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Charities may face criminal sanctions as 'gagging law' backdated before election

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/21 - 2:00am

Electoral Commission says charities must declare all campaign spending since June last year, despite them not knowing a snap election would be called

UK charities face a permanent “chilling effect” on their campaigns after the Electoral Commission said they must declare any work that could be deemed political over the past 12 months to ensure they are not in breach of the Lobbying Act.

At least one charity has been warned that if it does not, it may face “civil or criminal sanctions”.

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Categories: Environment

How do the four main parties compare on the environment?

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/21 - 1:30am

Environment experts weigh up the manifesto pledges on issues such as air pollution, climate change, energy and waste

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Categories: Environment

Florists and farmers call on patriotic shoppers to buy British blooms

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 11:00pm
Campaigners call for all cut flowers to have ‘grown in UK’ label

When you’re searching for the perfect bunch of flowers at your local supermarket or florist, how many of those blooms do you think are grown in Britain? The perhaps surprising answer is typically just 10% to 12% – a percentage that has been shrinking rapidly over the last 30 years.

Now the National Farmers’ Union, backed by growers and florists, is taking matters into its own hands. It is spearheading calls for “provenance labelling” of cut flowers in retailers and florists to enable the public to better recognise which are homegrown. By doing so it hopes to persuade consumers that local and seasonal are the way to go.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to unusual materials

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 10:00pm

Fabrics such as cotton come at a dear cost to the environment. Look for progressive alternatives made from pineapples, eucalyptus, even mushrooms

Future generations will shake their heads at our loyalty to a handful of fibres with terrible environmental profiles, such as cotton (thirsty for pesticides and water) and plastic (oil based). They’ll want to know why we didn’t display more imagination.

Many innovations in the fashion industry have a distinctly mushroomy flavour

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Categories: Environment

The Observer view on Scotland’s windfarm dilemma | Observer editorial

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 4:04pm
The government must find a way to proceed with green energy projects while maintaining responsibility for its environment

For anyone who has concerns about our environment and about humanity’s future in a rapidly heating world, the proposed construction of massive offshore windfarms in Scotland’s Firths of Forth and Tay poses a dilemma of some magnitude. On one hand, the four projects – Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo – offer the prospect of generating enough electricity to power 1.4m homes without burning fossil fuel or producing carbon emissions. At the same time, between £314m and £1.2bn could be generated for the Scottish economy. Such prospects – claimed by the Scottish government and local industry – are powerful inducements to proceed with the farms’ construction.

But some environmentalists point to the cost. Every year, the windfarms’ 335 giant turbines could kill thousands of Scotland’s seabirds – puffins, gannets and kittiwakes – when they stray into the giant blades that have been erected in their feeding areas. Hence the RSPB’s dismay at last week’s decision by Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, to reverse previous legal bans on the projects. As we report, environmentalists are now locked in opposing camps. One side claims the windfarms will help make Scotland the green energy leader of Europe. Others point out that the country’s nesting seabirds make a crucial contribution to Scotland’s highly lucrative tourism industry. Their slaughter could have serious financial consequences. More importantly, the nation has a duty of care to its wildlife.

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Categories: Environment

Uproar on chic Côte d’Amour as Brittany resort fears privatisation of golden sands

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 4:03pm
Beach businesses in La Baule, celebrated by F Scott Fitzgerald, say ‘absurd’ rules threaten its future

In the chic French seaside town of La Baule, the tourist season has not yet started. The Côte d’Amour resort known for its long beach, Anglo-Norman villas and palatial hotels is preparing for the invasion of French and foreign holidaymakers that will swell the 16,000 local population almost a hundredfold.

In his 1922 collection of short stories, Tales of the Jazz Age, F Scott Fitzgerald described La Baule, on France’s Atlantic coast in southern Brittany, as a haven of good taste and refinement. “At the Palace in La Baule we felt raucous amidst so much chic restraint. Children bronzed on the bare blue-white beach while the tide went out so far as to leave them crabs and starfish to dig for in the sands,” he wrote.

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Categories: Environment

Gannets, puffins, kittiwakes: birds at risk in Scottish windfarm surge

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 4:02pm
After a long legal battle, 335 turbines will now be built in Scottish waters

In the waters of the North Sea a few miles off Scotland’s east coast, a nine-year battle has been raging that threatens a fragile and unique environmental equilibrium. The struggle has made mortal enemies of two huge lobbies that share a passionate commitment to the environment.

On one side are the developers of four vast windfarms comprising 335 turbines, which are planned for the waters of the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay. The windfarms are backed by the Scottish government, which regards renewable wind energy as key to the economic future. Pitched against them is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which claims the scale of the developments threatens the existence of some of Scotland’s best-loved species of seabird.

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Categories: Environment

Experts reject Bjørn Lomborg's view on 2C warming target

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 3:02pm

Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre says investment in keeping temperature rises below 2C would return less than $1 for every $1 spent

Experts have challenged a claim by Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre that holding global temperature rises to 2C is a poor investment.

In 2015 the education department abandoned plans for Lomborg to set up an Australian Consensus Centre, but gave the Copenhagen centre $640,000 to support its Smarter UN Post-2015 Development Goals project.

