Why concrete + rain = flash floods

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 1:30pm

Britain’s front gardens are being paved for parking while back gardens become patios. But in Canada and the US, the Depave movement is tearing up hard surfaces

In towns and cities, flash floods are a growing problem. The concrete jungle can’t soak up rainwater, so in heavy downpours it has nowhere to go except into drains, overloading them and setting off flash floods.

A movement in Canada and the US called Depave is tearing up concrete and asphalt in local neighbourhoods and replacing it with gardens to soak up rainwater and help prevent flooding. And although Depave is largely unknown in Britain, there’s a growing need for similar action here.

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Categories: Environment

Australia's first hybrid wind-solar farm to be built near Canberra

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 1:00pm

Exclusive: farm gets the green light to be built by Chinese companies after $9.9m grant from renewable energy agency

Australia’s first large-scale hybrid wind and solar farm is set to be built near Canberra, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) providing a $9.9m grant.

The money would go towards the $26m cost of building a 10MW solar photovoltaic plant alongside the existing Gullen Range windfarm.

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Categories: Environment

The psychology of luck: how superstition can help you win

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 10:24am

Why do so many Americans believe in luck against all reason? Psychologists tell us that sometimes, feeling lucky can actually improve performance

You might be surprised to learn that around a quarter of Americans are superstitious. When we think about it rationally, the idea of luck may seem silly, but there are a lot of people throughout history who made significant decisions based on superstitious beliefs.

The world’s largest car manufacturer, Toyota, changed its name from “Toyoda” in the 1930s because the number of brush strokes was more auspicious in Japanese culture. Donald Trump, who has been unwavering in his belief in his own ability, describes himself as a “very superstitious person”. He is known to throw a few grains of salt over his shoulder after eating.

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Categories: Environment

Animal welfare groups push US to classify all leopards as endangered

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 10:04am

Conservationists are calling on the US to raise the protection level for leopards, severely curbing hunters’ ability to import body parts as trophies

Conservationists have demanded a crackdown on the import to the US of leopards killed by American hunters, in an attempt to replicate the protections introduced in the wake of the furore caused by the death of famed lion Cecil.

Related: Cecil the lion's legacy: death brings new hope for his grandcubs

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Categories: Environment

Some Evacuation Orders Lifted In Southern California Wildfire

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 8:46am

The body of a man was found in an area burned by a 33,000 acre wildfire north of Los Angeles. The Sand Fire has destroyed more than a dozen homes and is one of 19 major fires burning in California.

Categories: Environment

China's coal peak hailed as turning point in climate change battle

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 8:02am

Study by economists say achievement by world’s biggest polluter may be a significant milestone, rather than a blip

The global battle against climate change has passed a historic turning point with China’s huge coal burning finally having peaked, according to senior economists.

They say the moment may well be a significant milestone in the course of the Anthropocene, the current era in which human activity dominates the world’s environment.

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Categories: Environment

RSPB calls for shooting estates to be licensed

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 7:51am

Group says move would allow shoots to be banned if birds of prey are illegally killed, amid withdrawal from hen harrier scheme

Grouse shooting estates should be licensed so that authorities have the power to ban them if birds of prey are illegally killed, the RSPB has urged, as it quit a government initiative to save the hen harrier in England.

The hen harrier action plan is a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs-led scheme in which landowners, shooting groups and conservation organisations agreed to work together to increase numbers of hen harriers in England.

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Categories: Environment

Young people urge UK politicians to help safeguard nature

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 3:42am

Two-thirds of 16- to 34-year-olds consider environmental and wildlife policies a top voting priority, according to survey

Almost nine out of 10 young people think it is important for politicians to take care of wildlife and the environment, according to a new poll.

Two-thirds of 16- to 34-year-olds agree the environment is a top voting priority for them, the CensusWide survey of 1,000 people of all ages revealed.

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Categories: Environment

These are the best arguments from the 3% of climate scientist 'skeptics.' Really. | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 3:00am

Contrarian climate scientist Roy Spencer summed up the contrarian case for a fossil fuel and tobacco-funded think tank

When I give a presentation and mention the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming, I’m often asked, “what’s the deal with the other 3%?”. These are the publishing climate scientists who argue that something other than humans is responsible for the majority of global warming, although their explanations are often contradictory and don’t withstand scientific scrutiny.

