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Colonialism did not just create slavery: it changed geology

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 11:00pm
Researchers suggest effects of the colonial era can be detected in rocks or even air

It brought riches to Britain and many other European nations; played a major role in enslaving more than 10 million Africans; and created the first global markets in cotton, tobacco and sugar. But now colonialism has been accused of having an even greater influence. It is claimed that it changed the Earth’s very makeup.

This is the view of two UK scientists who believe the impact of colonialism was so profound it can be detected in Earth’s air and rocks, an idea revealed in The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, by Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin, published last week.

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Categories: Environment

Charles Mann: ‘The relationship between population and consumption is not straightforward’

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 11:00pm
The science journalist’s new book boils decades of environmental debate down to the starkly contrasting approaches of two key figures

Charles C Mann is a science journalist, author and historian. His books 1491 and 1493, looking at the Americas before and after Columbus, were widely acclaimed. His new book, The Wizard and the Prophet, examines the highly influential and starkly contrasting environmental visions of Norman Borlaug (the Wizard) and William Vogt (the Prophet). Borlaug (1914-2009) was instrumental in the green revolution that vastly expanded the amount of food humanity has been able to cultivate. Vogt (1902-1968) was a pioneering ecologist who argued that humans had exceeded the Earth’s “carrying capacity” and were heading for cataclysm unless consumption was drastically reduced. One believed in scientific ingenuity as the answer to our problems, the other was convinced that it only deepened the crisis.

What made you frame this story of humanity’s future in terms of these two individuals?
It really started the night my daughter was born 19 years ago. I was standing in the parking lot at three in the morning and it suddenly popped into my head that when Amelia, my daughter, became my age there would be almost 10 billion people in the world. And I believe that centuries from now, when historians look back at the time when you and I have been alive, the big thing that they’ll say happened is that hundreds of millions of people in Asia and Latin America and Africa lifted themselves from destitution to something like the middle class. So not only will there be 10 billion people but all those people will want the same things you and I want – nice homes, nice car, nice clothes, the odd chunk of Toblerone, right? And so I stood there in the parking lot and thought to myself: how are we meant to do this? I’m a science journalist, so when I was talking to researchers, I’d say: “How are we going to feed everybody, how are we going to get water for everybody, house everybody? What are we going to do about climate change?” After a while I realised that the answers I was getting fell into two broad categories, each of which had a name that kept being associated with it: one was Borlaug, the other Vogt.

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Categories: Environment

the ramp bunny...

The Field Lab - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 5:00pm
This is Notchi (notch in his ear). When it is really hot out, he spends most of the day under the ramp to my porch. He and George are the only two bunnies here (out of about 60) that I recognize well enough to name.  Video coming Monday... 92,99,77,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

'Australia doesn’t realise’: worsening drought pushes farmers to the brink

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 3:00pm

Liverpool plains farmer Megan Kuhn says cows are being slaughtered because there is no way of feeding them after years of extreme weather

In the south-west corner of NSW’s Liverpool plains, in an area called Bundella, farmer Megan Kuhn runs beef cattle and merino sheep with her husband, Martin.

They have 400 breeding cows that will calve in six weeks. Shortly, 89 of those cows will leave the property, sold to an abattoir because the cost of feeding the animals during drought has become too great.

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Categories: Environment

Cal Fire Finds PG&E Equipment Responsible For Several Wildfires

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 2:14pm

California fire officials have blamed Pacific Gas and Electric Company power lines for wildfires that tore through Northern California in October.

Categories: Environment

Body of woman killed by alligator found in Florida lake

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 1:55pm
  • Shizuka Matsuki, 47, was walking dogs near lake in Davie
  • Alligator captured and killed by officials

Florida officials confirmed on Saturday divers had found the body of a woman who was killed by an alligator while walking her dogs near a lake in south Florida. The 12ft 6in alligator involved was captured and killed.

Related: Miami woman bitten and likely killed by alligator, officials say

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Categories: Environment

Pope Francis tells oil bosses world must reduce fossil fuel use

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 5:36am

Pontiff says clean energy is needed as climate change risks destroying humanity

Pope Francis has told oil company chiefs that the world must switch to clean energy because climate change risks destroying humanity.

“Civilisation requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilisation,” he said at the end of a two-day conference at the Vatican.

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Categories: Environment

Mud, sweat and tears on the Dorset Gravel Dash | Laura Laker

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/06/09 - 12:30am

The 100-mile on- and off-road bike-packing event is undoubtedly a challenge, but there is a true sense of adventure

Twenty-two miles from the end of a gruelling, beautiful and intensely varied 100 mile cross-country bike ride through Dorset, the rear derailleur on my bike clacked, pinged and, in the manner of a wounded fly, ended its journey upside down, immobile and missing several parts.

I stood on the dirt track peering down at it, wondering how I’d finish the ride, before my riding buddies set about trying to get me pedalling once more.

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Categories: Environment

The 'dark fleet': Global Fishing Watch shines a light on illegal catches

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 8:22pm

Low light imaging data being used to expose unregulated and unreported fishing on the high seas

New data is being used to expose fleets of previously unmonitored fishing vessels on the high seas, in what campaigners hope will lead to the eradication of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) has turned low light imaging data collected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into the first publicly available real-time map showing the location and identity of thousands of vessels operating at night in waters that lie beyond national jurisdiction.

