Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 16 hours 44 min ago

World's longest penguin dive, of more than half an hour, is recorded

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 7:37pm

Record-breaking dive in Antarctic waters emerges after scientists accidentally tagged wrong emperor penguins

Scientists in Antarctica have recorded the world’s longest penguin dive, an astounding 32.2 minutes under the water; a full five minutes longer than the previous record.

Emperor penguins, which live only in Antartica, are the tallest and heaviest penguins in the world, and have the best diving ability. They can dive as much as 500 metres down in some of the world’s harshest and coldest seas.

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Categories: Environment

Trump likely to scrap Iran deal amid 'insane' changes of stance, says Macron

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 6:08pm

French president’s frank comments come after Congress address in which he stood up for policies his US counterpart has sought to destroy

Emmanuel Macron conceded he had probably failed in his attempt during a three-day trip to Washington to persuade Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, describing US flip-flopping on international agreements as “insane”.

The French president had hoped to convince Trump to continue to waive sanctions on Iran, as agreed by the 2015 nuclear deal, in which Iran agreed to accept strict curbs on its nuclear activities. Macron offered Trump the prospect of negotiations on a new complementary deal that would address Iranian missile development and Tehran’s military intervention in the Middle East.

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Categories: Environment

Adani builds coal-fired power plant in India to send energy to Bangladesh

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 5:08pm

But is it a genuine energy solution – or just a prop for the Carmichael mine?

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Godda, in the Indian state of Jharkhand, is surrounded by the country’s most productive coalmines. It will soon also be home to the Adani group’s latest coal-fired power station, a plant built for the sole purpose of sending energy across the border to Bangladesh.

Adani has framed its planned 1,600-megawatt Godda power plant as a humanitarian venture. In a statement to Guardian Australia, the company said it had acted “in the large interests of our neighbours, the people of Bangladesh” by inking the deal.

But market analysts say the supply agreement is anything but benevolent. The tariffs quoted by the Bangladesh Power Development Board are about double the current cost of solar and wind power in India.

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Categories: Environment

UK supermarkets launch voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 4:01pm

Critics say retailers can pick and choose whether to sign up to Plastics Pact, a series of pledges that have no enforcement mechanism

UK supermarkets and food companies launched a new voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging on Thursday as ministers consider forcing them to pay more towards collecting and recycling the waste they produce.

In a first response to a growing public backlash against the huge volumes of plastic rubbish, most of the UK’s largest supermarkets signed up to support the UK Plastics Pact – an industry-wide initiative which says it aims to transform packaging and reduce avoidable plastic waste.

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Categories: Environment

Bin liners to takeaway containers – ideas to solve your plastic conundrums

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 11:00am

Those dedicated to going plastic-free wonder how to dispose of cat litter or buy cleaning products sans packaging. Share your problems – and solutions

Plastic has become an environmental disaster. Microplastic pollution has been found in our waterways, fish stocks, salt, tap water and even the air we breathe. Reducing our reliance on plastic by refusing it wherever possible has never been more important, especially as Australia’s recycling system is in crisis.

Yet there are conundrums that continue to defeat even those dedicated to going plastic-free. From bin liners to takeaway containers, Guardian Australia has tried to solve them. And we want to hear from you: share your plastic conundrums and the solutions. We’ll round up the best ideas for a follow-up article.

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Categories: Environment

Gorillas are far more numerous than previously thought, survey reveals

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 11:00am

Larger-than-expected population in Africa gives hope for species survival, scientists say, but animal remains critically endangered

There are far more gorillas left in the world than previously thought, according to a landmark new survey, with numbers as much as double earlier estimates.

However, their populations are continuing to fall fast, down 20% in just eight years, leaving them critically endangered. Furthermore, 80% of the remaining gorilla troops do not live in protected areas, leaving them vulnerable to the threats the researchers summarise as “guns, germs and [felled] trees”.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change to drive migration from island homes sooner than thought

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 11:00am

Low-lying atolls around the world will be overtaken by sea-level rises within a few decades, according to a new study

Hundreds of thousands of people will be forced from their homes on low-lying islands in the next few decades by sea-level rises and the contamination of fresh drinking water sources, scientists have warned.

