Iceland sets target of 191 kills as country resumes whaling

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/18 - 4:05am

Authorities grant whalers a quota to hunt the endangered fin whale this summer after a two-year pause

Icelandic fishermen will resume their hunt for the endangered fin whale this year after a two-year pause and have set a target of 191 kills for the season.

An apparent loosening of Japanese regulations on Icelandic exports had made the resumption of the hunting commercially viable again, the country’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur, announced.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists unveil 10,000 sq ft model of Mississippi delta to help save coastline

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/18 - 4:00am

At twice the size of a regulation basketball court, the enormous replica will be used to work out an ambitious water-diversion plan

Scientists working to stop rising seawater damaging the fragile ecosystems of the Louisiana coastline have unveiled a massive new weapon: an enormous replica of the lower Mississippi delta.

At some 10,800 sq ft, the model is more than twice the size of a regulation basketball court. Housed at Louisiana State University’s center for river studies, the “Lower Mississippi River Physical Model” will help experts work out how best to enact a state plan to fight coastal erosion.

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Categories: Environment

Glacier loss is accelerating because of global warming | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/18 - 3:00am

As climate scientists predicted, glaciers are vanishing due to rapidly warming temperatures.

With global warming, we can make predictions and then take measurements to test those predictions. One prediction (a pretty obvious one) is that a warmer world will have less snow and ice. In particular, areas that have year-round ice and snow will start to melt.

Alpine glaciers are large bodies of ice that can be formed high in mountains, typically in bowls called cirques. The ice slowly flows downwards, pulled by gravity, and is renewed in their upper regions. A sort of balance can occur where the loss of ice by melting or flowing at the bottom is equal to the gain of snow and ice by precipitation.

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Destroying the world's natural heritage: 'Komodo is reaching a tipping point'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 9:00pm

The Indonesian national park boasts some of the world’s best dive sites and spectacular marine life, but illegal fishing and unsustainable tourism is threatening its Unesco status

It was the unusual thrashing on the water that caught their attention. As those onboard the dive boat in Indonesia’s Komodo national park drew closer, it became clear it was a green turtle entangled in rubbish and thick fishing net.

The divers managed to lift it out of the water, cut the blue bind from its shell and then set the turtle free, but dive operator Ed Statham says it is just one of the increasing and alarming signs the Unesco heritage site is fast being destroyed.

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Deep-sea mining possibly as damaging as land mining, lawyers say

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 8:02pm

Environmental and legal groups warn of potential huge effects on Indigenous people and the environment

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The “new global gold rush” over deep-sea mining holds the same potential pitfalls as previous resource scrambles, with environmental and social impacts ignored and the rights of Indigenous people marginalised, a paper in the Harvard Law Review has warned.

A framework for deep-sea mining – where polymetallic nodules or hydrothermal vents are mined by machine – was first articulated in the 1960s, on an idea that the seabed floor beyond national jurisdiction was a “common heritage of mankind”.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists explain how plastic-eating enzyme can help fight pollution – video

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 7:27pm

Scientists in Britain and the US say they have engineered an enzyme that eats plastic, a breakthrough that could help in the fight against pollution. The enzyme is able to digest polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The team from the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory hope to one day produce the enzyme on an industrial scale

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Categories: Environment

As Climate Costs Grow, Some See A Moneymaking Opportunity

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 1:25pm

Extreme weather cost Americans over $300 billion last year. Scientists say climate change will bring more of that. Entrepreneurs and businesses see a new market in gauging risk.

(Image credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The great Australian garbage map: 75% of beach rubbish made of plastic

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 11:00am

Data compiled from rubbish collected by volunteers aims to encourage industry to control plastic pollution at the source

Australians are battling against a tide of millions of pieces of discarded plastic debris at beach clean-up events all across the continent, according to two years of data analysed by Guardian Australia.

Some 2,651,613 pieces of debris were collected from beaches and recorded in a database during 2016 and 2017, with about three-quarters of items made from plastics.

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Categories: Environment

Amazon coral reef would be ruined by planned oil drilling, scientists say

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 10:29am

The 56,000 sq km reef is thought to contain dozens of undiscovered species, in an area where a French company intents to drill for oil

Scientists aboard a Greenpeace ship have discovered a massive and unique coral reef near the mouth of the Amazon, in an area where the French company Total intends to drill for oil.

The 1,000km long and 56,000 sq km Amazon coral reef is a biome thought to contain dozens of undiscovered species that environmentalists say would be irreparably damaged if drilling for oil began – a vision at odds with the wish of oil companies hoping to explore the area’s vast estimated reserves.

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Categories: Environment

​C​ould eating rare-breed animals save them from extinction?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 9:31am

Tucking in to less popular meats could help preserve those breeds, according to a farming charity. Here are six varieties it thinks might benefit

When you think about Britain’s endangered animals, hedgehogs, small tortoiseshell butterflies and puffins may spring to mind. But rare breeds of farm animals and horses face extinction, too.

The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) published a list of endangered breeds this week. At a critical point are vaynol cattle, with only 12 breeding females remaining. The suffolk horse is similarly threatened, with 80 breeding females left. Many breeds of cow, sheep and pig make the list. The solution? According to the RBST, we should eat them.

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Categories: Environment

I kept all my plastic for a year – the 4,490 items forced me to rethink

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 8:39am

Daniel Webb accrued a mountain of plastic – including many packets of Hula Hoops – and made it into a mural, now on display at Dreamland in Margate. We are overproducing and overconsuming, he says, and recycling is not the answer

We all know, in theory, that we ought to use less plastic. We’ve all been distressed by the sight of Blue Planet II’s hawksbill turtle entangled in a plastic sack, and felt chastened as we’ve totted up our weekly tally of disposable coffee cups. But still, UK annual plastic waste is now close to 5m tonnes, including enough single-use plastic to fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls; the government’s planned elimination of “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042 seems a quite dazzling task. It was reported this week that scientists at the University of Portsmouth have accidentally developed a plastic-eating mutant enzyme, and while we wait to see if that will save us all, for one individual the realisation of just how much plastic we use has become an intensely personal matter.

