Carbon emissions from warming soils could trigger disastrous feedback loop

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 11:00am

26-year study reveals natural biological factors kick in once warming reaches certain point, leading to potentially unstoppable increase in temperatures

Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism whereby increases in global temperatures will trigger massive new carbon releases in a cycle that may be impossible to break.

The increased production of carbon comes from the microbes within soils, according to a report in the peer-review journal Science, published on Friday.

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Categories: Environment

Honey tests reveal global contamination by bee-harming pesticides

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 11:00am

Neonicotinoid insecticides are found in 75% of global honey samples and half contain a cocktail of chemicals

Honey from across the world is contaminated with potent pesticides known to harm bees, new research shows, clearly revealing the global exposure of vital pollinators for the first time.

Almost 200 samples of honey were analysed for neonicotinoid insecticides and 75% contained the chemicals, with most contaminated with multiple types. Bees range over many kilometres to collect nectar and pollen, making the honey they produce an excellent indicator of the pesticide pollution across their local landscape.

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Categories: Environment

Giant stick insects found on Lord Howe Island a genetic match for 'extinct' phasmids

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 10:43am

Scientists confirm creatures discovered on Ball’s Pyramid in 2001 are the same species rats were believed to have killed off a century earlier

Scientists have confirmed that giant insects found on a rocky outcrop off Lord Howe Island are a genetic match for the island’s stick insects that were believed to have gone extinct almost 100 years earlier.

The species were assumed to be one and the same. However significant morphological differences between the Lord Howe Island stick insects collected in the early 1900s and stored in museum collections, and the phasmids discovered in 2001 on Ball’s Pyramid (a remnant volcano about 23km off the main island), created a suspicion the latter could be a related species – rather than the original back from the dead.

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Categories: Environment

Farm animals can eat insects and algae to prevent deforestation

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 10:09am

WWF says alternatives to industrially farmed animal feed must be developed to stop biodiversity loss

Farm animals could be fed on insects and algae, potentially preventing significant amounts of deforestation and water and energy waste, according to environmental campaigners.

“We’re a bit squeamish about eating insects in the UK,” said WWF’s food policy manager Duncan Williamson at the Extinction and Livestock conference in London. “But we can feed them to our animals. We are going to need animal feed for the foreseeable future, but algae and insects are an alternative to the current system.”

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Categories: Environment

Toxic firefighting chemicals may have been spread across Victorian waterways

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 10:00am

People warned not to eat animals from the Heart Morass wetland, but fishing industry says ‘ranching’ practice may have already spread the threat

Potentially carcinogenic firefighting chemicals discovered in a Victorian wetland may have been spread across the state because of a commercial fishing practice known as “ranching”.

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority said testing by the Department of Defence had discovered “elevated” levels of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances – commonly knows as PFAS – in animals from the Heart Morass wetlands near Sale in eastern Victoria.

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Categories: Environment

'Supreme wake-up call': Prince Charles urges action on ocean pollution

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 8:42am

Prince says catastrophic hurricanes are consequence of climate change and welcomes growing awareness of plastic pollution

The world’s oceans are at last receiving the attention they deserve, as the scale of plastic pollution is finally becoming clear, the Prince of Wales has said, hailing this growing awareness as the first step to saving the marine environment.

Prince Charles said it had taken years for the enormity of the problem to emerge, but promised to make it a key priority of his campaigning, alongside rainforests.

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Categories: Environment

We want to make our roads safer for everyone – especially cyclists

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 6:24am

Response: an opinion piece by Laura Laker accused me of hypocrisy, but our review examining the law and cycling aims to make the roads safer for everyone

Laura Laker accuses me of “headline-grabbing hypocrisy” in relation to the safety of cyclists. That’s quite an extreme reaction to my announcement of a review whose specific purpose is to improve the safety of all road users, especially in relation to cyclists.

As I made clear, the review will address two key issues. The first is legal: whether the law is defective in the case of bodily harm or death from a cyclist, and specifically whether, as the rule of law demands, there is an adequate remedy here. Our aim is to complete this work early in the new year.

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Categories: Environment

Japan sends in experts to rescue world's bedraggled bonsais

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 5:06am

Tokyo has targeted some 40 traditional gardens in need of immediate repair, with a team set to travel to Romania and the US

Tokyo plans to send green-fingered experts to every corner of the world on a mission to spruce up Japanese-style gardens that have fallen into disrepair.

There are about 500 traditional gardens across the globe – from France to the US, Thailand and Argentina – with dozens in dire need of help after years of neglect, Japan’s land ministry said.

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Categories: Environment

Vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying planet

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/10/05 - 2:02am

WWF report finds 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets which put huge strain on Earth’s resources

The ongoing global appetite for meat is having a devastating impact on the environment driven by the production of crop-based feed for animals, a new report has warned.

The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study from the conservation charity WWF.

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Categories: Environment

'Alarming' rise in Queensland tree clearing as 400,000 hectares stripped

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 11:12pm

Deputy premier brands Australia ‘deforestation hotspot’ after a 45% jump in her state’s reef catchment clearing

Queensland underwent a dramatic surge in tree clearing – with the heaviest losses in Great Barrier Reef catchments – in the year leading up to the Palaszczuk government’s thwarted bid to restore protections.

