Meet the thistle propagator-in-chief

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 9:30pm

Blackwater, Norfolk Pollinated flowers means more plants next year – and more thistles means more bees

After explaining to a visitor the lengths to which I go to encourage marsh and spear thistles on my fen, I was amused to hear her describe the troubles she takes to keep them from her garden. I know they’re prickly customers, but why do people dislike them?

What I cherish most is the sheer architectural grandeur of the summer plant. Each fully open flowerhead has a kind of declarative beauty – a blend of spine-fringed awkwardness and inner sensuous velvet. No wonder nations have hitched their wagons to the thistle’s star-like bloom. Even in autumn, when they are desiccated and devoid of seed floss, and possibly enwrapped in old spider’s web, they retain an aura of dignity.

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Categories: Environment

Thunderstorms and possible floods forecast for large parts of UK

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 4:01pm

South and east England, Midlands and Wales to be hit by storms on Tuesday, with north of England affected on Wednesday

Thunderstorms and potential flooding have been forecast for large parts of the UK on Tuesday, prompting weather warnings from the Met Office.

Storms were expected to hit the south and east of England, the Midlands and Wales on Tuesday evening, while the north of England would be affected on Wednesday, forecasters said.

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Categories: Environment

Flying squad: start of annual roll call of Queen's swans

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 3:45pm

Swan upping, a five-day event to count the swans on the river Thames, began as a ritual to check supplies for feasts but is now more about conservation

The annual count of swans belonging to Queen Elizabeth II has begun on the river Thames.

Related: Royal swan upping – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

Matt Canavan on Q&A: exporting Adani coal does not affect Australia's emissions

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 3:16pm

Resources minister tells Q&A audience Adani’s Queensland mine would not stop Australia meeting its Paris climate change commitments because the coal is burned overseas

The federal minister Matthew Canavan has defended government support for Adani’s Carmichael mine by saying coal burned overseas will not stop Australia meeting its Paris climate commitments.

Canavan also denied the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had politicised the defence force by using a backdrop of masked soldiers to announce plans to enable military handling of domestic terrorist threats, telling the ABC’s Q&A program it wasn’t a “campaign announcement”.

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Categories: Environment

My week without plastic: 'I found a toothbrush made of pig hair'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 3:10pm

We produce 300m tonnes of plastic a year – 5m tonnes of which ends up in the oceans. How easy is it to ditch the excess packaging and learn to love shampoo in solid bars?

It’s in shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, clothes and biros. It’s even in teabags. Plastic is everywhere.

In some cases this brings clear benefits – plastic has brought advances including domestic pipes, composite materials for lighter aircraft and wind-turbines, as well as blood bags – but, for consumers, it is largely cosmetic: a cheap signifier of hygiene and a mainstay of convenience.

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Categories: Environment

US millionaire who learned the value of punctuation the hard way | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 11:19am
Punctuation | Solar-powered legs | Dogs and litter | Crossword themes | Puzzle change

Punctuation is indeed important (Letters, 17 July). The story goes that an American millionaire’s wife, travelling through Europe, came across a beautiful diamond ring for sale for $1,000. She sent a telegram: “Can I buy?” “No price too high” came the reply. So she purchased the ring and her husband was furious. He had meant “No; price too high” – and it is said that after that incident the telegram companies introduced the convention of inserting the word “stop” at the necessary places.
Fr Alec Mitchell
Denton, Greater Manchester

• Almost everyone in the world already owns a solar-powered vehicle (Letters, 15 July). Our legs run (or walk) on the products of photosynthesis at a rate of one small banana, or the calorie equivalent in other foods, per mile. To double this fuel economy, attach a bicycle.
Jo Gibson

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Categories: Environment

Queensland must wean itself off coal, says Jackie Trad – but not yet

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 11:00am

Deputy premier says the state’s coal-fired power stations will be among the last to close in the nation, despite 2050 zero emissions target

Queensland’s plan to slash carbon pollution would generate “ongoing discussion” about shutting coal-fired power stations, despite expert advice that the need for closures was more than a decade away, the deputy premier, Jackie Trad, has said.

