Environment

Australian biofuels could transform airline industry and create jobs

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 8:03pm

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand looking for new partners to source biofuel, amounting to about 5% of total use

This week Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand held a conference with the biofuel industry after joining forces to investigate options for locally produced biojet fuel for their domestic and international routes.

This striking step signals the two airlines’ intention to aggregate their purchasing power in order to reduce their reliance on a single fuel, while at the same time significantly reducing their carbon emissions. Jet fuel, a petroleum distillate, has been used to power air travel since the first flights in the 1940s because of its high-energy density and thermal stability. And each year, the world’s airlines burn about 300bn litres, which represents about 10% of global oil consumption.

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Categories: Environment

India's changing climate – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 7:00pm

From deadly protests to billion dollar insurance schemes, we look at the impact of extreme weather and what the world’s fastest growing major economy is doing about it

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Categories: Environment

India crippled by extreme weather as 100 million exposed to floods

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 7:00pm

Ranked top in a list of populations most at risk from natural disasters, India must find solutions to make its economy less exposed

High temperatures and a crippling shortage of rainfall in India is forcing schools to close and communities to ration drinking water. In Chennai, the oppressive heat currently gripping the east Indian city has led to workers demanding an allowance for working in stifling factories and vets offering advice on caring for pets to avoid dehydration. “While some rains would have been a blessing in disguise, the rain gods have ditched Chennai,” writes a reporter for Skymet, which provides weather forecasts in India.

It would have been hard to imagine such a situation four-and-a-half months ago. Following the heaviest rainfall in more than a century at the end of last November, the Adyar river – which runs through the centre of Chennai – surged, causing muddy water to pour over the walls of nearby apartment blocks and into the streets. Thousands were forced to flee their homes, and hundreds died.

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Categories: Environment

Deadly explosion at Mexican state-run petrochemical plant

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 6:38pm

Residents warned of toxic fumes from fire at Coatzacoalcos works in Gulf state of Veracruz that produces chemicals for making plastics

A large explosion has rocked a major petrochemical facility of Mexican national oil company Pemex in the Gulf state of Veracruz, killing at least three people, injuring dozens more and pumping a black cloud into the sky.

Related: New US oil drilling regulations aim to prevent another Deepwater disaster

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Categories: Environment

Volkswagen to buy back 600,000 cars in framework deal over emissions scandal

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 6:19pm

Automaker would spend just over $1bn in a ‘deal in principle’ reached with the US government and private lawyers

Volkswagen, the US government and private lawyers have reached a deal for the automaker to buy back some of the nearly 600,000 diesel cars that cheat on emissions tests and spend just over $1bn to compensate owners, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The “deal in principle” includes a maximum amount of spending, but the final details, like how much each owner would get, are still being worked out, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the deal has not been made public.

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Categories: Environment

Deadly explosion at Mexico oil plant – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 6:15pm

Several deaths and dozens of injuries were reported after an explosion at the Clorados 3 plant of Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo in Mexico. Javier Duarte, the mayor of Mexico’s Veracruz state, said authorities were co-ordinating with the operators and the state oil company, Pemex, to deal with the emergency

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Categories: Environment

New Zealand's largest bus company to retrofit fleet with electric engines

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 5:43pm

Significant part of 1,000-strong fleet will have combustion engines removed and be refitted with an electric motor, battery pack and gas turbine generator

New Zealand’s biggest urban bus company will soon be running its vehicles on electric engines after signing a deal with Wrightspeed, a company founded by Ian Wright, a Kiwi and co-founder of Tesla.

NZBus runs more than 1,000 buses across New Zealand, carrying more than 50m passengers each year. The US$30m deal will result in a “significant number” of those buses having their combustion motors removed, and replaced with two powerful electric motors, a battery pack, and a gas turbine generator, that will charge the batteries when needed.

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Categories: Environment

Koch brothers said to be funding plan to block Grand Canyon conservation

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 5:28pm

Tax forms reveal donor from their network channeled money into Arizona-based group fighting plan that would ban uranium mining around the landmark

Billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch are channeling money into an Arizona-based organization that’s fighting a plan that would include a permanent ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.

A proposal to declare the area around the Grand Canyon a national monument – Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument – calls for protecting 1.7m acres of land from uranium mining. A number of environmental groups and native tribes as well as the vast majority of Arizonans support the plan.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists resort to advertising to get Great Barrier Reef crisis in Queensland paper

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 3:25pm

Climate Council pays for full-page advert as expert says the Courier Mail, Queensland’s biggest newspaper, is not covering coral bleaching properly

Scientists say they are fed up with Queensland’s biggest newspaper not covering the worst bleaching event to hit the Great Barrier Reef, so have taken out a full page ad to get the message out.

The ad comes as a survey revealed 93% of the Great Barrier Reef was affected by the bleaching. That finding motivated the Queensland government to call on the federal government to convene an urgent meeting of the nation’s environment ministers to talk about measures to address climate change in light of bleaching.

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Categories: Environment

Flint water crisis: three state and local officials face first criminal charges

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 1:09pm

Michigan officials facing multiple felonies and misdemeanors accusing them of misconduct, tampering with evidence, and ‘willfully’ misleading federal officials

Three state and local officials involved in Flint’s water contamination crisis were criminally charged on Wednesday for their roles in the two-year public health debacle, the first round of what’s expected to be many charges against government employees.

