I kept all my plastic for a year – the 4,490 items forced me to rethink

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 8:39am

Daniel Webb accrued a mountain of plastic – including many packets of Hula Hoops – and made it into a mural, now on display at Dreamland in Margate. We are overproducing and overconsuming, he says, and recycling is not the answer

We all know, in theory, that we ought to use less plastic. We’ve all been distressed by the sight of Blue Planet II’s hawksbill turtle entangled in a plastic sack, and felt chastened as we’ve totted up our weekly tally of disposable coffee cups. But still, UK annual plastic waste is now close to 5m tonnes, including enough single-use plastic to fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls; the government’s planned elimination of “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042 seems a quite dazzling task. It was reported this week that scientists at the University of Portsmouth have accidentally developed a plastic-eating mutant enzyme, and while we wait to see if that will save us all, for one individual the realisation of just how much plastic we use has become an intensely personal matter.

One early evening in mid-2016, Daniel Webb, 36, took a run along the coast near his home in Margate. “It was one of those evenings where the current had brought in lots of debris,” he recalls, because as Webb looked down at the beach from his route along the promenade he noticed a mass of seaweed, tangled with many pieces of plastic. “Old toys, probably 20 years old, bottles that must have been from overseas because they had all kinds of different languages on them, bread tags, which I don’t think had been used for years …” he says. “It was very nostalgic, almost archaeological. And it made me think, as a mid-30s guy, is any of my plastic out there? Had I once dropped a toy in a stream near Wolverhampton, where I’m from, and now it was out in the sea?”

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Categories: Environment

Warming climate to nearly double demand for cooling appliances

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 7:04am

Researchers predict energy use for air conditioners and refrigeration to jump 90% on 2017 levels

A burgeoning middle class and a warming world will result in energy demand for cooling overtaking that for heating by the middle of the century, researchers have predicted.

Energy use for air conditioning, refrigeration and other cooling appliances will jump 90% on 2017 levels, experts estimated, posing a challenge for energy grids and efforts to curb climate change.

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UK to review climate target raising hopes of a zero emissions pledge

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 6:23am

The government pledged in 2016 to enshrine a zero target in law to meet its Paris commitments, but has yet to pass any legislation

The UK is to review its long-term target to cut climate emissions as part of global efforts to curb rising temperatures, the government has announced.

The announcement by clean growth minister Claire Perry during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) raises the possibility the UK could implement a target to reduce emissions to “net zero” by 2050, tightening the existing goal to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by that date.

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Poland violated EU laws by logging in Białowieża forest, court rules

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 5:42am

Judge dismisses claims by Polish government that logging was necessary to protect ancient forest from outbreak of bark beetles

The EU’s highest court has ruled that Poland’s logging in the Unesco-protected Białowieża forest is illegal, potentially opening the door to multi-million euro fines.

At least 10,000 trees are thought to have been felled in Białowieża, one of Europe’s last parcels of primeval woodland, since the Polish environment minister, Jan Szyzko tripled logging limits there in 2016.

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Categories: Environment

To lead on climate, countries must commit to zero emissions | Isabella Lövin

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 3:34am

The UK’s climate laws forged a path for others to follow. But as progressive nations commit to zero emissions, it must reclaim its leading role, writes Sweden’s deputy prime minister

What does it mean for a nation to be a “climate leader” in 2018?

At the very least, it must mean having a firm plan in place to deliver your nation’s fair share of the Paris agreement. During that stunning fortnight in December 2015, 195 governments freely and willingly committed not only to keep global warming well below 2C, but to aim for the safer level of 1.5C. And they committed to bring net greenhouse gas emissions down to zero.

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Tesla halts Model 3 production as firm scrambles to improve automation

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/17 - 2:24am

Firm struggles to hit targets for mass-market electric car after reeling from excessive automation and mounting pressure

Tesla has temporarily suspended its Model 3 assembly line as Elon Musk’s electric car firm struggles to deliver on targets.

The company said the move was a planned production pause of up to five days. It is the second time since February that Tesla has halted its production line for the Model 3 at its Fremont, California plant.

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More than 95% of world's population breathe dangerous air, major study finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 9:00pm

Poorest are hardest hit with many developing countries falling behind on cleaning up toxic air pollution

More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.

Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world’s people, exposing billions to unsafe air, particularly in developing countries, but in rural areas the risk of indoor air pollution is often caused by burning solid fuels. One in three people worldwide faces the double whammy of unsafe air both indoors and out.

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Categories: Environment

Don't believe the hype on natural gas. It's a fossil fuel just like coal | Fiona Stanley, Graeme Pearman & Richard Yin

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 8:55pm

The scale of growth of Australia’s natural gas industry is inconsistent with our Paris commitments

Australia is currently aggressively developing its natural gas resource. By the end of 2018, it is likely to overtake Qatar as the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Western Australia is leading the way on developing gas with the premier, Mark McGowan, calling for the state to be a global LNG hub. Recently businessman Andrew Forrest announced a radical plan to create a “virtual gas pipeline” linking WA gas to the east while Chevron over the weekend committed to the second stage of its multi-billion dollar Gorgon project expansion.

