a bond to raise £5m for the UK’s first commercial geothermal power station, located near Redruth.

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Categories: Environment

'More valuable than gold': Yellowstone businesses prepare to fight mining

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 4:00am

Around Yellowstone national park, mining companies anticipate the end of the Obama-era moratorium, but local businesses are fighting back

Bruce Gordon’s Cessna Centurion floats off the runway south of Livingston, Montana, quickly escaping the confines of Paradise Valley, walled on both sides by the Absaroka and Gallatin mountain ranges. Snaking through the alfalfa fields, cottonwood thickets and ranches below, the Yellowstone river is still surging with late spring snowmelt.

As soon as we crest the ridges, the whole of Yellowstone national park is visible to the south, with Grand Teton towering on the far horizon. Places that would take hours to drive between – because of impassable mountains and roadless wilderness – are revealed to be only a handful of miles apart. The nearly 1m acres of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is spread out to the east, teeming with unseen elk herds, mountain lions and grizzly bears. Gordon, who runs the nonprofit EcoFlight, based in Aspen, Colorado, pilots flights like this one to help people understand conservation issues with a view from above. “We’re coming up on Emigrant Gulch now,” Joe Josephson, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, says over the intercom as we fly over the green-roofed buildings of Chico Hot Springs resort, skirting the conical 10,915ft Emigrant Peak. Josephson, an avid mountaineer who recently summited Emigrant Peak to celebrate his 50th birthday, is the Montana Conservation Associate for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a nonprofit devoted to defending the 20m-acre Yellowstone ecosystem from degradation.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change is ‘great opportunity’ says Richard Branson – video

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 3:53am

The Founder and chair of the Virgin Group speaks during a panel discussion in New York on Friday and says the threat of climate change actually offers ‘one of the great opportunities for this world’. Branson urges the business sector to step forward and ‘fill certain gaps that some governments are leaving behind’ in tackling the problem

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Categories: Environment

In Chile, Many Regard Climate Change As The Greatest External Threat

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 3:41am

Drought, floods and wildfires are signs that climate change has become a harsh reality for the 17 million people of Chile. Laguna de Aculeo used to be a booming summer playground, but not anymore.

(Image credit: Philip Reeves/NPR)

Categories: Environment

The eco guide to animal welfare

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/07/15 - 10:00pm

Britain is an international leader in animal welfare and now, fortunately, the message is beginning to spread – importantly to China

Animal welfare is one of the UK’s most successful exports. When the late Peter Roberts, a Hampshire dairy farmer, founded the charity Compassion in World Farming (ciwf.org.uk) 50 years ago, he rightly feared that industrialised farming would wreak havoc on animals and the planet. Even he couldn’t have envisaged today’s numbers: 70 billion animals are reared globally for meat, milk and eggs each year and two thirds of farm animals are reared intensively. We call it factory farming. The mission of CIWF is to bring it to a halt.

The concept of animal welfare didn’t have an equivalent in Mandarin or Cantonese.

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Categories: Environment

Trump regrets 'bizarre mistake' of Paris climate pullout, Branson claims

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/07/15 - 5:51pm
  • Virgin chief tells audience in Brooklyn Trump’s decision is ‘very, very strange’
  • French president Macron is hopeful US will reverse decision

Donald Trump regrets the “bizarre mistake” of withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, Sir Richard Branson has said. The British billionaire also urged the president to help phase out the ailing US coal industry.

Related: Donald Trump offers hand of friendship to Emmanuel Macron on Paris visit

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Categories: Environment

Brexit threatens Britain’s place at the nuclear top table | Ian Chapman

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/07/15 - 4:04pm

The UK is currently a world leader in fusion research; leaving Euratom would be calamitous

In the south of France, the largest scientific experiment mankind has ever embarked upon is rising out of the ground. This facility, the Iter project, will demonstrate nuclear fusion power on a commercial scale, involving the European Union, US, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia and India. Fusion is the process that powers the sun and the stars, and bringing it to Earth has long been a staple of science fiction fantasies.

It is an energy source that, instead of burning fossil fuels, uses water; it produces no long-lived waste and can operate alongside solar, wind and other renewables to power the world to a carbon-free future. Iter will be operational within a decade and will represent a huge step towards fusion, revolutionising the way we generate electricity in the middle part of this century.

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Categories: Environment

Think you know what fish is in your sushi? Think again

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/07/15 - 4:04pm

Exotic tropical species being mis-sold to British customers who can’t tell their mackerel from their herring, research shows

Sushi bars and shops are regularly mis-selling exotic species of fish to unwitting British customers, according to new research.

In cases cited in the report, customers thought they were buying a fish from the Atlantic when it was really a tropical variety, while many fish were sold under a generic name that revealed little about where they came from. Some of the species were endangered, while others were so rare that little was known about their population size. The findings suggest that an increasingly complex and globalised food supply chain is open to abuse, putting exotic species at risk.