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Categories: Environment

PG&E Power Lines Blamed For Northern California Wildfires

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 6:49pm

A state report finds that the utility's equipment coming into contact with trees caused the fires that ravaged the region, including the wine country.

(Image credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Categories: Environment

Miami woman bitten and likely killed by alligator, officials say

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 6:23pm

Florida woman was identified from evidence collected from a necropsy after she disappeared while walking her dogs by a lake

A woman who disappeared while walking her dogs near a lake in Miami, Florida on Friday was bitten and likely killed by an alligator that was later captured, wildlife officials said.

A necropsy confirmed the alligator bit Shizuka Matsuki, 47, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said in a statement. They believe Matsuki was killed and were searching for her body. Commission spokesman Rob Klepper said they were able to positively identify the woman from evidence collected from the necropsy of the alligator, but he wouldn’t specifically say what that evidence was.

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Categories: Environment

Move over Elon: global energy prize goes to Australia's solar guru

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 3:18pm

UNSW professor Martin Green, who revolutionised photovoltaics, says sun’s power is ‘the best option out there’

The “father of PV” – University of New South Wales professor Martin Green – has become the first Australian to win the global energy prize from a shortlist that included Tesla’s Elon Musk.

UNSW said Green had been selected from 44 contenders from 14 countries by a committee of leading scientists to share the $820,000 prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, an expert in thermal power engineering.

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Categories: Environment

a friday night film

The Field Lab - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 3:06pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Josh Frydenberg urged to step in to save national park from NSW brumby plan

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 3:00pm

Conservationists say federal environment minister has obligation to protect areas of national significance

Conservationists have called on the federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to intervene to protect the Kosciuszko national park from brumbies after a New South Wales bill was passed giving heritage protection to the feral horses.

The Australian Conservation Foundation says the federal government has an obligation under national environment law to protect areas of national significance, including the national heritage-listed Australian Alps national parks and reserves.

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Categories: Environment

Scott Pruitt's Ethical Missteps Don't Seem To Have Any Effect On His Standing With Trump

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 1:08pm

The list of alleged ethical missteps by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt just keeps growing longer, but they don't seem to be having any effect on his standing with President Trump.

Categories: Environment

Microplastics in our mussels: the sea is feeding human garbage back to us

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 9:28am
A new report found the seafood contains an alarming amount of plastic – and in fact no sea creature is immune. It’s as if the ocean is wreaking its revenge

Shellfish are the natural filter systems of our seas, mechanisms of purity. So, to discover in a report released on World Oceans Day that mussels bought from UK supermarkets were infested with microplastic seems like a final irony in the terrible story of the plasticisation of the sea. According to the study by the University of Hull and Brunel University London, 70 particles of microplastic were found in every 100 grams of mussels.

There’s a vital disconnection here – highlighted by the bottled water you drink to wash down your moules-frites, and the fact that 89% of ocean trash comes from single-use plastic. No sea is immune from this plague, nor any ocean creature, from the modest mussel or zooplankton to the great whales.

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Categories: Environment

Heathrow and the ‘aviation mafia’ | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 8:36am
Readers look at past battles over the third runway and its likely future impact

The battle to construct a third runway has been going on for much longer than your estimate of 31 years (Editorial, 6 June). It first gained government approval as long ago as 1946 but was abandoned by the incoming government in 1952. Since then there have been further attempts and in 2009 it once again gained parliamentary approval. This was overturned by the coalition government one year later when David Cameron declared: “No ifs, no buts, no third runway.” This might have been the end of the matter but the ‘aviation mafia’ is nothing if not persistent and never gives up.
Philip Sherwood
Author, Heathrow: 2000 Years of History, Harlington, Middlesex

• There is one vital element of the Heathrow runway debate that has not been aired this time (again) and is surely the central point. In the 1970s, an energy study warned us of the finite nature of oil-based transport. According to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 2016, there are 1.3tn barrels of proven oil reserves left in the world’s major fields, which at present rates of consumption should last 40 years. So if it takes 20-30 years to build the third runway, that means just 10 years of use. And that does not take into account current population expansion rates and the likelihood of greater demand on oil reserves over the next 30 years. A third runway at Heathrow is utterly futile and pointless. Air travel in its current form is dying. We need new solutions, new energy sources – not tired out old arguments.
Nigel Cubbage
Merstham, Surrey

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Categories: Environment

Don't Touch! A Scientist's Advice For Spotting Poison Ivy Before It Ruins Your Summer

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 8:36am

The best way to treat poison ivy is to avoid touching it in the first place. But that's tricky, given the many faces the rash-inducing plant can have.

(Image credit: Courtesy of John Jelesko)

Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 6:32am

Foraging wood ducks, an adder taking a dip and a fearless baby rabbit are among this week’s pick on images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Britain’s nuclear U-turn puts us in a very lonely club | Fred Pearce

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/06/08 - 4:30am

Pumping £5bn into a new plant in north Wales as a way to fight climate change is a solution at odds with the rest of the world

For once, ministers have put their money where their mouth is – into taking another stab at nuclear power. This week the business secretary, Greg Clark, announced plans to pump £5bn into a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in north Wales. It was a reversal of a longstanding Conservative policy not to underwrite nuclear construction. So why the sudden enthusiasm? And what does Clark know that the rest of the world does not?

For almost everywhere else, governments and corporations are pulling the plug on nuclear. Even in a world fearful of climate change, in which nations have promised to wean themselves off fossil fuels by the mid-century, almost no one wants to touch nuclear.

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Categories: Environment
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