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High winds kill thousands of migrating birds in 'disaster' over Greece

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/04/09 - 4:55pm

Swallows and swifts on their annual flight from Africa to Europe have been found dead across Greece

Thousands of swallows and swifts migrating from Africa to Europe have been left dead by high winds battering Greece, bird watchers say.

The birds have been found in the streets of Athens, on apartment balconies in the capital, in the north, on Aegean islands and around a lake close to the seaport of Nauplia in the Peloponnese.

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Categories: Environment

Tolkien was right: giant trees have towering role in protecting forests

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/04/09 - 12:45pm

Study highlights importance of biodiversity as part of strategy to stop planet overheating

Scientists have shown to be true what JRR Tolkien only imagined in the Lord of the Rings: giant, slow-reproducing trees play an outsized role in the growth and health of old forests.

In the 1930s, the writer gave his towering trees the name Ents. Today, a paper in the journal Science says these “long-lived pioneers” contribute more than previously believed to carbon sequestration and biomass increase.

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Categories: Environment

More than half of remote reefs in Coral Sea marine park suffered extreme bleaching

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/04/09 - 10:30am

Exclusive: researchers found some areas outside the bounds of the Great Barrier Reef had 90% of their shallow water corals bleached this summer

More than half of the spectacular and remote coral reefs beyond the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef suffered severe bleaching this summer, an underwater scientific expedition has found.

Several reefs in the vast Coral Sea marine park known among divers for their arrays of corals, large fish and precipitous drop offs into the deep ocean suffered extreme bleaching.

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Categories: Environment

How the coronavirus crisis got me back on my bike and feeling free

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 11:00pm

Having not been in the saddle for 15 years, Toby Chasseaud overcomes his nerves to beat the travel shutdown

Like many Londoners, the majority of my journeys over the past 13 years have been underground. I last cycled, briefly, in Brighton in 2005 and found even that short spell somewhat nerve-racking, with drivers cutting in front of me without indicating or even looking to see if anyone was there.

If you can’t beat them, join them, I figured. I gave my bike away, bought a car again and thought nothing more of cycling. When I moved to London the tube became my default mode of transport and would remain so for years – until a few weeks ago.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been told to avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary. I’ve always considered my work to be important, but could I justify squeezing into the underground with doctors and nurses – the true heroes of this crisis – potentially putting them, as well as myself and my Guardian colleagues, at risk?

So I resolve to buy a bike again to allow me to stay mobile while keeping a safe distance from others. I had feared that every Londoner would have the same idea as me, so when I arrive at the bike shop I’m pleasantly surprised to find I’m the only customer there, and the owner proceeds to talk me through the options available.

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Categories: Environment

The secret call of the wild: how animals teach each other to survive

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 10:30pm

Cultural knowledge, passed from animal to animal, is key to how species adapt to change in the world around them

Sam Williams’ Macaw Recovery Network in Costa Rica rewilds captivity-hatched fledgling scarlet and great green macaws. But introducing young birds into a complex forest world – bereft of the cultural education normally provided by parents – is slow and risky.

For 30 years or so scientists have referred to the diversity of life on Earth as “biological diversity”, or just “biodiversity”. They usually define biodiversity as operating at three levels: the diversity of genes within any particular species; the diversity of species in a given place; and the diversity of habitat types such as forests, coral reefs, and so on. But does that cover it? Not really. A fourth level has been almost entirely overlooked: cultural diversity.

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Categories: Environment

Improvisation And Retraining May Be Key To Saving Patients In New York's ICUs

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 12:28pm

Pulmonologists in New York hospitals are now supervising doctors from other specialties as they try to keep ICUs staffed, and are deploying equipment in new ways. But COVID-19 is a demoralizing foe.

(Image credit: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

African swine fever outbreak reported in western Poland

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 8:42am

Highly contagious virus fatal to pigs found close to German border, as illness continues to spread in China

An outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) was confirmed on Monday on a farm near the village of Więckowice near Poznań in western Poland, less than 150km (93 miles) from the border with Germany.

African swine fever is a highly contagious virus which is fatal to pigs. It is transmitted directly between animals or through infected meat or animal feed and has also been seen as having the potential to transmit to humans. There is an ongoing outbreak in China that has already already wiped out 40% of pigs in the country.

Related: African swine fever destroying small pig farms, as factory farming booms – report

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Categories: Environment

Scientists create mutant enzyme that recycles plastic bottles in hours

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 8:00am

Bacterial enzyme originally found in compost can be used to make high-quality new bottles

A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.

The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.

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Categories: Environment

Airlines lobby to rewrite carbon deal in light of coronavirus

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/04/08 - 1:36am

Industry says it is not trying to dodge obligations but that it is a ‘matter of survival’

Airlines are lobbying to rewrite the rules of a global agreement designed to tackle aviation emissions, with the coronavirus outbreak expected to make its targets tougher to meet.

