McArthur basin fracking emissions would dwarf Carmichael's, says researcher

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 11:36pm

Researcher says emissions from fracking in the basin could be ‘far bigger than everything you’d get’ from the proposed Queensland mine

Fracking the McArthur basin could release four to five times as much greenhouse gas emissions as the proposed Adani Carmichael mine, a leading researcher has said.

Tim Forcey, a chemical engineer with 30 years experience in the petrochemicals industry, appeared before a Northern Territory inquiry on Wednesday, also giving evidence that a gas shortage on the east coast was highly unlikely.

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Categories: Environment

Is it fair to blame Coca-Cola and big corporations for our waste crisis?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 11:00pm

Some global corporations are trying to address the environmental impact of throwaway culture, but campaigners say they remain part of the problem

When John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, heard a woman complain on the radio that supermarket croissants were cheaper to buy wrapped in plastic than paper, he was so startled he went straight to his local Co-op

“It was true,” Sauven said at a recent Guardian roundtable discussion on the future of waste. “If I bought two croissants in a brown paper bag, it was 79p [each], and if I bought them in a big plastic container it was 63p [each]. And I just thought ... this is a complete failure of the system.”

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Categories: Environment

Italian Dolomites bank on 'bike only' days to boost cyclotourism

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 10:30pm

Ski resort of Alta Badia enters the craze for cycling sportives allowing amateurs to experience closed-roads settings

A ski resort in Italy is experimenting with closing sections of its mountain roads in an effort to become a mecca for road cyclists during the summer season.

Alta Badia in the Italian Dolomites has hosted three “bike only” days this summer to boost its cyclo-tourism credentials and capitalise on the trend for closed-roads sportives.

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Categories: Environment

Labour warns of fallout from scrapping rail electrification

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 10:01pm

Cancellation and downgrading of projects will lengthen journey times and increase costs, says party

Scrapping rail electrification projects will lengthen journey times, increase carbon emissions and raise the cost of running the network, the Labour party has warned. The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, announced in July that plans to electrify lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North have been cancelled or downgraded.

Labour has claimed that this would increase journey times, including those between Manchester and Liverpool, by nearly half an hour, and between Leeds and Newcastle by over 20 minutes. It also puts the estimated 19-minute cut to journey times from new trains between Swansea and London at risk, according to the analysis.

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Categories: Environment

Dancing demoiselles rise from their watery world

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 9:30pm

Attingham, Shropshire Over centuries people have watched with wonder these almost unreal, too bright, too quick insects

The banded demoiselles are dancing like laser lights over the river Tern. There is something CGI about these creatures: too bright, too quick, too beautiful to be real.

The banded demoiselle is large for a damselfly, small for a dragonfly; a 40mm long emerald-cobalt pin with gauzy wings marked with the indigo fingerprints of when they were plucked from the water, or so it seems.

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Categories: Environment

Taking on Adani is not just about climate change. It's taking back power from corporate plutocracy | Sebastian Job

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 8:42pm

The Adani Group almost seems like a crudely drawn corporate villain. And we should be thankful for the chance to reclaim the fight

  • Sebastian Job is honorary associate in the department of anthropology at the University of Sydney

PR problems. That’s what Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin has been having. Maybe they need a theme song. Here, with a nod to the Man in Black, is a line to get them started: Well we shot a reef in Queensland, just to watch it die.

Those driving the Carmichael mine have had plenty of time to learn the climate change basics. They know coal has the highest carbon dioxide content of all fossil fuels. They know a large majority of climate scientists have identified rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as the major driver of global warming in the modern era. They know that extracting the bulk of existing global fossil fuel reserves is considered, by everyone from doctors to military commanders and the Davos economic elite, to spell calamity for human life on Earth.

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Poland Clashes With European Union Over Logging In Primeval Forest

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 1:29pm

Warsaw's populist government has approved large-scale logging in the ancient Bialowieza Forest, despite an injunction by Europe's highest court. The forest is a World Heritage Site.

