UK blocks Madagascar farmer who says mining firm ousted him from land

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 6:54am

Unsuccessful visa application prevents Athanase Monja from attending Rio Tinto AGM, where he hoped to highlight impact of mining on his community

A Malagasy farmer who says he and his neighbours have lost access to their land because of the UK mining company Rio Tinto has been blocked from visiting London, where he had been due to address the firm’s annual general meeting.

Athanase Monja planned to speak at the firm’s AGM on 12 April, but was refused a visa by the Home Office. Monja, a subsistence farmer, fisherman and first assistant to the mayor in his town of Antsontso, was told by British officials he had a “lack of qualification” to speak about environmental and human rights concerns.

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Categories: Environment

James Hansen: What Makes A Scientist Take A Stand?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 5:59am

When James Hansen spoke up about climate change in the 1980s, he risked the loss of his job and reputation. But, he says, it was worth it — because he could not be silent about something so important.

(Image credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED)

Categories: Environment

The conservationists, the butterfly hunter and the trade in mounted species

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 4:49am

He said he was looking for parasitic wasps but volunteers at Daneway Banks where the large blue is flourishing suspected Phillip Cullen had ulterior motives

Mark Greaves, a butterfly enthusiast, points out the slope where he first spotted Phillip Cullen. “He and his mate parked in the layby, climbed over that locked gate, and he was down there running around with a little net.”

Greaves asked Cullen what on earth he thought he was doing with a net on one of the most precious butterfly sites in the UK and was doubtful about the explanation.

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Categories: Environment

Killer of rare butterfly given six-month suspended sentence

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 4:41am

Phillip Cullen ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work after illegally capturing and killing specimens of the large blue

An insect enthusiast who illegally captured and killed specimens of Britain’s rarest butterfly, the large blue, has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

The amateur entomologist and former body builder Phillip Cullen, 57, was caught after being spotted by volunteers and wardens acting suspiciously at two nature reserves in the west of England.

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Categories: Environment

Polish law change unleashes 'massacre' of trees

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 4:28am

New law allows private landowners to cut down any number of trees without applying for permission or even informing authorities

A controversial change to Polish environmental law has unleashed what campaigners describe as a “massacre” of trees across the country.

The new amendment, commonly known as “Szyszko’s law”, after Jan Szyszko, Poland’s environment minister, removes the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees, pay compensation or plant new trees, or even to inform local authorities that trees have been or will be removed.

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Categories: Environment

How conniving carmakers caused the diesel air pollution crisis

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 3:32am

Cheating, dodging rules and heavy lobbying by motor manufacturers fuelled the toxic air the UK is struggling with today

Conniving car makers and their lobbying might, assisted by the 2008 financial crash, were the key factors in producing the diesel-fuelled air pollution crisis the UK is struggling with today, according to key observers of the disaster.

Earlier government decisions to incentivise diesel vehicles, which produce less climate-warming carbon dioxide, sparked the problem but were made in good faith. The heart of the disaster is instead a giant broken promise: the motor industry said it would clean up diesel but instead cheated and dodged the rules for years.

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Categories: Environment

New study links carbon pollution to extreme weather | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 3:00am

Human activities are altering the jet stream, which leads to extreme weather patterns getting stuck in place

It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about changes to extreme weather in a warming world. That prior article dealt with the increase of extreme precipitation events as the Earth warms. I termed the relationship a thermodynamic one; it was driven by local thermodynamic processes. But extreme weather can also occur because of large-scale changes to the atmosphere and oceans. This issue is the topic of another just-published paper that makes a convincing case for a whole new type of influence of humans on extreme weather. In a certain sense, this study confirms what was previously reported here and here. With the march of science, the tools, methods, and evidence get better each year.

Before getting into the study, a little background. The jet stream(s) are high-speed rivers of air that flow in the upper atmosphere. There’s more than one jet stream; they blow west to east and they mark the separation of zones of different temperatures. A good primer on jet streams is available here.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change: three of Australia’s big four banks reviewing exposure to fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 1:52am

Commonwealth, NAB and ANZ are each analysing the financial position of business customers in sectors exposed to climate change

Three of Australia’s big four banks are reviewing their exposure to fossil fuels, including their lending practices to households and farmers, in response to climate change.

The Commonwealth Bank is conducting a “detailed climate policy review” that will be released publicly pending board approval, and NAB has a working group reviewing the risks from global temperatures rising two degrees.

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Categories: Environment

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: unforgettable animal behaviour

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 11:32pm

From basking gharial to stampeding muskoxen, these images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have been selected for a Natural History Museum book, Unforgettable Behaviour, and offer a unique glimpse into hidden worlds of animal survival and joy

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Categories: Environment

Badly burned cockatoo given new feathers with superglue and matchsticks

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 7:26pm

Endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo treated by vets at Perth Zoo after it was badly burnt on a power line

Vets at Perth zoo have used matchsticks and glue to replace the flight feathers of a Carnaby’s cockatoo which was badly injured after it was burned on a power line.

Using a syringe to coat the donor feathers with superglue and a matchstick to shape the quill, vets replaced the juvenile bird’s feathers and cut away the burnt remains in an effort to help it fly again.