Campaigners accused airlines of attempting to “dodge their obligations”, but the industry said it was “a matter of survival”, with most international travel currently frozen in the Covid-19 crisis.

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Categories: Environment

Human impact on wildlife to blame for spread of viruses, says study

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 4:01pm

Increased contact with animals likely cause of outbreaks such as Covid-19, say experts, as conservationists call for global ban on wildlife markets

Hunting, farming and the global move of people to cities has led to massive declines in biodiversity and increased the risk of dangerous viruses like Covid-19 spilling over from animals to humans, a major study has concluded.

In a paper that suggests the underlying cause of the present pandemic is likely to be increased human contact with wildlife, scientists from Australia and the US traced which animals were most likely to share pathogens with humans.

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Categories: Environment

Seal the deal: amorous mammals forced to contend with cruise ships

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 4:01pm

Harbour seals struggle to match volume of passing ships when trying to attract a mate

Cruise ships are drowning out the roars of seals that are important for bagging a mate, researchers have found in the latest study to reveal the consequences of human activity on wildlife.

Ships are known to produce low-frequency sounds which can overlap with calls made by marine creatures. But now researchers studying harbour seals say such noise could be taking its toll.

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Categories: Environment


The Field Lab - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 3:45pm
Spent most of the day modeling parts for a grasshopper escapement so I can make them with my 3D printer.  77,85,57,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Birdwatch: skylark's song lifts my spirits in these darkened times

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 1:30pm

On my daily walk I can enjoy hearing a bird whose song is the definitive sound of the countryside

Our world is cribbed, confined and bound in as never before. Yet amid all the fear and horror, there is one silver lining, as we reconnect with nature on our doorstep. My Somerset garden is awash with birdsong: chiffchaffs, wrens, robins and a new arrival, the blackcap, all competing to see who can shout the loudest as spring gathers pace. Overhead, buzzards soar and ravens tumble, as delighted as I am to herald the new season.

Related: Wildflower planting on farms boosts birds, from skylarks to starlings

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Categories: Environment

Snow-white coral of once-vibrant Great Barrier Reef a sign urgent action must be taken | Adam Morton

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 10:30am

Plan for net-zero emissions combined with a new diplomatic effort is Australia’s best chance at saving reef for future generations

The news is overwhelming and exhausting in a way it has rarely been in most of our lifetimes, but if you have five minutes of energy left this is worth your attention. That it hasn’t been reported in most of Australia’s major news outlets doesn’t make that any less the case.

Across nine days last month, Prof Terry Hughes from James Cook University travelled the length of the Great Barrier Reef in a small plane to survey the health of more than 1,000 individual sites. He was joined by an observer from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a government agency.

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Categories: Environment

Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 9:16am

Dirty air increases risk of respiratory problems that can be fatal for coronavirus patients

Air pollution is linked to significantly higher rates of death in people with Covid-19, according to analysis.

The work shows that even a tiny, single-unit increase in particle pollution levels in the years before the pandemic is associated with a 15% increase in the death rate. The research, done in the US, calculates that slightly cleaner air in Manhattan in the past could have saved hundreds of lives.

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Categories: Environment

'Please don't come': calls to close US national parks over virus fears

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/04/07 - 6:54am

More than half the National Park Service’s unit remain open but local police and health officials are urging people to stay away

As mild temperatures and spring blooms emerged in southern Utah this past weekend, so did the tourists. At Capitol Reef national park, the trailhead parking lot was full of cars bearing plates from states such as California, Washington, Colorado and Georgia, all Covid-19 hotspots. The hikers were either oblivious to or ignoring the plea from the local sheriff’s office that outsiders stay away.

“While we would normally welcome visitors to enjoy the beauty of Wayne county, we really don’t want visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic,” stated a 3 April post on the sheriff’s Facebook page. Wayne county, where Capitol Reef is located, has 2,600 residents and little in the way of healthcare services. “If you don’t live here, please don’t come here.”

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Categories: Environment

Queensland parks and wildlife officer dies after being bitten by a shark at Great Barrier Reef

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/04/06 - 5:08pm

The 23-year-old man sustained injuries to his hand, leg and elbow in a ‘horrific’ attack

A shark has killed a Queensland parks and wildlife officer during a work trip at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has paid tribute to the 23-year-old, who died in hospital on Monday night a few hours after he was mauled near North West Island.

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Categories: Environment

How to win an eBay auction...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2020/04/06 - 1:17pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Lockdown has cut Britain's vibrations, seismologists find

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/04/06 - 10:02am

There’s a kind of hush all over the world as the reduction in human activity stops the Earth buzzing so much

The dramatic quietening of towns and cities in lockdown Britain has changed the way the Earth moves beneath our feet, scientists say.

Seismologists at the British Geological Survey have found that their sensors are twitching less now that human activity has been curtailed, leading to a drop in the anthropogenic din that vibrates through the planet.

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Categories: Environment
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