Oil company records from 1960s reveal patents to reduce CO2 emissions in cars

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 7:59am

ExxonMobil and others pursued research into technologies, yet blocked government efforts to fight climate change for more than 50 years, findings show

The forerunners of ExxonMobil patented technologies for electric cars and low emissions vehicles as early as 1963 – even as the oil industry lobby tried to squash government funding for such research, according to a trove of newly discovered records.

Patent records reveal oil companies actively pursued research into technologies to cut carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change from the 1960s – including early versions of the batteries now deployed to power electric cars such as the Tesla.

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As the UN tightens the net around illegal fishing, now is the time to act

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 7:22am

Illegal fishing robs the world’s oceans of 26m tons of seafood annually. Now, a new international treaty aims to make it tougher for thieves

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, nearly 10,000 lbs of fish will be stolen from the world’s oceans. Illegal fishing, which accounts for up to 26m tons of seafood annually, robs legitimate fishers and governments of revenue, undermines the accuracy of fisheries’ stock assessments and threatens the stability of coastal communities that rely on the legal trade.

Related: Off the hook: can a new study in the Pacific reel in unsustainable fishing?

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Categories: Environment

Let's give up the climate change charade: Exxon won't change its stripes | Bill McKibben

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 6:14am

Every year at the shareholders’ annual meeting, there is an attempt to push the company on reducing emissions. It’s time to stop trying and divest instead

In 1990, a small group of investors offered a resolution at Exxon’s annual shareholder’s meeting asking that it “develop a company-wide plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The company opposed the motion, which won 6% of the vote, on the grounds that “the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.”

Here’s what happened since 1990: we’ve had all 25 of the hottest years ever measured on our planet. We’ve lost half of Arctic sea ice. The ocean has become markedly more acidic.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 6:00am

A fleeing giraffe, a sleeping racoon and a close encounter with a great white shark are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Hitachi heads up new bid to build nuclear plant in Wales

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 5:51am

Japanese company and US construction group Bechtel offer rival proposal to French firm EDF’s plans for Hinkley Point C reactor

Hitachi has unveiled a construction consortium to build a £10bn nuclear power station in Wales “on time and on budget”, as a rival to the French-backed plans for Hinkley Point C.

There are no British firms involved but among the partners of the Japanese firm are Bechtel of the US, which has just brought a new atomic power plant online in America, but is better known here for work on the Channel tunnel and CrossRail.

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The world's oldest centre for birds of prey – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 5:45am

At the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, about 75 species are cared for, including hawks, eagles and falcons. As well as treating injured wild birds, the centre focuses on breeding and conservation

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What Can Today's Designers Learn From Nature?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 5:36am

Science writer Janine Benyus believes innovators should look to nature when solving a design problem. She says the natural world is full of ideas for making things waterproof, solar-powered and more.

Categories: Environment

The Science Museum is free – so what is BP buying?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 4:05am

A new report shines a light on the links that BP has developed with leading cultural institutions. Does this limit their ability to speak out on climate change?

“I’d prefer the wording not to focus on environmental damage” – those were the words used in an email by the company Shell, as it attempted to muscle in on the Science Museum’s curatorial decision making. In 2014, Shell had been a sponsor of the museum’s climate science exhibition but once that controversial email had been unearthed – as the result of a freedom of information request – there was no going back. The museum’s reputation was damaged and the end of Shell’s sponsorship became inevitable.

Earlier this month, the campaign group, Art Not Oil, published a damning report into the “corrupting influence” of another fossil fuel giant – BP – on the museums and galleries it sponsors. Once again, it places the Science Museum in the spotlight.

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Can America learn to love the big bad wolf? There are signs of change

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 3:30am

They’ve been called ‘the beast of destruction’ and ‘the abortion issue of wildlife’, but efforts to save the wolf’s population – and perception – are worth celebrating

Some species are eliminated through sheer human carelessness, as we clumsily attempt to mould the world in our image. America’s gray wolf, on the other hand, was almost gleefully wiped out, exterminated with a visceral mixture of disgust and fear.

Related: Wolf population reaches new high at Yellowstone park

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Categories: Environment

Fracking protesters gather in North Yorkshire as crucial planning meeting begins

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 2:48am

Ryedale residents tell councillors they do not want to be the first place in the UK to allow fracking

People living close to a proposed fracking operation in North Yorkshire have told councillors they do not want to be the first community in the UK to allow the controversial gas extraction technique.

A meeting has begun to consider an application by UK firm Third Energy to frack for shale gas at its existing drilling site near the village of Kirby Misperton, between Malton and Pickering, in North Yorkshire.

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Monsanto weedkiller faces recall from Europe's shops after EU fail to agree deal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/05/20 - 2:09am

Leading Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta products could be withdrawn from shops by July after committee fails to agree on whether glyphosate poses a health risk to humans

Bestselling weedkillers by Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta could be removed from shops across Europe by July, after an EU committee failed for a second time to agree on a new license for its core ingredient, glyphosate.

The issue has divided EU nations, academics and the World Health Organisation (WHO) itself. One WHO agency found it to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” while another ruled that glyphosate was unlikely to pose any health risk to humans, in an assessment shaded by conflict of interests allegations earlier this week.