A few months ago, the world’s largest private sector coal company went to court, made its best scientific case against the 97% expert consensus, and lost. One of coal’s expert witnesses was University of Alabama at Huntsville climate scientist Roy Spencer - a controversial figure who once compared those with whom he disagreed to Nazis, and has expressed his love for Fox News.

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Categories: Environment

Solar subsidy cuts lead to loss of 12,000 jobs

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 2:46am

UK loses third of solar posts as survey reveals almost four in 10 companies are considering leaving market entirely

More than 12,000 solar power jobs have been lost in the past year because of government subsidy cuts, according to the industry.

A third of solar jobs have likely been lost in the UK, found the report by PwC for the Solar Trade Association (STA), based on a survey of 238 companies, around 10% of the industry.

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Categories: Environment

No more rats: New Zealand to exterminate all introduced predators

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 12:05am

Possums, stoats and other introduced pests to be killed in ‘world-first’ extermination programme unveiled by PM

The New Zealand government has announced a “world-first” project to make the nation predator free by 2050.

The prime minister, John Key, said on Monday it would undertake a radical pest extermination programme – which if successful would be a global first – aiming to wipe out the introduced species of rats, stoats and possums nation-wide in a mere 34 years.

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Categories: Environment

The secret life of an engineer: Blights on the landscape make my eyes light up | Anonymous

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/25 - 12:00am
I may have missed British industry’s glory days but I will never tire of seeing our back-of-a-fag-packet ideas ramped up to keep the country ticking over

As I walk from the main plant area to the jetty, the view before me is spectacular. The sun is bursting through the clouds and illuminating a hive of activity, and the contrast between the man-made and the natural is striking. A family of grey seals is lounging by the shore; and alongside, an Indonesian tanker is docked and ready to receive a shipment of product, which our team is pumping through a network of decaying steel pipes built in the 1970s. The Indonesian crew members share jokes with the British workers despite the obvious language barrier. There is a mutual respect and a shared understanding that will always exist between workers sharing a trade and a way of life.

Despite the importance of the reliance on technology and cold logic in the industrial world, it is these daily interactions with people of all different backgrounds and the positive energy that comes from successful collaboration that I like most about my job as an engineer. There is nothing quite like the feeling of reaching the end of a project that you have been grafting over for months and finally seeing the system that you first sketched out with your peers on the back of a fag packet being bolted into position and ramped up for the first time.

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Categories: Environment

Burning coal for gas in UK seabeds would flame pollution, says report

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 10:00pm

Friends of the Earth condemns Coal Authority for granting licences for underground coal gasification at 19 UK sites

Plans to set fire to coal under the seabed at up to 19 sites around the UK would cause significant climate pollution, groundwater contamination and toxic waste, according to a report by environmentalists.

The UK government’s Coal Authority has granted licences for underground coal gasification (UCG) covering more than 1,500 sq km of seabed off north-east and north-west England, Wales and east central Scotland.

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Categories: Environment

Wine without waste: De Bortoli aims to be Australia's first zero-waste winery

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 9:25pm

Solar energy, no sodium and organic fertiliser: how one of Australia’s biggest wineries is reducing waste while saving money and energy

One of Australia’s biggest family-owned wineries wants to become the country’s first zero-waste wine producer, and has invested more than $15m to achieve this goal.

De Bortoli Wines, which has wineries at four sites in two states, has already cut the amount of waste it disposes to landfill from 300 tonnes a year to 48 tonnes as part of a long-term sustainable business plan adopted in 2004.

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Categories: Environment

The Arctic skua, an aerial highway robber: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 28 July 1916

The ragwort is out on the sandhills, masses of handsome flowers above dense, dark green leaves, except where a colony of black and orange cinnabar caterpillars is defoliating the strong plants. Brighter even than the ragwort is the yellow-wort, each flower facing the sun above its stem-pierced leaves. Acres are plentifully sprinkled with yellow-worts, pink centauries, marsh helleborines with nodding mauve or purple white-lipped flowers, and grass of Parnassus with elegant white flowers delicately veined with grey. On the level stretches are considerable areas of solid pink, paler but more dainty than that of the centaury, for the small, short-stalked flowers of the bog pimpernel grow so close together as to hide their creeping leaves.

