Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 7 hours 18 min ago

More than 450 whales stranded in Tasmania in one of world's largest recorded stranding events

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 8:15pm

A second pod was sighted by helicopter on Wednesday morning, likely making it the worst whale stranding in Australia’s history

Rescuers fighting to save a pod of 270 whales stranded in Tasmania’s west have discovered a further 200 whales about 10km away in the same harbour, which all appear to be dead. The stranding is likely one of the largest on record globally and the worst in Australia’s history.

The sighting was made by helicopter over Macquarie Harbour on Wednesday morning and brings the total number of dead long-finned pilot whales in the stranding to about 290.

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Categories: Environment

Rescue mission to save whales stranded on Tasmania's west coast enters second day

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 2:42pm

Approximately 25 whales from the pod of 270 were freed on Tuesday but about one-third have died

A mission to save surviving pilot whales from a pod stranded on Tasmania’s remote west coast will resume for a second day.

Roughly 25 whales from the 270-strong pod were guided to freedom by boats fitted with special slings on Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

Specieswatch: celebrating the weasel, the UK's tiny hunter

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 1:30pm

This slender and speedy creature, usually less than 25cm long, is our smallest carnivore

The weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the UK’s smallest carnivore, able to put its head through the average wedding ring. The animal’s agility, speed and ability to escape from tight corners has given the language a range of insults – a weasel is a “deceitful and treacherous person”, then there are weasel words or being weasel faced. This is a slander on the species because while these animals are not exactly cuddly, they are attractive, long and slender. Even including a short tail they rarely measure more than 25cm.

Weasels are quick and relentless hunters of small rodents, particularly mice and voles. They are small and thin enough to enter mouse holes and frequently take them over as a den and breeding place. Weasels are said to be fairly common over mainland Britain in almost any habitat from urban gardens to mountainsides.

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Categories: Environment

'It smells bad, it tastes bad': how Americans stopped trusting their water

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 2:15am

Many residents of Martin county, Kentucky, won’t drink their tap water, a legacy of years of mismanagement

Florene Reed always makes sure there’s enough bottled water for her teenaged grandson, even if that means making do with tap water herself that causes a burning sensation in her stomach.

Reed, 63, grew up drinking the crystalline water from wells and local springs dotted throughout the Appalachian mountains in Martin county, but switched to bottled while raising her own family amid safety fears linked to coal mining and mismanagement at the utility.

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Categories: Environment

A third of my country was just underwater. The world must act on climate | Sheikh Hasina

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 2:00am

The climate crisis and Covid-19 are crying out for international cooperation, writes the prime minister of Bangladesh

One-third of my country was underwater last month. The heaviest rains in almost a decade began and have still not abated. More than 1.5 million Bangladeshis are displaced; tens of thousands of hectares of paddy fields have been washed away. Millions of my compatriots will need food aid this year.

Calamities, alas, never strike alone. The floods, which come in the wake of widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan in May, are making it more difficult to contain the coronavirus. More than 2.4 million people had already been moved from the destructive path of the storm without delivering them into the even greater danger of Covid-19. Yet while the infection and death rates have been contained, concerns remain until a foolproof safeguard is acquired. Economic lockdowns have hit our textile industry and exports and forced hundreds of thousands of our international migrant workers to return home, with the vast majority remaining unemployed.

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Categories: Environment

Facebook suspends environmental groups despite vow to fight misinformation

Tue, 2020/09/22 - 12:30am

Facebook blames mistake in system for restrictions on groups including Greenpeace USA

Facebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform.

Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation”.

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Categories: Environment

'Bonkers': Turnbull criticises Angus Taylor's $18bn bet on emissions technology

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 11:58pm

Energy minister outlines framework for $18bn taxpayer-funded investment in low-carbon technologies, as former PM labels policy ‘crazy’

Angus Taylor says the Morrison government will develop an emissions reduction target for 2035, but likely not reveal it before the next federal election, and says his working definition of low-emissions technology is “what will move the dial”.

The energy minister on Tuesday launched the first annual statement under the government’s technology roadmap, which is the Coalition’s new policy framework for long-term emissions reduction.