(Image credit: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson/NPR)

Categories: Environment

DHS Waives Environmental Laws For Border Wall Construction

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 1:29pm

The Department of Homeland Security announces that it would waive environmental and other laws to ensure the "expeditious construction" of barriers and roads near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Categories: Environment

Homeland Security To Waive Environmental Rules On Border Wall Projects

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 11:29am

The agency says it will bypass rules requiring environmental studies before building on public land, hoping partly to ease the construction of prototypes for Trump's proposed border wall in San Diego.

(Image credit: Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The wider effects of ending farm subsidies | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 11:23am
Huw Jones charts the impact on farming of cuts in support and Michael McLoughlin looks at the causes of suicide among Indian farmers

Polly Toynbee (The Tories are split over farming. It’s hard not to gloat, 1 August) raises important issues. Subsidies were intended to lower food prices and increase discretionary income for manufactured products. The subsidy fills the gap between production costs and farm-gate prices, which were lowered by imports and by allowing food-chain “efficiencies” resulting in domination by the supermarkets. The inflexibility of EU-wide subsidies resulted a few years ago in tiny farm incomes, despite substantial investment in farms. This, combined with oppressive and chaotic management of subsidies by Defra, resulted in support for Brexit. Loss of subsidies will result in the closure of most affected farms that cannot subsidise themselves with non-farming income. Perhaps the price of rural holidays will have to increase.

You also report increased suicide rates amongst Indian farmers due to climate change (Farmers’ suicides linked to climate, 1 August), but suicides in response to agricultural depression are not uncommon in UK, either. Meanwhile, BNP Paribas is buying Strutt and Parker (Report, 1 August), famous for major land sales. French bankers clearly see a growing opportunity in selling distressed UK farms. Buyers will keep huge areas under common management, regardless of local land quality and ecosystems. Merged farms will need to use large suppliers, while smaller suppliers will go out of business. Small rural communities and dedicated local infrastructure will become unsustainable, reducing opportunities for tourism or even online businesses. Changes to subsidies will affect far more people than just farmers and will need to be considered very carefully.
Huw Jones
St Clears, Carmarthenshire

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Categories: Environment

A brief history of bearded cricketers | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 11:13am
Energy prices | Moeen Ali | Prudish chemists | Gay chants | Liberalism

It is disappointing to see such a large price rise from British Gas (Report, 1 August), but let’s not slam these suppliers for being greedy. They’re inefficient and outmoded – and it’s customers who pay the price. Energy doesn’t have to be this expensive, as proven by the dozens of newer suppliers with lower costs and better service. The only way to fix the broken energy market and the stranglehold of the big six is with the urgent introduction of an energy price cap which will benefit all families.
Greg Jackson
CEO, Octopus Energy

• While you note that England cricketer Moeen Ali’s hat-trick to win the Oval Test broke several records (Sport, 1 August), you fail to mention an important one. He became the first England cricketer with a beard ever to take a Test hat-trick. The best that had been previously managed was a moustache, and that was Billy Bates in 1883.
Keith Flett

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Categories: Environment

More than 1,000 people killed in India as human and wildlife habitats collide

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 9:38am

Elephant and tiger territories are shrinking as India’s growing population encroaches on wild spaces causing an increase in fatalities

A deadly conflict is under way between India’s growing population and its wildlife confined to ever-shrinking forests and grasslands. Data shows that about one person has been killed on average every day for the past three years by roaming tigers or rampaging elephants.

Statistics released this week by India’s environment ministry reveal that 1,144 people were killed between April 2014 and May 2017. That figure breaks down to 426 human deaths in 2014-15, and 446 the following year. The ministry released only a partial count for 2016-17, with 259 people killed by elephants up to February of this year, and 27 killed by tigers through May.

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Categories: Environment

Mother of all blooms: is this what the last common ancestor of flowers looked like?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 8:00am

With no fossil flowers older than 130m years, their evolution has long been a mystery. A new structural discovery provides an important piece of the puzzle

Delicate and upturned, with curving petals arranged in threes, it looks like the subject of a Monet painting. In fact, it is what scientists believe the bloom of the last common ancestor of all living flowers looked like.

Flowering plants – or angiosperms – are thought to make up about 90% of all living land plants. There are more than 300,000 different species on the planet, from tiny forget-me-nots to glorious magnolias.

