More than 70 whales die as 150 trapped in mass stranding in Western Australia

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 8:39pm

Rescue operation under way to save beached whales in Hamelin Bay near Augusta on state’s south-west coast

More than 150 whales have washed ashore in Western Australia, of which about 75 have died.

A rescue operation is under way in Hamelin Bay, near the town of Augusta on the state’s south-western tip, with volunteers and vets trying to keep the surviving short-finned pilot whales alive before deciding when to herd them out to sea. About 50 of the whales are on the beach and 25 are in the shallows.

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Categories: Environment

Labor attacks Greens for dithering over marine park plan

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 8:36pm

Tony Burke says if the Greens back the plan, the ‘largest removal’ of a conservation area will be locked in for a decade

Labor has blasted the Greens for not lining up immediately behind their commitment to disallow controversial new marine park management plans proposed by the Turnbull government this week.

The shadow environment minister, Tony Burke, told Guardian Australia the government had been intent for four years “on the largest removal of area from conservation in history”.

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Categories: Environment

The Trash Patch In The Pacific Is Many Times Bigger Than We Thought

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 2:41pm

In total, scientists say there are about 79,000 tons of plastic in this area, which is more than double the size of Texas.

(Image credit: UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

It’s time we listened to people like Mark Boyle | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 11:16am
If we are to reduce our consumption levels, says Linda Marriott, we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk

Bravo, Mark Boyle – your world sounds very beguiling to an oldie like me (I left a troubled world behind. Now let me tell you how to fix it, 20 March). However, I’ve lost count of the number of times in my life that I have heard this siren song, but no one with any influence ever seems to listen or even wake up. But, as Mark says, we can try small remedies ourselves should we be lucky enough to have a garden. It reminds me of an old Canadian friend who was convinced he could protect his family from the coming apocalypse by buying a farm, until he realised he’d have to have a gun – and use it – to stop those less fortunate from taking what he had. Or the 1970s German bumper sticker that translated as “everyone wants to go back to Eden but no one wants to go on foot”.
Linda Marriott
North Hykeham, Lincolnshire

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Categories: Environment

'Dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico will take decades to recover from farm pollution

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 11:00am

A new study says that even in the ‘unrealistic’ event of a total halt to the flow of agricultural chemicals the damage will persist for 30 years

The enormous “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will take decades to recover even if the flow of farming chemicals that is causing the damage is completely halted, new research has warned.

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Categories: Environment

Warning of power shortfall risk after closure of Liddell plant

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 10:00am

NSW will need extra generation capacity unless AGL rolls out all three stages of its transition

Australia’s energy market operator says an additional 850 megawatts of dispatchable generation capacity will be needed in New South Wales after the closure of the ageing Liddell power plant if AGL Energy fails to complete all three stages of its transition plan.

Last December AGL confirmed it would close Liddell in 2022 and replace the coal plant with a mix of renewables, gas power for peak periods and battery storage.

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Categories: Environment

Katter’s party bid to cull crocodiles in Queensland rubbished by experts

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 10:00am

Bill before parliament would allow culling by landowners, harvesting of crocodile eggs and hunting safaris

Scientists have rubbished the logic behind a new push to cull crocodiles in north Queensland, saying the only way to completely stop attacks would be to eradicate the species.

Katter’s Australian party MPs on Wednesday lodged a private member’s bill in the Queensland parliament to allow culling by landowners, the harvesting of crocodile eggs and hunting safaris led by Indigenous rangers.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition accuses green groups of misleading public on forestry agreements

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 10:00am

Anne Ruston says National Parks Association “engaged in a campaign to mislead the Australian people” after groups make public submissions on RFAs

The government has accused green groups of deliberately misleading the Australian people by raising concerns about the roll over of long term logging agreements.

Related: NSW Labor refuses to approve forestry agreements based on 'out-of-date' science

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Categories: Environment

'Great Pacific garbage patch' sprawling with far more debris than thought

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 7:59am

The patch of detritus is more than twice the size of France and is up to 16 times larger than previously estimated

An enormous area of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with far more debris than previously thought, heightening alarm that the world’s oceans are being increasingly choked by trillions of pieces of plastic.

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Categories: Environment

World Water Day: Deadly plight of Brazil's river defenders goes unheard

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 4:55am

At a high-level talking shop for the global water industry in Brazil, river defenders and community activists - who are often murdered or criminalised for trying to protect their resources - have set up an alternative forum to share their stories

While presidents, royalty and corporate dignitaries gave speeches at a global conference in Brasil’s federal capital this week on the need to protect water sources, river defender Ageu Lobo Pereira was running for his life through the Amazon forest.

The head of the riverine communities of Montanha e Mangbal had been tipped off that assassins were preparing an ambush. They wanted to end his resistance to mines, deforestation and dams that threaten the Tapajós river.

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Categories: Environment

Guyanese campaigners mount legal challenge against three oil giants

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 4:48am

Crowdfunded case claims offshore oil licences were granted illegally by the Guyanese government

Three major oil companies preparing to drill off the shores of Guyana, where a string of discoveries have sparked a rush for crude, are being challenged by a group of citizens who say their dash for oil is illegal.

Lawyers acting for the Guyanese campaigners are to lodge the latest challenge in a court in Guyana this week. They are funding the battle against oil giants Exxon Mobil, Hess Corporation and Nexen, a subsidiary of Chinese national oil, through the crowdfunding site CrowdJustice.

