Guardian Environment News

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Most-polluting wood burner fuels due to get the chop

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 11:08am

Environment secretary Michael Gove to banish house coal to curb harmful emissions

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, is due to confirm plans to ban the sale of the most-polluting fuels for domestic wood burners in an attempt to cut harmful emissions.

The sale of traditional house coal will be phased out under proposals set out in the government’s draft clean air strategy in May, which are expected to be confirmed by Gove’s department on Friday.

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Categories: Environment

UK government drops fracking question from public attitude tracker

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 6:26am

First fracking operation in seven years set to begin despite low public support

The government has stopped asking the British public whether they are for or against fracking for shale gas just weeks before the first fracking operation in seven years is due to start.

The number of people against extracting shale gas has outweighed those in favour since 2015, and the latest polling by officials found 32% opposed with just 18% in support.

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Categories: Environment

Air pollution: London mayor backs new inquest into girl's asthma death

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 4:38am

Khan writes to attorney general over girl who died during spikes in nitrogen dioxide

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to the attorney general asking him to back a new inquest into the death of a nine-year-old girl whose severe asthma attacks coincided with spikes in air pollution.

The mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah has fought a long campaign to highlight the role she believes illegal air pollution played in her daughter’s death in 2013.

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Categories: Environment

Green space in every schoolyard: the radical plan to cool Paris

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 2:30am

Playground oases could benefit students and city alike, but will making them public prove too controversial in a city on high alert?

It’s only 10am but the heat is already radiating off the asphalt at the École Riblette, a primary school on the outskirts of Paris. Sébastien Maire, the city’s chief resilience officer, points to the school’s lower courtyard, a classic heat trap: surrounded by concrete walls that reflect sunlight inside. Last June, the courtyard hit 55C (131F).

“For three days, school activities stopped,” Maire says. “It was not possible for the children to study, nor to go into the schoolyard. We would forbid them because it’s 55 degrees – you can fry an egg on the ground.”

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Categories: Environment

US poised to allow more mining on land Trump removed from monuments

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 2:00am

Officials plan to sell some of the land that once belonged to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, despite pledge not to

US officials have announced plans to allow increased mining on land that once belonged to two national monuments Donald Trump shrank, and to sell off some of the land despite pledges not to do so.

The two monuments, now significantly smaller in size, are both in Utah. The draft management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument includes a 98-page minerals report that outlines deposits of coal, oil and gas, tar sands and other minerals under the whole of the monument’s original 1.9m acres.

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Categories: Environment

Bid to limit commercial fishing in marine parks defeated by Coalition

Thu, 2018/08/16 - 12:41am

Government and Senate crossbench combine to reject Greens and Labor motions to disallow controversial management plans

A push by the Greens and Labor to attempt to force greater protection of fisheries in Australia’s marine parks has failed for the second time.

The parties had vowed to reject controversial management plans for the parks proposed by the Turnbull government. But on Thursday the Senate crossbench combined with the Coalition to defeat disallowance motions on the basis that the parks would then be left with no plans in place and no limits on fishing.

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Categories: Environment

Fat-biking: the miracle solution to cycling on sand

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 11:30pm

Peter Kimpton finds a bike that’s perfect for riding on the beach and explores the Glamorgan coast near Porthcawl

Smooth tarmac to rough, potholed roads, gravel tracks to mountain paths, cyclists encounter good and bad surfaces, but rarely do we ride on sand. Most bikes would get stuck and seize up in seconds. Beaches may be free of traffic, but they are the last place you think of for a bike ride. Yet a fat-bike defies the laws of traction and discomfort, and allows you to explore thousands of miles of coast in a fraction of the time it would take to do so on foot. But where best to try it?

Porthcawl, near Bridgend station on the coast between Cardiff and Swansea, is a surprisingly underused and beautiful beach. It’s the nearest lengthy surf beach to London and several other cities, lies near world-class mountain bike trails, is home to the rarest flower in Britain, and was a film location for Lawrence of Arabia. And for one weekend a year, it’s the surreal home to 35,000 Elvis devotees.

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Categories: Environment

Brazil: murder of indigenous leader highlights threat to way of life

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 11:30pm

Jorginho Guajajara’s killing is believed by members of his tribe to be the result of conflict with loggers in their Amazon territory

Indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon are mourning the murder of a community leader who campaigned to protect the forest from logging amid escalating violence in the region.

Jorginho Guajajara, a cacique, or leader, of the Guajajara people, was found dead near a river in the city of Arame, Maranhão state, at the weekend.

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Categories: Environment

Weedkiller found in wide range of breakfast foods aimed at children

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 10:00pm

Cancer-linked herbicide, sold as Roundup by Monsanto, present in 45 products including granola, snack bars and Cheerios

Significant levels of the weedkilling chemical glyphosate have been found in an array of popular breakfast cereals, oats and snack bars marketed to US children, a new study has found.

Tests revealed glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller brand Roundup, present in all but two of the 45 oat-derived products that were sampled by the Environmental Working Group, a public health organization.

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Categories: Environment

Capitalism can crack climate change. But only if it takes risks | Larry Elliott

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 10:00pm

Anglo-Saxon capitalism’s drive to maximise profits in the short term won’t save the planet. Perhaps the Chinese model can?