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Categories: Environment

Meat industry blamed for largest-ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 7:26am

A new report shows toxins from suppliers to companies like Tyson Foods are pouring into waterways, causing marine life to leave or die

The global meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman.

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Categories: Environment

Utilities companies won't let you sell your own solar power. Why not?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 7:00am

The electric utility sector is broken – but the transformation we need will be virtually impossible so long as a handful of wealthy elites are calling the shots

A new report from the US-based Energy and Policy Institute last week found that investor-owned utilities have known about climate change for nearly 50 years – and done everything in their power to stop governments from doing anything about it.

From their commitment to toxic fuels to their corrosive influence on our democracy to their attempts to price-gouge ratepayers, it’s long past time to bring the reign of privately-owned electric utilities to an end.

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Categories: Environment

Wildlife on your doorstep: share your August photos

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 3:30am

Whether basking in sunshine in the northern hemisphere or fighting cooler temperatures in the south, we’d like to see the wildlife you discover

Wherever you are in the world and however professional or amateur your photography set up, we would like to see your images of the wildlife living near you.

Related: Otters, geese and grebes: your photos as the Wetland Trust turns 70

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Categories: Environment

Underground magma triggered Earth’s worst mass extinction with greenhouse gases | Howard Lee

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 3:00am

There are parallels between today’s and past greenhouse gas-driven climate changes

Coincidence doesn’t prove causality, as they say, but when the same two things happen together over and over again through the vast span of geological time, there must be a causal link. Of some 18 major and minor mass extinctions since the dawn of complex life, most happened at the same time as a rare, epic volcanic phenomenon called a Large Igneous Province (LIP). Many of those extinctions were also accompanied by abrupt climate warming, expansion of ocean dead zones and acidification, like today.

Earth’s most severe mass extinction, the “Great Dying,” began 251.94 million years ago at the end of the Permian period, with the loss of more than 90% of marine species. Precise rock dates published in 2014 and 2015 proved that the extinction coincided with the Siberian Traps LIP, an epic outpouring of lava and intrusions of underground magma covering an area of northern Asia the size of Europe.

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Categories: Environment

Wild tigers of Bhutan – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/08/01 - 2:53am

Rare images of wild tigers in Bhutan, captured by camera traps, show tigers and other animals using high-altitude wildlife corridors which are lifelines to isolated tiger populations and critical to genetic diversity, conservation and growth

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Lessons from the fast lane: does this study prove car-pooling works?

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/31 - 11:15pm

When Jakarta ditched its controversial ‘three-in-one’ car-sharing rule many in the city expected the traffic to get better. It didn’t. A Harvard and MIT study analysed before-and-after Google traffic data to find out what happened

Driving in Jakarta at rush hour is something of a nightmare. The city’s 9.6 million population swells each work day with an additional 3.5 million people travelling in from outskirts, mostly by car or bus. Driving 25 miles from the suburb Bogor takes on average two hours, or even three. By some measures, Jakarta has the worst traffic in the world. Others only put it in the top 25; regardless, Jakarta drivers are guaranteed to spend significant portions of their lives stuck in gridlock.

To help alleviate the problem, the city implemented one of the world’s most stringent car-pooling policies. First launched in 2003, the “three-in-one” high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane rule required private vehicles to carry three people to drive on the main roads in Jakarta’s central business district, from 7-10am and 4.30-7pm.

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Categories: Environment

Flowers work their healing magic on the old station platforms

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/31 - 9:30pm

Millers Dale, Derbyshire A galaxy of tiny purple globes sway where once the milk churns waited for the night train to London

The old railway station in this part of Derbyshire’s Wye valley presents an astonishing happenstance of mixed colour. There is the Van Gogh yellow of the ragwort and the dark mullein spikes. There are the blended lilacs of field scabious and the rose shades from wild marjoram and over most of the area towers a canopy of greater and black knapweed flowers creating a galaxy of tiny purple globes. In the wind, all these colours sway and mingle.

My favourite of all is in the blooms of the bloody cranesbill. It is intriguing that botanists used body parts to invoke its hue while the makers of matte lipstick call the same shade “pink peony”. Look closely at the petals and they comprise fields of exquisite magenta veined with red.

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