Billion-dollar polar engineering ‘needed to slow melting glaciers’

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/03/17 - 5:05pm
Underwater sea walls and artificial islands among projects urgently required to avoid devastation of global flooding, say scientists

Scientists have outlined plans to build a series of mammoth engineering projects in Greenland and Antarctica to help slow down the disintegration of the planet’s main glaciers. The controversial proposals include underwater walls, artificial islands and huge pumping stations that would channel cold water into the bases of glaciers to stop them from melting and sliding into the sea.

The researchers say the work – costing tens of billions of dollars a time – is urgently needed to prevent polar glaciers melting and raising sea levels. That would lead to major inundations of low-lying, densely populated areas, such as parts of Bangladesh, Japan and the Netherlands.

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Categories: Environment

Drugs, plastics and flea killer: the unseen threats to UK's rivers

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/03/17 - 3:31pm

Waterways look cleaner but levels of new pollutants are not being monitored

Beer hasn’t been sold in steel cans for decades. The cans Keith Dopson found in Slough’s Salt Hill stream would be collectors’ items were they in good condition, but they had disintegrated into clumps of rust.

“We filled seven bin bags with rubbish,” he says. “Just from the river, not the banks. Plastic bottles and cans, lots of cans. Those steel ones must have been there for ages.”

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Categories: Environment

Fears for wildlife as migratory birds fly in to UK snowstorm

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/03/17 - 2:09pm

Second unseasonal cold snap could also harm insect and amphibian populations

The arrival of bitterly cold weather – only a few days before the vernal equinox, the official start of spring in Britain – could have serious consequences for wildlife, experts have warned.

The snow and biting winds, which led to the cancellation of flights and disrupted road travel, will reduce the insect population, creating food shortages for birds and other creatures.

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Categories: Environment

Former Coal Lobbyist On Tap For No. 2 Spot At EPA

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/03/17 - 2:00am

The man hoping to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for coal and natural gas companies. As a young EPA lawyer, he worked on hazardous chemical rules.

(Image credit: Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

Categories: Environment

Global energy giants forced to adapt to rise of renewables

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/03/17 - 12:51am

Companies face world where falling cost of solar and wind power pushes down prices

Seven years after an earthquake off Japan’s eastern coast led to three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the aftershocks are still being felt across the world. The latest came last Saturday when E.ON and RWE announced a huge shakeup of the German energy industry, following meetings that ran into the early hours.

Under a complex asset and shares swap, E.ON will be reshaped to focus on supplying energy to customers and managing energy grids. The company will leave renewables. RWE will focus on power generation and energy trading, complementing its existing coal and gas power stations with a new portfolio of windfarms that will make it Europe’s third-biggest renewable energy producer.

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Offsets for emissions breaches prove Australia has a carbon market, Labor says

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:00pm

Industrial sites have spent millions on carbon credits under Direct Action’s ‘safeguard mechanism’

Sixteen Australian industrial sites have breached government-imposed greenhouse gas emissions limits and had to buy millions of dollars in carbon credits.

The breaches came despite big emitters being granted generous carbon limits, in many cases above their highest previous pollution levels.

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Categories: Environment

Shutting down EU ivory trade is a ‘personal priority’ for Boris Johnson

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 8:48am

• An estimated 20-30,000 elephants are killed by poachers each year

• UK was world’s largest legal ivory exporter between 2010 and 2015

A government minister has promised that the UK will lead a fight to shut down the ivory trade in the EU, describing the issue as “a personal priority” for the foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Speaking at a conservation summit in Botswana, the Africa minister, Harriet Baldwin, said: “The UK will lead by example. We will be shutting down our ivory trade. We will be working with the EU to do the same. That is something we can do irrespective of whether we are in the European Union or not.”

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Plan to cut Glasgow air pollution is a failure, say campaigners

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 7:05am

Friends of the Earth criticises ‘unambitious’ blueprint for first Scottish low emissions zone

Campaigners have criticised plans for Scotland’s first low emissions zone to combat illegal levels of air pollution in Glasgow city centre.

Last October, World Health Organisation testing found that Glasgow was one of the most polluted areas in the UK, with poorer air quality than London, Manchester and Cardiff. Public Health England estimates the equivalent of 300 lives are lost in the city every year due to air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 7:00am

Gentoo penguins, an albatross chick and spring crocuses are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 6:12am

Despite promises of revitalisation from Japan’s government, seven years on from the nuclear disaster the area is still struggling

This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.

No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.

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Categories: Environment

Ryan Zinke to look into unpopular Montana land exchange proposal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 4:00am

Zinke met Dan and Farris Wilks last September regarding the 5,000-acre proposal, which was twice rejected under the Obama administration

The US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has promised to look into a Montana land exchange proposal from Texas oil and gas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks that was twice rejected under the Obama administration, the Guardian can reveal.

