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Struggling Nuclear Industry Lobbies State Governments For Help

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 1:30pm

The nuclear industry is struggling with aging plants and competition from cheaper natural gas. Now, touting itself as another form of "clean" energy, it's lobbying state lawmakers for help.

(Image credit: John S. Zeedick/AP)

Categories: Environment

Check out the fussy falcons of Nottingham | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 11:36am
Electoral register and young people | Typefaces | Nottingham’s peregrines | Names for grandparents | 35mm film canisters

Warnings about young people dropping off the electoral register were issued a long time ago (Report, 15 May). The next government needs to take swift action and automatically register 16-year-olds when they receive their national insurance number. Policies were set out last year by the all-party parliamentary party in its report on the Missing Millions and have cross-party support. Urgent action is needed so that next generation of citizens are included in the democratic process.
Dr Toby James
Senior fellow to the all-party parliamentary group on democratic participation, University of East Anglia 

• Mrs May’s battlebus has lettering in the Swiss typeface Akzidenz. Voters may wish that Akzidenz will happen (but it doesn’t translate so helpfully). Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche uses the British Gill Italic, which leans to the right. Read the runes.
Richard Hollis

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Categories: Environment

Wild boar gives British ambassador to Austria a scare

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 9:14am

Envoy recounts being charged at by ‘massive’ specimen, resulting in minor injuries as he slipped during his escape

Britain’s ambassador to Austria has generally been given a warm welcome, but a local wild boar appeared to have little time for diplomatic niceties. Leigh Turner, who took up the post last August, has revealed that while walking in woods near Vienna earlier this month, he was chased by a “massive” specimen and sustained minor injuries.

Turning a corner, Turner found himself face-to-face with a group of “four or five hulking adults and countless piglets”. He turned and walked away slowly. “Moments later I hear a noise behind me like a galloping horse, and turn to see a massive wild boar, head down, charging straight at me,” Turner recounted on his blog.

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Categories: Environment

Billionaire Bloomberg to fund $5m public health projects in 40 cities worldwide

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 5:30am

Exclusive: Melbourne, Accra and Ulaanbaatar among cities to benefit from funding pledged by former New York mayor to tackle issues from air pollution to obesity

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire bête noire of both the sugar industry and the tobacco industry, famously fought for a ban on the sale of large-sized colas and other sweet drinks when he was mayor of New York and lost. Although that is not how he sees it.

“We actually won that battle,” he says. “I have always thought if we had not been stopped by the court, it would have died as an issue. Nobody would have known about it. But the fact that it kept coming back to the newspapers was a gift in disguise because people started to think, Holy God, maybe full-sugar drinks are bad for me.

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Categories: Environment

Chinese appetite for totoaba fish bladder kills off rare porpoise

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 3:05am

Only 30 vaquita are left in Gulf of California as pirate fishermen net them when fishing for highly valued totoaba maws

The world’s rarest marine mammal is on the verge of extinction due to the continuing illegal demand in China for a valuable fish organ, an undercover investigation has revealed.

There are no more than 30 vaquita – a five-foot porpoise – left in the northern Gulf of California today and they could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned. The population has been all but eradicated by pirate fishermen catching the large totoaba fish and killing the vaquita in the process.

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Categories: Environment

UK faces sharp rise in wind storms and higher bills as world warms

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 3:03am

Data models show UK to be at mercy of fiercer winds and insurers call for action to reinforce buildings

The UK is set to reap the whirlwind of climate change with the huge damage caused by wind storms expected to increase sharply, according to new analysis.

Even the minimum global warming now expected – just 1.5C – is projected to raise the cost of windstorm destruction by more than a third in parts of the country. If climate change heats the world even further, broken roofs and damaged buildings are likely to increase by over 50% across a swathe of the nation.

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Categories: Environment

NY Times’ Stephens can’t see the elephant in the room on climate change | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 3:00am

Hint: the elephant is the obstructionist political party’s symbol

There was tremendous outcry when the New York Times hired opinion columnist Bret Stephens, who has a long history of making misinformed comments about climate change. Stephens didn’t assuage those fears when he devoted his first column to punching hippies, absurdly suggesting that our lack of progress on climate policy is a result of greens being too mean to climate deniers.

