UK farmers won't lower standards post-Brexit, says new NFU head

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 10:10am

Minette Batters, the National Farmers’ Union’s new president, says good quality, safe food is ‘a public right’ and staying part of a customs union is vital

British farmers will not accept lower welfare and hygiene standards under any post-Brexit trade deals, and will fight to remain as part of a customs union, the new president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has pledged.

Minette Batters, the first woman to head the powerful farmers’ lobby since its foundation 110 years ago, set out a vision of farming as a unifying force across the UK, providing high-quality but low-cost food to consumers on a tight budget while safeguarding the environment and providing one in eight of the UK’s jobs.

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Categories: Environment

NSW ombudsman investigating WaterNSW over misleading data

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 10:00am

Exclusive: Watchdog’s new report will say agency’s prosecutions and compliance statistics were seriously overstated

The New South Wales ombudsman is investigating whether WaterNSW – the body responsible for compliance with the state’s water laws – has misled it when it provided data last year on the number of prosecutions and enforcement actions it had taken in the 15 months prior.

The ombudsman confirmed a second special report will be tabled in the first week of March, but declined to outline its contents. Special reports are a last resort when the ombudsman deems that a report to the minister is insufficient.

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Categories: Environment

Antarctica's king penguins 'could disappear' by the end of the century

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 9:40am

Climate change and overfishing could push the region’s king penguin populations to the brink of extinction, a new study shows

Rising temperatures and overfishing in the pristine waters around the Antarctic could see king penguin populations pushed to the brink of extinction by the end of the century, according to a new study.

The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that as global warming transforms the environment in the world’s last great wilderness 70% of king penguins could either disappear or be forced to find new breeding grounds.

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Categories: Environment

Brussels to make public transport free on high air pollution days

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 9:11am

The new rules will also see car speed limits cut and wood-burning stoves banned in a drive to improve air quality in the city

Brussels has moved to make the city’s public transport and bike share system free on the smoggiest days in a bid to drive down pollution levels and meet EU air quality directives.

After two consecutive days of high particulate matter (PM) levels – defined as surpassing an average of 51-70 micrograms per cubic metre of air – buses, trams and metros would have to open their doors completely free, under new city council rules.

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Government 'dragging its feet' over plastic bottle scheme, say MPs

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 6:10am

A deposit return scheme to tackle the billions of bottles not recycled every year is being kicked into the long grass, say MPs

The government is “dragging its feet” on introducing a deposit return scheme to cut the billions of plastic bottles not recycled every year, according to a committee of MPs.

The Environment Audit Committee (EAC) called for a deposit return scheme (DRS) in a report in December, in which a small deposit is paid when purchasing a bottle and then returned when the empty bottle is brought back. Environment secretary Michael Gove called a DRS a “great idea” in September.

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Categories: Environment

How A Skeptical Rancher, Aided By An Outdoors Brand, Turned Climate Friendly

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 6:00am

It took a bit of arm-twisting to get on board because of previous encounters with environmentalists. But now, partnered with The North Face, the ranch sustainably produces wool for outdoor clothing.

(Image credit: Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio)

Categories: Environment

Dozens of public lands advocates say Trump administration 'shut them out'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/02/26 - 5:00am

Groups comprised of ranchers, hunters and conservationists say interior secretary Ryan Zinke has stonewalled them

The Trump administration has angered ranchers, hunters, fishermen and conservationists across the US who complain they are being shut out of a federal advisory process designed to steer the management of cherished public lands.

Many of the dozens of public advisory boards have been stonewalled by the department of interior since the president put Ryan Zinke at the helm of the agency.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking – the reality, the risksand what the future holds

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/02/25 - 11:00pm

Fracking has been hailed as an energy miracle in the US, yet globally it faces blocks and even bans. Adam Vaughan explains what it is and why it is so controversial

What is fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is better known, is a method of extracting oil and gas trapped in shale and other rock formations.

The modern version involves pumping large amounts of water down a well at high pressure, along with sand and chemicals that make up a tiny fraction of the volume. Together, this “stimulation fluid” fractures the rock and releases the gas or oil, which flows to the surface. The hole drilled for a well is about the size of a manhole cover.

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Water vole areas in England and Wales fall by 30% in a decade

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/02/25 - 5:01pm

Species remains UK’s fastest declining mammal despite large reintroduction programme

The number of areas where water voles are found across England and Wales has fallen by almost a third in 10 years, research has found.

The species, which provided the model for the much-loved character Ratty in The Wind of the Willows, has suffered catastrophic declines over several decades and is the UK’s fastest declining mammal.

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Categories: Environment

The Underwater Damage Left Behind After Hurricanes

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2018/02/25 - 6:14am

After hurricanes hit St. John hard last fall, the island's coral reefs were badly damaged. Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with marine biologist Peter Edmunds of California State University Northridge.

Categories: Environment

When Wildfire Smoke Invades, Who Should Pay To Clean Indoor Air?

