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French floods: 19 feared dead after storms sweep French Riviera

Guardian Environment News - 3 hours 15 min ago

Violent storms and flooding send water cascading through Antibes, Cannes and Nice, inundating a retirement home and killing three people inside

Nineteen people are feared dead after violent storms and severe flooding swept the French Riviera, including three people who drowned in a retirement home after a river broke its banks.

Heavy flooding along the Côte d’Azur on Saturday saw the river Brague burst its banks close to the city of Antibes, flooding a home for elderly people.

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Categories: Environment

'We were paying to poison our kids': lead in Michigan city's water hits children

Guardian Environment News - 4 hours 13 min ago

Flint declared a public health emergency this week after a dangerous spike in its water’s lead levels. But parents say they’ve been ‘screaming’ about the issue for months in an area where water prices are among the country’s highest

When Lee-Anne Walters learned in March that her son’s immune system was compromised after being exposed to lead in the city of Flint’s water supply, she did what any parent would likely do: break down and cry.

“Shocked, angry … I was hysterical,” Walters told the Guardian. Barely able to speak, the 37-year-old called her friend Melissa Mays.

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Categories: Environment

Craig Packer: ‘Cecil the lion’s killer was unlucky and not altogether to blame’

Guardian Environment News - 8 hours 14 min ago

The ecologist and author has spent 30 years researching the overhunting of lions in Africa and is deeply pessimistic about their future. Here he talks about dishonest hunting operators, the urgent need for global money, why he takes issue with animal groups – and what we’ve learned from Cecil

Craig Packer likes sticking his shaggy academic head into dangerous places. He’s had death threats, confronted megalomaniac politicians, been run out of countries and mugged. But the man who has spent 30 years trying to study and save lions came close to real fear last month.

As the world’s media worked themselves into a tizz over the American dentist who paid $50,000 to shoot Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, Packer happened to have severe toothache, which forced him to seek treatment in Minneapolis, where he directs the Lion Research Centre at the university.

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Categories: Environment

VW’s ‘neat hack’ exposes danger of corporate software | John Naughton

Guardian Environment News - 9 hours 13 min ago

It was only old-fashioned detective work that forced Volkswagen to admit to the existence of its ‘defeat device’. And that should worry us all

For anyone interested in what is laughingly known as “corporate responsibility”, the Volkswagen emissions-fraud scandal is a gift that keeps on giving. Apart from the company’s Nazi past, its high status in German life, its hitherto exalted reputation for technical excellence and quality control, and its peculiarly dysfunctional governance, there is also the shock to consumers of discovering that while its vehicles are made from steel and composite materials, they are actually controlled by software. We are already close to the point where that software may be more valuable than all the physical materials that make up the vehicle, and, if Apple and Google have their way, that imbalance is set to grow.

Volkswagen’s chicanery was discovered by good, old-fashioned analogue detective work. An independent outfit called the International Council on Clean Transportation got hold of some Volkswagens powered by the company’s EA 189 “clean” diesel engine, stuffed some chemical analysis kit in the boot, hooked a pipe up to the vehicles’ exhausts and drove the cars from San Diego to Seattle, collecting and analysing samples as they went. The discrepancy between the actual performance and the emissions recorded in official laboratory tests was what triggered the scandal.

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Categories: Environment

World Animal Day signals renewed campaign to end abusive elephant shows

Guardian Environment News - 9 hours 13 min ago

Conservation charity World Animal Protection calls on leading travel companies to stop selling elephant rides and shows

Leading conservation charity World Animal Protection has renewed its plea for the tourism industry to put an end to abusive elephant rides and shows, calling on leading travel brands to join the growing list of companies who are opposed to the practice.

Making the call on World Animal Day, the charity says 63 travel companies have now signed up to its elephant-friendly tourism pledge, signifying a major shift in attitude in the industry.

