360,000 Customers Lose Power In California Amid Fire-Safety Shutoffs

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 12:46pm

Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced a public safety power shutoff over the weekend as some of the strongest winds and driest conditions of this year's fire season sweep through the region.

(Image credit: Philip Pacheco/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Feeling the heat over Arctic sea ice | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 10:57am

David Nowell thinks Extinction Rebellion should focus on insulating homes, running public transport cooperatives and campaigning for major economic reforms, while Iain Climie says late Arctic ice formation should surprise nobody

The delayed freeze in the Laptev Sea is consistent with the entire Arctic Ocean, which is set for the slowest recovery in the extent of sea ice this autumn, if the current daily trend continues (Alarm as Arctic sea ice not yet freezing at latest date on record, 22 October). This follows on from this summer having the second lowest minimum since 1979, with the early decades significantly above the annual trends during the last few years.

Other feedback mechanisms are now starting to take hold of global heating, as current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are well beyond the normal Quaternary levels over the last 800,000 years – usually 170 to 280 parts per million, between ice age maximums and interglacial stages, compared with a still accelerating anthropogenic 410 ppm, coupled with the impact from a significant rise in methane and other warming gases.

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Categories: Environment

Bush and koalas found to be threatened by 'gratuitous' NSW land-clearing plan

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 9:30am

State government proposal allows rural landholders to clear up to 25 metres from their fence line

Tens of thousands of hectares of bush could be at risk under a New South Wales government proposal to allow rural landholders to clear up to 25 metres of land from their property’s fence line, analysis by WWF-Australia shows.

The NSW government announced this month it planned to amend its Rural Fires Act to allow clearing without an approval on rural property boundaries to reduce bushfire risk.

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Categories: Environment

As South Australia now knows, local jobs must be a priority in the clean energy transition | Tom Morton

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 9:30am

The shift to renewables in SA’s Upper Spencer Gulf has been a social as well as technological process

Future historians will no doubt remember 2020 as the year of Covid-19. But according to veteran climate campaigner Bill McKibben, they may also view it as a turning point, the year the world moved decisively towards “the transition everyone knew we needed to make”.

McKibben told the recent Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 has been a year of “extraordinary convergence”, from the images of Australia’s bushfires, seen around the world on New Year’s Day – “like something out of Hieronymus Bosch” – to unprecedented developments such as China’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, the EU’s pledge to make its Green Deal and Є100bn Just Transition Fund the centrepiece of post-Covid recovery, and the US $15tn divested from fossil fuels.

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Categories: Environment

Breaking Down Joe Biden's Plan To Make The U.S. Carbon Neutral

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 4:51am

Joe Biden wants to make America carbon neutral by 2050 and says there will still be room for some fossil fuels. We look at how realistic this is and what activists make of it.

Categories: Environment

Republicans want to open pristine Alaska wilderness to logging. This is a tragedy | Kim Heacox

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 3:17am

The Tongass forest sequesters 3m tons of C02 annually, the equivalent of removing 650,000 gas-burning cars off the roads every year

Forests are the lungs of the Earth.

Around the world, every minute of every day, trees perform magic. They inhale vast amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and exhale oxygen, the stuff of life. They keep things in balance. And no single forest does this better – contains more living plant life per area, or stores more carbon – than the 17m-acre Tongass national forest in coastal Alaska.

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Categories: Environment

The lynx effect: Iberian cat claws its way back from brink of extinction

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 3:15am

A 20-year project to reintroduce the species across the peninsula has seen their numbers rise to 855

Spotty of coat, tufty of ear, and teetering on the verge of extinction less than two decades ago, the Iberian lynx is continuing to claw its way back across Spain and Portugal.

According to the latest survey, the lynx population on the peninsula has increased ninefold over 18 years, rising from 94 in 2002 to 855 this year. Experts say that if the current conservation and reintroduction efforts can maintain their momentum, the species could be out of danger by 2040.

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Categories: Environment

Can California’s top wine region survive the era of megafire?

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 3:00am

As the climate crisis brings increasingly unpredictable fire seasons, the future of the $43bn industry is uncertain

The Silverado Trail, a two-lane road that weaves through the bucolic hillsides in the heart of California’s wine country, is the quintessential vision of Napa Valley. Home to dozens of wineries, it is a destination within a destination – one that welcomes both vacationing imbibers and oenophiles from around the world.

But recently the amber hillsides have been laced with the ashen aftermath of wildfires that have torn through the region, leaving behind charred rubble that is fast becoming as much a part of the landscape as the neatly trussed rows of vines.

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Categories: Environment

'It feels like a nightmare': Sussex villagers aghast at road plan

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 3:00am

Route chosen for £250m dual carriageway around Arundel avoids national park but slices through three villages

“It’s like they are torturing us. Each step, it just gets worse.” Gilly McCadden is in tears. She has just learned that the route chosen for the £250m dual carriageway around Arundel in West Sussex will bring four lanes of 70mph traffic within metres of her house and garden.

The new route of the A27, bypassing a bypass built in the 1960s, has been planned – and resisted – since the 1980s. Now Highways England has unexpectedly chosen the “grey route” – a longer, more expensive plan that slices through three villages but avoids the South Downs national park. For locals in the village of Binsted who fought previous iterations of the plan for destroying ancient woodlands, it means the proposed road will crash through their gardens and peaceful meadows.

