Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 1:13pm

El Niño driving current spike in warm weather and May almost certain to be warmer than average from 1961 to 1990

Unseasonably warm weather across Australia, which is set to continue through the coming month, might be putting a spring in people’s step but is a clear sign of dangerous climate change, according climate scientists and meteorologists.

Australia and the rest of the world have been reeling from a string of temperature records being smashed. February caused alarm when it was the most unusually warm month on record by a huge margin. But that record was broken immediately by March.

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Categories: Environment

Stanford board votes not to divest from fossil fuels despite protests

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 12:43pm

‘We believe the long-term solution is for all of us to reduce our consumption of fossil fuel resources,’ board says after years of protests at the California campus

Stanford University’s board of trustees has voted not to divest from fossil fuels in a move that has drawn widespread criticisms from students and environmental groups as other colleges across the US have pledged to end oil and gas investments in response to campus protests.

The decision at Stanford, a prestigious university that has advertised itself as a “leader in combating climate change”, comes after years of protests at the northern California campus, including a high-profile sit-in last year during which students demanded that the school “completely divest” its $22.2bn endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

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Categories: Environment

Keeping Bees Safe: It's A Ruff Job, But This Doggy Detective Gets It Done

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 10:34am

Mack is the newest addition to the Maryland Department of Agriculture's apiary inspection team. He uses his superior sniffer to find hives infected with a contagious disease that kills bee colonies.

Categories: Environment

Obama declares disaster as Marshall Islands suffers worst-ever drought

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 10:30am

The declaration will allow Fema to provide emergency relief to the archipelago, which received just a quarter of its usual rainfall during November to February

Barack Obama has declared the severe drought in the Marshall Islands a disaster, opening the way for emergency US funding for the Pacific island nation.

The disaster declaration, which follows a request from Marshallese president Hilda Heine on 1 April, will allow Fema to provide emergency relief to the archipelago, which is suffering one of its worst-ever droughts. Fema is able to provide federal assistance to overseas territories such as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Marshall Islands, as well as US states.

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Categories: Environment

Richard Hedley obituary

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 9:30am

My dad, Richard Hedley, who has died aged 80, said he was lucky to have lived in two of God’s great counties. His childhood county of Northumberland inspired his love of the outdoors, but Hampshire, his home for nearly 60 years, was where he left a lasting legacy through his work in conserving a rare species of orchid.

Born in Whitley Bay, to Francis, a clergyman, and Sybil, a teacher, Richard and his brother, Nicholas, enjoyed a childhood peppered with hill-walking and fishing, and which included evacuation during the second world war to the village of Hepple. These semi-rural early years, completed with education at the progressive Kingsmoor boarding school, in Glossop, Derbyshire, led Richard to study botany and biological sciences at King’s College, Durham (now Newcastle University), before training as a teacher. He met Jean, his wife of 57 years, when he was 18 and they married in 1959.

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Categories: Environment

VW and Shell accused of trying to block EU push for electric cars

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 9:09am

Industry giants’ call for biofuels over electric and fuel-efficient cars puts Europe’s carbon emissions targets at risk, say experts

VW and Shell have been accused of trying to block Europe’s push for electric cars and more efficient cars, by saying biofuels should be at heart of efforts to green the industry instead.

The EU is planning two new fuel efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030 to help meet promises made at the Paris climate summit last December.

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Swaziland unveils plan to legalise rhino horn to pay for anti-poaching efforts

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 8:40am

Leaked document shows proceeds from the sale of 330kg stockpile would be used to protect country’s 73 white rhinos from poaching

The kingdom of Swaziland has made a surprise proposal to legalise the trade in rhino horn in order to pay for anti-poaching measures.

In a leaked document addressed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), Swaziland’s anti-poaching body said it wanted to sell the country’s 330kg stockpile of horn collected from naturally deceased animals and confiscated from poachers.

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Categories: Environment

Rowan Williams calls on Cambridge University to divest from fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 7:48am

Former archbishop of Canterbury says the university should withdraw its £5.8bn fund from from oil, coal and gas on ethical and financial grounds

Rowan Williams has called on the University of Cambridge to divest from fossil fuels, arguing that climate change is “a life-and-death question”.

The former archbishop of Canterbury and master of Magdalene college made his comments in a foreword to a 74-page report on divestment by student campaign group Cambridge Zero Carbon Society.

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Categories: Environment

UK government faces second court battle over air pollution plans

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 7:37am

High court to hear case against government’s ‘woefully inadequate’ plans to tackle air pollution, just a year after losing in the supreme court

The UK government is to be sued in the high court over its air pollution plans, just a year after losing at the supreme court and being ordered to fulfil its legal duty to cut pollution rapidly.

A request for a new judicial review by environmental lawyers at ClientEarth was granted by a judge on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

Shareholder pressure mounts on downgraded ExxonMobil

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 6:04am

Aviva among latest investors to declare support for climate change resolution at next month’s AGM, reports Climate Home

A growing list of major investors is backing calls on ExxonMobil to acknowledge climate risk, after its credit rating was downgraded on Tuesday.

British insurer Aviva and Seattle’s public pension fund are among the latest to declare their support for a shareholder resolution to be considered at next month’s AGM. California’s CalPERS, New York City Pension Fund and the Church of England are also in favour.

