Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 12 hours 31 min ago

Adani coal port under threat of stop order amid concern for sacred sites

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 11:00am

Juru traditional owners say Adani has ignored demands to inspect “unauthorised” cultural assessments

Indigenous traditional owners from north Queensland have threatened to try to pursue an order that could shut down Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal, amid concern that sacred sites in the area have not been properly protected.

Guardian Australia can reveal Adani has ignored repeated demands by Juru traditional owners to inspect “unauthorised” cultural assessments conducted by former directors of the embattled Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation.

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Categories: Environment

Anti-pipeline activists are fighting to stop Line 3. Will they succeed? | Bill McKibben

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 10:59am

The oil industry is building yet another pipeline - but Native American groups and progressive activists are fighting back

American democracy appears to have had at least a little success this week: steadily mounting pressure - including everything from marches to tweets to phone calls to Congress - seems to have convinced President Trump that his approval ratings were in danger unless he back-pedaled on his administration’s abusive immigration policies on the US-Mexican border. So now we have an executive order allowing children to be stored in cages alongside their parents — an admittedly mixed victory, but at least Trump was forced to retreat. And now we have a motivated army of progressive Americans ready to keep on fighting.

We’ll need them, because another fierce political battle is about to boil over - this time on the US’s northern border, with Canada. Local citizens there are mobilizing against another controversial project to pump oil from the Canadian “tar sands” to the US. Like the infamous Keystone pipeline through Nebraska or the Kinder Morgan pipeline through British Columbia, this pipeline - known by the innocuous name “Line 3” - has roused grassroots resistance from local citizens concerned about the project’s environmental and cultural impact.

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Categories: Environment

UK home solar power faces cloudy outlook as subsidies are axed

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 9:09am

Lower costs and battery technology offer hope – but industry says it needs support

“I’m 87% self-powered today. Yesterday I was 100%,” Howard Richmond said, using an app telling him how much of his London home’s electricity consumption is from his solar panels and Tesla battery.

The retired solicitor lives in one of the 840,000-plus homes in the UK with solar panels and is part of an even more exclusive club of up to 10,000 with battery storage.

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Categories: Environment

Government got its sums wrong on Swansea Bay tidal lagoon | Letters

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 9:07am
The rejected Welsh tidal power scheme is a missed opportunity on many fronts, says the chair of the planning inspectors who studied the proposal

The rejection by ministers of the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon (Report, 26 June) must be the final nail in the coffin of what was once claimed would be “the greenest government ever”.

When I and my fellow planning inspectors spent the best part of a year examining and reporting on both the principle and the detail of the project in Swansea, it was clear that this pathfinder project had important environmental, cultural and regeneration benefits.

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Categories: Environment

'The war goes on’: one tribe caught up in Colombia’s armed conflict

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:33am

Part 1 of a report on the indigenous Siona people in the Putumayo region in the Amazon

Placido Yaiguaje Payaguaje, an indigenous Siona man, was standing right where his 80-something mother was blown apart by a land-mine. There was a crater about the size of a beach ball. Surrounding foliage had been shredded, and on some of the leaves and fronds you could still see the dynamite.

This was a 20 metre, steepish climb down to the banks of the River Piñuña Blanco, deep in the Colombian Amazon. Placido’s mother had come here to fish in a lagoon nearby. It was a popular spot for singo, sábalo and garopa.

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Categories: Environment

Would you eat whale or dolphin meat after visiting a marine sanctuary?

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:30am

After visiting a whale sanctuary in Iceland there is also the chance to eat whale at a nearby restaurant. It seems like a bizarre idea, but what are the ethical and culinary implications?

Should you eat whale meat? Reports on Iceland’s new retirement home for beluga whales note that, after viewing the animals – rescued from a Shanghai marine park – tourists can then visit a harbourside restaurant where they can dine on whale meat. Last week, Iceland resumed whaling after a three-year hiatus, killing a 20-metre fin whale on the country’s west coast.