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Categories: Environment

Maize, rice, wheat: alarm at rising climate risk to vital crops

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/07/15 - 1:59pm

Simultaneous harvest failures in key regions would bring global famine, says the Met Office

Governments may be seriously underestimating the risks of crop disasters occurring in major farming regions around the world, a study by British researchers has found.

The newly published research, by Met Office scientists, used advanced climate modelling to show that extreme weather events could devastate food production if they occurred in several key areas at the same time. Such an outcome could trigger widespread famine.

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Categories: Environment

From Myanmar to Mumbai: your images of plastic waste around the world

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 11:00pm

Readers document the rising environmental crisis of plastic waste, as the planet struggles to cope with a million plastic bottles being sold every minute

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Categories: Environment

'Quite odd': coral and fish thrive on Bikini Atoll 70 years after nuclear tests

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 10:54pm

Scientists say marine life has proved ‘remarkably resilient’ despite the Pacific island being declared a wasteland in the 1950s

The former island paradise of Bikini Atoll is slowing blooming back to life, 70 years after the United States dropped 23 nuclear bombs on it, including a device in 1954 that was 1,100-times larger than the Hiroshima atom bomb.

A team of scientists from Stanford University have been surprised to discover an abundance of marine life apparently thriving in the crater of Bikini Atoll, which was declared a nuclear wasteland after the bombings, with its 167 inhabitants relocated to other islands.

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Categories: Environment

Waiting for the gorse to burst

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 9:30pm

Bratley View, New Forest The distinct click had been a seed pod twisting and firing its tiny black seeds into the distance

Click. The sound is distinct. A black speck flashes across my vision. I straighten up and think about the two. There can be no doubt what they were, but I am sensorially confused. Which had I actually experienced first? The click, or the speck?

At that moment, I had been adjusting the settings on my camera to try to catch the pink of the clump of common centaury that was looking radiant at the edge of an parched path. I give up on that for the time being, and linger by the gorse bushes in the hope that there will be a repeat performance, and I will solve the puzzle. Though I wait, and later walk some distance through an extensive gorse brake following a route marked out by the ponies, the plants refuse an encore.

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Categories: Environment

Malcolm Turnbull: 'We've done more in past year than we did in previous three'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 8:05pm

Prime minister says those who think coal has no future are delusional, as Barnaby Joyce calls on party members to get behind Turnbull

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says his government has done more in this past year than the Coalition did in the previous three under the leadership of Tony Abbott.

He has also mounted a defence of coal-powered electricity, saying those who think the resource does not have a future are “delusional”.

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Categories: Environment

Government’s letter to conservation groups has ominous implications | Lenore Taylor

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 5:00pm

New reporting rules seem to represent a big win for the campaign by the mining sector and conservative politicians to stifle environmental advocacy

The environment department has recently begun sending letters to conservation groups registered as eligible for tax deductible donations, as they do every year. But this year the correspondence is different, in a disturbing way.

In the past the groups, which include all the big names such as the Australian Conservation Society, The Wilderness Society, Lock the Gate, Greenpeace etc, as well as small local conservation organisations, were simply asked to reveal the total expenditure from their public fund. This year they have also been asked to break down their expenditure into the amounts spent on “on ground environmental remediation”, “campaign and advocacy”, “research” and other administration.

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Categories: Environment

Guardian readers making Britain beautiful again | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 10:21am
Letter writers share their stories of picking up litter and offer suggestions how others might be encouraged to follow their lead

In our village, we have seen both the potential and the limitations of people-led efforts to tackle litter (Letters, 13 July). The parish council and the local transition village group have worked together to both inform people about the wider environmental problems of litter, especially plastic, and to develop a network of individuals who have undertaken to keep specific roads or areas free of litter. Volunteers were provided with good-quality litter pickers (available from the Keep Britain Tidy campaign) and gloves, and a map was put up in the parish office showing the areas covered.

The results have been fantastic: lots of volunteers mean that most of the village is litter-free most of the time. I am sure that Wendy Harvey’s hope that the sight of people picking up litter raises awareness and discourages (but doesn’t stop) others from dropping litter. A campaign at the local secondary school, has undoubtedly contributed as well.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking activists have a right to protest. We must support them | Jonathan Bartley

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 9:53am
Across the world, environmental protesters, like those in Lancashire, are putting their bodies on the line. In the future we will remember them as heroes

• Jonathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green party

In every corner of the globe people are taking action on climate change as governments refuse to tackle the greatest threat we face. In the US, the Standing Rock protesters stood tall against the Keystone pipeline. In Brazil, brave defenders are standing in the way of the destruction of the rainforest. This week we learned that in 2016, 200 activists lost their lives while defending the environment, with another 98 killed in the first five months of this year. Here in Britain, too, people are putting their bodies on the line in a fight against the frackers carving up green spaces.

Related: UK support for fracking hits new low

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Categories: Environment

Friday News Roundup - International

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/07/14 - 8:06am

Iraq marks a major moment, Brazil sends its former president to prison and President Trump looks for an alternative agreement -- in Paris.

(Image credit: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment
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