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Updated: 5 hours 32 min ago

Why you should be eating roadkill

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 5:30pm

Alaskans have been enjoying free, organic meat for the past 50 years. Should other places stop turning their noses up?

My mother texts me four photos of a dead moose the week I leave Alaska. It is freshly hit. The pebbled pink brains fanning across the pavement have not yet grayed in the brisk autumn air. The animal will not go to waste. For the past 50 years, Alaska has been the only state where virtually every piece of large roadkill is eaten.

Every year, between 600 and 800 moose are killed in Alaska by cars, leaving up to 250,000lb of organic, free-range meat on the road. State troopers who respond to these collisions keep a list of charities and families who have agreed to drive to the scene of an accident at any time, in any weather, to haul away and butcher the body.

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Categories: Environment

The government isn't quite ready to drop its obsession with nuclear | Nils Pratley

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 11:51am

Greg Clark knows nuclear cannot compete with the likes of wind and solar – but he is not giving up

There was excellent news within Hitachi’s decision to shelve its plan to build a £16bn nuclear plant at Wylfa in Anglesey. Finally, a government minister may have grasped the basic problem with nuclear power. It is being “out-competed” by alternative technologies, especially wind and solar, the business secretary, Greg Clark, had to concede in the Commons. Exactly. So drop the obsession with nuclear, last century’s answer to our energy needs.

As Clark also said, the package offered to Hitachi was generous. The price of the power, at £75 per megawatt hour, was lower than in EDF’s Hinkley Point C contract, but on this occasion the government would have taken a one-third stake and committed to providing all the debt financing for construction. Adjust for the different financial structure and the package looked very Hinkley-like – in other words, hugely expensive for the poor old bill payer.

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view on nuclear power: expensive mistakes | Editorial

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 11:33am

Hitachi’s decision to walk away from two projects, despite hefty subsidies, indicates strongly that the UK’s current policies don’t add up

The scrapping of three nuclear power station projects in just over two months should prompt immediate and serious thought about the future of energy in this country. Hitachi expects the axing of the Wylfa plant on Anglesey in Wales to cost it £2.14bn. Around 300 people at its UK subsidiary Horizon will lose their jobs along with around 1,000 in the supply chain, and a second Hitachi power station in Gloucestershire will never be built. That another Japanese company, Toshiba, pulled the plug on another nuclear project in Cumbria in November, after trying and failing to sell it, makes the need for a considered response from policymakers all the more pressing.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that the new generation of nuclear power stations is proving too expensive. Hitachi walked away from a package including a guaranteed price for its electricity of £75 per megawatt hour for 35 years, well above the wholesale price of around £50, but still below the £92.50 awarded to EDF Energy for power generated at Hinkley Point C. With the price of offshore wind as low as £57.50 and expected to fall further, and with renewables now supplying 33% of power (up from 6.7% in 2009), the contrast with nuclear is increasingly unflattering, as business secretary Greg Clark acknowledged when he told MPs that nuclear is being “outcompeted”.

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Categories: Environment

Gisele Bündchen hits back at minister's 'bad Brazilian' jibe

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 8:42am

Model attacks rising Amazon deforestation and sets out her environmental credentials

The Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen has rebutted an extraordinary attack by Brazil’s agriculture minister, who called her a “bad Brazilian” for her environmental activism and said she did not know “the facts”.

Bündchen said the “bad Brazilians” were those responsible for Brazil’s worst deforestation figures in a decade.

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Categories: Environment

What role does nuclear power play in UK and what are alternatives?

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 7:06am

The options remaining, with three projects shelved and old plants reaching end of road

Britain’s old nuclear power stations supply about a fifth of electricity supplies and are a key part of the energy system. However, their share of the mix has been gradually shrinking as renewables have grown and energy demand has fallen.

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Categories: Environment

Nuclear power can be green – but at a price

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 6:36am

As Hitachi and Toshiba abandon plans for new British nuclear reactors, Damian Carrington assesses the merits of the technology

All sources of electricity face the same trilemma in the 21st century: carbon emissions, continuity of supply and cost. The UK government has placed a big bet on nuclear power, but reactors meet only two of the three challenges. Nuclear power is low carbon and a secure source of electricity – but it is hugely expensive.

In the era of climate change, generating power without belching out carbon emissions is vital. While building nuclear plants and fuelling them requires concrete, transport and so on, the overall emissions are similar to wind and solar power. All produce far less carbon than coal or gas-powered stations.

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Categories: Environment

Does Hitachi decision mean the end of UK's nuclear ambitions?

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 4:23am

Despite recent scrapping of three plants, experts still feel the energy has stake in future

Ever since Tony Blair rebooted support for nuclear power 13 years ago, British governments have been committed to a new generation of reactors to secure supplies and cut carbon emissions.

However, those ambitions have yielded only one project under construction, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, south-west England.

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Categories: Environment

Another thing you may not know about Bitcoin: it's killing the planet | Ethan Lou

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 4:00am

As a Bitcoin maker who covered the oil industry as a journalist, I see parallels between the two that may haunt cryptocurrency

I make Bitcoin, and in a previous life, I covered the oil industry as a journalist. Increasingly, I’m realizing the two worlds are alike. Bitcoin is oil.

And one day, Bitcoin will become big oil, and all who dabble in it will be reborn as enemies of the environmental movement, seen as plunderers of the planet and the bad guys in the fight against climate change – just like oil.

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Categories: Environment

Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales

Thu, 2019/01/17 - 2:11am

Japanese giant unable to agree deal with UK as fears grow for Anglesey atomic plant

Hitachi has scrapped plans to build a nuclear power station in Wales, becoming the second firm in two months to abandon a major nuclear project and triggering “a full-blown crisis” for the UK energy’s strategy.