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Protect Myanmar's marine resources from being pillaged to point of no return

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 11:00pm

Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government must safeguard the ocean from illegal fishing that has depleted stocks by 70-90% and is killing endangered sea turtles and dugongs

As Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) engaged in a historic transfer of power in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw in March, my Burmese colleagues and I stood on a deserted beach 170 miles to the southwest, near Gwa on the Rakhine coast. We were speaking to local fishermen about their livelihoods and hearing about the unfortunate death of a young dugong – southeast Asia’s cousin of the manatee.

To the naked eye, the blue sea and miles of white sand with no development or people in sight were a vision of paradise. And yet, as we learned, below the surface things were far from idyllic. The young dugong that accidentally drowned in a fishing net was just one symptom of another tragedy and challenge unfolding in this country – one that, while nearly unnoticed, could have major implications for the future of millions of rural people.

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India records its hottest day ever as temperature hits 51C (that's 123.8F)

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 10:18pm

The previous record of 50.6C stood since 1956 but wilted in the latest summer heatwave to hit the country

A city in northern India has shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C – the highest since records began – amid a nationwide heatwave.

The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F.

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Carbon dioxide's 400ppm milestone shows humans are rewriting the planet's history «

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 9:05pm

Levels of CO2 are pushing beyond 400 parts per million in the atmosphere. The last time they were there, 15 million years ago, the world was very different

Round numbers can trigger all sorts of weird and sometimes irrational responses.

For example, in about 19 years time when I turn 40 there’ll be some sort of celebration at which I’m told I have reached a milestone. The number can also trigger denial in those afflicted (I honestly wouldn’t know*).

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Open thread: 'redefine nothing' – what are your tips for reducing food waste?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 6:41pm

Radish tops can be used in soups and pretty much any sad vegetable or fruit can be rescued by pureeing – submit your tips for ‘zero waste’ cooking

In the never-ending string of “days attached to apparent causes”, Friday is Food Revolution Day, pioneered by the high-profile happy chappy Jamie Oliver, friend to all but sugar.

Youth Food Movement Australia, which organises volunteer-run food projects across the country, says the amount of food thrown out by one household annually equates to one in five bags and costs $1,000 a year.

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Canada's Trans Mountain oil pipeline clears hurdle despite fears for seaway

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 6:14pm

Regulator admits risks but recommends Trudeau government approve project to ramp up shipping of tar sands crude via Salish Sea tribal fishing grounds

Canada’s energy regulators have recommended the approval of the Trans Mountain oil sands pipeline, which has drawn environmental and tribal protests over the dramatic increase it would mean to the number of oil tankers moving through the waters between the US and Canada.

The National Energy Board recommended the federal government conditionally approve Kinder Morgan Canada’s plan to nearly triple pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The $5.4bn Trans Mountain project would carry oil from Alberta ’s oil sands to near Vancouver, British Columbia, to be loaded on to tankers for export to Asian and US markets. It would mean a sevenfold increase to shipping through the Salish Sea.

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Energy schemes to add £100 to UK household bills within five years

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 4:01pm

Energy subsidies designed to keep lights on and support low-carbon electricity will have risen 124% by 2020-21, review finds

Households will be paying £100 more for their annual bills within five years to fund four government policies designed to keep the lights on and support low-carbon electricity, according to a review.

Independent consultancy Cornwall Energy said energy subsidies will have risen by 124% by 2020-21 due to the cost of the capacity market, renewable obligations, contracts for difference and feed-in tariff schemes.

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Canada approves sale of genetically modified salmon

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 2:59pm
  • Agencies: modified fish as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon
  • Growth hormone genes from two fish allow it to grow twice as fast

Health authorities in Canada have approved a fast-growing, genetically altered salmon as safe for consumption, paving the way for it to become the first genetically modified animal to be allowed on Canadian dinner plates.

After four years of testing, Health Canada and the Canadian food inspection agency said on Thursday they had found the salmon developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies to be as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon.

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California Will Let Local Authorities Assess Water Conservation Goals Amid Drought

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 1:44pm

This will replace mandatory state-driven standards. It's happening because California's drought — now entering its fifth year — is easing in some parts of the state but not others.

Categories: Environment

The Bank of England’s governor should be feeling hot | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/05/19 - 11:05am
Baby death statistics | House prices surge | Spending a penny | How to greet a hare

Dividing a small rate of deaths in the worst area by the even smaller rate in the best areas makes the worst look twice as bad (UK baby deaths ‘still influenced by where you live’, 17 May). But 99.21% of babies survive in the worst areas and 99.59% in the best areas. (Infant mortality is expressed as per 1,000 births precisely because it is so low, so a difference of less than 10 per thousand equates to less than a 1% difference.) If employment rates or exam results were this close, governments would call it a great success.
Peter West

• The housing market sees a 2.5% price surge in March and the average London home increased in value by £28,000 in one month (Report, 18 May). This is a capital gain greater than my son’s annual take-home pay as a sixth form teacher in Islington, but according to the Bank of England the market is “on watch” for evidence of overheating. Is Mark Carney wearing an asbestos suit?
John Bailey
Farnborough, Hampshire

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