Scientists Peek Inside The 'Black Box' Of Soil Microbes To Learn Their Secrets

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 3:51pm

Microorganisms play a vital role in growing food and sustaining the planet, but they do it anonymously. Scientists haven't identified most soil microbes, but they are learning which are most common.

(Image credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: exhaust emissions double below 20C – by design

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 2:30pm

Modern cars can start in the cold, so why are manufacturers failing to make exhaust controls more efficient below 20C?

Twenty-five years ago, starting a car in winter required careful balancing of choke and accelerator and sometimes sprays of WD40 or a bump start. Now, modern vehicles simply work in the cold. However, a European parliament inquiry following the Volkswagen scandal found that the nitrogen oxides abatement systems on many diesel cars shut down below the official test temperature of 20C. Manufacturers say that this prevents engine damage and is therefore legal. Real-world driving measurements on 9,000 cars in Gothenburg, Sweden, have shown this shutdown in action. Average emissions at 10C were almost twice those at 25C.

Related: What is behind the diesel cars emissions scandal?

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Categories: Environment

Moscow Sees Only 6 Minutes Of Sunlight During All Of December

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 2:16pm

Moscow experienced the darkest month in its recorded history in December. There was a total of six minutes of sunlight. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with reporter Charles Maynes, who lived through this dark month.

Categories: Environment

2017 was the hottest year on record without El Niño boost

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 8:30am

Data shows the year was also one of the hottest three ever recorded, with scientists warning that the ‘climate tide is rising fast’

2017 was the hottest year since global records began that was not given an additional boost by the natural climate cycle El Niño, according to new data. Even without an El Niño, the year was still exceptionally hot, being one of the top three ever recorded.

The three main global temperature records show the global surface temperature in 2017 was 1C above levels seen in pre-industrial times, with scientists certain that humanity’s fossil fuel-burning is to blame.

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Categories: Environment

Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 6:12am

Leading UK retailers say information is too ‘commercially sensitive’ to reveal, following Guardian report they make almost 1m tonnes a year

Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

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Categories: Environment

Donald Trump is hampering fight against climate change, WEF warns

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 5:11am

World Economic Forum outlines huge increase in all five eco risks since the US president assumed office

The World Economic Forum delivered a strong warning about Donald Trump’s go-it-alone approach to tackling climate change as it highlighted the growing threat of environmental collapse in its annual assessment of the risks facing the international community.

In the run-up to the US president’s speech to its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week, the WEF avoided mentioning Trump by name but said “nation-state unilateralism” would make it harder to tackle global warming and ecological damage.

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Categories: Environment

China oil spill: warning over seafood contamination

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 3:07am

Scientists say consumers should be wary of buying any seafood that may have passed through the area until the toxic impact of the spill has been assessed

Consumers in Japan, China and South Korea should be wary of buying seafood until governments in the region have monitored and released details about the toxic impact of the Sanchi oil spill, scientists have warned.

The worst oil ship disaster in decades has so far produced two visible plumes covering almost 100 square kilometres on the surface of the East China Sea, but maritime disaster experts say this is just the tip of the iceberg and millions of fish are likely to have been contaminated by carcinogens.

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Categories: Environment

The National Parks And Ryan Zinke

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 3:07am

NPR's Rachel Martin talks to journalist Elliott Woods, whose profile of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke just appeared in Outside magazine.

Categories: Environment

Europe's microwave ovens emit nearly as much CO2 as 7m cars

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/18 - 2:06am

The biggest impact comes from electricity used to power the microwaves, but study also highlights rising environmental cost of our throwaway culture

Popping frozen peas into the microwave for a couple of minutes may seem utterly harmless, but Europe’s stock of these quick-cook ovens emit as much carbon as nearly 7m cars, a new study has found.

And the problem is growing: with costs falling and kitchen appliances becoming “status” items, owners are throwing away microwaves after an average of eight years, pushing rising sales.

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Categories: Environment

Stuart Wenham: scientists pay tribute to 'Einstein of solar world'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 11:12pm

University of New South Wales colleagues pay tribute to pioneer with ‘Crocodile Dundee persona’ who died age 60 from malignant melanoma

Australia’s scientific community has paid tribute to Prof Stuart Wenham, a solar energy pioneer described as the “Einstein of the solar industry”, whose research increased the efficiency of solar cells a hundredfold.

Wenham passed away on 23 December, age 60, after suffering from malignant melanoma. He was the director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Photovoltaics and Photonics at the University of New South Wales.

