Firefighters Battle To Save LA's Historic Mount Wilson Observatory

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 1:17pm

The Bobcat Fire came within 500 feet of the observatory on Tuesday. The same dry, isolated conditions that make Mount Wilson susceptible to fire also made it perfect for stargazing.

(Image credit: Screenshot by NPR/HPWREN)

Categories: Environment

What Are The Costs Of Climate Change?

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 1:06pm

More frequent and severe wildfires and hurricanes have caused billions of dollars of damage in the U.S. Climate experts warn the costs to the economy and to individual families are only rising.

Categories: Environment

Climate crisis 233m years ago reshaped life on Earth, say scientists

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 11:00am

Volcanic eruptions drove global heating, causing mass extinctions and ushering in dinosaur era

A mass extinction event sparked by a sudden shift in climate more than 200m years ago reshaped life on Earth and ushered in the age of the dinosaurs, scientists claim.

An international team reviewed geological evidence and the fossil record and found that enormous volcanic eruptions in what is now western Canada coincided with a global loss of plants and animals.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition to divert renewable energy funding away from wind and solar

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 10:30am

Scott Morrison says solar and wind are commercially viable and do not need subsidies from the $1.43bn funding

The Morrison government will continue to fund Australia’s renewable energy agency to the tune of $1.43bn over a decade but overhaul its mandate so there will be less investment in solar and wind, and more focus on investment in hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, microgrids and energy efficiency.

The baseline funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) will be supplemented by a transfer of funds from the government’s emissions reduction fund and a new grants program worth $193.4m – but that represents a funding cut to the agency which was established by the Gillard government in 2011.

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Categories: Environment

The climate crisis is a national security threat to the US. We already see the effects | Sherri Goodman and Kate Guy

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 6:15am

National security leaders view climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ that makes the homeland vulnerable

Climate change is not a distant problem for future generations to worry about. Instead, the dangers of climate change are touching the lives of more Americans with each passing day. As the historic wildfires, hurricanes, floods, heatwaves and storms hitting the country this summer demonstrate, these crises are getting more frequent and more intense as the global temperature rises. Scientists tell us that the longer we delay transitioning to a clean, renewable economy, the more intense the impacts and the closer we come to reaching dangerous climate tipping points.

These risks have a severe impact on the military’s ability to keep Americans safe. We’ve seen the destructive impact that weather disasters are having on US military bases, from the marine corps’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to Florida’s Tyndall air force base. They are also striking our neighborhoods, from rural farms to dense cities, requiring heroic rescue operations by the national guard. Climate impacts make the homeland more vulnerable, while also threatening American interests abroad. Because of this, national security leaders see climate change as a “threat multiplier” – increasing and exacerbating all other other risks our nation is already facing, from global terrorism to great power conflict.

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Categories: Environment

California Aims To Add Housing Away From Wildland Urban Interface

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 4:22am

NPR's David Greene talks to Wade Crowfoot, California's secretary of Natural Resources, about this year's wildfire season, and what can be done to prevent or control them.

Categories: Environment

Climate Change Is Not The Only Reason For Record Wildfires

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 4:21am

Climate change is exacerbating the severity of the wildfires on the West Coast, but prior and current forest management decisions, and politics, also play a huge role.

Categories: Environment

Birds 'falling out of the sky' in mass die-off in south-western US

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 3:00am

Wildfires and climate crisis cited as possible causes for the deaths of thousands of migrating species heading south for the winter

Thousands of migrating birds have inexplicably died in south-western US in what ornithologists have described as a national tragedy that is likely to be related to the climate crisis.

Flycatchers, swallows and warblers are among the species “falling out of the sky” as part of a mass die-off across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and farther north into Nebraska, with growing concerns there could be hundreds of thousands dead already, said Martha Desmond, a professor in the biology department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Many carcasses have little remaining fat reserves or muscle mass, with some appearing to have nose-dived into the ground mid-flight.

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Categories: Environment

Hitachi to pull plug on north Wales nuclear power station

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 2:46am

Scrapping of £16bn project on Anglesey down to lack of UK government investment in new nuclear, says union

The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has conformed it is abandoning plans to build a new nuclear power station on Anglesey, off the coast of north Wales, dashing hopes for thousands of jobs involved in its construction and knocking the UK’s ambition to become a “net zero carbon” emission country by 2050 off course.

The Tokyo-based multinational said Wednesday it was permanently scrapping plans for the £16bn Wylfa power station.

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Categories: Environment

Australia can hit net zero emissions by 2050 by investing in gas, oil executive says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/16 - 1:54am

Andrew Liveris, one of the architects of Scott Morrison’s ‘gas-led recovery’, says the country burns ‘far too much coal’

Corporate heavyweight Andrew Liveris, the Morrison government’s special adviser on manufacturing, has declared Australia and the world can hit net zero emissions by 2050 by significantly expanding the supply and domestic use of gas – despite gas being a fossil fuel with “roughly 60% of the emissions of coal”.

