Environment

Grey plaque scheme highlights NO2 pollution in London

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 10:18am

London’s Choking initiative aims to draw attention to areas where nitrogen dioxide pollution threatens public health

They take their inspiration from the well-known signs linking people from the past with the buildings they once inhabited, but the symbols now appearing across London are to highlight a different connection.

In the past week, grey plaques – direct copies of the English Heritage blue plaques identifying the homes of the dead and famous – have been put up on buildings across the capital to identify streets and houses in areas where air pollution threatens public health.

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Categories: Environment

April cold weather could cause a shortage of British fruit, say farmers

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 7:19am

National Farmers’ Union warns of ‘waiting game’ on apples, pears and plums after last month’s Arctic blast

Cold weather in April could lead to a shortage of British apples, pears and plums, farmers have warned.

Alison Capper, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture board, said she feared her own apple harvest, which includes varieties such as Gala, Braeburn and Red Windsor apples, could drop by 70-80% as a result of the cold snap.

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Categories: Environment

Trump is deleting climate change, one site at a time

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 12:00am

The administration has taken a hatchet to climate change language across government websites. Here are several of the more egregious examples

During inauguration day on 20 January, as Donald Trump was adding “American carnage” to the presidential lexicon, the new administration also took a hammer to official recognition that climate change exists and poses a threat to the US.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to green lawns

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 10:00pm

Manicured grass comes at a heavy cost in terms of pollution from pesticides. We need better legislation, and wildflowers happily mixed with the turf

As contenders for the 12th Britain’s Best Lawn competition will know, with a great lawn comes great responsibility. Despite the fact that the winner receives a lithium-ion-battery, self-propelled lawnmower (far more eco than a petrol version), lawn-keeping typically involves a shed-load of pesticides and herbicides.

The Mormon temple in LA let its famous lawn dry out in the sun

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Categories: Environment

Peril of the deep – the killer poison that lingers unseen in British waters

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:05pm

The discovery of alarming levels of PCBs, a type of chemical banned 40 years ago, has led scientists to call for an urgent clean-up

The body of Lulu the killer whale was found on jagged rocks on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides last year. A member of the only pod found in British waters, she died after getting entangled in fishing lines.

It was a sad discovery, especially as a postmortem revealed Lulu had never had a calf. But a recent autopsy also revealed something else that is alarming marine experts and offers a bleak, damning judgment on the state of Britain’s coastal waters. Lulu’s body had some of the highest levels of a particular type of manmade chemical ever recorded – more than 100 times above the level that scientists say will have biological consequences for a species.

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Categories: Environment

Time is running out for Madagascar – evolution’s last, and greatest, laboratory

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:04pm
Kew scientists warn that unique plants on Madagascar are at risk of extinction

It is a unique evolutionary hotspot home to thousands of plants found nowhere else on Earth. However, Madagascar’s special trees, palms and orchids – which provide habitats and food for dozens of species of rare lemur and other animals – are now facing catastrophic destruction caused by land clearances, climate change and spreading agriculture, scientists will warn this week.

Thousands of plant species could be lost to humanity in the near future according to a report, The State of the World’s Plants, by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and due to be published on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

Race is on to rid UK waters of PCBs after toxic pollutants found in killer whale

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:03pm

Scientists say more must be done to eliminate the chemicals, which have a devastating impact on marine life and can end up in the food chain

The body of Lulu the killer whale was found on jagged rocks on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. A member of the only pod found in British waters, she had died last year after getting entangled in fishing lines.

It was a sad discovery, especially as a post-mortem revealed Lulu had never produced a calf. But the recent autopsy also revealed something else; something that is alarming marine experts and which offers a bleak, damning judgment on the state of Britain’s coastal waters. Lulu’s body contained among the highest levels of a particular type of man-made chemicals ever recorded – more than 100 times above the level that scientists say will have biological consequences for a species.

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Categories: Environment

Can riverbank wildlife cope with another summer of drought?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:03pm
Water levels are low after a dry winter and mammals and birds could be at risk

Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, famous for its abbey, the Wars of the Roses battle in 1471 and the floods that ravaged the town in 2007, might seem an unlikely place to look for evidence of impending drought. But stroll along the riverbank at Abbey Mill Gate and the signs are there: the mud is cracked and dry, the reeds brown and withering, and the water is starting to form pools.

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Categories: Environment

'This is our land': New Mexico's tribal groups gear up to fight for their home

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:00am

President Trump’s decision to review the designations of 27 national monuments has raised fears of a corporate giveaway – and the pueblos of the Rio Grande valley are worried

As interior secretary Ryan Zinke arrived in Bears Ears national monument in southeastern Utah earlier this week to calm fears over proposals to reduce or redesignate 27 national monuments across 11 states, Taos Pueblo warchief Curtis Sandoval issued a stern warning: “If they allow drilling in the canyons, they’ll set off the volcanoes.”

Related: Bears Ears among 27 national monuments at risk under Trump

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Categories: Environment

Sweet-scented scurvy-grass is a spring tonic in every sense

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 9:30pm

South Uist The bitter leaves of this hardy little plant once provided a welcome dose of vitamin C after a hard winter

Scurvy-grass is usually found in coastal regions, where its high tolerance of saline conditions enables it to flourish where other plants fail to thrive. It is an early flowerer and will grow abundantly on steep cliffs, sometimes forming sizeable, rather untidy clumps of stemmed white flowers.