While the Palaszczuk government was determined to drive Queensland’s transformation from Australia’s biggest carbon polluter to a zero net emitter by 2050, it would rely for now on the economics of renewable energy and the “goodwill and leadership of industry” where national political leaders had failed, she said.

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Categories: Environment

Bill Shorten says Labor willing to pass Finkel legislation to prevent climate 'brawling'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 11:00am

Labor leader says opposition will back clean energy target ‘if the economic and environmental case stacks up’

Bill Shorten says Labor is prepared to pass legislation giving effect to the Finkel review this year, and has called for the Turnbull government to sit down with the opposition to craft a bipartisan solution.

The Labor leader will use a speech to a clean energy summit in Sydney to make a pitch for a “sensible centre” in climate policy, arguing that Australia cannot afford to lose another decade “to brawling and name-calling”.

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Categories: Environment

Five park rangers killed in DRC in tragic weekend for wildlife defenders

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 10:13am

An ambush by local rebel forces led to five deaths in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, while another ranger died in Virunga

Four Congolese park rangers and one porter have been killed in an ambush in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A large group of journalists and park rangers were attacked on Friday 14 July in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve by an armed local rebel group. It is believed that the journalists – one from the US, two Dutch, and one Congolese – were covering a story about the work of the rangers in the forest.

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Categories: Environment

La empresa canadiense que extrae plata de unas colinas, y la gente que muere por intentar evitarlo

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 9:29am

En Guatemala está uno de los mayores depósitos de plata del mundo; a sus dueños canadienses les proporciona millones de dólares, pero para los campesinos locales pone en peligro sus tierras y, a veces, sus vidas

Lean esta historia en inglés

A grandes profundidades, enterrado en las exuberantes colinas del sur de Guatemala, se encuentra un verdadero tesoro: toneladas de plata que forman uno de los mayores depósitos del mundo.

Sin embargo, lo verdaderamente peligroso sucede en la superficie. En una carretera polvorienta, aproximadamente 50 campesinos rezan en círculo, una especie de barricada para que no pasen los camiones que se dirigen a la mina. La policía ya los ha dispersado por la fuerza con gases lacrimógenos. Ahora tienen miedo de que llegue el ejército.

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Categories: Environment

Deadly Arizona Flash Flood Created '40-Foot Wide Black Wave'

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 7:58am

The victims were all from one Phoenix family, who had been celebrating a birthday alongside a popular swimming hole, unaware that summer thunderstorms had just dropped heavy rains upstream.

(Image credit: Ralph Freso/AP)

Categories: Environment

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals | Martin Lukacs

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 7:56am

Stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power

Would you advise someone to flap towels in a burning house? To bring a flyswatter to a gunfight? Yet the counsel we hear on climate change could scarcely be more out of sync with the nature of the crisis.

The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.

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Categories: Environment

'Close to the sheds, the smell is overpowering': inside a UK mega farm

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 7:18am

Each shed here contains 42,000 chickens. The conditions are all in line with government regulations, but there are around 17 birds per square metre

In a valley in rural Herefordshire, near the village of Kington, four industrial sheds lie partly covered in trees, with an apple orchard on the approach. From the top of the hill there is no odour, but nearer to the sheds – 100m long by 20m wide, with 42,000 chickens in each – the sweetish, sickly smell is overpowering. The broiler chickens, grown for meat, are stocked at around 17 birds per square metre. Birds are packed as far as the eye can see within the buildings, making it impossible to see the floor.

The chickens are trucked in as chicks, with just under a third “thinned” – removed from the sheds – to be slaughtered at just over four weeks old. The rest carry on to just over five weeks, when they weigh about 2.2kg. Eight crops of such chickens are reared each year, making 1.3m annually, with the sheds cleaned between every batch.

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Categories: Environment

Have you been affected by mega farms in the UK?

