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'Suddenly my eyes and throat started burning': what caused Birling Gap's toxic cloud?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/04/14 - 1:00am

Last August, holidaymakers in East Sussex fell ill after a poisonous yellow cloud spread across the sky. What was it, and where did it come from?

Mark Sawyer has worked for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for nearly 30 years, and since 2001 he’s been the full-time coxswain at the Eastbourne lifeboat station. Shortly after 5pm on the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend last August, he received a report from the coastguard in Southampton about an incident at a beach seven miles west of his station. “The call we got was that there had either been a fire or an explosion at Birling Gap, and they’d got 50-plus casualties suffering from smoke inhalation or burns.” There was what looked like a layer of thick smoke hanging just above the sea.

Birling Gap is a popular National Trust spot between Beachy Head and Seaford, a dip in the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, with a steel staircase leading down to a pebble beach. At low tide there is sand and rockpools; on the cliffs above there is a visitor centre, cafe, car park and coastguard station.

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Categories: Environment

a friday night film

The Field Lab - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 3:27pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Atlantic Ocean Current Slows Down To 1,000-Year Low, Studies Show

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 2:40pm

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation — the conveyor belt of the ocean — is slowing down. Scientists disagree about what's behind it, but say it could mean bad news for the climate.

(Image credit: David Goldman/AP)

Categories: Environment

Carbon dioxide from ships at sea to be regulated for first time

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 10:22am

Shipping firms to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as part of historic agreement

Carbon dioxide from ships at sea will be regulated for the first time following a historic agreement reached after two weeks of detailed talks in London.

Shipping companies will halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under the plan, brokered by the International Maritime Organization and binding across its 170 member states.

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Categories: Environment

Make half of world more nature-friendly by 2050, urges UN biodiversity chief

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 9:54am

Call by Cristiana Pașca Palmer comes ahead of a major biodiversity conference in Beijing in 2020

At least half of the world should be made more nature-friendly by 2050 to ensure the wellbeing of humanity, according to the UN chief leading efforts to create a new global pact on biodiversity.

The call to strengthen the world’s life support system comes ahead of a major conference in Beijing in 2020 that many hope will be the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris climate agreement.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous environmental campaigner killed by Myanmar government

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 8:26am

Karen state activists mourning community leader Saw O Moo, who campaigned to protect a local forest and for residents’ land rights

Indigenous activists in Myanmar’s Karen state are mourning the killing of a community leader who campaigned for a peace park to protect a local forest and its residents’ land rights.

Saw O Moo was ambushed by government troops on 5 April as he was riding a motorbike with a soldier from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), a rebel group that is fighting for autonomy.

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Categories: Environment

Canada To Measure Marijuana Use By Testing Sewage

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 7:14am

People responding to surveys sometimes misstate their drug use. Canada will check wastewater for traces of drugs to more accurately assess consumption.

(Image credit: Dan Burgard)

Categories: Environment

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 6:49am

How close the world is to a catastrophic collapse of giant ocean currents is unknown, making halting global warming more critical than ever, scientists say

Serious disruption to the Gulf Stream ocean currents that are crucial in controlling global climate must be avoided “at all costs”, senior scientists have warned. The alert follows the revelation this week that the system is at its weakest ever recorded.

Past collapses of the giant network have seen some of the most extreme impacts in climate history, with western Europe particularly vulnerable to a descent into freezing winters. A significantly weakened system is also likely to cause more severe storms in Europe, faster sea level rise on the east coast of the US and increasing drought in the Sahel in Africa.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 6:36am

Orphaned baby elephants and mating hamlets are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

MPs to pressure government on backing for Swansea tidal lagoon project

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 5:35am

Committees seek clarity on indecision over taxpayer support and price guarantees for flagship tidal clean energy scheme to harness tide power

MPs are to press ministers on why they have left investors hanging in limbo over taxpayer support for a pioneering £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea.

The business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee and Welsh affairs committee will call on government to explain why no decision has been forthcoming on the flagship scheme. The government has still not indicated whether it is minded to support the lagoon, 15 months since an independent review told ministers to back the clean energy project.

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Categories: Environment

National Park Service To 'Modestly' Raise Entrance Fees In Plan To Cut Repair Backlog

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 5:28am

The National Park Service will increase entrance fees at 117 national parks by at least $5. The increases are far smaller than had previously been proposed by the Trump administration.

(Image credit: David Calvert/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The Climate and the Cross: US evangelical Christians tussle with climate change

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 4:00am

An internal battle is simmering among evangelicals in the US over whether climate change is a call to protect the Earth, the work of God to be welcomed, or does not exist at all.