Liveris, who is one of the business architects of the Coalition’s much vaunted “gas-led recovery” plan, told the National Press Club on Wednesday Australia burned “far too much coal” and “switching to gas will automatically bring [emissions] down”.

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Categories: Environment

Scottish green hydrogen scheme gears up to fuel ferries, buses and trains

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 11:00pm

Wind and solar farms will produce the gas alongside Scottish Power, ITM Power and BOC

Scottish Power’s wind and solar farms will soon help produce green hydrogen to run buses, ferries and even trains as part of a pioneering strategic partnership to develop the UK’s nascent hydrogen economy.

The renewable energy company, owned by Spain’s Iberdrola, will work alongside companies that specialise in producing and distributing the zero-carbon gas. Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in helping the UK to meet its climate targets.

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Categories: Environment

Firefighters make progress in west coast blazes as smoke spreads across US

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 6:16pm

Fires in Oregon, Washington and California have killed more than 30, burned millions of acres and enveloped region in smoke

Firefighters on the US west coast reported more progress in the battle against wildfires that have killed more than 30 people and destroyed entire communities. But much of the region is enveloped in a thick layer of smoke that has now affected large swaths of the country.

Aided by better weather, fire crews in Oregon on Tuesday gained more ground against the massive blazes that have scorched 1m acres and destroyed hundreds of homes in the state.

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Categories: Environment

Smoke from west coast wildfires has drifted to New York and Washington DC

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 4:26pm

Unprecedented fires have burned some 4.5m acres and smoke has made west coast air quality among the worst in the world

Smoke from wildfires in the western US has drifted as far east as New York and Washington DC, with residents there observing hazy skies and unusual sunrises.

Skies above the US capital have taken on a hazy din. New York Metro Weather predicted that murky air seen in New York City this week would become more even pronounced throughout Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

Facebook VP Nick Clegg On New Climate Change Information Hub

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 2:06pm

Facebook is launching a page focused on climate change facts. Facebook's Nick Clegg talked with NPR about the company's steps to stop misinformation on climate change and other issues.

(Image credit: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Haze Spreads Across U.S. As Wildfires Continue To Tear Through The West

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 1:16pm

Scientists have linked an increasing prevalence and intensity of wildfires to climate change, and residents of Western states are grappling with the dread that severe fire seasons are the new normal.

(Image credit: Noah Berger/AP)

Categories: Environment

West Coast Fires: Climate, Forest Management, Lax Rules, Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 12:15pm

The alarming wildfires on the West Coast are again putting the spotlight on climate change. But it's not the only reason why we're seeing so much destruction and lives lost.

(Image credit: Noah Berger/AP)

Categories: Environment

Coalition began writing landmark environment bill before receiving review it had ordered

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 10:30am

Review of EPBC Act was delivered to government 11 days after process of drawing up legislation had begun

The Morrison government started preparing controversial legislation to amend Australia’s environmental laws before it had received a report from a formal review into whether the act was working.

The environment department instructed the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to begin drafting the changes to the legislation on 19 June, 11 days before the government received the interim report of the review of Australia’s national environment laws.

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Categories: Environment

Most plastic will never be recycled – and the manufacturers couldn’t care less | Arwa Mahdawi

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 9:45am

Oil and gas companies make far more money churning out new plastic than reusing old. Meanwhile, the public gets the blame

Plastic recycling is a scam. You diligently sort your rubbish, you dutifully wash your plastic containers, then everything gets tossed in a landfill or thrown in the ocean anyway. OK, maybe not everything – but the vast majority of it. According to one analysis, only 9% of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled. Here’s the kicker: the companies making all that plastic have spent millions on advertising campaigns lecturing us about recycling while knowing full well that most plastic will never be recycled.

A new investigation by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reports that the large oil and gas companies that manufacture plastics have known for decades that recycling plastic was unlikely to ever happen on a broad scale because of the high costs involved. “They were not interested in putting any real money or effort into recycling because they wanted to sell virgin material,” Larry Thomas, former president of one of the plastic industry’s most powerful trade groups, told NPR. There is a lot more money to be made in selling new plastic than reusing the old stuff. But, in order to keep selling new plastic, the industry had to clean up its wasteful image. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Thomas noted. And so a huge amount of resources were diverted into intricate “sustainability theatre”.

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Categories: Environment

Egypt cuts highways across pyramids plateau, alarming conservationists

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 8:30am

Project championed by Egypt’s powerful military will slice across world heritage site

Egypt is building two highways across the pyramids plateau outside Cairo, reviving and expanding a project that was suspended in the 1990s after an international outcry.

The Great Pyramids, Egypt’s top tourist destination, are the sole survivor of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the plateau is a Unesco world heritage site.

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Categories: Environment

World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/09/15 - 6:15am

‘Humanity at a crossroads’ after a decade in which all of the 2010 Aichi goals to protect wildlife and ecosystems have been missed

The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature.

From tackling pollution to protecting coral reefs, the international community did not fully achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. It is the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to meet targets.

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Categories: Environment
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