The Iceland sanctuary has been set up with the assistance of the highly reputable Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation. Danny Groves of WDC notes that only 3% of Iceland’s local population now eat whale. He points out that the country’s whale-watching industry far outweighs whaling economically. “The sanctuary ... should be championed as an alternative to the cruel practises of whale and dolphin hunting and the keeping of these animals in captivity,” he says.

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Categories: Environment

China lifts ban on British beef

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 7:21am

£250m deal allows official market access negotiations to begin, 20 years after beef was banned following the BSE outbreak

British beef will be back on the menu in China for the first time in more than 20 years, after it officially lifted the longstanding ban on exports from the UK.

More than two decades since the Chinese government first banned British beef after the BSE outbreak, the milestone is the culmination of several years of site inspections in the UK and negotiations between government officials.

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Categories: Environment

Cheap bacon: how shops and shoppers let down our pigs

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 5:19am

With Brexit looming our animal welfare standards are vulnerable. We’ve got welfare reform wrong in the past - how can we get it right in the future?

“When it came to the crunch the retailers let us down,” says Ian Campbell. When he took over the running of a Norfolk farm in the early 1990s, pig farming was a successful, relatively healthy British sector.

But within a few years a government ban on the use of gestation crates, combined with a rise in the value of the pound and a pig meat glut in Europe, would decimate the industry. The number of UK farmers would be nearly halved, while cheap meat from other countries with lower welfare requirements would come flooding in.

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Categories: Environment

Trump should inspire us all, but not in the way you might guess | John Abraham

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 3:00am

Joe Romm’s new book details the sticky messaging tactics successfully employed by Trump and others

Scientists like me – and really, everyone – can learn from President Donald Trump’s mastery of viral messaging.

True, he has turned the United States into a pariah nation, one reviled for ripping immigrant children from their parents and from withdrawing from our only real chance at stabilizing the climate, the Paris Accord.

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Categories: Environment

UK environment policies in tatters, warn green groups

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 1:59am

‘Disastrous decisions’ such as Heathrow expansion and rejection of Swansea tidal lagoon spark concern over government direction

Environmental campaigners and clean air groups have warned that the government’s green credentials are in tatters after a flurry of “disastrous decisions” that they say will be condemned by future generations.

The government’s plan to expand Heathrow won overwhelming backing in the Commons on Monday – with more than 100 Labour MPs joining the majority of Tory politicians to back the plan – despite grave concerns about its impact on air pollution and the UK’s carbon emissions.

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Categories: Environment

Cannabis growth is killing one of the cutest (and fiercest) creatures in the US

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 1:00am

The Humboldt marten could soon be an endangered species in California as the weed industry threatens its habitat

Fierce yet adorable, Humboldt martens have been described as the west coast’s own Tasmanian devils. The biologist Tierra Curry compares the red-chested mammal to another small, tenacious creature: “It’s a kitten that thinks it’s a honey badger,” she said. “It will crawl right into a bee nest and eat the honeycomb and larvae, getting its face stung the whole time.”

But there are some dangers that the marten cannot withstand – such as marijuana cultivation.

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Categories: Environment

One football pitch of forest lost every second in 2017, data reveals

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 12:00am

Global deforestation is on an upward trend, jeopardising efforts to tackle climate change and the massive decline in wildlife

The world lost more than one football pitch of forest every second in 2017, according to new data from a global satellite survey, adding up to an area equivalent to the whole of Italy over the year.

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Categories: Environment

'There is no oak left': are Britain's trees disappearing?

Wed, 2018/06/27 - 12:00am

The first national ‘tree champion’ is charged with reversing the fortunes of the country’s woodlands and beleaguered urban trees

England is running out of oak. The last of the trees planted by the Victorians are now being harvested, and in the intervening century so few have been grown – and fewer still grown in the right conditions for making timber – that imports, mostly from the US and Europe, are the only answer.