Evangelicals have traditionally been the bedrock of conservative US politics, including on climate change. But a heated debate is taking place across the country, with some Christians protesting in the name of protecting the Earth, seeing it as a duty to be done in God’s name. One group has even built a chapel in the way of an oil pipeline and a radical pastor has encouraged his congregation to put themselves in the way of the diggers.

But resistance remains – a climate scientist who denies the world is warming and a preacher in Florida who sees the fact his home was flood as a welcome sign of divine presence.

Could a surprising section of Christian Americans offer hope regarding the country’s attitude to climate change?

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Categories: Environment

Mike Pompeo is a disaster for the planet. Why do Democrats back him? | Sarah Meyerhoff

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 3:00am

Pompeo is extreme in his denial of climate change. We must pressure Democrats who have backed him to change course

“Ignorant, dangerous, and absolutely unbelievable.” This is how Mike Pompeo, then the nominee for CIA director, described the idea that climate change threatens our nation’s security in his 2017 Senate confirmation hearings. It’s also how our generation and many to come will remember any senator who votes to confirm Pompeo as our next secretary of state.

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Pompeo to replace the former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson signals loud and clear that he wants fossil fuel barons to continue running our government and state department. Infamous as the “congressman from Koch”, Pompeo is the top all-time recipient of Koch Industries campaign contributions; he accepted nearly $1.5m from the fossil fuel companies between 2009 and 2017.

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Categories: Environment

Spikes in air pollution can heighten risk of chest infections, research suggests

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/13 - 2:55am

Study of PM2.5 levels in Utah suggests increase in diagnoses of viral infections such as bronchitis follows even brief upticks in pollution

Even short-term increases in air pollution are linked to a higher risk of developing viral chest infections that turn into conditions such as bronchiolitis, new research suggests.

The study, carried out by scientists in the US, looked at levels of tiny particles in the air known as PM2.5s across eight locations along the Wasatch Front in Utah, including Salt Lake City. This area features a string of towns and is home the majority of the state’s population and, due to various factors, experiences large variations in air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

Using cute animals in pop culture makes public think they're not endangered – study

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 5:38pm

Proliferation of giraffes, lions, tigers and elephants in toy shops and films creates ‘virtual population’ and skews our perception

Animals such as elephants, tigers, lions and panda bears are everywhere in movies, books and toy stores. But their wide pop culture presence skews public perception of how endangered these animals really are, researchers say.

Online surveys, zoo websites, animated films and school questionnaires were scoured by US and French researchers for the study, published in journal PLOS Biology.

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Categories: Environment

a little life...

The Field Lab - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 5:13pm
At least something is still alive in the greenhouse...  89,98,64,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Republican Farm Bill Calls On Many SNAP Recipients To Work Or Go To School

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 4:35pm

Republicans in Congress have released their version of a new Farm Bill. It imposes new requirements on low-income recipients of food assistance, but continues traditional subsidies for farmers.

(Image credit: Seth Wenig/AP)

Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: bicycles take over City of London rush hour

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 1:30pm

Traffic has fallen by 40% in the City since 1999 – good news for air pollution and people’s fitness

City workers are swapping their pinstripe suits for cycle helmets and hi-vis jackets. Since 1999, total traffic in the City of London has fallen by 40% and bicycles are now the dominant vehicle during the rush hour.

This is good news for air pollution in an area that breaches EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide, but an increase in active travel has many other benefits: less road traffic noise, fewer climate change emissions and people benefiting from more exercise.

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Categories: Environment

EPA aide says he was forced out after questioning Scott Pruitt's spending

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 11:38am

Kevin Chmielewski told lawmakers he faced retaliation after pushing against outsized spending demands from EPA chief and his top aides

A high-ranking political staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency has told lawmakers he faced retaliation after pushing back against outsized spending demands from administrator Scott Pruitt and his top aides.

House and Senate Democrats sent letters on Thursday to Donald Trump and Pruitt describing a meeting they had with Kevin Chmielewski, who was recently placed on involuntary, unpaid leave from his position as EPA’s deputy chief of staff for operations.

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Categories: Environment

No plan to protect Queensland's green-haired turtle from extinction

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/12 - 11:00am

The Mary river turtle is just one of many endangered Australian reptile species which have fallen between the conservation cracks

The Australian government does not have a plan to save an endangered Australian turtle species that received global attention on Thursday for its green mohawk and its ability to breathe through its genitals.

The Mary river turtle, found only in that one river in Queensland, attracted worldwide headlines as one of the standout species on a new list of the most vulnerable reptile species compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

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Categories: Environment
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