The Wilkses and their lobbyist met Zinke, a Montana native, last September.

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The quest for bike-friendly children's books in a world where cars rule

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 3:25am

From cute cars to smiley emergency vehicles, kids’ culture is awash with rosy images of driving, so a new Mr Men book about cycling is a welcome read. What are your favourite cycling-friendly children’s books?

“Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” is a maxim usually attributed to the Jesuits, but it’s not only religious institutions that use early years training to hook people for life. There’s a mainstream indoctrination that is considered perfectly normal: the promotion of motoring to children.

Car companies don’t have to pay for this brainwashing; we do it automatically. We sit toddlers on our laps and let them pretend-steer our cars while stationary. We buy babies’ bibs festooned with anthropomorphic trucks and nee-nah emergency vehicles. Pixar’s Cars movie is so popular because the fetishisation of driving is deeply embedded in our society. Motor vehicles are spoon-fed to children as benign, cuddly, and desirable. Passing your driving test remains the preeminent rite of passage into adulthood.

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Categories: Environment

Which items can't be recycled?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:47am

Many people think items such as plastic bags and coffee cups can be recycled when they can’t. Here are the do’s and don’ts

British consumers are increasingly willing to recycle their household waste but are failing to grasp the basics, according to the latest research by the British Science Association. Failure to get it right means that a lot of recyclable waste is going to landfill, the BSA says.

The issue is further complicated by inconsistency among councils, which make their own rules and funding decisions on recycling collections.

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Categories: Environment

'Keep It In The Ground' Activists Optimistic Despite Oil Boom

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:00am

The U.S. is producing more oil than ever, even as calls to leave all fossil fuels in the ground grow louder. Now the "keep it in the ground" movement is taking its fight to the heart of oil country.

(Image credit: Travis Lux/WWNO)

Categories: Environment

Dirty kitchen roll among things Britons wrongly think they can recycle

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 11:01pm

Others include plastic soap dispenser tops and wrapping paper, study shows

British consumers are in the dark about exactly what household waste they can recycle, a new poll has revealed, with plastic soap dispenser tops, dirty kitchen roll and wrapping paper topping the list of things they wrongly consider recyclable.

Research shows that Britons are more aware than ever of how recycling can help the environment. However, the majority are putting out contaminated recycling due to common misunderstandings, thereby doing more harm than good.

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Categories: Environment

FEMA Drops 'Climate Change' From Its Strategic Plan

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 8:49pm

The agency's strategic planning document does not mention the potential impact of a changing climate on the rising risk of natural hazards.

(Image credit: Cliff Owen/AP)

Categories: Environment

No longer 'alternative', mainstream renewables are pushing prices down | Simon Holmes à Court

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 7:40pm

While the government insists that renewables have made our grid unreliable, lights have stayed on and prices are dropping

On the first day of autumn tens of thousands of Victorians received a welcome surprise from their power company — their electricity bills were going down. Prices were cut 5% because the retailer increased their investment in renewable energy.

This will likely come as a surprise to many. Since the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, decided that bashing renewables would play well for them — perhaps more so in the party room than in the electorate — hardly a day goes by without claims that renewables have made our grid unreliable and have pushed prices sky high.

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Categories: Environment

Energy sector must use new tech to ensure the vulnerable aren't left behind

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 6:45pm

With the arrival of energy optimisation technologies, governments and industry must find a way to deliver efficient energy to everyone

A Choice survey revealed last year that electricity bills have become the biggest worry for Australian households. According to the report, more than 80% of Australians are concerned with rising costs, with South Australians and West Australians most concerned about the price of their energy.

The report followed the March 2017 announcement of an ACCC inquiry into retail electricity pricing, as directed by treasurer Scott Morrison. The report is due out in June 2018.

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Categories: Environment

Endangered sharks, dolphins and rays killed by shark net trial

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:48pm

Only one target shark caught in NSW nets in two months, while 55 other marine creatures killed or trapped

Shark nets on the New South Wales north coast have caught just a single target shark in the past two months, while continuing to trap or kill dolphins, turtles, and protected marine life.

A single bull shark was caught in the nets around Ballina in January and February, while 55 other animals were either killed or trapped.

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Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: Cold snap worsens particle load of air

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:30pm

Particle pollution increases as the wind slows down and chilly weather prompts the lighting of more wood fires

The last days of the “beast from the east” cold spell caused air pollution problems across large parts of the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Within the UK particle pollution reached between five and 10 on the UK government’s 10-point scale over parts of south Wales and areas of England south of a Merseyside to Tyneside line, except the far south-west.

Pollution from industry, traffic and home wood and coal burning can stay in the air for a week or up to 10 days. This means that pollution emitted in one part of Europe can cause problems hundreds of miles away. If the wind slows down then particle pollution can build up over a whole region.

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