There is something endearing about this unassuming yet resilient plant, whose presence here is so linked to the beginning of a fresh new season. Strangely, its scent is not mentioned in most of the plant identification guides, yet springtime walks with a warm breeze lifting and carrying up with it the sweet fragrance of the profusion of flowers unseen on the rocky faces below have always been a delight.

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Categories: Environment

Free water from the bar tap? Get the app | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 11:04am
Guy Hodgson has a tech solution for reducing the amount of plastic drinking bottles we use

I can quite understand why people feel awkward asking for tap water without making a purchase (British embarrassment over asking for tap water in bars fuels plastic bottle waste – survey, 11 May). Fortunately, the Refill app from refill.org.uk will help direct people to all sorts of lovely businesses who have made clear their commitment to plastic waste reduction. They will refill with no obligation to buy anything. If there are any businesses who would like to join, they can do so within the app, and together we can provide a robust alternative to plastic drinking bottles.
Guy Hodgson
Bath

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Categories: Environment

Cockney sparrows living the high life | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 11:04am
Kelvin MacKenzie and Ross Barkley | Return of the sparrows | Management speak | Kings killed in battle | Grandparents’ names | 35mm film canisters

Kelvin MacKenzie loses his job over “racial slurs” (Report, 10 May). Are we to infer that the nasty abuse of Ross Barkley would have been fine had his grandparents all been indigenous English or European? Is there no need to care about respecting other people and their feelings, so long as no racial or sexual orientation or religious elements lurk somewhere?
Peter Cave
London

• I regularly have sparrows on the balcony of my seventh-floor Barbican flat (Patrick Barkham, Notebook, 9 May). They are from the colony which has lived in Fortune Street Park for several years. The sparrows don’t get on with the goldfinches which inhabit the estate’s wildlife garden. Alas all these birds and small mammals are prey to the resident peregrines. Who needs to live in Norfolk?
Joanna Rodgers
London

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Categories: Environment

Locals dismayed as Trump's EPA gives new life to controversial Alaska mine

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 10:03am
  • Pebble Ltd Partnership allowed to seek permit to build mine near Bristol Bay
  • Environmental activists say gold and copper mine threatens local community

Further legal battles and protesters “standing in front of bulldozers” could be in store in Alaska, after the Trump administration on Friday settled a lawsuit over the proposed development of a massive gold and copper mine at the headwaters of one of the state’s main salmon fisheries.

Related: Slow-freezing Alaska soil driving surge in carbon dioxide emissions

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Categories: Environment

The Dakota pipeline is already leaking. Why wait for a big spill to act? | Julian Brave NoiseCat

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 9:50am

The leaks prove that the water protectors have been right all along. The pool of tar it left behind is also a warning of what’s to come

Energy Transfer Partners’ not yet operational Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons – or about a bathtub-full – of shale oil at a pump station in Spink County, South Dakota, on 4 April. The station stands roughly 100 miles south-east of the site of indigenous protest encampments along the Missouri river, where for months in 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux’s stand against Dakota Access captivated the world.

Despite enduring controversy over the Dakota Access pipeline, the South Dakota department of environment and natural resources did not issue a press release about the mishap because the department deals with pipeline leaks all the time. The department only issues a press release when a detected leak threatens drinking water, fisheries or public health. It logged the Dakota Access incident in its database, but the spill remained unknown to the public for over a month until local reporter Shannon Marvel broke the story for Aberdeen, South Dakota’s American News on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Historic Turkish tomb moved to make way for hydroelectric dam

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 9:04am

1,100-tonne Zeynel Bey monument relocated despite legal challenge to Tigris river construction project

An enormous 15th-century tomb in south-eastern Turkey has been moved to make way for a hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river.

The 1,100-tonne Zeynel Bey monument was lifted whole on Friday and transported more than a mile on a wheeled platform, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

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Categories: Environment

Disappearing glaciers, orangutans and solar power – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 8:26am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

US signs treaty to protect Arctic, giving some hope for Paris agreement

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 7:48am

Secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, signs a commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to extend scientific cooperation in the Arctic region

Environmental campaigners were given some hope that the US may stick to its commitments under the Paris climate change treaty when Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, signed a commitment to protect the Arctic and extend scientific co-operation.

He was speaking at the end of a meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council in Alaska, a consultative body dedicated to sustaining the Arctic.

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UK farmers call for cross-country pipelines after driest winter in 20 years

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 6:15am

Farmers and conservationists warn of water shortage, with ‘water shunting’ from wet north to dry south seen as one solution

Farmers are warning that water may have to be transferred across Britain after an unusually dry winter and spring left more than four-fifths of rivers with too little to support local growers.

Fears of a drought were expected to ease this weekend as scattered showers usher in a more traditional British spring, but wildlife and agriculture industries are bracing for a long, parched summer.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 6:00am

A Sumatran tiger, an alligator and a humpback whale are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Where oil rigs go to die – podcast

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 5:09am

When a drilling platform is scheduled for destruction, it must go on a thousand-mile final journey to the breaker’s yard. As one rig proved when it crashed on to the rocks of a remote Scottish island, this is always a risky business

Read the text version

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