Environment

'We know we may be killed': the rangers risking their lives for Virunga's gorillas

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/04/06 - 5:00am

The huge national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous conservation projects in the world. But thanks to the efforts of a committed force of rangers, populations of endangered species are recovering and locals say the park offers hope for the whole region

It is dawn on the shores of Lake Edward and the sun is rising over the volcanoes on the eastern skyline. Mist lies over the still water. In the forest there are elephant, hippopotamus and buffalo. Guarding them are 26 rangers in a single fortified post.

Then the silence is rudely broken. There are shouts, scattered shots, volleys from automatic weapons. Waves of attackers rush through the brush and trees. Some are close enough to hurl spears and fire arrows.

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Categories: Environment

The cycling club helping homeless women regain independence

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 11:15pm

Two Sustrans staff members explain how offering residents of a women’s hostel the freedom of cycling is helping to improve their mental wellbeing


A cycling session at Queen Mary homeless women’s hostel in London starts with some reflection in the tea room. Eleven women discuss how they’re doing this week, how the cycling went for them last week and what they’re hoping to build on in today’s session. Then they push their bikes to a local basketball court to practise in the safety of an off-road environment. Supported by instructors from Westminster council’s training team, they practise riding by themselves; pushing off, cycling in a straight line, looking over one shoulder, turning, keeping going.

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Categories: Environment

BP plan to drill in Great Australian Bight risked 750km oil spill, documents show

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 9:30pm

Under company modelling major spill would pollute beaches and could disrupt southern right whale migration

Up to 750km of coastline was put at risk of contamination from possible oil spill by BP’s plan to drill in the Great Australian Bight, newly released documents show.

Government documents released under freedom of information laws show a major oil spill in the sensitive seascape would pollute up to 750km of beaches and shoreline, according to BP’s own modelling. The company also thought drilling could disrupt migration of the endangered southern right whale.

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Categories: Environment

Birdpocalypse? Thousands of corellas cause havoc after swooping on Adelaide

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 8:43pm

Drones and fireworks deployed to disperse flocks that are stripping trees and annoying residents with squawking and droppings

They come at dawn and dusk.

At first they arrive by the tens, then the hundreds, some sticking to the treeline, others mustering on the oval.

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Categories: Environment

In March, Portugal Made More Than Enough Renewable Energy To Power The Whole Country

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 3:24pm

The country produced renewable power equal to 103.6 percent of mainland Portugal's electrical demand — a feat "unmatched in the last 40 years," the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association says.

(Image credit: Armando Franca/AP)

Categories: Environment

AGL hits back at Barnaby Joyce claim it is 'shorting' the energy market

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 11:00am

‘It is not possible to short a market by giving seven years’ notice of closure,’ company says as dispute over Liddell power station flares up

AGL Energy has categorically rejected arguments from the Turnbull government that it is abusing its market power, saying if it wanted to benefit commercially from the closure of the Liddell power plant it would have shuttered the facility with no warning.

An AGL spokesman hit back at an accusation from the former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce that it was “shorting” the market by hanging on to the ageing coal-fired power plant. “It is not possible to short a market by giving seven years’ notice of closure,” the spokesman said.

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Categories: Environment

It's not perfect but implementing Murray-Darling plan in full can work | Jamie Pittock

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 11:00am

Rivers will be lost, Indigenous communities and pastoral and tourism industries affected if not enough water is returned

The latest proposal to cut 605bn litres of water from flowing down the Murray-Darling river system will test the nation’s faith in water reform.

Transparency, accountability, trust: these have sadly gone missing from the nation’s plan for the health of the river system. Allegations of water theft, inequity for downstream communities and poor governance have all shaken the foundations of faith in the plan that state and federal governments agreed to in 2012.