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Categories: Environment

Queensland accused of breaking ‘no public funds for Adani’ promise

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 9:21pm

Activists target Aurizon after Palaszczuk refuses to rule out vetoing freight company’s application for Naif funding to build rail line

The former Queensland state-owned freight rail business Aurizon is the latest target of anti-Adani activists, after the Palaszczuk Labor government refused to rule out vetoing the company’s taxpayer-funded loan to build the Galilee basin rail line.

Opponents of the mine have accused the state government of attempting to break its promise of “no public funds for Adani’ through a “backdoor” by continuing to consider Aurizon’s application for federal government funds to build the central Queensland rail line.

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Categories: Environment

Tasmania launches roadkill campaign to reduce 500,000 native animal deaths

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 8:25pm

Drivers urged to stop throwing food out of windows, which attracts wildlife to the roadside

The motorists lobby in Tasmania has launched a joint campaign to reduce roadkill, saying that 500,000 native animals are killed on the state’s roads each year.

That equates to about one dead native animal per head of Tasmania’s population, giving the state one of the highest roadkill rates in the world.

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Categories: Environment

U.K. Lawmakers Want To Battle Waste With A 'Latte Levy' On Disposable Cups

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 3:16pm

The British Parliament is considering a 34-cent tax on to-go cups to encourage diners to bring their own reusable containers. The goal is to replicate the success of Britain's tax on plastic bags.

(Image credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Night Became Day In Detroit As Meteor Lit Up Sky

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 2:16pm

A meteor streaked over southeast Michigan Tuesday night, creating a sonic boom so loud it shook houses. After seeing the spectacle in the night sky, thousands of people took to social media to share what they witnessed.

Categories: Environment

Nearly All Of The National Park System Advisory Board Has Resigned

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 2:16pm

NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks to former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, who has resigned from the National Park System Advisory Board. He, along with eight others, have said that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has failed to meet with the board once since being confirmed last March.

Categories: Environment

Strange Weather Triggered Bacteria That Killed 200,000 Endangered Antelope

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 12:51pm

Over a three-week span in 2015, more than 200,000 saiga antelope suddenly died in Kazakhstan. The animals would be grazing normally, then dead in three hours. A new study points to heat and humidity.

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Joint saiga health monitoring team in Kazakhstan (Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity, Kazakhstan, Biosafety Institute, Gvardeskiy RK, Royal Veterinary College, London, UK))

Categories: Environment

25 staff laid off at agency key to May's plastic reduction pledge

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 10:07am

Wrap, the agency responsible for tackling waste, blames government cuts for the redundancies, that come just a week after the prime minister’s pledge

Just one week after Theresa May and Michael Gove promised to eradicate the scourge of plastic waste, government budget cuts have forced a key agency charged with tackling the problem to make more than a tenth of its staff redundant, a move campaigners said could sabotage progress.

About 25 people are losing their jobs at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the body’s chief executive confirmed on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Queensland councils say they won't own Adani airport despite paying $34m

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 10:03am

Councils backtrack on previous statements and say they do not own the site or have any say in how facility is built

Two Queensland councils that together contributed $34m to an airport serving Adani’s coalmine have contradicted previous statements and now say they do not own the site or have any say in how the facility is built.

Townsville and Rockhampton councils announced in October that they would spend $18.5m and $15.5m respectively on an airport hundreds of kilometres away at the Carmichael coalmine as part of a funding deal with Adani.

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Categories: Environment

Cotton growers facing complete crop loss after alleged herbicide drift

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 10:00am

5,000 hectares of cotton thought to be affected by off-target spray drift, says Bernie Bierhoff of Walgett Cotton Growers’ Association

On Christmas Day farmers around Walgett in north-west New South Wales noticed their infant cotton plants had begun to wither. Leaves began to curl and die, killing some plants and stressing others.

Within days, it was clear Walgett was facing a serious incident that had affected nearly 6,000 hectares (60 sq km) of cotton farms reaching as far as Burren Junction, and Rowena.

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Categories: Environment

Is it possible to live without plastic? Readers' tips for tip-free living

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/01/17 - 7:30am

We asked you to recommend the best ways to reduce your plastic consumption and avoid excess waste. Here’s what some of you said

For 70 years, the world’s plastic usage has grown inexorably from humble beginnings to a position where humanity now produces roughly its own weight in plastic every year.

But is there a turning point in view? Guardian revelations about the scale of plastic waste and the threat it poses has finally prompted the authorities to take the issue seriously. Michael Gove is considering a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, Sadiq Khan is looking at new water fountains to contain the plastic proliferation, and now Theresa May has set out her own plastic-free stall.

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Categories: Environment
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