The officials are facing multiple felonies and misdemeanors accusing them of misconduct, tampering with evidence, and “willfully” misleading federal officials, more than six months after Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan admitted his administration gravely misunderstood the extent of a lead contamination problem in Flint.

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Categories: Environment

Stop aid to Honduras, says murdered campaigner's daughter

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 12:00pm

Berta Cáceres’s daughter urges Europeans to suspend aid and investment in hydro projects until human rights are respected

The daughter of murdered environmental leader Berta Cáceres has called for a suspension of European aid to Honduras and investment in its hydro projects until the country complies with human rights norms.

Cáceres was shot as she slept on 2 March, after her family say that Honduran authorities failed to adequately respond to a slew of escalating death threats.

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Categories: Environment

Protesters criticise Drax over use of subsidies for coal and wood power

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 11:41am

Activists in London and Yorkshire call on government to ‘axe Drax’, which they claim receives £1m a day in renewable energy subsidies

Drax faced protests during its annual general meeting in London over its use of public subsidies to support its massive coal and wood-burning power station.

Banners were unfurled by campaigners seeking to “axe Drax” outside its AGM in the capital on Wednesday, as well as at the Drax power station site near Selby, North Yorkshire.

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Categories: Environment

San Francisco Requires New Buildings To Install Solar Panels

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 11:23am

San Francisco already required buildings to be "solar ready," and starting in 2017, actual panels will be mandated. It's the first major U.S. city to take such a step, according to the bill's sponsor.

Categories: Environment

Hinkley Point C and the UK’s energy needs | Letter from Amber Rudd MP

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 10:58am

The government’s job is to ensure our families and businesses have energy supplies they can rely on. And we are doing it by taking the long-term decisions to ensure secure, clean, affordable supplies now and in the decades ahead. That’s the key role for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and we’ve never said otherwise, despite the very strange claims in your article (Minister: Hinkley no risk to power supply, 20 April).

The reason we are backing the construction of Hinkley Point C is that new nuclear is the only proven low-carbon technology that can provide continuous power, irrespective of whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and need to replace our ageing power stations. Hinkley will power close to 6m homes for 60 years. But we’re only paying for 35. It will also bring billions of pounds of investment into the UK and create 25,000 jobs during construction. We need electricity that’s safe, clean and reliable at any time of the day or night. New nuclear is one of the best ways of providing this. That’s why we back Hinkley, and I have never said it’s for any other reason.
Amber Rudd MP
Energy and climate change secretary

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Categories: Environment

Climate Change? Some People May Not Be Sweating It Because The Weather Is Nicer

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 10:03am

Researchers say climate change has made weather more pleasant in many parts of the U.S. Winters have been milder, and summers haven't become much hotter. But that's likely to change in coming years.

Categories: Environment

US weather 'preferable' for most thanks to climate change; but there's a catch

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 10:01am

Research finds most Americans have seen a pleasant mix of warmer winters and tolerable summers since 1974, but the situation is set for a radical reversal

A large majority of Americans have enjoyed more pleasant weather due to global warming over the past 40 years, research has found, but there is set to be an unpleasant sting in the tail as temperatures escalate further this century.

Vast areas of the contiguous US have warmed considerably during winters without becoming unbearably hot during the summers, making the climate generally more agreeable to the public. A new study has found that 80% of the American population lives in areas where the weather has become more “preferable” since 1974.

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Categories: Environment

After Fires In West, Mushroom Hunters 'Chase The Burn'

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 9:27am

From Northern California to Alaska, commercial and amateur foragers are now scouring the hills in search of black morels — prized mushrooms which grow in land ravaged by forest fires.

Categories: Environment

Belgium rejects German call for nuclear plants closure

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 8:32am

Belgium’s nuclear safety agency says 40-year-old Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors meet ‘strictest possible safety requirements’

Belgium on Wednesday rejected a request by neighbouring Germany to shutter two ageing nuclear plants near their shared border, arguing the facilities met with the strictest safety standards.

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks earlier on Wednesday requested that the 40-year-old Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors be turned off “until the resolution of outstanding security issues”.

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Categories: Environment

The environment photographers you should be following on Instagram

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 7:57am

Sometimes, the best way to understand what’s happening on the other side of the world is to see it for yourself. Here are some of our favorite Instagrammers who focus on capturing our changing planet

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Categories: Environment

As the planet warms, how do we decide when a plant is native?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/20 - 7:30am

Yale Environment 360: The fate of a tree planted at poet Emily Dickinson’s home raises questions about whether gardeners can - or should - play a role in helping plant species migrate in the face of rising temperatures and swiftly changing botanical zones

On rare occasions, the townsfolk of Amherst, Massachusetts, would catch a glimpse of a ghostly figure dressed in white, leaning over to tend her flowers by flickering lantern light. The mysterious recluse, who was better known to neighbors for her exquisite garden than for her lyric poems that revealed a passionate love of nature, differed from fellow 19th-century American writers whose thinking became the bedrock of modern environmentalism. While Thoreau famously declared wild places to be “the preservation of the world,” Emily Dickinson was finding nature’s truth and power in an ordinary dandelion.

Among the plants that survive on the family property where Dickinson confined herself for much of her adult life are picturesque old trees called umbrella magnolias (Magnolia tripetala) — so named because their leaves, which can reach two feet long, radiate out from the ends of branches like the spokes of an umbrella.

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Categories: Environment
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