Environment

Winter Storm Stresses Energy Infrastructures Along The East Coast

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 2:32pm

A powerful winter storm is dropping up to a foot-and-a-half of snow in some parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Strong winds and cold temperatures are stressing the region's energy infrastructure.

Categories: Environment

Tips From Antarctica For How To Stay Warm During The Bomb Cyclone

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 2:32pm

The bomb cyclone has hit the eastern U.S. and already caused many flight cancelations and power outages, with more expected. From Antarctica, where temps can drop to minus 100, Palmer Station Manager Keri Nelson details how people can persevere in extreme weather.

Categories: Environment

Grand Designs £27,000 eco-home in Wales burns to the ground

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 2:13pm

Simon and Jasmine Dale spent six years building their home, which is now the subject of a crowdfunding appeal

An eco-home labelled the “cheapest house ever built in the western hemisphere” on the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs, has been destroyed by a fire.

The three-bedroomed house, which is based in the sustainable community of Lammas in rural Pembrokeshire, was featured on the TV programme in 2016 after its owners, Simon and Jasmine Dale, spent just £27,000 building it.

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Categories: Environment

Shellfish Industry, Scientists Wrestle With Potentially Deadly Toxic Algae Bloom

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 12:36pm

After decades with no sign of a lethal neurotoxin, the algae that produces it is now plaguing the warming waters of the Gulf of Maine, forcing unprecedented closures in shellfish harvesting.

(Image credit: Fred Bever/Maine Public Radio)

Categories: Environment

Trump Administration Opens Door To Dramatic Expansion Of Offshore Energy Leases

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 12:27pm

The proposal includes all but one of 26 "planning areas" in federal waters in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic, comprising about 90 percent of the outer continental shelf.

(Image credit: Rob Carr/AP)

Categories: Environment

Coral reef bleaching 'the new normal' and a fatal threat to ecosystems

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 12:00pm

Study of 100 tropical reef locations finds time between bleaching events has shrunk and is too short for full recovery

Repeated large-scale coral bleaching events are the new normal thanks to global warming, a team of international scientists has found.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers revealed a “dramatic shortening” of the time between bleaching events was “threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people”.

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Categories: Environment

Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 12:00pm

Areas starved of oxygen in open ocean and by coasts have soared in recent decades, risking dire consequences for marine life and humanity

Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950, scientists have warned, while the number of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold. Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction in the long run, risking dire consequences for the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the sea.

Climate change caused by fossil fuel burning is the cause of the large-scale deoxygenation, as warmer waters hold less oxygen. The coastal dead zones result from fertiliser and sewage running off the land and into the seas.

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Categories: Environment

Brazil raises hopes of a retreat from new mega-dam construction

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 10:56am

Hydropower policy to be rethought in face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease, says surprise government statement

After swathes of forest clearance, millions of tonnes of concrete and decades of hydro-expansion, Brazil has raised hopes that it may finally step back from the construction of new mega-dams.

In a surprise statement, a senior government official said hydropower policy needed to be rethought in the face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease.

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Categories: Environment

Focus on quality not weakened regulation post-Brexit, Gove tells farmers

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 10:11am

Quality and provenance must be the future of the British food industry, rather than lowering regulation or welfare standards, says environment secretary

The future of the British food industry after Brexit must focus on quality and provenance rather than weakened regulation, environment secretary Michael Gove has said.

“The future for British food is in quality and provenance and traceability and competing at the top of the value chain,” Gove told a packed auditorium at the Oxford Real Farming Conference. “And if we sign trade deals or lower our regulation or welfare standards in a way that means we’re no longer at the top of the value chain, then we undermine the growing strength of the very best of British food production.”

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Categories: Environment

Community leader tortured and killed over land trafficking in Peru

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 4:59am

José Napoleón Tarrillo Astonitas murdered for opposing land traffickers seeking to clear land in the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve, say local witnesses

A criminal gang involved in land trafficking has tortured and murdered a community leader in northern Peru, according to his wife and local villagers who witnessed the killing.

José Napoleón Tarrillo Astonitas, 50, was attacked by four men in his home on Saturday night. His wife, Flor Vallejos, told police he was bound by his hands and feet, beaten with a stick and strangled with an electric cable.

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Categories: Environment

Share Your Flooding Story And Plan

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 3:00am

After severe hurricanes, residents and officials from Florida to California and New York to Alaska are thinking about how to cope with repeated flooding and future flood risk.

(Image credit: Katherine Du/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Louisiana Says Thousands Should Move From Vulnerable Coast, But Can't Pay Them

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/04 - 3:00am

The state is losing land faster than just about anywhere else in the world, but says it can't protect everyone from flooding. It created a program to buy out 2,400 homes, but it's not funded.

(Image credit: William Widmer for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Farmland could turn into meadows after Brexit, says Michael Gove

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 10:07pm

Gove will tell farmers that the current subsidy regime, which rewards land ownership, will be replaced by a scheme focused on supporting the environment

Farmers will get subsidies for turning fields back into wildflower meadows after Brexit, according to environment secretary Michael Gove.