A study by researchers at the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Deltares Institute in the Netherlands and Hawaii University has found that many small islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans will be uninhabitable for humans by the middle of this century. That is much earlier than previously thought.

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Categories: Environment

Flint crisis, four years on: what little trust is left continues to wash away

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 3:00am

Since 2014, Flint has received millions of dollars in aid, and the state of the water is improving – but residents are still left with physical ailments and lifelong fears

LeeAnne Walters was one of the activists who brought Flint’s brown, lead-laden water to the world’s attention, thrusting plastic bottles of dingy liquid into camera lenses and the national consciousness.

Four years later, you might think things have improved in the Michigan city. But Walters is still bathing her kids in bottled water, which she heats on the stove in four separate pots and a plastic bowl in the microwave.

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Categories: Environment

America's best scientists stood up to the Trump administration | John Abraham

Wed, 2018/04/25 - 3:00am

Over 600 NAS members called out ‘the Trump Administration’s denigration of scientific expertise’

Anyone who has read this column over the past five years knows that I tend to be unfettered in my criticism of people who lie and distort climate science to further their political ideologies. At the same time, I believe that the majority of climate sceptics are not willfully wishing to damage this precious Earth that we call home. I believe that there are common areas we can all agree on to take meaningful action to protect the Earth’s environment and build a new energy future; even for people who do not understand climate change or climate science.

But with the election of Donald Trump and his ushering in people who are openly hostile to the planet and future generations, my position has been strained (to say the least). We have had more than a year to observe President Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations on pollution from coal plants, weaken pollution standards for motor vehicles, become the only country in the world to reject the Paris climate accord, and gut our climate science budget so that we become blind to what is actually happening.

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Categories: Environment

Hey millennials, don’t fall for Shell’s pop star PR | Graham Readfearn

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 10:28pm

Shell is lining up superstars to sing in videos about solar panels, hydrogen cars, clean cooking stoves and lights powered by a bag of rocks and gravity

If you’re a millennial, the global oil and gas company Shell will have been most pleased if you’d seen one their #makethefuture music videos.

Twice now Shell has lined up superstars including Jennifer Hudson, Pixie Lott and Yemi Alade to sing about solar panels, hydrogen cars, clean cooking stoves and lights powered by a bag of rocks and gravity.

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Categories: Environment

UK needs 6,000 shale gas wells to fill 50% of imports, study says

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 10:01pm

Friends of the Earth says countryside would be industrialised with a new well fracked daily until 2035

More than 6,000 shale gas wells would be needed to replace half the UK’s gas imports over a 15-year period, according to a new report.

The nascent UK fracking industry has argued that growing reliance on gas from Norway and Qatar necessitates developing home-produced supplies in addition to North Sea output.

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Categories: Environment

Dame Daphne Sheldrick obituary

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 9:53am
Renowned conservationist dedicated to saving orphaned elephants and releasing them back into the wild

Elephant babies like coconut oil. This discovery has saved the life of hundreds of orphaned, unweaned elephants, left behind when their mothers were killed, victims of the ivory wars that have catastrophically reduced elephant populations across Africa.

The discovery came after two decades of efforts by the renowned conservationist Daphne Sheldrick, who has died aged 83. She devoted most of her life to rescuing young elephants and releasing them back into the wild.

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Categories: Environment

Why there are more gym supplements in a London fatberg than cocaine and MDMA

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 9:32am

Substances used to aid muscle-building and weight loss made up more than half of the pharmaceuticals found in the capital’s sewers. What does this tell us about modern life?

Along with the flushed debris and the thriving bacteria – the wet wipes, condoms, and sanitary towels; the listeria and E coli – that have congealed within the giant fatbergs in the sewers under central London, are chemicals found in banned gym supplements. In fact, they were discovered in greater quantities than drugs such as cocaine and MDMA.