Stephens lamentably stayed on the subject of climate change in his second and third Times columns as well. In those pieces, he used corn-based ethanol subsidies as an example of where climate policy has gone wrong:

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Categories: Environment

10 years of Ciwem Environmental Photographer of the Year – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 2:53am

The Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management (Ciwem) Photographer of the Year competition was set up 10 years ago to chronicle human impact on the natural environment. The 2017 competition launches this week and judges include Stephen Fry, Ben Fogle and Steve Backshall

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Categories: Environment

Toxic timebomb: why we must fight back against the world's plague of plastic | Jennifer Lavers and Alexander Bond

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 1:44am

We must reduce our dependence on plastics, especially single-use items, and seek out alternative materials

38 million pieces of plastic waste found on uninhabited South Pacific island

It’s everywhere. From the Mariana Trench to the floor of the Arctic Ocean, on tropical beaches and polar coasts. It’s in wildlife, seafood, sea salt and even on the surface of Mars. The world is blighted by plastic. Up to 12m tonnes of the stuff enters the world’s oceans every year (that’s one new tonne of plastic every three to 10 seconds) and it doesn’t go to that magical place called “away”.

Once in the oceans, it can float around for years, or even decades, before being swallowed by a bird or a whale. During that time, it can travel tens of thousands of kilometres, all the while absorbing contaminants from the sea water, concentrating them like a sponge. When wildlife ingest plastic, the brew of toxic chemicals can be transferred to the animal’s tissues with potentially dangerous consequences.

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Categories: Environment

38m pieces of plastic found on uninhabited Henderson Island – video report

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/05/16 - 1:03am

Henderson Island in the South Pacific Ocean is believed to be one of the world’s worst polluted places. Australian scientists say they found its beaches littered with about 38m pieces of plastic during an investigation in 2015. The island is in the path of the South Pacific Gyre, an ocean current known for its accumulation of plastic debris

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Categories: Environment

Down with the bilberry bees

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 9:30pm

Buxton, Derbyshire They look like animate furry fruit bonbons. The queens hatch late and their preferred food is bilberry and heather

After the most rainless spring that I can recall, the vegetation on the moor tops is frazzled to an August tinder. The full sweep of folded slopes look grey rather than the usual heathery brown, and even the deepest gullies are dry bottomed and crunchy underfoot. Yet the strong north-easterlies have kept the entire season freeze-dried, and there are almost no swallows through the blue overhead, while the pipits, parachuting down in song display, whose notes are flat at best of times, were picked to desultory shreds by the currents of cold air.

It was so dry that I could at least lie among the bilberry bushes to escape the wind and there, in a condition of enforced sloth, I chanced upon a search method for the creature I’d come to see.

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Categories: Environment

Large-scale solar industry takes off as 12 new plants secure finance

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 7:28pm

Support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has helped put large-scale solar on a solid footing despite cuts to its own funding

Australia’s large-scale solar industry now appears to be on solid ground, with all 12 plants recently awarded grant funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency reaching “financial close” this month.

That means they are fully financed and have locked in engineering, construction and grid connection agreements, as well as council and environmental approvals.

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Categories: Environment

How YouTube works...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 5:14pm
There is no doubt that I got really lucky with the bucket.  Kind of ironic that getting a video to go viral was on my bucket list when I started concentration on my YouTube channel at the beginning of the year.  My 15 minutes of YouTube fame for this shot is just about over now and the media frenzy is fading fast - but I was able to score a little over a thousand bucks in ad revenue for my effort as well as a deal with GoPro worth another thousand (FYI - I didn't get the drone deal I was looking for from them because they are in such high demand right now but they sweetened the deal with $500 cash + a GoPro Hero 5 Black + a Karma Grip).  The reason that YouTube is such a tough nut to crack when it comes to making money is that it takes A LOT OF VIEWS to earn much of anything.  The payout rate at my level of subscribers and popularity is only about twenty five cents per 1,000 monetized views - top channels can make as much as $4 per 1,000 monetized views.  It is also very tricky how YouTube decides what views get counted.  Up until this viral hit, I had only earned about 40 bucks total from all the 27 other videos I have posted so far this year.  To put it in perspective, my channel would need to consistently get about 2,500,000 monetized views per month just to cover my health insurance premium.
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

'Narco-deforestation': cocaine trade destroying swaths of Central America

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 4:01pm

Drug trade’s efforts to launder profits by creating agricultural land results in loss of millions of acres, researchers say

Cocaine traffickers attempting to launder their profits are responsible for the disappearance of millions of acres of tropical forest across large swaths of Central America, according to a report.