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Categories: Environment

Ben's little blue bowl...

The Field Lab - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 2:50pm
Made an executive decision yesterday and took Ben's large trough out of service.  Decided it was kind of silly to have so much water sitting out there for just him (and occasionally Javier), especially since I was loosing a lot to evaporation.  Years ago someone gave me a float valve and I thought it might finally be time to try it out.  Ben inspected and approved the new water source as soon as I set it up to fill for the first time.  So far so good.  80,83,71,0,W
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

In Washington, D.C., A Program In Which Birds And People Lift Each Other Up

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 10:44am

For 25 years, the Earth Conservation Corps has been cleaning up the capital's polluted Anacostia River. Volunteers have turned their lives around and now work to help others do the same.

(Image credit: Claire Harbage/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Why Do Journalists Love Reporting On The Everglades?

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 5:02am

The Florida Everglades is known for its beauty, and recently for its pythons. Efforts are accelerating to rid the ecosystem of the pesky invasive species. It's a huge story ... for journalists.

Categories: Environment

Urban beasts: how wild animals have moved into cities

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/20 - 1:30am
Rome has a problem with wild boar; wolves mingle with surburban Germans; mountain lions frequent LA. All around the world, city life seems increasingly conducive to wildlife

In Aesop’s fable, the town mouse turns his nose up at his country cousin’s simple fare, preferring the haute cuisine to be scavenged in the city. It appears that the wild boar of Italy have taken note, and are venturing ever more boldly into Rome.

But they are not alone: all around the world, city life seems to be increasingly conducive to wildlife. Urban nature is no longer unglamorous feral pigeons or urban foxes. Wolves have taken up residence in parts of suburban Germany as densely populated as Cambridge or Newcastle. The highest density of peregrine falcons anywhere in the world is New York; the second highest is London, and these spectacular birds of prey now breed in almost every major British city. And all kinds of wild deer are rampaging through London, while also taking up residence everywhere from Nara in Japan to the Twin Cities of the US.

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Categories: Environment

First hay fever map of Britain offers some relief to sufferers

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 10:01pm

Scientists have produced detailed maps showing where plants known to trigger allergies grow

Sufferers could have relief from runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes as scientists have developed the first ever hay fever map of Britain.

The new, highly-detailed maps of the UK contain the location of key plants and trees known to produce pollen that triggers allergies and asthma.

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Categories: Environment

Sap is rising on the shimmering heath

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 9:30pm

Mockbeggar, New Forest Tiny, parched, sorrels streak the ground with red but there is feverish activity in the ditch

From Moyles Court, a fine 17th-century house that is now a private school, we set off up the slope with paddocks on either side. Leaving the Avon Valley Path, we cut the corner of Newlands Plantation, and climb steadily uphill along the woodland edge. Rhododendron ponticum infests part of the margin, with the blooms of young plants announcing their colonisation of the adjacent open ground.

Related: For a beetle at risk, what better place to be?

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Categories: Environment

Government may fund South African mine that would compete with Adani

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 5:27pm

Report questions why taxpayers should finance the project, which would have an export edge over Australia’s coal ports

An Australian government agency is considering a multi-million dollar loan to a South African coal mine that would be in direct competition with the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

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Categories: Environment

Mine craft: why BHP's strategic overhaul could help repel a hedge fund predator

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 3:19pm

BHP’s new image could appeal to the patriotism of its Australian shareholders and help rebuff Elliott Advisors’ advances

It’s been a big week for BHP Billiton. For one thing, it’s not even called that any more. As part of its “Think Big” rebranding theme, the world’s biggest mining company opted to shed the Billiton moniker it acquired in a 2001 merger with a Dutch-South African company and revert to its previous true-blue Aussie name.

BHP says the rebranding – complete with TV ads about how seven ordinary blokes in the outback founded what is now a global business worth $A94bn (£54bn) – is part of a long-term plan started 18 months ago to reconnect with communities. “The timing now is good but we don’t look at it as an event,” the company’s chief external affairs officer, Geoff Healy, says. “This is a clean brand change for the company.”

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Categories: Environment

a friday night film

The Field Lab - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 3:11pm

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

'Doomsday' seed vault, new plants and a plague of plastic – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 9:39am

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

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 8:39am

No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

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Categories: Environment

Live Q&A: What impact is human development having on the world’s elephant populations?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/19 - 8:37am

The conflict between humans and elephants for space and resources is driving the rapid decline of elephant populations. Join us on Wednesday 24 May from 1-2.30pm BST to discuss how elephants and humans can live together

This week an elderly man was killed by a wild elephant in central India as he picked tendu leaves in the Surajpur forest. A few days earlier, a father and his son were injured after two elephants wandered into their house in Tamil Nadu. As human populations grow and communities live in closer proximity to elephants, one of the world’s most unique and beautiful animals can become the most dangerous.

But human development is also contributing to the severe decline in elephant populations. Across Asia and Africa, elephants’ natural habitats are being destroyed by rapid urbanisation and industrial and agricultural expansion.

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Categories: Environment
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