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Categories: Environment

Car emissions test body receives 70% of cash from motor industry

Guardian Environment News - 10 hours 12 min ago
Vehicle Certification Agency accused of a conflict of interest after VW scandal

The body examining the practices of the car industry following the Volkswagen emissions scandal has been accused of a major conflict of interest after it emerged that nearly three quarters of its funding comes from the companies it is investigating.

According to its latest annual report, the Vehicle Certification Agency receives 69.91% of its income from car manufacturers, who pay it to certify that their vehicles are meeting emissions and safety standards.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to the ocean | Lucy Siegle

Guardian Environment News - 10 hours 13 min ago

Over the past 40 years, we have killed off 50% of marine life through overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. But the international spotlight and a change in policy mean things are looking up

I do love to be beside the seaside, but I am finding it increasingly hard to look the ocean in the eye. Over the past four decades we have killed off 50% of marine life through overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. We shovel 250,000 tonnes of plastic into the ocean every year, and all Pacific tropical reefs could be lost by 2050. The blue planet gets short shrift; while we’ve protected 15.4% of terrestrial ecosystems, just 3.4% of the world’s oceans are marine protected areas.

Land lubbers need to make a splash as ocean conservationists to push these numbers up. We should take a cue from earlier campaigns. In the 60s, a stretch of Australian coastal shelf was slated to become a limestone quarry. If it hadn’t been for a few campaigning environmentalists, it would have been lost forever. Today the site is known as the Great Barrier Reef.

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Categories: Environment

Local Freight

The Field Lab - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 4:45pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

The Observer view on climate change | Observer editorial

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 4:04pm
Mark Carney’s intervention on the subject is welcome. Now the government must act

Mark Carney calls it the Tragedy of the Horizon: the chronic inability of Britain’s leaders, whether in business or politics, to tackle challenges that extend more than a few years ahead. There are plenty of examples, from the shameful failure to build enough homes to the indecision about whether, and where, to add to airport capacity. But climate change is the ultimate example: it presents an existential threat to the status quo, yet it barely features in the day-to-day calculations of many business and policymakers. It’s too big, too scary and, most of all, too distant, to start planning for.

The governor of the Bank of England was castigated by some last week for offering doom-laden prognostications about global warming’s potential impact, straying into territory more commonly occupied by the Green party than financial technocrats. Some in the City believe the spirit of buccaneering free enterprise and the inexorable advance of innovation will eventually meet the challenges of climate change head on, as evidence mounts of its potential costs. Yet as Carney pointed out, threats often take financial markets by surprise, even when they should have been foreseeable. Volkswagen’s flagrant fiddling of vehicle emissions tests surely scotches the idea that big business will get to grips with the problem of its own accord.

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Categories: Environment

Air quality: governments woo the motor industry with dire results | the big issue

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 4:03pm

Ministers need to take responsibility for the effects of pollution on public health

The scandal over rigged tests by car manufacturers is entirely consistent with their past record (“Corporate cheating kills. It must be stopped”, leading article). In the 1980s, the battle to remove lead from petrol and to fit catalytic converters was vigorously opposed by the motor industry, which raised all sorts of technical problems that turned out to be groundless. Even so, both measures were passed by a Tory government under Margaret Thatcher. Nowadays, the Department for Transport emerges as a complicit partner in the rigging of tests, while Defra and the Department of Health seem to have abandoned completely their role as guardians of public health. Margaret Thatcher had a science degree from Oxford University. I’m not sure that this cabinet has a scientific qualification between them.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Former chair, Campaign for Lead-Free Air
Stoke Poges

Notwithstanding the efforts by British government ministers to block air pollution legislation and the recent revelations about VW’s trickery, surely the simplest answer is better public transport using electrical traction (“Revealed: documents show how British ministers tried to block European moves to clean up the air quality of our polluted cities”, News).