The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that drug trafficking was responsible for up to 30% of annual deforestation in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, turning biodiverse forest into agricultural land.

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Categories: Environment

'They're Everywhere': Oil, Gas Wells Dot Developments, Raising Potential Dangers

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 1:34pm

Colorado is reviewing oil and gas operations after a fatal home explosion was linked to an abandoned, but still leaking, gas line. The tragedy is raising questions about how older wells are regulated.

(Image credit: Brennan Linsley/AP)

Categories: Environment

Millions Of Pieces Of Plastic Are Piling Up On An Otherwise Pristine Pacific Island

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 12:01pm

Researchers found more than 17 tons of plastic debris on an uninhabited South Pacific island. It's some 3,000 miles from the nearest big city, but ocean currents bring a steady supply of trash.

(Image credit: Jennifer Lavers/University of Tasmania)

Categories: Environment

38 million pieces of plastic waste found on uninhabited South Pacific island

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 12:00pm

Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn group, is covered by 18 tonnes of plastic – the highest density of anthropogenic debris recorded anywhere in the world

One of the world’s most remote places, an uninhabited coral atoll, is also one of its most polluted.

Henderson Island, a tiny landmass in the eastern South Pacific, has been found by marine scientists to have the highest density of anthropogenic debris recorded anywhere in the world, with 99.8% of the pollution plastic.

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Categories: Environment

The sad demise of trees in our streets | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 10:12am
The privatisation of public space through redevelopment is the main culprit, writes Michael Ball. Plus additional letters from Marie Paterson, Professor Steven Rose and Beryl Wilkins

Re Ian Jack (We hardly notice them. But street trees are monuments to city life, 13 May), part of the Victorian heritage of the public realm were 8 million trees, greening public streets which had formerly been private roads on great land-owning estates. Ian Jack sets out the threat to this heritage, from disease and pollution to overzealous council pruning. But the most urgent threat is the re-privatisation of public realm through redevelopment. Local councils are offloading maintenance costs of streets and trees by granting permission for estates where the developer retains ownership and responsibility for upkeep. And private developers prefer “architect’s trees” – small, shaped, boxed, contained – rather than the sprawling London plane.

But there is hope. The ultimate symbol was the garden bridge – a private bridge across a public river and public realm, with 30 mature South Bank trees facing the axe to make way for private designer trees in planters. Thankfully, the mayor of London has pulled the plug on this landgrab. Is the tide turning?
Michael Ball
Thames Central Open Spaces

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Categories: Environment

The Lake District is indeed a sheepwrecked landscape | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 10:11am
Readers question farmers’ claims that they are proud and environmentally sound custodians of the countryside

Robin Milton, chairman of the NFU Uplands forum, and sheep farmer Louise MacArthur (Letters, 13 May) completely misunderstand the point George Monbiot is making (The Lake District as a world heritage site – what a disaster that would be, 10 May) in resisting the designation of the Lake District as a world heritage site. This landscape is totally artificial and manmade: it is a “sheepwrecked landscape” which could not be resurrected if designated as a world heritage site. Louise MacArthur’s “glorious fells” should, except for the highest ground, be partially forested, and would be but for the depredations of free-ranging sheep which prevent natural tree growth. Hence the relative paucity of forest in the British Isles, compared with almost all of our European neighbours. Of course, it is not all down to sheep. In the highlands of Scotland, deer are also significant players (as is heather-burning to sustain grouse). A major problem is that most Britons have no idea that the bare upland areas that dominate Scotland, much of Wales and the higher Pennines were once extensively clothed in trees. Our Neolithic stone-axe-wealding ancestors started the tree felling, a job that was completed during the industrial revolution.

If anyone doubts this scenario, just take a look at the richly forested countries of northern and eastern Europe or Canada. You will be hard put to match the huge expanses of bare moorland that characterise these British Isles. If sheep in Lakeland were confined to the lower valleys, where most are concentrated anyway, but excluded from the higher, steeper slopes, the landscape would revert to its true ecological state and beauty.
Alan Woolley
Weybridge, Surrey

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Categories: Environment

a monday matinee...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 10:11am

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs
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