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Categories: Environment

Two of the world's top three insecticides harm bumblebees – study

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 6:00am

Different types of neonicotinoid pesticide have varying effects on colonies with one showing no bee decline, say scientists

Two of the world’s most widely used insecticides cause significant harm to bumblebee colonies, a new study has found, but a third had no effect.

The work shows the distinct effects of each type of neonicotinoid pesticide, from cuts in live bees and eggs to changed sex ratios and numbers of queens. Previously, the different types of neonicotinoids have often been treated as interchangeable.

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Categories: Environment

UK support for fracking hits new low

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 4:33am

Just 19% of people back fracking while public support for renewables has surged to 81%, government poll shows

Public support for fracking in the UK has fallen to a new low, according to government polling, at the same time as backing for renewable energy has hit a record high.

The survey, which is repeated every few months, shows that public enthusiasm for the controversial energy extraction method has fallen steadily in the past two years while opposition to it has risen dramatically.

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Categories: Environment

Emma Thompson films Great British Bake Off spoof to protest fracking

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 3:28am

Oscar winner cooks up cake-themed sortie on land leased by energy firm Cuadrilla – sparking a farmer’s retaliatory dirty protest of his own

Emma Thompson has broken a court injunction – and come uncomfortably close to a manure-spreading tractor – to film a Great British Bake Off spoof on land leased for fracking.

Related: Emma Thompson: UK would be 'mad not to' stay in EU

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Categories: Environment

Workers face 'epidemic of heat-related injuries' due to climate change

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 3:19am

Major UN report warns heat stress suffered by factory and field workers will devastate health and reduce productivity

Workers in fields and factories face an epidemic of heat-related injuries that will devastate their health, income and productivity as climate change takes hold, a major UN report has warned.

Productivity losses alone could rise above $2tn by 2030, as outdoor employees in many regions slow their pace, take longer breaks and shift their work to cooler dusk and dawn hours.

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Categories: Environment

Can the Republican Party solve its science denial problem? | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 3:00am

Evolution and climate science denial are predominant on the political right; there is no equivalent on the left

There’s a widespread misconception about science denial – that on issues like the safety vaccines and genetically modified foods (GMOs), denial is found predominantly on the political left, mirroring the denial of evolution and climate science on the political right. This assumption has even been presented on The Daily Show, but it’s supported by precious little evidence. In fact, as Chris Mooney documented in great detail in 2014:

[The data] do not support the idea that vaccine denial is a special left-wing cause. As for GMOs, while resistance may be strongest on the far left, worries on this issue are quite prominent across the spectrum as well.

In neither case are these beliefs a mirror image, on the left, of climate change or evolution denial [on the political right].

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Categories: Environment

Baths to washing machines: welcome to the (almost) waterless home of the future

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 1:14am

Domestic products that eliminate the need for water could mean you’ll never have to get wet in the bath or boil an egg again

Dry shampoos have been a morning routine game-changer, but DryBath takes hygiene hacks one step further. Claiming to be the world’s first bath-substituting lotion, it is among a number of emerging waterless, or near waterless, household solutions.

Launched in 2012 by Headboy Industries, DryBath is a cleansing gel made of antiseptic essential oils, bioflavonoids and natural deodorant Tawas that can be rubbed and left on the skin. It was originally developed for poorer communities facing challenges around limited access to water and lack of basic sanitation. However it is proving most popular with working mums in modern homes.

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Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef tourism operators refuse media and politicians access to bleached reefs

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/27 - 11:48pm

Several major operators refuse to take Greens’ senators to bleached reefs as a backdrop for policy announcements, fearing potential impact on tourism

North Queensland tourism operators are routinely refusing to take media and politicians to see coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef for fear the attention will trigger a collapse in visitor numbers, it has been claimed.

Related: Great Barrier Reef: Greens call for new tax on mining to pay for damage

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Categories: Environment

Assessment of BP’s Bight oil drill plan secretive and weak, Senate told

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/27 - 9:53pm

The government’s ‘one-stop-shop’ devolution of approval for the project lowers environmental standards and reduces transparency, senators told

Risky deepwater drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight is being assessed under a weak and secretive regulatory regime, the Senate has heard. Senators were also told the project would have a much smaller economic benefit than the industry had suggested.

BP, the company responsible for the world’s biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is seeking approval to drill for oil in the bight after its initial application was knocked back last year.

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Categories: Environment

Black lung in Queensland coalminers caused by 'perfect storm' of factors

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/27 - 8:39pm

Report blames governments and mining companies, citing regulatory failure, industry indifference, poor dust control and irregular health monitoring

A “perfect storm” of regulatory failure, indifference from the mining industry, poor dust control and patchy health monitoring is responsible for the re-emergence of black lung disease among Queensland coalminers.

An interim report from a Senate select committee on health has placed the blame for the re-emergence of the disease – which was all but eradicated 30 years ago – at the feet of governments and miners.

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Categories: Environment

Second electricity connection to Tasmania under consideration

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/04/27 - 7:24pm

Announcing a feasibility study, PM says time has come to consider second link after challenge of breakage of existing Basslink interconnector

The federal government has launched a feasibility study into a second electricity connector between Tasmania and the mainland, which Malcolm Turnbull has said is “very likely” to prove its commercial viability.

Speaking in Tasmania on Thursday, the prime minister said he and Tasmania’s premier, Will Hodgman, believed the time had come to consider the second link because the state had “faced a very severe challenge in terms of energy supply with the breakage” in the Basslink interconnector, which is being repaired.

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