The £16bn Wylfa plant on Anglesey was meant to be the next in a line of new nuclear plants behind Hinkley Point C but the Japanese conglomerate failed to reach a deal with the UK government.

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Categories: Environment

Native title holders back Greens' call for royal commission into Murray-Darling

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 11:39pm

The Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations back Sarah Hanson-Young’s claim that Menindee fish kill is just the latest example of mismanagement

The Greens will introduce legislation to establish a royal commission into the mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin when parliament returns in February, in the wake of the massive fish kill at Menindee last week.

The Greens environment and water spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, said she would move to set up the inquiry, which will have power to compel testimony from bureaucrats and ministers. The call has been backed by the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN), which claims native title holders have been left out of important decision-making about the Darling River.

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Categories: Environment

‘Stop treating seas as a sewer,’ MPs urge in bid for protection treaty

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 11:30pm

Paris agreement for the sea recommended as rates of plastic pollution to skyrocket

A new global agreement to protect the seas should be a priority for the government to stop our seas becoming a “sewer”, according to a cross-party group of MPs.

Plastic pollution is set to treble in the next decade, the environmental audit committee warned, while overfishing is denuding vital marine habitats of fish, and climate change is causing harmful warming of the oceans as well as deoxygenation and acidification.

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Categories: Environment

New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 4:30pm

‘Planetary health diet’ would prevent millions of deaths a year and avoid climate change

The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised. It requires huge cuts in red meat-eating in western countries and radical changes across the world.

The “planetary health diet” was created by an international commission seeking to draw up guidelines that provide nutritious food to the world’s fast-growing population. At the same time, the diet addresses the major role of farming – especially livestock – in driving climate change, the destruction of wildlife and the pollution of rivers and oceans.

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Categories: Environment

Andrew Wheeler: Trump's EPA pick says climate change 'not the greatest crisis'

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 12:44pm

The former coal lobbyist took over the EPA when his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned after months of controversy

A former coal lobbyist Donald Trump has nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday touted rolling back pollution standards and declined to identify climate change as a crisis requiring unprecedented action from the US.

Andrew Wheeler, the deputy administrator who took over when his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned after months of controversy, said in his confirmation hearing that he is carrying out the president’s “regulatory reform agenda”. Wheeler called the US the “gold standard for environmental progress”.

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Categories: Environment

Melbourne becomes first city with all council infrastructure powered by renewables

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 12:00pm

40% of power bought at a fixed price while 60% a market-based price that is renegotiated every two years

Melbourne has become the first city in Australia to have all of its council-owned infrastructure powered by renewable energy.

The City of Melbourne switched all its operations to renewable energy on 1 January. The power is supplied by the Crowlands windfarm near Ararat in western Victoria, which was funded through a power purchase agreement with the City of Melbourne and 13 other Melbourne councils and institutions.

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Categories: Environment

Six in 10 wild coffee species endangered by habitat loss

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 12:00pm

Kew scientists’ analysis of 124 wild species shows 60% facing possible extinction, risking viability of commercial stock

Wild coffee species are under threat, with 60% of them facing possible extinction, including Arabica, the original of the world’s most popular form of coffee, researchers say.

Most coffee species are found in the forests of Africa and Madagascar. They are threatened by climate change and the loss of natural habitat, as well as by the spread of diseases and pests.

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Categories: Environment

Oregon governor's husband cleans park bathroom – and sends Trump the bill

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 10:33am

Dan Little, a retired forest service worker, took matters into his own hands when the shutdown left his local wilderness a mess

The longest ever government shutdown has left US national parks chronically understaffed, with grim consequences: messy toilets, broken Joshua trees, and unsupervised campers.

Related: Keeping US national parks open during the shutdown is a terrible mistake | Jonathan B Jarvis

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Categories: Environment

Ministers to review Durham open-cast mine decision

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 9:34am

Government admits process that allowed Pont Valley site to begin operating was flawed

The government is to review a decision to allow open-cast coal mining in a valley in County Durham.

Lawyers for the government have written to campaigners to say their decision-making was flawed and agreed to look again. The mine in the Pont Valley, known as Bradley, began operating last year after four decades of opposition.

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Categories: Environment

Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 4:00am

Rising temperatures can be charted back to the late 1950s, and the last five years were the five hottest on record

Last year was the hottest ever measured, continuing an upward trend that is a direct result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

The key to the measurements is the oceans. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat that results from greenhouse gases, so if you want to measure global warming you really have to measure ocean warming.

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Categories: Environment

The women fighting a pipeline that could destroy precious wildlife

Wed, 2019/01/16 - 4:00am

Activists fight to stop construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which endangers an ecosystem that is one of the most important bird habitats in the western hemisphere

Deep within the humid green heart of the largest river swamp in North America, a battle is being waged over the future of the most precious resource of all: water.

On one side of the conflict is a small band of rugged and ragtag activists led by Indigenous matriarchs. On the other side is the relentless machinery of the fossil fuel industry and all of its might. And at the center of the struggle is the Atchafalaya river, a 135 mile-long distributary of the Mississippi river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

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Categories: Environment

Trump replacement for Obama climate plan worse than doing nothing – study

Tue, 2019/01/15 - 11:00pm

Administration’s alternative to clean power plan would let emissions ‘rebound’ via coal-fired power plants, researchers find

The Trump administration’s replacement for the linchpin Obama-era plan to combat climate change would increase greenhouse gas emissions in much of the US more than doing nothing at all, according to new research.

Planet-warming emissions would “rebound” under the Trump policy, researchers found, as it delays the retirement of coal-fired power plants. Carbon dioxide emissions would be 8.7% higher in 18 states and Washington DC by 2030, compared with having no policy at all.

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Categories: Environment