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Categories: Environment

Morrison's rejection of 2050 net zero emissions target is at odds with Paris agreement, experts say

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 5:11pm

Australia’s commitment to limit global heating to between 1.5C and 2C requires a mid-century net zero target, according to latest science

The Morrison government’s rejection of a net zero emissions target for 2050 is at odds with the Paris agreement and more than 100 countries that have backed the goal, according to some of Australia’s most experienced climate experts.

Scott Morrison told the ABC on Sunday that the government’s position was to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions “in the second half of the century, and we’ll certainly achieve that”.

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Categories: Environment

Rescuers scramble to save stranded pilot whales in Tasmania, with up to 90 feared dead

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:46pm

Marooning of 270 whales at Macquarie Harbour the worst in more than a decade, as operation under way to refloat animals

Marine rescue teams are rushing to save a pod of pilot whales stranded off the coast of Tasmania in a multi-day operation, with up to a third of the 270 mammals likely already dead.

Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast is known to be a hotspot for the marooning of marine animals, but this event is believed to be the worst in more than a decade, with the pod of hundreds of whales scattered across two sandbars and one beach.

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Categories: Environment

Rising temperatures shrink Arctic sea ice to second-lowest level on record

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 2:46pm

Sea ice minimum has fallen below 4m sq km for the second time in 40 years as the climate crisis rapidly transforms the region

Rising temperatures in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists have announced, in yet another sign of how the climate crisis is rapidly transforming the region.

Satellites recorded this year’s sea ice minimum at 3.74m sq km on 15 September, only the second time the ice has been measured below 4m sq km in 40 years of record keeping, said researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

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Categories: Environment

Botswana says it has solved mystery of mass elephant die-off

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 5:38am

Elephants may have ingested toxins produced by bacteria found in waterholes

Hundreds of elephants died in Botswana earlier this year from ingesting toxins produced by cyanobacteria, according to government officials who say they will be testing waterholes for algal blooms next rainy season to reduce the risk of another mass die-off.

The mysterious death of 350 elephants in the Okavango delta between May and June baffled conservationists, with leading theories suggesting they were killed by a rodent virus known as EMC (encephalomyocarditis) or toxins from algal blooms.

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Categories: Environment

US announces new Iran sanctions and claims it is enforcing UN arms embargo

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 4:25am

Trump administration targets Iranian officials and demands EU powers follow suit

The US has slapped a raft of new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear weapons programme, claiming it is enforcing a UN arms embargo – and demanded that the European Union follows suit.

The Trump administration on Monday named 27 individuals and entities, including officials at the Iranian ministry of defence, nuclear scientists, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and anyone found trading in conventional weapons with Iran.

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Categories: Environment

Five ways to make the climate movement less white

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

As part of the Guardian’s first-time voter takeover, we spoke to activists on how to build a more inclusive environmental movement

Family stories about tedious days out picking vegetables or managing herds of cattle always left me with a sense of pride. As the granddaughter of Colorado ranchers and farmworkers, I have a great appreciation for the hard labor involved in food production and agriculture – and the ways it connects my family to the natural world.

My family has already been deeply impacted by climate change and their experiences mirror countless other agricultural workers across the US. Yet so many young people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) are poorly represented in environmental decision-making. I myself have sometimes felt like there were only certain ways to participate in environmental activism, that not only excluded me, but also devalued my lived experience.

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Categories: Environment

Generation Z drivers push for schools to teach with eco-conscious cars

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

A growing number of US driving schools are offering lessons in hybrid or electric cars, including Teslas – will it help Americans buy greener vehicles?

Christian Hughes did not just want to learn to drive – he wanted to do so in a Tesla. So, when it came to getting his license, the high school student found a driving school that specialised in the sought-after electric cars.

As well as being a fan of the vehicles and their technology, he was attracted by their green credentials. “Every second you spend driving a gasoline car contributes to climate change,” says the 17-year-old from St Augustine, Florida, who passed his test this summer. He has since bought a Tesla with his father.

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Categories: Environment

I'm 18 and can already see my Alaska community changed forever by climate change

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

In Sitka, where people have lived for thousands of years, I’ve seen glaciers shrink, summer droughts and deadly landslides – and our elected officials are doing nothing

When I was seven, I caught a herring with my hands from the beach beside my grandma’s house in my hometown of Sitka, Alaska. Herring marks the beginning of spring. Every April, the soft “herring rain” seemed to bring the fish into the sound, and I’d watch as the water turned milky and the shallows sparkled with swarming silver schools.