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Categories: Environment

Trees older than America: a primeval Alaskan forest is at risk in the Trump era

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/22 - 3:00am

Tongass is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, with trees more than 1,000 years old. But a pro-logging effort could uproot them

At south-east Alaska’s last industrial-scale sawmill, wheel loaders stack debarked logs two storeys high on the frozen ground. A bumper sticker on a battered Ford in the parking lot reads “Cut Kill Dig Drill”, a mantra that many in the 49th state appreciate repeating.

Viking Lumber Company employs 34 people and sustains itself primarily on old-growth trees harvested from the Tongass, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. Many of them have been around longer than the United States – some for 1,000 years.

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Categories: Environment

Greens signal they may not back Labor in blocking Coalition's marine park plans

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 7:26pm

Plans ‘woefully inadequate’, party says – but it fears replacing some protections with none at all

The Greens have signalled that they might not back a move by Labor to disallow controversial new marine park management plans proposed by the Turnbull government, calling for time to consider their position.

The Greens’ healthy oceans spokesman, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, told Guardian Australia on Thursday that if the new government plans were disallowed, “then we move from some protections to no protections, and the protections of our oceans have to rely on Labor winning government and the conservative major and minor parties not having the numbers to disallow whatever plans Labor put in place”.

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Categories: Environment

Climate science on trial as high-profile US case takes on fossil fuel industry

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 4:18pm

Courtroom showdown in San Francisco pitted liberal cities against oil corporations, and saw judge host unusual climate ‘tutorial’

The science of climate change was on trial on Wednesday when leading experts testified about the threats of global warming in a US court while a fossil fuel industry lawyer fighting a high-profile lawsuit sought to deflect blame for rising sea levels.

The hearing was part of a courtroom showdown between liberal California cities and powerful oil corporations, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP. San Francisco and Oakland have sued the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, arguing that they are responsible for damages related to global warming.

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Categories: Environment

'Leader to laggard': the backlash to Australia’s planned marine park cutbacks

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 3:57pm

Conservation groups produce analysis showing protection for 35m hectares of ocean will be downgraded

More than 35m hectares of “no-take” ocean will be stripped from Australia’s marine parks if plans released by the government go ahead, according to analysis commissioned by conservation groups.

The environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, released plans for 44 marine parks on Tuesday, claiming a “more balanced and scientific evidence-based approach to ocean protection”.

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Categories: Environment

Australia's birds are not being protected by environmental laws, report says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 2:31pm

BirdLife says loopholes, exemptions, omissions and powers open to politicisation have been exploited

Some of Australia’s favourite birds are threatened with extinction and Australia’s environmental laws are failing to protect them, a new report by BirdLife Australia has found.

The report identified in the existing laws a slew of loopholes, exemptions, omissions and discretionary powers open to politicisation, each of which have been exploited to allow the decline of birds including the Carnaby’s black cockatoo, the swift parrot and the southern black-throated finch.

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Categories: Environment

Murray-Darling system under strain as orchard plantings increase 41%

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 12:39pm

Farmers and others in Mildura region are warning trees could be left to wither and die

A huge expansion of irrigated crops in the Mildura region of the lower Murray is threatening to overtake the water available in the river, and has set the scene for a disaster if drought conditions return.

A 16-day heatwave that hit the region this summer exposed the vulnerability of the Sunraysia and western New South Wales regions. During that time, the Murray-Darling basin’s water managers scrambled to meet demand, as the region experienced a run of days over 35C between 16 and 29 January.

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Categories: Environment

Bulgarians rush to save a phalanx of distressed, frozen storks

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 11:33am

Villagers come to the rescue after icy wings ground hundreds of migrating birds

What would you do if you encountered scores of distressed storks covered in ice lying in a snow-covered field? In Bulgaria, people have been taking them home.

A cold snap in the north-east of the country has stranded hundreds of the migrating birds this week, covering their wings in ice and grounding them.

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Categories: Environment

WATCH: Robotic Fish Moves Like The Real Thing — So It Can Observe The Real Thing

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 11:25am

MIT researchers unveiled a Soft Robotic Fish prototype in hopes of boosting aquatic observation. It can wiggle like a fish, dive to 18 meters, work autonomously — and hopefully avoid getting eaten.

(Image credit: MIT CSAIL)

Categories: Environment

This is just fracking by another name | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/03/21 - 10:35am
By declaring all sources of oil and gas in limestone and sandstone as ‘conventional’, writes Kathryn McWhirter, the government and oil companies are hoping the controversy over fracking will go away

The threat that you refer to (National parks land faces new oil threat, campaigners warn, 16 March) actually looms over a great swathe of south-east England, not just national parks. And the plethora of promised wells will not be “conventional” as your article states – at least not in the scientifically accepted meaning of the word. A new, political definition of “conventional” was inserted into national minerals planning guidance in March 2014 by the then Department of Energy and Climate Change. It declared “conventional” all sources of oil and gas in limestone and sandstone. This is not true. Both limestone and sandstone, geologically speaking, can be conventional or unconventional. The scientific divide between the two pivots on permeability – how freely oil or gas can flow through the rocks. And, deep within the shale under the Weald, the thin, muddy limestone layers that are currently the target of oil companies have low permeability. They are unconventional.

It is convenient for the oil industry to be able to claim its drilling to be conventional. To the public, media and planners it makes oil wells seem a more minor issue. But the industry’s plans are major. Precisely because of the low permeability of the target rocks (now muddy limestone, soon no doubt the surrounding shale), there will be a need for a great many wells. You can extract oil only by getting up close to each bit of “unconventional” rock, and dissolving it with acid or cracking it open. Stephen Sanderson, CEO of UK Oil and Gas, said of his plans for Surrey and Sussex: “This type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back.”

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Categories: Environment
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