Over this floral wilderness a few terns still call harshly, for belated pairs, their earlier efforts having failed, yet hope to hatch their two or three mottled eggs. When, one day this week, we left the sandhills, we found scores of adult birds resting on the sands, and others offering small shining fish to the young they had tempted towards the sea; over the water beyond were many more beating up and down, hovering and diving. Suddenly, from the dunes behind, came a wild, angry clamour, and an Arctic skua, big and brown beside the dainty terns, came skimming towards the beach. Two or three irate terns followed it, and the resting birds on the shore got up in a flurried cloud. Heedless of this noisy multitude and their mobbing cries it singled out one with food in its coral bill and, twisting and dodging from side to side, chased it until the quarry was dropped. Had we been near enough we might have seen the skua stoop try catch the dropped fish before it reached the water, for that is the constant habit of this fierce aerial highway robber.

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Categories: Environment

Grey triggerfish – new to British waters, and to the fishmonger's slab

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 1:30pm

A fish familiar to Mediterranean fishermen can now be caught around Britain, from the south-west to the Hebrides

A favourite haunt of a newcomer to British shores, the grey triggerfish Balistes capriscus, is the seaside pier. For the holiday angler it could be quite a shock landing such an unfamiliar fish, and it will need caution. Triggerfish have small mouths but eight sharp teeth and strong jaws, useful for crushing the shells of mussels and other prey.

The increase in sea temperatures of around 1C in the last 30 years, caused by climate change, has attracted this and other newcomers more familiar to fishermen in Mediterranean countries. Unlike the octopus, which still seems confined to the southern half of Britain and Ireland, the grey triggerfish is moving north quite fast.

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Categories: Environment

Campaigners seek to reintroduce Eurasian lynx to parts of Britain

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 7:53am

Charity begins local consultation on plan to introduce 10 Eurasian lynxes back into wild in north of England and southern Scotland

Lynx could soon be reintroduced to the north of England and southern Scotland as the charity campaigning for the return of the wild mammal, which was last seen across Britain around 700AD, launches its final stage of a consultation.

The project to introduce 10 Eurasian lynxes back into the wild, which has also considered sites in Aberdeenshire, will this week begin discussions with farmers and tourist operators around Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

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Categories: Environment

‘World can’t afford to silence us’: black church leaders address climate change

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 3:30am

One of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warns that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution

African American religious leaders have added their weight to calls for action on climate change, with one of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warning that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution.

The African Methodist Episcopal church has passed its first resolution in its 200-year history devoted to climate change, calling for a swift transition to renewable energy.

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Categories: Environment

2 Major California Wildfires Prompt Thousands Of Home Evacuations

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/07/24 - 1:10am

A burned body was found near a massive northern Los Angeles brushfire that's forced the evacuation of 1,500 homes. As of Saturday night, the 31-square-mile fire was just 10 percent contained.

Categories: Environment

The eco guide to cotton towels

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/07/23 - 10:00pm

Buy organic cotton and you’ll help transform lives, communities, the environment, the world…

The textiles industry is revolting. It causes 10% of the planet’s carbon footprint, while the dyeing and treatment of textiles is responsible for 17% of all industrial water pollution. Cotton uses 3% of global water, and the damage from cotton farming is $83bn. This eco cost is partially offset by longevity: a bath sheet should be in service for 10 years. I’m serious. So I was distressed to hear that 4,000 Wimbledon towels had been nicked as souvenirs by players. I make an appeal to Djokovic, Williams, Murray et al: please keep them towels in service.

Every time you make a purchasing decision, you’re also making a production decision, so when you come to replace towels and bed linen, go for organic. Currently, just 1% of the world’s cotton is organic. Let’s get that higher. Growing organic cotton is a far more responsible use of farmable land and fresh water, than conventional. The Textile Exchange surveyed 82,000 hectares of land in 2014 and found reduced global-warming potential, lower soil erosion, less water use and less energy demand from organic, as opposed to conventional, cotton growers.

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Categories: Environment
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