Environment

Plans for Welsh nuclear power plant delayed by concerns over seabirds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 5:57am

Next stage of planning process for Anglesey site postponed as effect on tern colonies is assessed

Plans for a nuclear power station on the Welsh island of Anglesey have been delayed by concerns over the plant’s impact on colonies of protected seabirds.

The proposed twin reactors at Wylfa were given the green light by the UK’s nuclear regulator in December, with backers hoping to win financial support from the government.

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Trump Touts Pruitt's 'Great Job,' But EPA Rollbacks Have A Long Road Ahead

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 2:00am

Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt has moved to reverse or weaken dozens of environmental measures. But many face a slow regulatory process, and may yet be undone.

(Image credit: George Frey/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Caught in the crossfire: little dodo nears extinction

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 12:40am

Illegal pigeon hunting across Samoa is risking the extinction of the country’s national bird: the little dodo or manumea. Will this little-known island pigeon suffer the same fate as its namesake?

Nearly two hundred years after the extinction of the dodo, Sir William Jardin – a Scottish naturalist and bird-aficionado – described another odd, bulky, island pigeon. From the island of Samoa, this one was distinguished by a massive, curving bill that sported tooth-like serrations on its lower mandible. Given the strangeness of the creature, Jardine set it in its own genus and dubbed it Didunculus – the little dodo. Genetic evidence has since confirmed that the tooth-billed pigeon – or little dodo – is one of the closest living relatives of its long-deceased namesake. Today, the little dodo is at the very precipice of extinction, but it remains nearly as cryptic and little known as it did when Jardin gave it a scientific name in 1845.

The little dodo “is the last surviving species in its genus,” Rebecca Stirnemann said. “The Fijian and Tongan species [of the little dodo] are both extinct. It is the national bird of Samoa and appears in many of the stories often in association with chiefs.”

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The edible solutions to the plastic-packaging crisis

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/04/08 - 10:00pm

A UK startup making water containers from seaweed is one of many businesses thinking of food-based answers to the global problem of plastic. Can they catch on?

Who hasn’t occasionally considered whether you could just chomp on your water bottle once you have finished drinking from it? That is a reality with Ooho water pouches – from Skipping Rocks Lab, a UK-based “sustainable packaging” startup – made from seaweed for an esoteric post-beverage snack.

Of course, eating them is not really the point – the reason they received the thumbs up from French president Emmanuel Macron in December is that they offer a glimpse of a plastic-free future. With the tide turning against plastics and everyone from David Attenborough to the Queen seeking bans, these containers could help save the oceans. Ooho pouches encase a serving of water in a thin membrane made from brown algae. They were developed in London by Pierre-Yves Paslier and Rodrigo García González, who claim seaweed is safe to eat and regrows quickly, too.

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Categories: Environment

Linc Energy guilty of causing serious environmental harm

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/04/08 - 8:19pm

Water in Queensland’s Darling Downs was polluted so much it was unfit for stock, court hears

A failed Queensland energy company has been found guilty of causing serious environmental harm by polluting the Darling Downs with hazardous contaminants despite warnings from scientists.

Linc Energy has been on trial for weeks at Brisbane district court, where the jury was told that toxic gas leaked from its operations between 2007 and 2013.

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The Impact Of Pruitt's EPA Rollback

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2018/04/08 - 2:12pm

NPR's Michel Martin asks former EPA official Lisa Heinzerling whether EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's moves to roll back regulations are actually making an impact on the agency and the environment.

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One of Queensland's largest irrigators expected to be charged with fraud

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/04/08 - 11:00am

Expected charges against Norman Farming likely to throw spotlight on poor federal and state administration of Murray-Darling funds

Fraud charges are expected to be laid against one of Queensland’s biggest cotton irrigators, John Norman, within a matter of weeks.

If the trial of the owner-operator of Norman Farming, and former cotton farmer of the year goes ahead, it is likely to draw attention to the links between the irrigator’s family and that of the federal minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud.

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One man’s plan to let wolves roam free in the Highlands

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/04/07 - 10:00pm
The ‘custodian’ of the Alladale estate wants to turn it into a fenced-off wildlife reserve

The echoes of Scotland’s predator prince faded into silence three centuries ago. The wolf was once lord of these Sutherland slopes and the forest floors beneath and now a voice in the wilderness is calling him home.

Paul Lister acquired the Alladale estate, 50 miles north of Inverness, in 2003 and immediately set about creating a wilderness reserve according to his perception of what these wild and beautiful places ought to look like. He can’t imagine them without the packs of wolves that once roamed free here.

