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Microplastics found in human stools for the first time

Mon, 2018/10/22 - 3:00pm

Study suggests the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain

Microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time, according to a study suggesting the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain.

The small study examined eight participants from Europe, Japan and Russia. All of their stool samples were found to contain microplastic particles.

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Categories: Environment

UK’s plastic waste is a burning issue | Letters

Mon, 2018/10/22 - 9:35am
New plastic-to-fuel technology means there is a growing case for stockpiling our plastic waste, argues Patrick Cosgrove. David Reed says it’s time to start burning all household rubbish to generate power

In August, exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities.” But it’s now confirmed what many have long suspected, that the UK recycling industry is riven with corruption (Report, 19 October) and only now is government dimly aware of the problem. Taxing coffee mugs and plastic straws, and placing a charge on plastic bags are commendable actions, but in the face of ever-increasing plastic production, single-use or not, are minuscule and potentially token. In addition to stamping out the illegal export of waste and reducing single use plastic at source, a radical upheaval of domestic recycling is required. Local authorities pay waste management companies to collect, sort and, hopefully, recycle domestic plastic waste. Yet they only recycle a proportion of it and ship the rest abroad. Much ends in landfill or in the oceans. The council tax we pay for these destructive processes could be better deployed.

With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home and industrial-based pyrolysis (waste to energy), and other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile plastic that is difficult to recycle or contaminated. In compacted or granulated form at 10% of its previous volume, it can be stored for future use as feedstock for negative emission energy production and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes. Why not temporary plastic mountains?
Patrick Cosgrove
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

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Categories: Environment

Trump thinks scientists are split on climate change. So do most Americans | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 2018/10/22 - 3:00am

There’s a 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming, but most Americans are unaware

When queried about the most recent IPCC report, Republican lawmakers delivered a consistent, false message – that climate scientists are still debating whether humans are responsible. The previous IPCC report was quite clear on this, attributing 100% of the global warming since 1950 to human activities. As Nasa atmospheric scientist Kate Marvel recently put it, “We are more sure that greenhouse gas is causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer.”

Donald Trump articulated the incorrect Republican position in an interview on 60 Minutes:

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Categories: Environment

P&O cruise ship dumped 27,000 litres of waste on Great Barrier Reef, Senate hears

Sun, 2018/10/21 - 11:57pm

Australian Maritime Safety Authority report says food waste and grey water spill occurred on 26 August

A P&O cruise ship spilled 27,000 litres of food waste and grey water into the Great Barrier Reef marine park in August, a Senate estimates hearing has heard.

The Greens senator Larissa Waters told the hearing a report from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority – which is investigating the incident – had been supplied to her anonymously.

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Categories: Environment

FareShare's surplus food redistribution saves UK £51m a year

Sun, 2018/10/21 - 4:01pm

Charities tackling hunger could save Britain £500m a year if they had capacity, finds report

The collection and redistribution of edible food by the UK’s largest charity tackling hunger – and that would otherwise go to waste – saves the UK economy some £51m every year, according to an independent report published on Monday.

If FareShare and other charities in the sector were able to scale up their capacity in order to handle half of the surplus food available in the UK supply chain, the value back to the state could be as much as £500m per year, it claims.

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Categories: Environment

28,000 jobs at risk in north of England over low-carbon economy

Sun, 2018/10/21 - 4:01pm

Thinktank says transition to low-carbon economy could result in ‘local deprivation’

As many as 28,000 jobs will be lost in the north of England in the next 12 years under the government’s drive towards a low-carbon economy, a thinktank has warned.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said in its report that the region could be at the heart of a “clean energy revolution” – with a potential for 46,000 new green jobs – but instead faced economic decline under current plans.

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Categories: Environment

Migrants building £2.6bn windfarm paid fraction of minimum wage

Sun, 2018/10/21 - 7:51am

Workers on Beatrice project in Scotland have included irregular migrants on under £5 an hour

Workers hired to build the flagship £2.6bn Beatrice offshore windfarm in Scotland have included migrants without proper immigration documents paid a fraction of the UK minimum wage, the Guardian can reveal.

Offshore windfarming is one of the UK’s biggest growth industries, hailed by both the Conservatives and Labour as a priority for investment that will create thousands of jobs while also producing clean energy.

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Categories: Environment

Wentworth won't prompt climate rethink, says Frydenberg

Sat, 2018/10/20 - 7:25pm

Treasurer says government does not intend to ‘reduce emissions at the expense of people’s power bills’

Josh Frydenberg has played down the need for a significant shift in the Morrison government’s stance on climate change before the next federal election after the strong protest vote in the seat of Wentworth.

The treasurer and former energy and environment minister Josh Frydenberg told Sky News on Sunday people in Sydney’s eastern suburbs were concerned about climate change, but he said the government did not intend to “reduce emissions at the expense of people’s power bills”.

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Categories: Environment

Tasmanian salmon should be off the menu for now, says conservation group

Sat, 2018/10/20 - 3:22pm

Fish eaters advised to ‘Say No’ due to environmental concerns surrounding Tasmania’s salmon farming industry

It’s one of Australia’s – and the world’s – favourite fish but Tasmanian Atlantic salmon should be off the menu for now, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, publishers of Australia’s independent sustainable seafood guide.