This summer’s heatwave has provided a glimpse of the future, and it is not a pretty one. On current trends, the years to come will see rising temperatures, droughts, a fight to feed a growing population, and a race against time to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

The struggle to combat climate change brings out the best and worst of capitalism. Decarbonisation of the economy requires alternatives for coal and cars that run on diesel, and that plays to capitalism’s strengths. Innovation is what capitalism is all about, and there has been staggeringly rapid progress in developing clean alternatives to coal, oil and gas. The cost of producing solar- and wind-powered electricity has collapsed. Great advances are also being made in battery technology, which is vital for the new generation of electricity-powered vehicles. Humans are endlessly creative. In the end, they will crack climate change.

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Categories: Environment

'Not under investigation': Michaelia Cash denies being interviewed by AFP – politics live

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 8:54pm

Jobs minister says she is ‘not a party to those proceedings’. All the day’s events, live

4.52am BST

Over on ‘Who’s that MP’

It’s ...

4.45am BST

We are sliding towards question time.

Which strangely, always feels the same as my slow descent into madness.

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Categories: Environment

Sydney rock oysters getting smaller as oceans become more acidic

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 8:02pm

NSW oysters are shrinking and fewer in number, and academics fear the cause is climate change

The famous Sydney rock oyster is shrinking as oceans become more acidic, new research has found.

In news that will rock seafood lovers, a study released overnight by academics in the UK found oysters in New South Wales have become smaller and fewer in number because of coastal acidification.

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Categories: Environment

New pesticides may harm bees as much as existing ones – study

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 5:02pm

Ability of bumblebees to reproduce, and rate at which colonies grow, compromised by new sulfoximine-based insecticides

A new class of pesticides positioned to replace neonicotinoids may be just as harmful to crop-pollinating bees, researchers have warned.

In experiments, the ability of bumblebees to reproduce, and the rate at which their colonies grow, were both compromised by the new sulfoximine-based insecticides, they reported in the journal Nature.

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Categories: Environment

Sea life in 'peril' as ocean temperatures hit all-time high in San Diego

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 12:51pm

Between 1982 and 2016, the number of ‘marine heatwaves’ doubled, and likely will become more common and intense as the planet warms, study finds

Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heatwaves. Off the California coast near San Diego, scientists in early August recorded all-time high seawater temperatures since daily measurements began in 1916.

“Just like we have heatwaves on land, we also have heatwaves in the ocean,” said Art Miller of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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Categories: Environment

Humans are pushing the Earth closer to a climate cliff | John Abraham

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 3:00am

A new study examines potential climate feedbacks that could push Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state

A new paper, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has received a lot of media attention. The attention is justified because the paper paints a very grim picture of the climate and what humans may be doing to it. In particular, the authors of this study tried to determine the trajectory that the Earth is on so we can predict what the future climate will be.

There are many really important insights from this paper. The authors wanted to know how feedbacks in the Earth’s climate will play a role in shaping the climate in the future. By feedbacks, we mean a change in one part of the climate that then causes another change, which in turn may cause another change, and so on, potentially setting up chain reactions.

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Categories: Environment

California v nutria: state seeks to eradicate scourge of giant rodents

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 2:00am

As the dog-sized creatures destroy wetlands and dig through levees, officials have a goal: total extermination

The call came from a wildlife trapper working in the wetlands of central California.

“I think I caught a nutria,” the man said.

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Categories: Environment

Josh Frydenberg under pressure over $444m reef foundation grant – as it happened

Wed, 2018/08/15 - 1:47am

Labor pursues environment minister over grant to private foundation and fallout continues from Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech. All the day’s events, live

Fraser Anning calls for ‘final solution’ on immigration
Exclusive: Centrelink trial bypasses safeguard for mentally ill

10.11am BST


The Senate has voted on David Leyonhjelm’s bill to restore the territories’ rights to legislate for euthanasia and it has been voted down:

9.47am BST

I’ve had a good and proper scrounge around and all has gone quiet up here on the hill.

To be honest, I think the last 24 hours has left most MPs exhausted. I don’t blame them.

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Categories: Environment

Sanjeev Gupta: $1bn South Australia renewable energy plan will mean cheaper power

Tue, 2018/08/14 - 10:21pm

UK industrialist’s plan features 780,000 solar panels, generating enough electricity for 96,000 homes

Billionaire UK industrialist Sanjeev Gupta has launched a $1bn, one-gigawatt renewable energy plan based in South Australia’s mid-north that he says will lead Australian industry’s transition to more competitive power.

In the first of a number of projects slated for the upper Spencer Gulf region, which will also include a lithium-ion battery bigger than Elon Musk’s, Gupta’s energy company Simec Zen has released details of its Cultana Solar Farm.

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Categories: Environment

Claimed power price cuts from energy guarantee are 'virtually meaningless'

Tue, 2018/08/14 - 11:00am

Coal-fired power subsidies mean the projections relied on by Coalition are not credible, study says

The Turnbull government is trumpeting power price reductions as a consequence of its national energy guarantee – but a new analysis says subsidies for coal-fired power stations will render those forecasts “virtually meaningless”.

The government has failed to rule out the building of new coal plants as a consequence of its underwriting of new power generation, and Labor declaring that development a deal breaker.

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Categories: Environment

Calls for environmental water entitlements to be sold to drought-affected farmers

Tue, 2018/08/14 - 11:00am

Politicians and farmers say water should be diverted to crops to keep herds alive

There are growing calls for the federal and state governments to start selling government-owned environmental water entitlements to farmers to alleviate the drought and to keep livestock alive.

But the proposals would see wetlands and river courses starved of water with potential environmental stress from the drought exacerbated by the diversion of water onto farmland.

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Categories: Environment