These six species are about to be sacrificed for the oil and gas industry

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/07/26 - 4:00am

Republican-led changes to the Endangered Species Act put plants and animals across America at risk. Here are the ones you should be most concerned about

Republicans in the western United States have been trying to whittle away the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since Donald Trump took office. Under new proposals, wildlife managers would limit protections for species designated as “threatened” (a level below endangered), consider the economic costs prior to defending a species, and de-emphasize long-term threats such as climate change.

The proposals follow Republican bills and budget riders that would remove protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states, exempt the greater sage-grouse from an ESA listing for 10 years, and increase state involvement in conservation decisions.

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Categories: Environment

Taking out the trash: here is the bad news the Tories tried to bury | Polly Toynbee

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/07/26 - 3:09am

Parliament’s last day is always one for sneaky, underhand decisions. This year, the government has outdone itself

They have finally gone away. The prime minister tried to get rid of parliament a few days early, but couldn’t muster the votes. There was so much bad news to bury, it would have been easier to scuttle off sooner: nothing is good news for her these days, so scores of written ministerial statements slipped out in the last couple of days, in the hope that no one would notice.

It’s a tradition – a bad one – used by all governments called “take out the trash day”, the last day of the session, with no time for MPs to summon ministers to explain highly controversial decisions. They hope to duck under the radar, or that the opposition will forget in the long six-week break.

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Categories: Environment

Cover-up: Jakarta hides foul river with giant net before Asian Games

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 7:01pm

Authorities install mesh net to hide sight and smell of Sentiong River from athletes

The Jakarta city government has come under fire for buying a giant nylon net to cover up a polluted and foul-smelling river weeks before the Indonesian capital hosts the 2018 Asian Games.

The Sentiong River, which twists alongside the athletes’ village in Kemayoran in central Jakarta, is so polluted it is known by locals as kali item or the black river.

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Categories: Environment

What Friday's Extra-Long Lunar Eclipse Can Tell Us About The Earth

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 2:32pm

The moon will turn orange or even red. And the eclipse — expected to be the longest this century — will be best to see in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe and south Asia.

(Image credit: Petros Giannakouris/AP)

Categories: Environment

Yosemite evacuates tourists as wildfires cut summer plans short

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 1:37pm

Visitors express disappointment but park says choice to empty popular valley was tough but necessary

The few remaining campers in Yosemite valley packed up gear Wednesday and cleared the area for firefighters battling a huge wildfire near Yosemite national park.

The sun rose in a smoke-filled sky over the scenic valley, which normally bustles with summer tourists but has largely emptied out after authorities reluctantly ordered the closure a day earlier.

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Categories: Environment

Logging 'destroying' swift parrot habitat as government delays action

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 11:00am

Researchers say failures allowed logging of 25% of old growth forest despite extinction threat

Habitat for the critically endangered swift parrot is being “knowingly destroyed” by logging because of government failures to manage the species’ survival, according to research.

Matthew Webb and Dejan Stojanovic, two of the Eureka prize finalists from the Australian National University’s difficult bird research group, say governments have stalled on management plans that would protect known feeding and nesting habitat in Tasmania.

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Categories: Environment

Cheap material could radically improve battery charging speed, say scientists

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 10:00am

Discovery could accelerate adoption of electric cars and solar energy, as well as helping to recharge your smartphone in minutes

A newly identified group of materials could help recharge batteries faster, raising the possibility of smartphones that charge fully in minutes and accelerating the adoption of major clean technologies like electric cars and solar energy, say researchers.

The speed at which a battery can be charged depends partly upon the rate at which positively charged particles, called lithium ions, can move towards a negatively charged electrode where they are then stored. A limiting factor in making “super” batteries that charge rapidly is the speed at which these lithium ions migrate, usually through ceramic materials.

