Environment

Chief scientist defends Climate Change Authority review against dissenters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 7:28pm

Alan Finkel says the report that was challenged by two members of the authority was ‘evidence-based’ and ‘clever’ in fulfilling its brief

Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, has spoken out in defence of the recent Climate Change Authority (CCA) review on how to meet the nation’s obligations under the Paris agreement, which was criticised by two members of the authority.

Guardian Australia revealed this month that the economist Clive Hamilton and the climate scientist David Karoly wrote a dissenting report. They argued the official report privileged “political feasibility” over environmental effectiveness and economic efficiency, resulting in a “dog’s breakfast” of policies.

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Categories: Environment

Snake-handler shortage starting to bite in north Queensland

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 6:54pm

Female snakes, hungry after waiting for their eggs to hatch, are heading indoors in search of food such as rats

A shortage of volunteer snake-handlers is starting to bite in north Queensland, where an end-of-breeding-season influx of hungry reptiles into homes is driving an increase in the number of calls for help.

The need for sustenance by female snakes that have shed weight while waiting for their eggs to hatch has driven them indoors in search of food, including rats.

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Categories: Environment

‘Ignorant rubbish’: Daniel Andrews slams Malcolm Turnbull over SA blackout comments

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 4:31pm

Victorian premier says prime minister’s views about South Australia’s weather ideologically driven and sounded like Tony Abbott

Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, has slammed Malcolm Turnbull’s response to South Australia’s once-in-50-years storm, saying he is peddling “ignorant rubbish” by conflating the state’s blackout with its heavy use of renewable energy.

Andrews said the prime minister’s comments about the storm on Thursday were so ideological they could have come from the former prime minister, Tony Abbott, but at least Abbott would have waited until the natural disaster had abated before making similar statements.

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Categories: Environment

Yosemite chief resigns as national parks embroiled in sexual harassment scandal

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:55pm

Superintendent Don Neubacher, who is accused of publicly ‘humiliating’ and intimidating workers, stepped down as California park faces misconduct scandal

The head of Yosemite national park is stepping down in the wake of reports of “horrific working conditions”, bullying, and rampant sexual harassment at some of America’s most beloved landmarks.

Superintendent Don Neubacher, who is accused of publicly “humiliating” and intimidating workers, said in an email to staff that he “regrets” leaving but wanted to “do what’s best” for the popular California park that has faced a widening misconduct scandal in recent months.

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Categories: Environment

Commonwealth Bank: coal seam gas makes property 'unacceptable' as loan security

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:52pm

Exclusive: bank turns down owners’ application for $500,000 bridging loan on grounds that Queensland property has four coal seam gas wells on it

Australia’s biggest mortgage provider has declared a Queensland property with coal seam gas wells “unacceptable” as security for residential lending, raising fresh concerns that people living in the state’s gasfields may be unable to sell their homes.

But Queensland Gas Company (QGC), which owns the wells on the Chinchilla acreage, has insisted that no properties that host its infrastructure have had their values negatively affected.

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Categories: Environment

South Australia weather: power supply prioritised after emergency declared

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:23pm

SA governor assents to regulations ensuring the production, distribution and supply of electricity declared essential services

Australia’s energy market is prioritising South Australia after the state declared a period of emergency following two days of destructive storms.

The Australian Energy Market Operator will maintain control of the South Australian power supply for up to seven days, after the entire state lost power on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Deepwater Horizon review – BP oil spill drama captures heroics and heartache

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:00pm

Mark Wahlberg stars in Peter Berg’s excellent nail-biting drama about the 2010 disaster that cost 11 lives

The spirit of Irwin Allen is revived for the 21st century in this terrifically tense and exciting real-life disaster movie, directed by Peter Berg. It comes complete with the time-honoured figures: the action-man tough guy, the grizzled old-timer whose warnings on safety are tragically ignored and the contemptible corporate drone who is doing the aforesaid ignoring to save money.

Related: Deepwater Horizon review – Mark Wahlberg v BP in angry disaster movie

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Categories: Environment

Lifestyle choice of the world's most cosmopolitan butterfly

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 1:30pm

Most painted ladies have already headed south, and new research reveals just how far these butterflies travel

The last red admirals and commas are feeding on ivy flowers in autumn sunshine and Britain’s butterfly year is drawing to a close once more.

One butterfly, though, is on the move. I’ve seen several painted ladies this month, but most have already headed south for the winter. The fate of British-born generations of painted ladies was a mystery until recently, when radar finally documented how they ascend to great heights before beginning their reverse migration.

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Categories: Environment

Reykjavik Turns Off Street Lights To Turn Up The Northern Lights

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 1:29pm

Wednesday night's aurora borealis forecast was particularly strong, so Icelandic officials tried to reduce light pollution to make the green glow more visible to people in the capital.

Categories: Environment

Giant Sinkhole At Florida Plant Leaks Polluted Water Into State Aquifer

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 1:22pm

A fertilizer company says third-party tests show the water contaminated with low-level radiation has not leaked off the site into nearby wells. Residents are upset they were not informed for weeks.