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Categories: Environment

The wheel turns for the Rolling Stones’ butterflies | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 9:41am
Emmanuel Macron | Butterfly Conservation | Country diary magic | Porton Down | Football fans

Why is Emmanuel Macron always described as a “centrist” in the Guardian (Strike chaos sets rail workers on collision course with Macron, 4 April)? He is hellbent on reducing employment rights and taking on the unions. He may be young and his party new on the political scene, but he is a conservative. Why not describe him as such?
Martin Childs
London

• As the Rolling Stones are touring in Britain this year – the 50th anniversary of the founding of Butterfly Conservation (Patrick Barkham’s Butterflywatch, 31 March) – the band should give a generous donation to the charity in recognition of the harm they did to thousands of large white butterflies released during their Hyde Park concert to remember Brian Jones.
Jacky Creswick
Chester

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Categories: Environment

Bollywood star Salman Khan sentenced to five years for killing antelopes

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 5:48am

Actor says he will appeal against sentence after being convicted of poaching blackbucks in 1998

The Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has been sentenced to five years in jail for poaching a protected species of Indian antelope, in the latest twist to an off-screen life almost as dramatic as the epics he has starred in.

A court in Rajasthan state on Thursday found Khan, one of the world’s best-paid actors, guilty of illegally hunting the two blackbucks from his car window while filming in Jodhpur in 1998.

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Categories: Environment

Jersey royal potatoes delayed by 'beast from the east'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 5:28am

Severe winter weather postpones season by at least three weeks and yield could be 20% lower

The jersey royal season is at least three weeks late after the “beast from the east” delayed the planting of the spring crop.

The potato’s short season, usually from April to mid-July, has been affected by hard frosts and almost double the 30-year average of rainfall in December and January, which growers say left the ground saturated and “undesirable for planting”.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change threatens rare British orchid that tricks bees into mating

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 4:37am

Researchers find that warmer temperatures are upsetting the seasonal relationship between the early spider orchid and pollinating bees

It is one of the most cunning and elaborate reproductive deceits: the early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) wafts a floral bouquet into the air that mimics the irresistible scent of a virgin female solitary mining bee, tricking gullible male bees into attempting intercourse with several flowers, thereby ensuring the plant’s pollination.

But the sexual success of this rare and declining orchid in Britain is imperilled by climate change, researchers have found.

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Categories: Environment

American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 3:00am

Now there’s a handbook for that

Gallup released its annual survey on American perceptions about global warming last week, and the results were a bit discouraging. While 85–90% of Democrats are worried about global warming, realize humans are causing it, and are aware that most scientists agree on this, independents and Republicans are a different story. Only 35% of Republicans and 62% of independents realize humans are causing global warming (down from 40% and 70% last year, respectively), a similar number are worried about it, and only 42% of Republicans and 65% of independents are aware of the scientific consensus – also significantly down from last year’s Gallup poll.

The Trump administration’s polarizing stance on climate change is probably the main contributor to this decline in conservative acceptance of climate change realities. A recent study found evidence that “Americans may have formed their attitudes [on climate change] by using party elite cues” delivered via the media. In particular, the study found that Fox News “is consistently more partisan than other [news] outlets” and has incorporated politicians into the majority of its climate segments.

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Categories: Environment

IEA accused of undermining global shift from fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/04/05 - 2:43am

Highly critical study warns projections used by the organisation tasked with leading the switch to clean energy remain skewed towards oil and gas and may break climate targets of Paris agreement

The global shift from fossil fuels to renewables is being undermined by the very organisation that ought to be leading the charge, according to a scathing new critique of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Governments across the world rely on IEA projections to set energy policies, but the agency’s figures – which are influenced by the oil industry – are pushing them off track to reach the targets of the Paris climate agreement, says the report.