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Categories: Environment

Why can’t we just produce less waste? | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 9:52am
Samantha Harding says Coca-Cola’s rewards-based recycling initiative only fuels more consumption, and Jean Glasberg calls for more water fountains

As Coca-Cola launches yet another heavily branded rewards-based initiative around recycling (Recyclers get half-price tickets for attractions, 25 July), it’s interesting to note that the global behemoth apparently still wonders whether deposit systems for bottles and cans increase recycling. Not only was it on a government working group that found that they do, but it runs many deposit systems around the world that see recycling rates as high as 98.5%.

As reward systems only fuel higher levels of consumption, the question is why would a company promote a solution to waste that actually creates more waste? The answer, predictably, is that the system only benefits itself and other big businesses, rather than being better for taxpayers or the environment.

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Categories: Environment

California wildfires partially shut down Yosemite at peak of tourist season

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 9:11am

Dangerous air quality forces closure of section of national park, which gets more than half a million visitors in July alone

Yosemite national park has been partially closed and officials have ordered more mandatory evacuations as wildfires continue to sweep across California this week. Fueled by dry conditions and high temperatures, smoke has settled over the popular tourist destination, causing unsafe conditions for visitors and workers, prompting officials to issue a temporary closure and evacuate the remaining tourists beginning on Wednesday at noon.

The California department of forestry and fire protection said on Wednesday that the blaze has burned 60 square miles (155 sq km). It is 25% contained.

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Categories: Environment

Stephen Colbert: 'Those who fail to learn from history … are Donald Trump'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 7:25am

Comics, including Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, discussed Trump’s increased brazenness and the rollback of environmental protections

Late-night hosts on Tuesday discussed reports that Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of former government officials and the latest from the interior and education departments.

Related: Trevor Noah on the Michael Cohen tapes: 'The perfect audiobook for our road trip to hell'

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Categories: Environment

Gene-edited plants and animals are GM foods, EU court rules

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 7:08am

Landmark decision means gene-edited plants and animals will be regulated under the same rules as genetically modified organisms

Plants and animals created by innovative gene-editing technology have been genetically modified and should be regulated as such, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The landmark decision ends 10 years of debate in Europe about what is – and is not – a GM food, with a victory for environmentalists, and a bitter blow to Europe’s biotech industry.

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Categories: Environment

Heat Waves: A Global Sweat

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 7:06am

Is this just a particularly hot summer? Or are we experiencing a natural disaster?

(Image credit: BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

British farmers fear fire as heatwave creates 'tinderbox'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 6:35am

Wildfire is now an over-riding concern for many farmers, who are taking extra precautions to stop fires spreading as the hot spell continues

“It’s like a tinderbox out here,” says Lesley Chandler, looking down at parched fields where bleached-out grass struggles through baked, stone-hard earth. “Just a spark could set it all alight.”

Chandler farms 200 acres of arable land in Oxfordshire, where there has been virtually no rain for weeks. Pastures that would normally boast grass nearly a foot tall have instead a thin cover of dried-out vegetation.

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Categories: Environment

Facebook video spreads climate denial misinformation to 5 million users | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/07/25 - 3:00am

Facebook is still struggling to contain its fake news problem

Marc Morano is the real-world fossil fuel industry version of Nick Naylor. His career began working for Rush Limbaugh, followed by a job at Cybercast News Service where he launched the ‘Swift Boat’ attacks on 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. In 2006, Morano became the director of communications for Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who is perhaps best known for throwing a snowball on the Senate floor and calling human-caused global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Thus it’s unsurprising that in 2009, Morano began directing fossil fuel-funded think tanks designed to cast doubt on the reality of and dangers associated with human-caused global warming. As he admitted in Merchants of Doubt, Morano frequently embodies the strategy of climate denial known as ‘fake experts’:

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Categories: Environment

UK theme parks to offer half-price entry in exchange for used plastic bottles

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 11:01pm

Legoland and Thorpe Park among the attractions that have joined Coca-Cola in a trial offering instant incentives for recycling

Visitors to some of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions are to be offered half-price entry in exchange for used plastic drinks bottles, as part of a trial starting on Wednesday which gives instant incentives for recycling.