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Categories: Environment

BLM Replaces Mountain Landscape Photo With Coal Seam On Home Page

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 4:06pm

Critics were not kind to the Bureau of Land Management on social media. The agency says it plans to rotate photos showing various uses for federally managed lands.

(Image credit: Bureau of Land Management/Screenshot by NPR)

Categories: Environment

My first butterfly of the year

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 1:30pm

This year is unlikely to be a brilliant butterfly summer because 2016 was so poor. But insects can rapidly bounce back

Spring is an unquenchably optimistic time, and two weeks of plentiful sunshine – in the south, at least – has brought out the first butterflies of the year. My first, like last year, was a male brimstone, bobbing beside the old ivy-covered hedge beyond my garden.

On the next sunny March day came the small tortoiseshells and peacocks, which also hibernate as adult butterflies. It wasn’t until 2 April that I saw my first orange tip and holly blue – species which burst afresh from their chrysalises with the warming weather.

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Categories: Environment

Plan to pump cold water on to Barrier Reef to stop bleaching labelled 'band-aid'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 1:22pm

Former Barrier Reef authority director Jon Day says the idea such an approach would save the reef from bleaching is ‘ridiculous’

A proposal to use $9m to pump cold water on to the Great Barrier Reef’s tourist hotspots to stave off coral bleaching has been described as a “band-aid” solution, which does little to address the fundamental threats to the world’s largest living structure.

The plan, proposed by the tourism industry and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, seeks to protect six reefs with high economic or environmental value near Cairns and Port Douglas.

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Categories: Environment

In Madrid, A Plan To Fight Pollution By Shifting Away From Diesel-Run Cars

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 9:27am

Half of all cars in Europe run on diesel, compared to 3 percent in the U.S. But Madrid has vowed to ban diesel vehicles by 2025, to cut air pollution. Paris and Athens have made similar pledges.

(Image credit: Lauren Frayer for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Farms could slash pesticide use without losses, research reveals

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 8:04am

Study shows almost all farms could significantly cut chemical use while producing as much food, in a major challenge to the billion-dollar pesticide industry

Virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food, according to a major new study. The research also shows chemical treatments could be cut without affecting farm profits on over three-quarters of farms.

The scientists said that many farmers wanted to reduce pesticide use, partly due to concerns for their own health. But farmers do not have good access to information on alternatives, the researchers said, because much of their advice comes from representatives of companies that sell both seeds and pesticides.

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Categories: Environment

Secret footage obtained of the wild elephants sold into captivity in Chinese zoos

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 4:01am

Animal welfare advocates have filmed some of the wild elephants captured in Zimbabwe last year and shipped to China

Last year more than 30 young elephants were captured from the wild in Zimbabwe and flown by plane to China. The elephants – some reported to be as young as three – were dispersed to a number of zoos throughout the country, including the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, the Beijing Wildlife Park and the Hangzhou Safari Park, according to conservationists.

But what are their lives like now?

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Categories: Environment

Don't fund coal mine, activists plead with Australian export credit agency

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 2:53am

Green groups say the Resgen Boikarabelo project in South Africa will lead to worker exploitation and hinder Paris commitments

Environmental action groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam and GetUp have signed an open letter to Australia’s export credit agency asking it not to fund a controversial new coal mine.

The groups say a loan to the proposed Resgen Boikarabelo mine in South Africa will lead to human rights abuses and hinder Australia’s Paris commitment to keep global warming below 2C.

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Categories: Environment

South Africa lifts ban on domestic rhino horn sales

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 2:13am

Ruling by South Africa’s highest court means rhino horns can be sold locally by traders holding permits

South Africa’s highest court has rejected a bid by the government to keep a ban on domestic trade in rhino horn, a court document shows.

The ruling by the constitutional court effectively means rhino horns may be traded locally.

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Categories: Environment

Britons expected to send 235m items of clothing to landfill this spring

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 10:30pm

Study finds three-quarters of consumers throw away rather than recycle or donate unwanted garments

A predicted 235m items of Britons’ unwanted clothing are expected to end up in landfill unnecessarily this spring, according to new research.

Three-quarters of consumers admit to binning their discarded garments, usually because they do not realise that worn-out or dirty clothes can be recycled or accepted by charities, a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by the supermarket Sainsbury’s has found.

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Categories: Environment

Moths threaten fabric of England's most historic properties

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 10:01pm

English Heritage asks public to help map spread and intensity of pale-backed clothes moth, a particularly destructive species

Clothes-devouring moths infesting the wardrobes and drawers of many homes in the UK are now threatening precious curtains and carpets, costumes and tapestries in some of England’s most historic properties. Conservators are reporting that the number caught in traps has doubled in the last five years.

A particularly destructive species, Monopis sp., also known as the pale-backed clothes moth, has recently been discovered for the first time by English Heritage, which is now enlisting the help of the public to map the spread and intensity of a menace that only a few decades ago seemed as relevant a historical plague as the Black Death. Anyone with a precious cashmere sweater now resembling a piece of lace will sympathise.

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