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2018/02/25 - 6:14am

Public health agencies are set up to regulate air pollution from cars, trucks and factories. Wildfire smoke presents a different set of threats, prompting some of those agencies to rethink priorities.

(Image credit: Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio)

Categories: Environment

The terrifying phenomenon that is pushing species towards extinction

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/02/25 - 1:00am
Scientists are alarmed by a rise in mass mortality events – when species die in their thousands. Is it all down to climate change?

There was almost something biblical about the scene of devastation that lay before Richard Kock as he stood in the wilderness of the Kazakhstan steppe. Dotted across the grassy plain, as far as the eye could see, were the corpses of thousands upon thousands of saiga antelopes. All appeared to have fallen where they were feeding.

Some were mothers that had travelled to this remote wilderness for the annual calving season, while others were their offspring, just a few days old. Each had died in just a few hours from blood poisoning. In the 30C heat of a May day, the air around each of the rotting hulks was thick with flies.

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Categories: Environment

Can a tourist ban save DiCaprio’s coral paradise from destruction?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 11:00pm

South-east Asian idylls – from Philippine islands to the Thai bay made famous in The Beach – plan to turn tourists away so that devastated coral reefs have some time to recover. Will it be enough?

Our Thai tour guide, Spicey, takes a drag on her cigarette and gestures sadly towards the beach. “The problem with people is that they are too greedy. They see a beautiful place and they want it. They take, take, take from nature. And then they destroy it.”

The golden sands of Maya Bay where Spicey stands are some of the most famous in the world. This once-idyllic cove, on the tiny Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, was the paradise location of The Beach, Danny Boyle’s 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was then pushed by tourism officials in advertising campaigns to entice more wealthy visitors to Thailand.

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Categories: Environment

Lake District Notebook: ‘There’ll be no zip wire across the icy waters, no screams from on high’

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 5:04pm
In the Cumbrian beauty spot that has fended off high-level zip slides, local people and visitors are mostly glad that it won’t now be ‘a glorified theme park’

On a crowded island like Britain, encountering absolute silence is rare. But one place where true tranquility can be guaranteed for the foreseeable future is in Cumbria’s north lakes, on the shores of Thirlmere.

Plans to stretch eight of the longest zip wire rides in the country across its icy waters, highlighted in the Observer, were abandoned last week to the unbridled delight of many locals. Zip wire advocates had argued the landscape should be opened up for everyone and not “preserved in aspic”. The Lakes, said opponents, should offer a place of escape and peace. The small-C conservatives won the day.

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Categories: Environment

One million birds killed illegally every year at a wildlife site in Iran

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 5:04pm
Conservationists sound alarm over unprecedented slaughter of rare and endangered species by hunters at three lagoons

A million wild birds a year are now being killed illegally at a single wildlife site in Iran. That is the stark warning from conservationists who say highly endangered migratory species face being wiped out in the near future there unless urgent action is taken.

In a letter last week to the journal Science, the conservationists pinpoint the Fereydunkenar wetlands in Iran as the site of this widespread wildlife slaughter.

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Categories: Environment

Sydney beaches reopen after first shark attack in Botany Bay in 25 years

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 3:53pm

Anna Shurapey recovering in hospital after being bitten by a suspected juvenile great white off Little Congwong beach

Botany Bay beaches that were closed after a woman was bitten by what experts suspect was a juvenile great white shark have reopened after the attack.

Randwick City Council on Sunday morning reopened Little Congwong, Congwong, Frenchmans and Yarra beaches at La Perouse following the shark attack on Friday evening.

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Categories: Environment

French Food Waste Law Changing How Grocery Stores Approach Excess Food

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 3:28pm

Two years ago, France introduced a law to force supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities and food banks. Skeptics called it unworkable at the time, but there are signs the effort is succeeding.

(Image credit: Eleanor Beardsley/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Toxic toad invasion puts ecology of Madagascar at risk

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 2:07pm
The Asian amphibians arrived just 10 years ago. Now in their millions, they threaten the island’s unique wildlife

Rustling branches and a canopy cacophony – part howl, part screech, part snigger – proclaim the presence of black-and-white ruffed lemurs as visitors enter Ivoloina zoological park in eastern Madagascar.

The raucous primate is one of several critically endangered species in this biological refuge, which breeds and protects rare wildlife from the growing pressures on this island’s unique ecology.

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Categories: Environment

Montana Wildfires Provide A Wealth Of Data On Health Effects Of Smoke Exposure

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 6:08am

Last summer's wildfires handed scientists a rare chance to study effects of smoke on residents. Most previous work had been on wood-burning stoves, urban air pollution and the effects on firefighters.

(Image credit: InciWeb)

Categories: Environment

​Nappies, takeaways and bubble wrap: could I remove plastic from my life?'

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2018/02/24 - 2:00am

It’s polluting our oceans and killing our wildlife, but how easy is it to get by without it? Four writers find out

No man is an island. However, if I were an island, I’d probably be the best one ever. When the Guardian asked me to record all the single-use plastic I got through in a week, I scoffed. Piece of cake, I thought.

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