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Categories: Environment

Paris’s first attempt at car-free day brings big drop in air and noise pollution

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 12:16pm

Vehicle ban, applied to just 30% of French capital, showed encouraging results – but new report says nation has far to go

Paris’s “day without cars” last week led to such a dramatic drop in both air and noise pollution that the mayor’s office is now planning more vehicle-free days in the French capital.

Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40% in parts of the city on Sunday 27 September.

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Categories: Environment

For Environmentalists, Mines Near Wilderness Are Too Close For Comfort

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 9:03am

A couple is spending 365 days in the nation's most visited wilderness area to raise awareness of a sulfide-ore mining plan they say will put the watershed ecosystem in danger. Some locals disagree.

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Categories: Environment

The 20 photographs of the week

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 2:38am

Watery flows on the surface of Mars, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin in New York, the Rugby World Cup, Rihanna at Paris fashion week – the best photography in news, culture and sport from around the world this week

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Categories: Environment

Threatened demise of a gorgeous, visionary bird

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 9:30pm

Cenarth, Carmarthenshire My glimpses of these spectacular, shy, tree-hole-nesting ducks have grown more frequent in recent years. May that hopeful trend continue

The woods along Afon Teifi were dappled with autumn’s palette. It was fascinating to match tint to tree, to look forward to fire-tones suggested before realised. Squirrels dipped and scurried for nuts among paling hazel foliage. Before the first frosts, a solitary leaf drifted downwards, presage of pattering quiet tumult through coming weeks.

From a riverside path, suddenly I glimpsed a flash of brilliant white, focused the glass in time to see a drake goosander arrowing upriver, low above the surface, its chuckling call carrying through still air, its large wing-patches startlingly white against cloud-reflecting water: “So arrogantly pure a child might think/ It could be murdered with a spot of ink” (as Yeats wrote of a swan).

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Categories: Environment

Volkswagen halts sales of some models in Australia after emissions scandal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 6:11pm

Company announces that it will halt sales of some diesel cars following meeting with federal government over the emissions scandal

Volkswagen has suspended the sale of some diesel cars in Australia while it addresses its emissions-cheating scam.

Following a meeting with government authorities, the company has decided to immediately halt the sale of affected vehicles fitted with 1.6 or 2.0-litre EA189 diesel engines.

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Categories: Environment

the week in metal

The Field Lab - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 4:57pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

India Says It Will Lower Rate Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 1:42pm

India released its pledges ahead of December's global climate change summit in Paris. "We want to walk [a] cleaner energy path," says the country's environment minister.

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Categories: Environment

Volcano's collapse caused mega-tsunami 240 metres high – study

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 1:14pm

Scientists warn that similar event to collapse of volcano on Cape Verdean island of Fogo 73,000 years ago poses major threat to nearby islands

The sudden collapse of a volcano caused a tsunami that created waves up to 240 metres (800ft) high 73,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

The mega-tsunami took place near the Cape Verde islands off west Africa when the slopes of the volcano gave way – a process known as a “flank collapse” – and some experts fear a similar collapse could present a real threat today, especially around volcanic islands.

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Categories: Environment

The C-Realm Podcast Interviews Mikey & Wendy "Life on Tires"

Holy Scrap - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 11:41am
Our friends Olga and KMO over at the C-Realm Podcast just released an excellent new episode about us! We talk about what it is like to living in a Honda Element for nearly seven months while traveling the Western US.  We discuss vehicles, trail running and rituals to keep our sanity. Please check it out.

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Major corporations taking climate change threat more seriously – survey

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 11:36am

Survey of 440 sustainability workers around the world finds companies are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints

More companies are making climate change one of their top sustainability priorities, according to a survey released this week by nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility, which counts big brands like consumer goods giant Unilever and food and beverage maker Coca-Cola among its members.

The annual survey, which polled 440 sustainability workers from nearly 200 companies around the world, aims to provide a snapshot of what environmental and social issues are important to businesses over the coming year.

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Categories: Environment
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