In tonight’s Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers, on Channel 4, samples from a giant block were examined to see what it contained. Caused by people pouring cooking oil down the drain – which then congeals with items that should not be flushed, such as wet wipes – fatbergs are an increasing problem for water companies, particularly in urban areas. But the examination of fatbergs’ chemical content also provides a picture of the way we live. The scientists who did the analysis discovered numerous predictable substances, such as paracetamol, prescription medications and substances used in skin creams. But more surprising was the amount of hordenine and ostarine – described by the programme-makers as often being found in gym supplements, which made up more than half of the pharmaceuticals found.

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Categories: Environment

Record levels of plastic discovered in Arctic sea ice

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 8:00am

Samples taken from five locations found concentrations of more than 12,000 microplastic particles per litre of sea ice

Scientists have found a record amount of plastic trapped in Arctic sea ice, raising concern about the impact on marine life and human health.

Up to 12,000 pieces of microplastic particles were found per litre of sea ice in core samples taken from five regions on trips to the Arctic Ocean – as many as three times higher than levels in previous studies.

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Categories: Environment

BP chief urges Cambridge University to keep fossil fuel investments

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 7:53am

Bob Dudley faces criticism for calling for university to ‘come to its senses’ over divestment

BP’s chief executive has come under fire from campaigners after he urged Cambridge University not to drop its fossil fuel investments.

Bob Dudley was greeted with laughter when he told an industry conference on Tuesday: “We donate and do lots of research at Cambridge so I hope they come to their senses on this.”

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Categories: Environment

UK runs without coal power for three days in a row

Tue, 2018/04/24 - 2:12am

Demand lower following recent warm weather, making it easier for gas, renewables and nuclear to cover UK’s needs

The UK has been powered without coal for three days in a row, setting a new record and underlining the polluting fuel’s rapid decline.

Coal has historically been at the cornerstone of the UK’s electricity mix, but last year saw the first 24-hour period that the the country ran without the fuel since the 19th century.

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Categories: Environment

Hard Brexit would mean more and cheaper British fish – but there's a catch

Mon, 2018/04/23 - 10:00pm

Exclusive: Taking back control of UK waters would lower the price of British-caught fish, new analysis shows – but most of the fish we eat is imported

A hard Brexit that banned EU fishermen from UK waters would lead to many more fish being landed by British boats and a corresponding drop in prices, according to new economic analysis.

But there’s a catch. Two-thirds of the fish UK consumers eat are imported from overseas, and the costs of those would rise, due to the trade barriers resulting from a hard Brexit. Moreover, the fall in the price of UK fish would lead to a drop in earnings for UK fishermen. Overall, the analysis shows closing the UK’s sea borders would be a “lose-lose situation” for both UK and EU consumers and fishing industries.

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Categories: Environment

Warmshowers: why free hospitality for bike tourists is a priceless experience | Joshua Cunningham

Mon, 2018/04/23 - 10:00pm

The global network of 85,000 members runs on goodwill and a ‘pay it forward’ philosophy, allowing riders to navigate the lonely and sometimes testing side of cycle touring and connect with kindred spirits

Imagine you’re nearing the end of another long day in the saddle, partway through your latest cycling tour. Your panniers feel heavy and your tyres sticky as you drag your bike over the final climb of the day. You pull your map out and wrestle with the foreign characters on the paper, trying to match them with those on the road sign ahead.

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Categories: Environment

£10m a year needed to ensure England's soil is fit for farming, report warns

Mon, 2018/04/23 - 9:30pm

Soil erosion and water pollution caused by poor farming practices mean land could become too poor to sustain food crops by the end of the century

England must invest £10m a year to ensure its soil is productive enough to continue to grow food by the end of the century, a new report warns.

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Categories: Environment

Queensland poised to pass tougher land-clearing laws as early as next week

Mon, 2018/04/23 - 4:28pm

Report recommends few changes to vegetation management act but notes LNP concerns

The Queensland government may push land-clearing laws through parliament as early as next week, after a committee report recommended few changes to its proposed vegetation management act.

The report, tabled late on Monday night, noted concerns from the Liberal National party opposition that the process was rushed and that consultation with people in regional areas had been inadequate.

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Categories: Environment