In a tie-up between theme park operator Merlin and drinks giant Coca-Cola, a series of so-called “reverse vending machines” will be installed outside the entrances of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland.

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Categories: Environment

Frydenberg offers olive branch over controversial emissions target

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 7:16pm

Exclusive: Energy minister says targets can be reviewed in five years if states sign up to energy guarantee

Josh Frydenberg has offered an olive branch on the national energy guarantee, telling state energy ministers the emissions reduction target can be reviewed after five years – stepping back from an ambit claim that it be locked in for a decade.

The concession is flagged in a commonwealth paper circulated to the states late on Tuesday night. It sets out the Turnbull’s government’s position on how emissions reduction in the Neg will work.

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Categories: Environment

South Australia on track to meet 75% renewables target Liberals promised to scrap

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 6:38pm

Liberal energy minister, who inherited policy criticised as a mix of ‘ideology and idiocy’, says he’ll ensure it does not come at too high a price

South Australia’s energy minister says the state is on track to have 75% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 – the target set by the former Labor premier Jay Weatherill and once rejected by his Liberal government.

And Dan van Holst Pellekaan pledged to ensure it does not come at too high a price.

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Categories: Environment

(Voracious consumption) x (rising population) = planetary crisis | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 10:31am
Marcus Nield of the UN’s Climate Change Adaptation Unit says blaming China for is a case of ‘yellow peril’ hysteria, while Robin Maynard highlights the key role of population in depleting resources

Blaming China for climate change is a clearcut case of “yellow peril” hysteria (Letters, 12 July). On average, a person in China consumes less than half of the emissions of a person in the US (7.2 tonnes per capita annually compared with 16.5 tonnes). So why all the finger-wagging at China? There’s a blatant mistake recurring in carbon politics. Yes, as a nation, China emits the most carbon dioxide, but an astronomical volume of these emissions are to manufacture our goods in the west. Is it fair to maintain a voracious level of consumption in the US and UK while blaming China for producing the goods that we’re consuming? Don’t look at emissions in isolation. Look at them in tandem with consumption, and then we’ll see where to place the burden of blame. Also, China’s investments in renewables have caused the costs to plummet, from which the entire world can now benefit. China invests more than $100bn in domestic renewables every year – more than twice the level of the US, and more than the US and the EU combined.
Marcus Nield
Climate Change Adaptation Unit, UN Environment, Nairobi, Kenya

• Your article (23 July) accurately sums up the excellent work done by the Global Footprint Network regarding our depletion of the planet’s ability to support us. What, unlike GFN themselves, the article did not acknowledge is that the number of people consuming those resources is a critical, if not the critical, driver of the unfolding crisis. In 1970, our global population was less than half of the 7.6 billion we have presently. In 1970, Earth Overshoot Day fell on the 29 December: in 2018, on 1 August. Can anyone credibly claim that those two changes are not linked?

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Categories: Environment

Greek wildfires: dry winter and strong winds led to tinderbox conditions

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 9:35am

Experts call for better forest management and focus on prevention after blaze that killed more than 70 people

An unusually dry winter, with less than average rainfall interspersed with localised flooding in some areas, is emerging as a major contributing factor to the wildfires that are ravaging the mainland of Greece.

Lack of the expected steady rainfall in the winter months meant groundwater sources failed to recharge and left vegetation unable to recover fully from the high temperatures of the 2017 summer. As a result, when temperatures topping 40C hit some areas during this summer’s heatwave and drought, the conditions were already in place for wildfires to take hold.

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Categories: Environment

Cuadrilla gets go-ahead to start fracking at Lancashire site

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/07/24 - 8:45am

Energy minister issues first permit since new regulatory regime introduced

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla has been given the green light by the government to start fracking at a well in Lancashire, after the energy minister issued the first fracking permit since a new regulatory regime was introduced.

Fracking is expected to begin in late August or early September at the Preston New Road site, between Blackpool and Preston, which has been the focus of 18 months of protests since work on the site started.

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Categories: Environment
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