On Wednesday, the AMCS downgraded the farmed fish’s rating from an amber “Think Twice” to a red “Say No” due to ongoing environmental concerns. The previous review was in 2015.

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Categories: Environment

Minor earthquakes detected near fracking site in Lancashire

Sat, 2018/10/20 - 5:01am

One tremor was magnitude 0.3, the level beyond which experts say fracking has to proceed with caution

A series of small earthquakes have been detected in Lancashire close to the site where fracking operations began this week.

The British Geological Survey (BGS), which provides impartial advice on environmental processes, recorded four tremors in the vicinity of the energy firm Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road near Blackpool on Friday.

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Categories: Environment

£7m crowdfunding bid for Orkney tidal energy turbine launches

Sat, 2018/10/20 - 4:21am

Scheme launched by ethical investment platform Abundance offers 12% interest

A “green” investment that pays 12% interest and involves putting your money into a major tidal energy project was launched this week.

But that high rate indicates this is a great deal riskier than putting your money into a high street savings account, with no compensation if things go wrong. So this is not one for the risk-averse.

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Categories: Environment

Plastic recycling industry's problems costing councils up to £500,000 a year

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 10:00pm

Chinese ban on waste imports is significantly affecting UK councils’ ability to collect and recycle plastic

Major problems in the plastic recycling industry are costing local councils in England up to £500,000 extra a year, as they struggle to deal with the continuing fallout from import bans imposed by countries who are no longer able to take the UK’s waste.

A survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed nearly half of councils who responded (52) say China’s ban is having a significant impact on their ability to collect and recycle plastic, due to rising costs. Fourteen councils across the country say their recycling costs have increased by an average of half a million pounds a year, in part because of rising processing charges per tonne.

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Categories: Environment

Benny the beluga whale forces firework display postponement

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 2:18pm

Council in Kent told that disturbing the whale would breach wildlife law

It has attracted plenty of spectators during its stay. But Benny the lost beluga whale, who took up residence in the Thames last month, may end up leaving the crowds disappointed after it was announced that a fireworks display would have to be postponed to protect him.

About 15,000 people were expected to gather for the annual bonfire night celebrations in Gravesend, Kent, on 2 November to see a display set off from a barge on the river.

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Categories: Environment

Trump wades into California's 'water wars' with environmental standards memo

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 1:28pm

President will sign memo directing agencies to review standards that conservatives argue are keeping water from farmers

The Trump administration is wading into California’s “water wars” on behalf of embattled Republicans and agricultural interests weeks before the November midterm elections.

Donald Trump signed a memo on Friday directing agencies to review and revise or rescind environmental standards that conservatives argue are keeping water from flowing to farmers in the Central Valley. He is also setting deadlines for biological assessments of regional projects.

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Categories: Environment

Scottish Power to invest in solar energy for the first time

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 8:19am

Big six firm to focus exclusively on renewables, adding solar power to its windfarms

Scottish Power, one of Britain’s biggest energy companies, has said it will invest in solar power for the first time as part of its move away from fossil fuels.

The big six firm sold off its last gas-fired power stations to Drax Group this week to focus exclusively on renewables, which today consists of onshore and offshore windfarms.

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Categories: Environment

UK is endangering people's health by denying their right to clean air, says UN

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 7:17am

World body urges Conservative government to ‘step up and show leadership’ on the air pollution crisis

The UK government is putting the health of millions of its citizens at risk by failing to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, according the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

David Boyd said people’s right to breathe clean air was being violated in the UK and warned the crisis was responsible for up to 50,000 deaths – and devastating the lives of “many millions” more in towns and cities across the country.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 5:54am

A 1,000-metre spider web and a hellbender devouring a snake are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Politicians say nothing, but US farmers are increasingly terrified by it – climate change

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 5:00am

Research forecasts Iowa corn yields could drop in half within the next half-century thanks to extreme weather – yet it’s not part of the political conversation

Farmers around here are itching to go after that amber wave of soya beans, but there was that 5in rain a couple of weeks ago and then a 7in rain, and it drives even the retired guys batty.

Those beans aren’t worth much at the elevator thanks to a Trump trade war with China, but they’re worth even less getting wet feet in a pond that was a field which the glacier made a prairie bog some 14,000 years ago – until we came along and drained it.

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Categories: Environment

Seven years of protest: inside the fracking resistance – photo essay

Fri, 2018/10/19 - 1:00am

Photographer Christopher Thomond has been documenting protests over fracking in the north of England since 2011

After years of protest, hyperbole and delays, fracking has returned to the UK. After seeing off a last-minute legal challenge, shale gas firm Cuadrilla began fracking near Blackpool on Monday.

The drive to extract gas from the rocks beneath the UK has catalysed the environmental movement in recent years, uniting concerned local residents and climate campaigners.

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Categories: Environment

UK plastics recycling industry under investigation for fraud and corruption

Thu, 2018/10/18 - 11:37pm

Exclusive: Watchdog examining claims plastic waste is not being recycled but left to leak into rivers and oceans

The plastics recycling industry is facing an investigation into suspected widespread abuse and fraud within the export system amid warnings the world is about to close the door on UK packaging waste, the Guardian has learned.

The Environment Agency (EA) has set up a team of investigators, including three retired police officers, in an attempt to deal with complaints that organised criminals and firms are abusing the system.

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Categories: Environment