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Categories: Environment

Underwater with Sri Lanka's sperm whales – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/04 - 11:00pm

The sperm whale may be one of the most successful animals in the ocean, boasting a global distribution that survived the toll of the 20th century, when whaling factory fleets took three million great whales from the seas. Now a newly identified population in the Indian Ocean is attracting the attention of scientists, conservationists – and soon, tourists, too. How will this whale weather the new storm of attention? Underwater photographer Andrew Sutton gained special access to the gentle giants that swim around the island of Sri Lanka. Words by author Philip Hoare

Every March, vast numbers of sperm whales gather in the deep waters north-west of Sri Lanka. Andrew Sutton’s photographs are vivid evidence of a little-known population – all the more surprising since sperm whales are the largest active predators on the planet with males reaching nearly 20m (65ft) in length. As natural submarines, they shut down all their organs except for their heart and brain, and using their muscular tails are able to dive for up to a mile, spending up to two hours feeding on squid.

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Categories: Environment

Drop in plastic bags littering British seas linked to introduction of 5p charge

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

Scientists find an estimated 30% drop in plastic bags on the seabed in the same timeframe as charges were introduced in European countries

A big drop in plastic bags found in the seas around Britain has been credited to the introduction of charges for plastic bags across Europe.

Ireland and Denmark were the first two countries to bring in levies for plastic bags from shops in 2003, followed by slew of other European countries. England was the last UK nation to introduce one, in 2015.

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Categories: Environment

Dogged By Scandal, EPA's Pruitt Turns To Damage Control

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/04/04 - 2:47pm

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is fending off a series of ethics investigations, amid lukewarm support from the White House.

(Image credit: Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

You don't have to be a climate science denier to join the Monash coal forum, but it helps | Graham Readfearn

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

The Coalition’s backbench group of coal fans have a history of attacking climate science

There seems to be three rules for membership of the Coalition’s new backbench Monash Forum that wants taxpayer subsidies for new coal fired power stations.

Firstly, you have to really love the life-giving and not-really-all-that-deadly rock from the late Permian and Carboniferous which, if they made it into a snack bar, you would totally want to eat it and then rub the bits left sticking to the wrapper all over your naked form.

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Categories: Environment

Murray-Darling: when the river runs dry

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

Five years after the implementation of the Murray-Darling basin plan, our great river system is under stress. Follow our 3000km journey along the rivers, travelling from inland Queensland to the Murray mouth, to understand where the plan has failed those who live and work on this land

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Categories: Environment

Ghost water, poor planning and theft: how the Murray-Darling plan fell apart

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

More than five years and $9bn since the basin plan began, the Murray-Darling river system is in crisis. In a series of in-depth features and articles this week, Guardian Australia will explore what’s gone wrong

Kate McBride stands on the banks of the Lower Darling river as it flows past her family property, Tolarno, south of Menindee in New South Wales. She surveys the stagnating waterholes that were once a river. They are turning an alarming shade of chartreuse, thanks to blue-green algae.

The sometimes mighty river has ceased to flow again this summer – an increasingly regular occurrence in these reaches of the Murray-Darling system.

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Categories: Environment

Why are unions so keen on nuclear jobs? | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/04 - 10:43am
Andy Stirling and Phil Johnstone reply to criticism of their analysis of the government’s infatuation with nuclear power

Thanks to Mike Clancy (Letters, 2 April) for responding to our analysis that intense UK government attachments to civil nuclear power are (to a significant – but dangerously undiscussed – extent) aimed at supporting the national industrial base underpinning nuclear submarine capabilities. He accuses us of “speculation”, yet fails to address any of the strong evidence that we cite. We show at length that UK nuclear attachments do not reflect economic performance. A host of ways to manage intermittency are routinely priced at a small fraction of the growing cost advantage of renewable energy. As a member of the UK Nuclear Industry Council (itself with a dual civil/military remit), Mr Clancy could assist much-needed factual scrutiny by addressing the points we raise. As a union leader, he might help democratic debate by explaining why his own organisation – and UK unions more generally – are so much more supportive of jobs in the nuclear than in the renewable sector.
Professor Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone
SPRU, University of Sussex

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Categories: Environment
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