Figures released on Thursday showed a 33% rise in clearing to almost 400,000 hectares in 2015-16, meaning Queensland now has two-thirds the annual rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

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Categories: Environment

Court orders Trump administration reinstate Obama emissions rule

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 10:04pm

Interior department had moved to delay to 2019 methane regulation governing oil and gas production on federal land

Rebuffing the Trump administration, a federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Interior Department to reinstate an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

The order by a judge in San Francisco came as the Interior Department moved to delay the rule until 2019, saying it was too burdensome to industry. The action followed an earlier effort by the department to postpone part of the rule set to take effect next year.

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Categories: Environment

It's our choice: renewable energy superpower or Asian Pacific rust belt | Pat Conroy

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 9:33pm

If we stop fighting change, Australia can be the land of endless energy powering generations of manufacturing industries

The shift to decarbonise our economy is portrayed by opponents of such a shift as the death of Australia as an energy superpower.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

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Categories: Environment

Sweltering September smashes Australia's temperature records

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 8:34pm

Climate change blamed as continent logs hottest September day on record, with average maximum temperature of 33.47C

Australian temperature records tumbled again in September this year, with the country experiencing the hottest day since records began, and New South Wales breaking that record twice within a few days.

As always, particular weather events caused the records to be broken. But in a special climate statement, the Bureau of Meteorology said climate change also played a role, and earlier research has shown global warming has massively increased the chance of these records being broken.

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Categories: Environment

Melbourne's Yarra river Australia's deadliest per kilometre for drowning deaths

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 8:11pm

Men in late 20s and early 30s with alcohol or drugs in their system the most frequent victims of fatal river drowning

Risk-taking young men who drown trying to swim Melbourne’s Yarra river are making it the deadliest inland river per metre in Australia.

New data shows alcohol, drugs, tourists and young men who dare each other to swim the river are contributing to regular drownings.

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Categories: Environment

Google launches new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones - video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 3:08pm

In a direct challenge to Apple, Google’s new high-end smartphones have 64GB of storage, front-facing speakers and 12-megapixel cameras supported by machine learning. In a swipe at its rival, Google’s vice-president product manager Mario Queiroz said: ‘We don’t save cool features just for the large device. You get all the goodness with both phones, so the only choice you have to make is what size you want.’ Here’s a look at some of its coolest products

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: an AI-infused challenge to the iPhone

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Categories: Environment

Walruses face 'death sentence' as Trump administration fails to list them as endangered

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 11:54am

Fish and Wildlife Service decides Pacific walrus may be able to adapt to loss of sea ice and is unlikely to be seen as endangered ‘in the foreseeable future’

The Trump administration has declined to list the Pacific walrus as endangered after deciding that the huge tusked mammals may be able to adapt to the loss of the sea ice that they currently depend upon.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said that the walruses were unlikely to be considered endangered “in the foreseeable future”, defined as from now until 2060, adding: “At this time, sufficient resources remain to meet the subspecies’ physical and ecological needs now and into the future.”

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Categories: Environment

Tesco vows to keep Willow Farms brand despite chicken scandal

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 10:32am

Supermarket boss says he was ‘shocked’ after Guardian/ITV investigation revealed poor hygiene standards at 2 Sisters plant

Tesco has pledged to continue with its “exclusive” Willow Farms poultry brand despite a hygiene scandal at the factory supplying the product and identical chicken being sold more cheaply by rival Lidl.

The supermarket chain’s chief executive, Dave Lewis, said he had been as “shocked as anybody” after a joint undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV News found evidence of food safety records being altered at the West Bromwich processing plant of 2 Sisters Food Group, which supplies Willow Farms chicken.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: every Londoner breathing dangerous levels of toxic air particle

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 8:31am

Exclusive: Every area of the capital breaches global standards for PM2.5 pollution particles, with most areas exceeding levels by at least 50%

The scale of London’s air pollution crisis was laid bare on Wednesday, with new figures showing that every person in the capital is breathing air that exceeds global guidelines for one of the most dangerous toxic particles.

The research, based on the latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, shows that every area in the capital exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) limits for a damaging type of particle known as PM2.5.

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Categories: Environment

'Wild animal selfies': charity condemns trend following Amazon investigation

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 5:42am

Research by World Animal Protection in Brazil and Peru has revealed rise in photos with wild animals on Instagram, as well as growing instances of cruelty, and is launching a Wildlife Selfie Code

Some of the Amazon’s most endangered creatures are under threat from the growing trend of tourists taking “wild animal selfies”, according to a new investigation by the charity World Animal Protection released this week.

Selfies with animals has become a trend in recent years, with a 292% increase in the number of images posted to Instagram from 2014 to present. However, behind the scenes animals are kept in cruel conditions with many dying soon after being snatched from their natural habitat.

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Categories: Environment

The day we witnessed wildlife rangers being gunned down in Congo

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/10/04 - 4:05am

When two Dutch journalists travelled to the DRC to report on illegal gold mining in the vast Okapi wildlife reserve, they ended up running for their lives

Conflict is never far away in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a country rich in natural resources such as gold, diamonds, coltan and tin – and the country is on the brink of a new civil war. Tensions have been rising since December, when President Joseph Kabila postponed the elections.

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