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Categories: Environment

The US has a good record on fighting monopolies. Now it's Google's turn

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2020/10/25 - 12:00am

The tech giant claims that no one is forced to use its search engine. All power to regulators set on proving otherwise

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is a mild-mannered software engineer who is not good at games of verbal fisticuffs with US politicians. He received a drubbing last month during the “big tech” congressional hearing.

Pichai can, however, summon lawyers and lobbyists galore as soon as the game gets more serious, which it definitely has. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) last week launched a huge and historic antitrust case against Google, accusing the tech company of abusing its position to maintain an illegal monopoly over internet searches and search advertising.

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Categories: Environment

How Trump And Biden Differ On Energy Policy

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2020/10/24 - 2:19pm

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with Dino Grandoni, an energy and environmental policy reporter with The Washington Post, about the debate over the future of U.S. energy.

Categories: Environment

Washington state crews destroy first US murder hornet nest

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/10/24 - 2:04pm

Nest near Canadian border contained an estimated 100 to 200 invasive insects, which crews vacuumed into canisters

Heavily protected crews worked in Washington state on Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States.

Related: First US murder hornet nest located in Washington state

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Categories: Environment

Coalition accused of 'ideological wishlisting' after BHP pulls out of multibillion-dollar project

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/10/24 - 12:00pm

The mining giant’s decision to abandon its Olympic Dam mine has raised questions about the government’s ‘opaque’ selection process for major projects

The collapse of a government-declared priority project at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia has prompted claims the Morrison government pursued an “opaque” process lacking evidence to select projects.

Mining giant BHP abandoned a proposed multibillion-dollar expansion at the mine last week after deciding it did not make economic sense. It came four months after prime minister Scott Morrison declared it a major project of national economic significance that would be fast-tracked.

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Categories: Environment

The house that cork built: is this the ultimate eco-friendly material?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/10/24 - 3:00am

Using cork to clad an extension – inside and out – was a speedy, sustainable and affordable choice for this family home

When Dan Barber and Hat Margolies bought a two-bed Victorian terrace house in 2013, the entire building needed an overhaul. It had leaky pipes, asbestos and rattling windows; and it needed rewiring, new radiators and a new boiler. Wind whistled through the front room floorboards. “The light and proportions made it really special but there were no original features – the fireplaces had long gone,” says Margolies, a photographic agent with an eye for vintage furniture.

But the couple saw it as a chance to make their new home, in south London, as eco-friendly as they could: to conserve energy, and recycle and reuse as much as possible. They lived with the house as it was for five years, during which time their second daughter was born, and then employed NimTim architects to transform it on a tight budget.

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Categories: Environment

Amy Coney Barrett faces recusal questions over links to Shell

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/10/24 - 1:15am

Barrett previously recused herself from cases because her father worked for Shell but has failed to commit to doing so in future

Amy Coney Barrett is poised to make critical rulings on whether oil and gas companies will be held accountable for the effects of the climate crisis once she is confirmed to the supreme court, even though she has acknowledged in the past that she has a conflict of interest in cases involving Royal Dutch Shell.

Related: Trump and Barrett's threat to abortion and LGBTQ rights is simply un-American | Robert Reich

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Categories: Environment

'Ursine terror': plea to improve habitat after spate of bear attacks in Japan

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/23 - 4:29pm

Experts warn of more encounters as animals forced into populated areas to find food

A spate of bear attacks in Japan has prompted calls to improve their natural habitat, as experts warned of more potentially dangerous encounters with the animals as they venture into populated areas in search of food.

Japanese media have reported several incidents of “ursine terror” in recent weeks, including an attack in Ishikawa prefecture last weekend that left four people injured, including a man in his 90s and two hunters called to confront the bear.

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Categories: Environment

1st 'Murder Hornet' Nest In U.S. Is Found In Washington State

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/10/23 - 1:57pm

State entomologists found the nest in a tree near the Canadian border. They were led there by an Asian giant hornet to which they had attached a radio tracker. The state plans to eradicate the nest.

(Image credit: Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture)

Categories: Environment

Climate Change Is Extending Fire Season Across The West

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/10/23 - 1:16pm

Wildfires are still burning in the West at a time of year when fire activity is supposed to die down. Scientists say it's an example of how climate change is making the fire season longer.

Categories: Environment

Northern California on alert as high winds increase wildfire threat

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/23 - 12:21pm

Climate scientists warn that strong winds, coinciding with low humidity and record-dry vegetation, make for a dangerous mix

Residents of northern California are bracing for another weekend of high wildfire risk, as fierce winds expected for Sunday afternoon increase the danger of fresh fires in the bone-dry region.

Authorities issued a high wind watch starting Sunday evening until Monday morning for parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz county. The strong winds, coinciding with low humidity and record-dry vegetation, make for a dangerous mix, warned climate scientist Daniel Swain.

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Categories: Environment

First US murder hornet nest located in Washington state

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/23 - 10:54am
  • State agriculture department posts video of Asian giant hornet
  • Officials had hoped to find nest before hornets’ ‘murder phase’

The first nest containing Asian giant hornets, also known as murder hornets, on US soil has been discovered in Washington state.

State officials have been searching for the nest following half a dozen sightings of the hornets in and around the city of Blaine, which is close to the border with Canada. Officials hoped to find the nest before the hornets entered what is known as a “slaughter phase” where they decimate nearby honeybee colonies.

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