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US gene-editing ruling delights plant scientists

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/04/07 - 4:05pm
Ruling paves way for creation of new genetically altered crops

Researchers in the US have been given the go-ahead to use gene-editing techniques to alter crops and plants. The decision opens the door for scientists to create a new generation of genetically altered crops without serious restriction and paves the way for approvals for similar work in Britain and the rest of Europe.

The decision – by the US Department of Agriculture – has delighted scientists who had feared that limitations on the creation and growing of genetically modified crops would also be imposed on crops created using far simpler gene-editing techniques.

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Abandoned collieries could hold key to heating UK homes

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/04/07 - 4:04pm
Geologists aim to tap reservoir in tunnels under Glasgow

Scientists are finalising plans to exploit the vast reservoir of warm water that fills a labyrinth of disused mines and porous rock layers underneath Glasgow. They believe this subterranean store of naturally heated water could be used to warm homes in the city. If the system proves successful, such water could then be exploited in other cities and towns across Britain, they say.

The £9m project will initially involve drilling narrow boreholes filled with instruments to survey temperature, seismic activity, water flow, acidity and other variables to establish the state of the water in the rocks below the city. The aim will be to establish whether this warm water can be extracted for long periods to heat Glaswegian homes.

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Louisiana Issues Quarantine To Control Invasive Marsh-Killing Bug

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/04/07 - 5:08am

Officials say more than 200,000 acres of marshland cane have been affected. State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain worries the bug could mutate and start ruining agricultural crops.

(Image credit: Travis Lux/WWNO)

Categories: Environment

EPA insiders bemoan low point in agency's history: 'People are so done'

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/04/07 - 4:00am

As Scott Pruitt fights criticism over luxury spending, questionable pay raises and a lobbyist-linked condo, staffers faced a brutal week

The week at the Environmental Protection Agency has been a brutal low point in what many staff members refer to as the most difficult year in its near half-century history. An avalanche of allegations of ethical misconduct by the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has heaped embarrassment upon a watchdog struggling to adapt to the industry obeisance demanded by the Trump administration.

Related: Trump tells EPA chief Pruitt 'we've got your back' despite ethics controversy

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Warming climate could see butterfly loved by Churchill return to UK

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 10:30pm

Former PM unsuccessfully tried to reintroduce black-veined white in 1940s, but conditions may now allow species to prosper

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2018 Hurricane Season Will Bring Another Battery Of Storms

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 2:48pm

Forecasters are cautioning the public to brace themselves, predicting 14 tropical storms this year. Seven are expected to become hurricanes and three of those are expected to be major hurricanes.

(Image credit: NASA /AP)

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After Raising Concerns About Scott Pruitt, A Number Of EPA Officials Were Demoted

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 1:24pm

A number of Environmental Protection Agency officials have been demoted or reassigned after raising concerns about the way EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is managing the agency, according to a report from The New York Times.

Categories: Environment

Another Place Plastics Are Turning Up: Organic Fertilizer From Food Waste

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 11:34am

Turning food waste into fertilizer is popular in parts of Europe and is catching on in the U.S. But tiny plastics are also making their way into that fertilizer — and into the food chain.

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Mark Carney warns of climate change threat to financial system

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 8:46am

Bank of England governor says firms must acknowledge risks to avoid ‘catastrophic impact’

The governor of the Bank of England has warned of the “catastrophic impact” climate change could have for the financial system unless firms do more to disclose their vulnerabilities.

Telling banks and insurers they would need to provide more information about the risks they might face from climate change, Mark Carney said failure to do so would have damaging effects for financial stability.

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Deadly oil spill devastates Borneo port city – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 7:35am

The Indonesian port city of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo, has declared a state of emergency after an oil spill spread along the coast, killing several people when it ignited. The leak, caused by a burst undersea pipe belonging to the state oil company Pertamina, has spread at least 16 miles (26km) and coated large swaths of the coast in thick black sludge

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 6:08am

Whales, howler monkeys and signs of spring are among the pick of wildlife images from around the world

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Pee and pesticides: Thoreau's Walden Pond in trouble, warn scientists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 5:17am

Immortalised for its beauty by Henry David Thoreau, the Massachusetts pond is under threat from increased human activity and climate change according to a new study

The water of Walden Pond, which Henry David Thoreau described in 1854 as “so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at the depth of 25 or 30 feet”, is no longer quite so clear according to a new study.

The Massachusetts pond was made famous in Walden, the transcendentalist writer’s account of the years he spent next to it in order to “live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life”. The pond has been greatly affected by human activity. Everything from forest fires in the 19th century, to wood-cutting operations, the use of pesticides in the 1960s and increasing tourism have affected the water quality, according to the paper. Over half of the phosphorus in the lake in the summer “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers”, while a footpath to Thoreau’s cabin “caused large amounts of soil to wash into the lake”.

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