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Updated: 3 hours 49 min ago

Australia Covid live news update: Qld border to reopen 13 December, Palaszczuk says; SA premier advised to close border with NSW over Omicron

Sun, 2021/12/05 - 9:51pm

Annastacia Palaszczuk brings forward Qld border reopening; Steven Marshall ‘very concerned’ by Omicron as SA records four Covid cases; Victoria records 1,073 new cases and six deaths, NSW records 208 cases, ACT six; Katherine lockdown extended as NT records one case; Australia could be renewables ‘superpower’ but has wasted time, Chris Bowen says. Follow all the developments live

A New South Wales government plan to control feral horses in Kosciuszko national park will allow horses to remain in the only known habitat of one of Australia’s most imperilled freshwater fishes and risks pushing the species closer to extinction.

Conservationists say allowing horses to continue to roam around some sections of the park will put vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems at risk.

There are lot of reasons even though they don’t get as sick as adults, they have a pretty strong role in spreading it back to family members and of course that can include parents and also, of greater concern, the grandparents. The older you are, the impacts of getting seriously ill or worse with Covid is greater.

The other reason is just so kids can do what kids are meant to do – go to school, play with their friends, do sport, do exercise, do social things.

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Categories: Environment

China ‘modified’ the weather to create clear skies for political celebration – study

Sun, 2021/12/05 - 9:28pm

Researchers say Beijing used cloud-seeding to create artificial rain and lower pollution in July, in latest example of ‘blueskying’ efforts

Chinese weather authorities successfully controlled the weather ahead of a major political celebration earlier this year, according to a Beijing university study.

On 1 July the Chinese Communist party marked its centenary with major celebrations including tens of thousands of people at a ceremony in Tiananmen Square, and a research paper from Tsinghua University has said an extensive cloud-seeding operation in the hours prior ensured clear skies and low air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

‘Captured’ by coal: NSW government overturns decision to block mine expansion

Sun, 2021/12/05 - 7:13pm

Decision to reject Dendrobium plans has been reversed despite potential damage to drinking water

The New South Wales government has been accused of being “captured” by the coal industry after it overturned a planning commission decision to block a mine expansion that it found could cause irreversible damage to drinking water and release significant heat-trapping gas.

The deputy premier, Paul Toole, and planning minister, Rob Stokes, declared on Saturday the Dendrobium mine expansion near Wollongong – proposed by BHP spin-off South32 – was “state significant infrastructure” due to its role providing coal for the Port Kembla steelworks.

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Categories: Environment

Hot news from two billion years ago: plankton actually moved mountains

Sun, 2021/12/05 - 1:30am

Our planet’s geology shaped life on Earth. But now scientists reveal it worked the other way around too

The mighty forces that created our planet’s mountains in ancient days got some unexpected help, scientists have discovered. Their research shows some of Earth’s greatest ranges got a boost from primitive lifeforms whose remains lubricated movements of rock slabs and allowed them to pile up to form mountains.

If it had not been for life on Earth, the surface of our planet would have been flatter and a lot more boring, say scientists at Aberdeen and Glasgow universities where the research was carried out.

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Categories: Environment

A gray wolf’s epic journey ends in death on a California highway

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 11:00pm

OR-93 traveled further south than any wolf had in a hundred years. Even after death, he continues to inspire

The young gray wolf who took experts and enthusiasts on a thousand-mile journey across California died last month, ending a trek that brought hope and inspiration to many during a time of ecological collapse.

The travels of the young male through the state were a rare occurrence: he was the first wolf from Oregon’s White River pack to come to California and possibly the first gray wolf in nearly a century to be spotted so far south.

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Categories: Environment

California will name and categorise heatwaves – should Australia follow suit?

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 12:00pm

Heatwaves kill more people in Australia than all other natural disasters combined, and some experts believe naming them might help reduce deaths

California has become the latest jurisdictions to set up a system that would categorise and name heatwaves like cyclones or hurricanes, raising questions about whether Australia should adopt a similar system to reduce heat-related deaths.