Sitkans gathered on the side of the road to watch the show of sea lions, whales, eagles and fishing boats competing in the million-dollar commercial sac roe fishery. All around the islands, people set out hemlock branches to collect masses of tiny, tasty eggs as part of an annual Tlingit ritual of community and abundance going back to time immemorial.

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Categories: Environment

Meet the doomers: why some young US voters have given up hope on climate

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

Politically active young people are often championed as the Earth’s great hope to reverse the climate crisis – but many believe we’ve already passed the tipping point

When Siddharth Namachivayam casts a ballot in Colorado this fall, he’ll forego Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whom he sees as just a “Band-Aid,” and instead support the longshot Green party candidate focused on climate action.

“I guess, yeah, it’d be marginally better if Biden was president, but I don’t think Biden being president is more important than the Green party growing in the next couple of years,” Namachivayam says.

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Categories: Environment

I lived the climate crisis every day of my childhood. This November, I'll vote on it | Jessica Díaz Vázquez

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

Chemical headaches, plant sirens – these were the constant background to my home and school life. My community is on the climate frontline

My teacher first taught me about global warming in the third grade. She explained how an increase in greenhouse gases increased the amount of heat that could be trapped in our atmosphere. We discussed how climate change is melting the ice caps polar bears call home, leading to their extinction. We didn’t discuss how the climate crisis was already at our homes.

I grew up with the smell of freshly made salsa from chiles picked from our backyard garden, the bright colors of fruit gifted to us by neighbors, and the sound of off-key singing to Joan Sebastian and Selena Quintanilla. At school, my friends and I slipped between English and Spanish, moving between the topics of our English essay to la quinceañera de nuestra mejor amiga with ease. But looming over my vibrant community was, and is, the fossil fuel industry.

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Categories: Environment

'Our house is burning': student climate protesters urge their universities to go carbon neutral

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

As thousands of Generation Z activists head back to college, they’re pressuring universities to declare a climate emergency, cut emissions and divest from fossil fuels

As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the US Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.

Caitlyn Daas is among them. The senior at Appalachian State University and organizer with the Appalachian Climate Action Collaborative (ClimACT) stands on the frontlines of her school’s grassroots push to go “climate neutral”, part of a years-long, national movement that has inspired hundreds of institutional commitments to reduce academia’s carbon footprint.

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Categories: Environment

Climate takeover: meet the first-time voters guest editing the Guardian US

Mon, 2020/09/21 - 3:00am

Seven Generation Z climate activists from across the United States come together to curate a special edition of the Guardian US. Read their section here

Generation Z didn’t cause the climate crisis, but we’re paying for it. The damage caused by global heating is already doing untold damage to the entire planet, disproportionately hurting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color). For our generation, the toll isn’t just physical, but mental: solastalgia, the stress caused by environmental changes to one’s home, is on the rise.

We are seven first-time voters from diverse backgrounds across the United States who have come together to curate a special climate edition of the Guardian. We want to bring attention to the physical and mental burdens that our generation is saddled with due to the negligence of past generations. We want to highlight environmental justice during this election season. And we will be keeping environmental issues in mind when we all vote. – Alice Shinn

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Categories: Environment

How coral transplants could rescue Turkey's threatened reefs

Sun, 2020/09/20 - 11:15pm

Scientists are carefully moving the sea animals to new locations to save them from construction schemes

Transplanting coral is difficult work. “You only have 20 minutes to dive down 30 metres and transplant the coral to the correct part of the rock, where hopefully it will live for hundreds of years,” explains Serço Ekşiyan, one of a small group of volunteers who have taken on the huge task of saving the corals around the Princes’ Islands (Adalar), a picturesque archipelago in the Marmara Sea about a 40-minute boat ride from Istanbul.

The Marmara Sea, made up of water from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, is home to 24 Alcyonacea coral species whose existence is threatened by the onslaught of nearby property development. Among those disappearing are sea whips, sea pens, sea fans and some types of red and yellow soft corals.

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Categories: Environment