More than 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been destroyed since the second world war and their loss has played a significant role in the falling numbers of bees, birds and other wildlife.

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Categories: Environment

Which works better: climate fear, or climate hope? Well, it's complicated

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 10:00pm

Communication is everything when it comes to the climate change debate – and there isn’t just one way to speak to people’s emotions

There’s a debate in climate circles about whether you should try to scare the living daylights out of people, or give them hope – think images of starving polar bears on melting ice caps on the one hand, and happy families on their bikes lined with flowers and solar-powered lights on the other.

The debate came to something of a head this year, after David Wallace-Wells lit up the internet with his 7,000-word, worst-case scenario published in New York magazine. It went viral almost instantly, and soon was the best-read story in the magazine’s history. A writer in Slate called it “the Silent Spring of our time”. But it also garnered tremendous criticism and from more than the usual denier set.

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Categories: Environment

More than half of Norway's new car sales now electric or hybrid, figures show

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 6:52pm

Generous tax breaks and incentives like free city tolls and parking put country en route to meet electric-only vehicle market by 2025

Electric or hybrid vehicles accounted for more than half of all new cars sold in Norway in 2017, official data shows, confirming the country’s pioneering role in carbon-free transport.

Zero-emission, mainly all-electric as well as a few hydrogen-powered cars accounted for 20.9% of total sales in 2017, official figures released on Wednesday showed. Hybrid vehicles accounted for 31.3%, including 18.4% for plug-in hybrids, the Norwegian Road Federation calculated.

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Categories: Environment

'Poo tracker': New Zealand website reveals sewage on beaches

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 6:23pm

Safeswim site predicts and tracks the safety of waterways in real time amid concern about effluent overflows

A government website nicknamed the “poo tracker” in New Zealand has revealed the extent of sewage pollution on some of the country’s most popular beaches, with 16 spots closed long-term in the Auckland region due to water quality issues.

The website Safeswim was launched in November last year and predicts and tracks the safety of Auckland waterways in real time.

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Categories: Environment

How Outdoor Workers Minimize The Suffering During Bitter Cold Winters

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 2:39pm

In central Illinois, the temperature is below zero and that's before the wind chill. Some who work outdoors look for creative ways to minimize the suffering.

Categories: Environment

Scientists Warn 'Bomb Cyclone' Brings Strong Winds, Cold Temperatures

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 2:20pm

This powerful storm was created by a cold jet stream colliding with warm air over the Atlantic. It is similar to Superstorm Sandy but is likely to cause less damage.

(Image credit: Stephen B. Morton/AP)

Categories: Environment

The 'bomb cyclone' heading for the eastern US – is that even a thing?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 12:26pm

With much of the country already struggling with sub-zero temperatures, a storm is building off the coast of Florida that could be about to make things worse

People on the US east coast dealing with a winter storm that is set to deliver plunging temperatures, strong winds, blizzards and coastal flooding have been provided a suitably stark term for the experience – “bomb cyclone”.

Related: The big freeze: Arctic chill spreads across much of US – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

Short-term thinking of UK nuclear policy | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/03 - 11:05am
Sue Roaf writes that evacuation plans for Hinkley Point would have to involve at least a million people; while Diarmuid Foley says that, in the modern world, the route to weapons-grade material is not taken through the civilian nuclear fuel cycle

Justin McCurry (Fukushima looms large as Japan plans to restart world’s biggest nuclear plant, 28 December) quotes critics of the proposed reopening of the 8.2GW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Japan, who say chaos would ensue if the plant failed and the 420,000 people who live within 20 miles of it had to be evacuated. But when the three Fukushima reactors failed on 11 March 2011, the radioactive plume spread over 40kms from the plant to the north-west, engulfing a large number of towns and villages. Everyone within 20kms of the plant was immediately evacuated. Iitate village, located 40kms away, and in the path of the toxic plume, was also evacuated. Many in the 20km zone may never return home but in the “return zone” villages they began to trickle back in early 2015. A 20-40km long radioactive plume issuing from the Hinkley nuclear facility could engulf both Cardiff (348,000 population) and Bristol (428,000 population), causing the evacuation of at least a million people from the region. The UK government is the only organisation brave enough to take on that level of catastrophic risk, with our money – happy to do so no doubt because the individuals who make the decisions on our behalf will be long retired when the cesium hits the fan.
Emeritus Professor Sue Roaf
Oxford

• David Lowry’s fact-finding mission to 1958 (Letters, 28 December) is correct – at the dawn of the nuclear age, the UK’s civilian nuclear fuel cycle was seen as a precursor to weapons-grade material. However, for technical and other reasons, it was soon realised that the route to weapons-grade material was not through the civilian nuclear fuel cycle. In the current (and real) world, the peaceful use of civilian nuclear energy specifically, clearly and strictly breaks any such linkage. This is enshrined in IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group protocols.

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Categories: Environment
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