“We are now using the oaks our ancestors planted, and there has been no oak coming up to replace it,” says Mike Tustin, chartered forester at John Clegg and Co, the woodland arm of estate agents Strutt and Parker. “There is no oak left in England. There just is no more.”

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Categories: Environment

Senate launches inquiry into threatened species 'extinction crisis'

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 10:59pm

Inquiry initiated by Greens follows Guardian investigation exposing funding and management failings

The Senate has launched an inquiry into Australia’s threatened species crisis after an investigation of national threatened species management by Guardian Australia revealed problems including poor monitoring and a lack of funding.

The inquiry, initiated by Greens senator Janet Rice and supported by Labor and crossbenchers on Wednesday, will examine issues including the country’s alarming rate of species decline, the adequacy of Commonwealth laws that are supposed to protect threatened wildlife, and the effectiveness of funding for threatened species.

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Categories: Environment

Consumers 'need more protection from energy firms' poor service'

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 10:01pm

Citizens Advice urges action after small supplier generates record complaints

Record levels of complaints against a small energy supplier have prompted the consumer watchdog to call for stronger regulation to protect households from poor customer service.

The plea by Citizens Advice came as the group published a customer service league table of energy companies that ranked Iresa, which was the cheapest on the market, as the UK’s worst.

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Categories: Environment

Farmers' groups withhold data from $9m Great Barrier Reef water quality program

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 9:43pm

The government-funded program was designed to reduce polluted run-off to the reef

Agriculture industry groups have refused to show the Queensland government the results of a government-funded program that aims to improve Great Barrier Reef water quality.

The Queensland Audit Office, in a report to parliament, said the farming industry groups had withheld data about the best management practices program due to “privacy concerns” and that its effectiveness might be “overstated”.

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Categories: Environment

Could seaweed solve Indonesia's plastic crisis?

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 8:00pm

In a country of more than 17000 islands, seaweed might be the ideal raw material for a bio-plastics revolution.

Indonesia produces more marine plastic pollution than any other country except China. This is perhaps unsurprising: the world’s biggest archipelago is also its fourth most populous. Limited income and cash flow means that poorer communities rely on cheap single-use plastics like bags, water cups and shampoo sachets. Waste management systems are rudimentary and each year millions of tonnes of trash ends up in waterways and eventually the ocean.

Last year Indonesia pledged US$1 billion to cut its marine waste by 70% by 2025. The country will have to tackle the issue on multiple fronts if this ambitious target is to be met. Besides changing consumer habits and improving waste management infrastructure, industry needs to move away from single use plastics and quickly introduce and scale up biodegradable alternatives.

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Categories: Environment

Bumblebees thrive in towns more than countryside

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 4:01pm

Urban bumblebees have better access to food, allowing them to produce more offspring

Bumblebee colonies fare better in villages and cities than in fields, research has revealed.

Bumblebees are important pollinators, but face threats including habitat loss, climate change, pesticide and fungicide use and parasites. Now researchers say that bumblebee colonies in urban areas not only produce more offspring than those on agricultural land, but have more food stores, fewer invasions from parasitic “cuckoo” bumblebees, and survive for longer.

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Categories: Environment

Canada's largest national park risks losing world heritage status

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 1:34pm

Wood Buffalo national park also faces danger from oil and gas development and hydroelectric projects, government report says

The world’s second-largest national park is under threat from a destructive combination of climate change, oil and gas development and hydroelectric projects, according to a new report from the Canadian government.

Related: Canada's National Parks: from Hollywood beauties to beautiful beasts – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

No end to climate wars if energy pact offers concession to coal, Labor warns

Tue, 2018/06/26 - 11:00am

A new subsidy would ‘destroy any chance of the government attracting broad support’

Labor has warned the government that new subsidies for coal as part of any internal settlement on the national energy guarantee will scuttle the chances of securing peace after 10 years of warring over climate and energy policy.

The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia that the construction of any new coal-fired power stations “will paralyse Australia’s transition to clean energy” and “run against all the advice of industry and business, including Snowy Hydro”.

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Categories: Environment