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Categories: Environment

Northern Territory lifts fracking ban, opening up 700,000 sq km to gas exploration

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 5:24pm

First exploration fracking expected next year but national parks and conservation areas will be protected

The Northern Territory government has lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing of onshore gas that will open up more than half of the territory’s land mass to the controversial practice.

The first exploration fracking by petroleum companies is expected to occur early next year after the implementation of a regulatory regime and new laws, which the government insists will be strict.

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Categories: Environment

The way some pigs are reared is 'upsetting and wrong', say shoppers

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 4:02pm

Most people willing to swap to supermarkets trying to improve farming standards, survey finds

Shoppers around the world overwhelmingly support high animal welfare standards for pigs, and most would also be prepared to change their supermarket habits in response, an international survey on pork consumption has found.

Seven out of 10 people questioned said they found the manner in which pigs are reared for slaughter on some factory farms “upsetting”, “wrong” or “shocking”, after being shown photographs of some pig-keeping conditions in the online poll. The survey highlighted practices such as sows kept in small cages, antibiotic use, as well as tail-docking, teeth-grinding and castration, sometimes without pain relief.

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Categories: Environment

EPA Takes Toxic Site Flooded By Harvey Off Special Cleanup List

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 2:31pm

The EPA says the San Jacinto Waste Pits near Houston no longer needs Scott Pruitt's personal attention due to progress on a remediation plan. But the site is still years away from being cleaned up.

(Image credit: Rebecca Hersher/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 12:00pm

The breakthrough, spurred by the discovery of plastic-eating bugs at a Japanese dump, could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

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Categories: Environment

Who’s defending Canada’s national interest? First Nations facing down a pipeline | Martin Lukacs

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 11:37am

Justin Trudeau is bailing out a Texas oil billionaire. He should be bailing out Canada’s workers and the climate.

Last Saturday, Indigenous leaders stood arm-in-arm in front of the gates of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline worksite in Burnaby, British Columbia.

For weeks before, hundreds of non-native people – environmentalists, federal parliamentarians Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart, even an engineer formerly employed by the Texas oil corporation – had marched to the same place. In each case, police approached, read aloud their violation of a no-go zone, and arrested and shackled them.

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Categories: Environment

Scott Pruitt's $43,000 'privacy booth' violated spending laws, watchdog finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 11:28am

Purchase of a soundproof booth for EPA chief violates federal law that prohibits spending more than $5,000 on office improvements

An internal government watchdog says the Environmental Protection Agency violated federal spending laws when purchasing a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth for administrator Scott Pruitt to make private phone calls in his office.

The Government Accountability Office issued its findings on Monday in a letter to Senate Democrats who had requested a review of Pruitt’s spending.

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Categories: Environment

The plastic tsunami: pollution across Australia's coastlines – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 11:00am

With Australia’s beaches and oceans covered in rubbish, Tangaroa Blue volunteers spend days trying to clean things up. While these images are not beautiful or professionally taken, they are the harsh reality of the world’s plastic pollution problem.

‘Plastic is literally everywhere’: the epidemic attacking Australia’s oceans

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Categories: Environment

Canada: Trudeau vows to push ahead with pipeline plans in spite of protests

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 10:37am

PM says he is prepared to use taxpayer dollars to fund controversial expansion opponents say will have serious environmental consequences

Justin Trudeau has said Canada’s government is prepared to use taxpayer dollars to push forward plans for a controversial pipeline expansion, despite protests and efforts by a provincial government to halt the project on environmental grounds.

Related: Canada quarrel pits British Columbia against Alberta in battle of oil and wine

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Categories: Environment

Grocery Stores Get Mostly Mediocre Scores On Their Food Waste Efforts

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 9:13am

A new report, "Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade in Reducing Food Waste," scores the 10 largest grocery stores on how they handle food waste. No store got an A, but Walmart got a B.

(Image credit: paul mansfield photography/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The 'New Power' Generation: A Manifesto For A More Humane World

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 8:06am

Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms have written a guide for spreading ideas, building movements and staying ahead.

(Image credit: Michael Creagh)

Categories: Environment

The Renewable Energy Movement Ramps Up In Red States

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 7:06am

Where might you find a city that uses only renewable energy? Try Texas.

(Image credit: Photo by Drew Anthony Smith for Smithsonian magazine)

Categories: Environment

Dutch island wants its rabbits to breed like …

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/16 - 6:41am

Biodiversity concerns prompt emergency plan to use ferrets to round up the few rabbits left

It is not a pastime for which rabbits usually require much encouragement. But a mystery depletion in numbers on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog has led to an emergency effort to coax the local population into breeding … well, like rabbits.

Ferrets are being deployed to chase the reluctant remaining animals out of their warrens and into the hands of conservationists, who are bringing them together, safe from the stress of predators, in the hope that romance will blossom.

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