One early evening in mid-2016, Daniel Webb, 36, took a run along the coast near his home in Margate. “It was one of those evenings where the current had brought in lots of debris,” he recalls, because as Webb looked down at the beach from his route along the promenade he noticed a mass of seaweed, tangled with many pieces of plastic. “Old toys, probably 20 years old, bottles that must have been from overseas because they had all kinds of different languages on them, bread tags, which I don’t think had been used for years …” he says. “It was very nostalgic, almost archaeological. And it made me think, as a mid-30s guy, is any of my plastic out there? Had I once dropped a toy in a stream near Wolverhampton, where I’m from, and now it was out in the sea?”

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Categories: Environment

Warming climate to nearly double demand for cooling appliances

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 7:04am

Researchers predict energy use for air conditioners and refrigeration to jump 90% on 2017 levels

A burgeoning middle class and a warming world will result in energy demand for cooling overtaking that for heating by the middle of the century, researchers have predicted.

Energy use for air conditioning, refrigeration and other cooling appliances will jump 90% on 2017 levels, experts estimated, posing a challenge for energy grids and efforts to curb climate change.

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Categories: Environment

UK to review climate target raising hopes of a zero emissions pledge

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 6:23am

The government pledged in 2016 to enshrine a zero target in law to meet its Paris commitments, but has yet to pass any legislation

The UK is to review its long-term target to cut climate emissions as part of global efforts to curb rising temperatures, the government has announced.

The announcement by clean growth minister Claire Perry during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) raises the possibility the UK could implement a target to reduce emissions to “net zero” by 2050, tightening the existing goal to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by that date.

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Poland violated EU laws by logging in Białowieża forest, court rules

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 5:42am

Judge dismisses claims by Polish government that logging was necessary to protect ancient forest from outbreak of bark beetles

The EU’s highest court has ruled that Poland’s logging in the Unesco-protected Białowieża forest is illegal, potentially opening the door to multi-million euro fines.

At least 10,000 trees are thought to have been felled in Białowieża, one of Europe’s last parcels of primeval woodland, since the Polish environment minister, Jan Szyzko tripled logging limits there in 2016.

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Categories: Environment

To lead on climate, countries must commit to zero emissions | Isabella Lövin

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 3:34am

The UK’s climate laws forged a path for others to follow. But as progressive nations commit to zero emissions, it must reclaim its leading role, writes Sweden’s deputy prime minister

What does it mean for a nation to be a “climate leader” in 2018?

At the very least, it must mean having a firm plan in place to deliver your nation’s fair share of the Paris agreement. During that stunning fortnight in December 2015, 195 governments freely and willingly committed not only to keep global warming well below 2C, but to aim for the safer level of 1.5C. And they committed to bring net greenhouse gas emissions down to zero.

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Categories: Environment

Tesla halts Model 3 production as firm scrambles to improve automation

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 2:24am

Firm struggles to hit targets for mass-market electric car after reeling from excessive automation and mounting pressure

Tesla has temporarily suspended its Model 3 assembly line as Elon Musk’s electric car firm struggles to deliver on targets.

The company said the move was a planned production pause of up to five days. It is the second time since February that Tesla has halted its production line for the Model 3 at its Fremont, California plant.

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More than 95% of world's population breathe dangerous air, major study finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 9:00pm

Poorest are hardest hit with many developing countries falling behind on cleaning up toxic air pollution

More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.

Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world’s people, exposing billions to unsafe air, particularly in developing countries, but in rural areas the risk of indoor air pollution is often caused by burning solid fuels. One in three people worldwide faces the double whammy of unsafe air both indoors and out.

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Don't believe the hype on natural gas. It's a fossil fuel just like coal | Fiona Stanley, Graeme Pearman & Richard Yin

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 8:55pm

The scale of growth of Australia’s natural gas industry is inconsistent with our Paris commitments

Australia is currently aggressively developing its natural gas resource. By the end of 2018, it is likely to overtake Qatar as the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Western Australia is leading the way on developing gas with the premier, Mark McGowan, calling for the state to be a global LNG hub. Recently businessman Andrew Forrest announced a radical plan to create a “virtual gas pipeline” linking WA gas to the east while Chevron over the weekend committed to the second stage of its multi-billion dollar Gorgon project expansion.

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Categories: Environment

Northern Territory lifts fracking ban, opening up 700,000 sq km to gas exploration

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 5:24pm

First exploration fracking expected next year but national parks and conservation areas will be protected

The Northern Territory government has lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing of onshore gas that will open up more than half of the territory’s land mass to the controversial practice.

The first exploration fracking by petroleum companies is expected to occur early next year after the implementation of a regulatory regime and new laws, which the government insists will be strict.

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Categories: Environment

The way some pigs are reared is 'upsetting and wrong', say shoppers

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 4:02pm

Most people willing to swap to supermarkets trying to improve farming standards, survey finds

Shoppers around the world overwhelmingly support high animal welfare standards for pigs, and most would also be prepared to change their supermarket habits in response, an international survey on pork consumption has found.

Seven out of 10 people questioned said they found the manner in which pigs are reared for slaughter on some factory farms “upsetting”, “wrong” or “shocking”, after being shown photographs of some pig-keeping conditions in the online poll. The survey highlighted practices such as sows kept in small cages, antibiotic use, as well as tail-docking, teeth-grinding and castration, sometimes without pain relief.

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