Following the recent example of Greece and the city of Seville in Spain, authorities in California will introduce a bill in January to develop the ranking system.

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Categories: Environment

‘Just sitting there dead’: study finds mass tree losses in NSW after severe drought

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 12:00pm

Even species ‘superbly adapted’ for Australia’s harsh conditions suffered, with up to 60% of trees dying in some areas

The drought and heatwaves that seared eastern Australia in the lead-up to the 2019-20 black summer bushfires killed as much as 60% of the trees in some areas that escaped the fires, according to new research.

While Australian species are typically hardened to extreme conditions, the record heat and dryness of 2019 pushed some common tree varieties beyond their thresholds, potentially threatening whole ecosystems if they don’t grow back.

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Categories: Environment

Environmental activists challenge ‘unlawful’ UK fossil fuel plan in high court

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 6:01am

Climate campaigners claim the government is giving billions of pounds in subsidies to oil and gas producers

Environmental campaigners will this week ask the high court to rule that the government’s fossil fuel strategy is unlawful, in a case that could undermine the UK’s claim to be leading the fight against climate change.

The campaigners will argue that the government is effectively subsidising oil and gas production with billions of pounds in handouts, which conflicts with its legal duty to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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Categories: Environment

Why some of your favorite podcasts are filled with oil company ads

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 6:00am

Exxon and other fossil fuel companies are running podcast ads that suggest they are taking aggressive climate action. Climate experts call them greenwashing

If you’re a regular listener of the New York Times podcast The Daily, you would have heard an ad for ExxonMobil’s carbon capture investments more than once in November.

The ad – which coincided with the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow – told listeners that carbon capture technology could remove more than 90% of CO2 emissions from “carbon-intensive industries” and that the company was working to “deploy this technology at scale”. It gave the sense of an oil company tackling the climate crisis with technology that could solve it – and quickly.

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Categories: Environment

Hen harriers’ friend: gamekeeping turns conservation in Yorkshire

Sat, 2021/12/04 - 4:00am

Grouse moors are not known for being friendly places for birds of prey – but the Swinton estate has a fresh attitude

In the trees beside the heather-clad, snow-smattered moorland is an elusive creature that to some conservationists is as mythical as a unicorn: a gamekeeper looking after endangered birds of prey.

“Two hen harriers coming in now,” said Gary Taylor, head keeper on the Swinton estate in North Yorkshire. Taylor is sitting in a hide he built himself overlooking one of the country’s best hen harrier roosting sites – in the middle of his boss’s grouse moor.

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Categories: Environment

Hundreds of military families sickened by contaminated Pearl Harbor water

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 1:48pm

Key Honolulu aquifer may also be at risk as residents say they face stomach pain and headaches

Cheri Burness’s dog was the first to signal something was wrong with their tap water. He stopped drinking it two weeks ago. Then Burness started feeling stomach cramps. Her 12-year-old daughter was nauseous.

“It was just getting worse every day,” said Burness.

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view on North Sea oil: keep it in the ground | Editorial

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 11:27am

Britain won’t persuade anyone else to ditch fossil fuels when it won’t do so itself

Does the decision by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to pull out of the Cambo oilfield mark the end of oil and gas investment in the North Sea? For the planet’s sake, one would hope so. However, it may be more realistic to see Shell’s act as a first victory in a longer war to keep hydrocarbons in the ground. Campaigners say that there are dozens more offshore oil and gas fields coming up for approval in the next three years. To keep the climate safe and limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, none ought to go ahead. Oil majors have lost the battle for public opinion in Scotland and this has dramatically altered the calculations for the ruling Scottish National party, which for decades ran on oil. Without supportive politics, and with the science against them, oil majors – this time – bowed out.