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 7:09am

Whether you are concerned about the welfare of animals or the businesses of small farmers, we’d like to hear from you

The rise in mega farms, which can house thousands of animals indoors, has caused concern among farmers and residents.

Key issues in intensive livestock farming include the lack of accountability, noise and smell as well as the way the farms are industrialising and transforming the countryside. Whether you’re involved in the planning process, work at a mega farm, or live near one we’d like to hear how you have been affected.

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Categories: Environment

UK has nearly 800 livestock mega farms, investigation reveals

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 7:07am

Exclusive: US-style intensive factory farming of poultry, pigs and cattle is sweeping across the British countryside – raising concerns over animal cruelty

Nearly every county in England has at least one industrial-scale livestock farm, with close to 800 US-style mega farms operating across the UK, new research reveals.

The increase in mega farms – which critics describe as “cruel and unnecessary” – is part of a 26% rise in intensive factory farming in six years, a shift that is transforming the British countryside.

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Categories: Environment

Surrendering to fear brought us climate change denial and President Trump | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 3:00am

I propose that people take indefensible positions like climate denial and Trump support simply out of fear

This story picks up where an earlier post left off a few weeks ago. Then, I discussed some of the political realities associated with inaction on climate change. In that post, I said I would revisit the question of why so many people deny the evidence of a changing climate. Now is the time for that discussion.

What continually befuddles people who work on climate change is the vehement and indefensible denial of evidence by a small segment of the population. I give many public talks on climate change, including radio and television interviews and public lectures. Nearly every event has a few people who, no matter what the evidence, stay in a state of denial. By listening to denialist arguments, I find they fall into a few broad categories. Some of them are just plain false. Examples in this category are ones like:

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Categories: Environment

Natural Gas Building Boom Fuels Climate Worries, Enrages Landowners

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 2:00am

Companies are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve thousands of miles of pipelines from Appalachia. It's an agency that almost never says no.

(Image credit: Leanne Abraham/NPR)

Categories: Environment

In the Grand Canyon, uranium mining threatens a tribe's survival

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 11:00pm

The Havasupai are attempting to fight back against the operation of a uranium mine that they say could contaminate their sole water source

Ed Tilousi knelt down next to the crystal-clear turquoise creek. The only sounds were the gurgling of the current and the sawing of cicadas in a pecan nut tree as the hot sun made the red rock canyon walls towering above him glow.

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Categories: Environment

Back from the near-dead – the charismatic butcher bird

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 1:30pm

A rare sighting of a red-backed shrike, notorious for its habit of impaling its victims in a grisly larder

The first sign of autumn appeared the moment we arrived. A spotted redshank, resplendent in its dusky breeding plumage, stopping off on my Somerset coastal patch as it headed south from its Arctic nesting grounds.

But the start of July is far too early for any songbird migrants. So along with my companion Daniel, whom I met on our very first day at grammar school, almost half a century ago, I simply enjoyed the fine weather, and its associated marbled white and meadow brown butterflies.

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Categories: Environment

The big and unfriendly giant hogweed

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/07/16 - 1:30pm

A Victorian garden sensation has become a sensational invasive nuisance. Contact with its toxic sap causes burns and blisters that can take months to heal

It’s a monster towering up to 20ft tall, leaves spreading out like giant hands and flowers arranged in clusters the size of dinner plates. This is the giant hogweed, and the tabloids have been running alarming headlines recently, claiming an explosion in numbers of “Britain’s most dangerous plant” is creating havoc as it spreads in the hot weather this summer.

In reality, the plant only spreads by seed, each plant producing up to 50,000 seeds released from late August onwards and cast into the wind or water. But the giant hogweed is undoubtedly a dangerous plant, armed with highly toxic sap and just brushing past it with bare skin is enough to cause painful skin burns, which blister when exposed to ultraviolet rays in daylight, and can take months to heal. Even years afterwards the skin remains sensitive to sunlight.

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Categories: Environment
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