Categories: Environment

Corbyn doubtful he can make his MPs oppose Heathrow expansion

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 10:34am

Labour leader says he has not decided whether to hold free vote, with many of his MPs likely to back plans for third runway

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested it would not be easy to whip Labour MPs to vote against a third runway at Heathrow, despite his personal opposition to the infrastructure project.

The Labour leader said he has not yet decided whether to hold a free vote, but it could be difficult to get his MPs to fall into line with his view that the proposed project would cause harmful pollution and noise.

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Categories: Environment

UK ‘consistently waters down’ reforms of EU farming subsidies

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 10:18am

European commission says government chooses not to apply CAP payment ceiling to large landowners in England

The UK government could have stopped wealthy landowners including aristocrats and a Saudi racehorse owner receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds from the EU’s common agricultural policy, the European commission has said.

An investigation of the top 100 recipients of CAP subsidies in the UK last year by the environmental campaign group Greenpeace revealed that at least one in five were farm businesses owned or controlled by members of aristocratic families.

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Categories: Environment

Hinkley Point: ministers sign go-ahead for nuclear power plant

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 9:44am

Representatives of British, Chinese and French governments attend ceremony giving final authorisation for power station

The UK has signed its £18bn contract with France and China to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, giving the final go-ahead for construction at the site in Somerset.

The deal was finalised at a low-key ceremony in London, just two months after Theresa May alarmed her French and Chinese counterparts by putting the entire project under review. EDF, the French nuclear contractor, and its Chinese partners had to cancel their previous plans for a signing ceremony at the last minute when the review was announced in July.

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Categories: Environment

Coal electricity generation falls to record UK low this spring

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 8:22am

Closure of coal-fired power plants led to the fossil fuel dropping to just 6% of the power mix, official data shows

Coal generated a record low 6% of the UK’s electricity this spring, official figures show.

The share of coal in the power mix fell from 20% in the same period last year, following the closures of Ferrybridge C, West Yorkshire, and Longannet coal-fired power station in Scotland.

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Categories: Environment

UK faces European court for failing to protect porpoises

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 7:19am

UK has failed to provide enough safe habitats for the mammals, with just one small site formally proposed so far, says European commission

The UK will be hauled before the European court of justice for failing to provide safe habitats for harbour porpoises, the European commission said on Thursday.

Harbour porpoises resemble bottlenose dolphins, with small rounded heads, flat foreheads and a black-lipped mouth that curves upwards, as if smiling.

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Categories: Environment

RSB photographer of the year shortlist and young photographer of the year winner – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 6:00am

Fighting elk bulls and a microscopic image of shark’s skin are among the shortlisted images for the Royal Society of Biology’s photographer of the year award, which this year takes the theme Biology: from Big to Small

The winner will be announced at the Royal Society of Biology awards ceremony on 13 October at Charles Darwin House, London

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Categories: Environment

Furniture that destroys forests: crackdown on 'rampant' trade in rosewood

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 4:51am

Cites summit moves to protect the world’s most trafficked wild product by placing all 300 species of the tree under trade restrictions

Governments have launched a crackdown on the rampant billion-dollar trade in rosewood timber that is plundering forests across the planet to feed a booming luxury furniture market in China.

The Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) summit on Thursday placed all 300 species of rosewood under trade restrictions, meaning criminals can no longer pass off illegally logged species as legitimate.

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Categories: Environment

Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 4:08am

The Middle East is home to 70% of the world’s desalination plants, but the more water they process, the less economically viable they become

Gulf states are among the most water-scarce in the world. With few freshwater resources and low rainfall, many countries have turned to desalination (where salt is removed from seawater) for their clean water needs.

Related: Water scarcity in Yemen: the country's forgotten conflict

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Categories: Environment

The Queen, aristocrats and Saudi prince among recipients of EU farm subsidies

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:35am

At least one in five of the top 100 UK recipients of CAP subsidies were for farms owned or run by aristocratic families, say Greenpeace

Wealthy aristocrats and a Saudi landowning prince are continuing to reap hundreds of thousands of pounds from the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP).

At least one in five of the top 100 recipients of CAP subsidies in the UK last year were farm businesses owned or controlled by members of aristocratic families, an investigation by environmental campaign group Greenpeace found.

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Categories: Environment

Mini-nuclear reactors could be operating in the UK by 2030 - report

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/29 - 3:13am

Energy Technologies Institute argues small modular reactors capable of delivering clean power and heat could be in place by 2030 if the right policy framework is put in place, reports BusinessGreen

The first small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) could be operating in the UK by 2030 with the right government support, according to a new report from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The analysis, released today by the government and industry-backed energy research body, examined the steps needed to support the first SMR in the UK and concluded a credible schedule for implementation can be set out - as long as a policy framework is developed to reduce risks for SMR developers and increase investor confidence.

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