Despite that, and despite brandishing its credentials as a climate champion at Cop26 in Glasgow last month, the UK government still wants extractive industries to suck the seabed dry. Rather than joining an alliance of nations – led by Denmark and Costa Rica, and including France and Ireland – which have set an end date for oil and gas production and exploration, Boris Johnson will allow companies to keep exploring the North Sea for new reserves.

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Categories: Environment

Shell U-turn on Cambo could mean end for big North Sea oil projects

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 10:55am

Industry sources say Siccar Point will struggle to find new partner to take on Shell’s 30% stake in oilfield

Shell’s decision to back out of plans to develop the Cambo oilfield could sound the “death knell” for new large-scale North Sea projects, industry figures say, as the UK’s tougher climate agenda prompts oil companies to retreat from the ageing oil basin.

Sources said Shell’s project partner, the private equity-backed Siccar Point, would struggle to find another partner to take on Shell’s 30% stake in the new oilfield, which has provoked outrage among green campaigners.

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Categories: Environment

Carbon-cutting app aims to help Londoners ease into net zero future

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 6:33am

Councils are planning to deploy version of Finnish online tool that helps people monitor carbon footprint

For those who want to be part of a zero carbon future but find the prospect of giving up flying, ditching the car and turning vegan daunting, help may be at hand. A Finnish-made online tool that promises to give users the key to their own “sustainable good life” by taking control of their carbon footprint is set to be launched in the UK.

London Councils, the body that represents all London boroughs, is looking at developing a version of the tool, which aims to be helpful rather than hectoring, letting people create their own tailor-made path to reducing their CO2 output rather than giving out blanket prescriptions such as stopping flying or eating meat.

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Categories: Environment

Energy companies accused of bid rigging and racketeering in US lawsuit

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 6:19am

Court complaint outlines scheme to generate millions in wasteful equipment expenditures in New York, Connecticut and Maine

A cybersecurity company filed a $110m lawsuit in New York this week, accusing the Spanish global energy company Iberdrola and its US subsidiary Avangrid of bid rigging and racketeering.

The 72-page federal court complaint outlines an elaborate scheme by Iberdrola executives to generate millions of dollars in wasteful equipment expenditures in order to turn a profit from its utility customers in New York, Connecticut and Maine.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 5:00am

The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including sunbathing monkeys, a pygmy possum and a new home for white rhinos

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Categories: Environment

Fashion must stick to climate pledges to prevent waste crisis, says UK economist

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 4:47am

Dame Vivian Hunt warns of overproduction at summit attended by Tommy Hilfiger and Kris Jenner

The fashion industry is facing a waste and overproduction crisis if it continues on its current trajectory, one of the UK’s leading economic experts has warned.

Dame Vivian Hunt, a managing partner at the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, said “fashion has a long way to go to demonstrate its commitment to achieving net zero emissions”.

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Categories: Environment

Shell to go ahead with seismic tests in whale breeding grounds after court win

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 3:45am

Judgment rules company can blast sound waves in search for oil along South Africa’s eastern coastline

Royal Dutch Shell will move ahead with seismic tests to explore for oil in vital whale breeding grounds along South Africa’s eastern coastline after a court dismissed an 11th-hour legal challenge by environmental groups.

The judgment, by a South African high court, allows Shell to begin firing within days extremely loud sound waves through the relatively untouched marine environment of the Wild Coast, which is home to whales, dolphins and seals.

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Categories: Environment

US lags in electric vehicle sales despite Biden administration’s push

Fri, 2021/12/03 - 3:00am

Electric cars will make up just 4% of American sales in 2021, compared with 9% in China and 14% in Europe

The Biden administration, in the midst of a major push to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles, has been provided a sobering reminder of how badly the US is lagging in the adoption of zero-emission cars.

The White House has set a goal for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new car sales by the end of this decade in order to slash planet-heating emissions and help avert disastrous climate change.

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Categories: Environment