AGL fined $124,000 for failing to declare political donations

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 7:42pm

Energy giant failed to declare donations it made to NSW major parties at a time when it was seeking development approvals for projects on state’s mid-north coast

Energy giant AGL has been fined $124,000 for failing to declare political donations it made to the New South Wales Labor, Liberal and National parties.

The penalty, handed down in the NSW Land and Environment Court on Thursday, comes after AGL last year pleaded guilty to 11 counts of breaking political disclosure laws between January 2008 and April 2014.

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Categories: Environment

Powerful Storms Make Dent In California's Historic Drought

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 2:29pm

A week of powerful storms on the West Coast is helping to put a dent in California's historic drought, yet state officials are warning they are by no means a drought buster.

Categories: Environment

Volkswagen To Plead Guilty, Pay $4.3 Billion In Emissions Scheme Settlement

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 1:12pm

The Justice Department also announced the indictments of six VW executives. Volkswagen has admitted equipping diesel vehicles with software to cheat emissions tests and then lying to regulators.

(Image credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Categories: Environment

Philippines rejects Dora the Explorer underwater theme park

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 11:03am

Environment minister says she will not allow US TV network Nickelodeon to build park on pristine Palawan island

The Philippine environment minister has said the US children’s television network Nickelodeon will not be allowed to build an underwater theme park on one of the country’s most pristine islands.

Nickelodeon’s parent firm announced on Monday it would build a themed attraction inspired by its cartoon characters such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants as part of a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) development on Palawan, generating alarm from environmentalists.

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Categories: Environment

World's largest tropical peatland found in Congo basin

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 11:00am

Carbon-rich peatlands could store three years’ worth of world’s total fossil fuel emissions, say scientists

Scientists have discovered the world’s largest tropical peatland in the remote Congo swamps, estimated to store the equivalent of three year’s worth of the world’s total fossil fuel emissions.

Researchers mapped the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo basin and found they cover 145,500 sq km – an area larger than England. The swamps could lock in 30bn tonnes of carbon that was previously not known to exist, making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth.

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Categories: Environment

MPs tell Theresa May to halt sale of Green Investment Bank

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 8:04am

Caroline Lucas criticises proposed sale to Macquarie due to Australian firm’s ‘appalling track record of asset-stripping’

Theresa May has been urged to stop the Green Investment Bank being “killed off” by a sale to private firm Macquarie, amid fears the assets will be stripped and its environmental purpose abandoned.

MPs from across the parties raised concerns about the proposed sale in the House of Commons, after Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, called a debate arguing the whole process should be stopped.

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Categories: Environment

Water relief for 8,000 thirsty elephants neglected by Zimbabwe

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 6:07am

Boreholes set up by local conservationists are saving drought-stricken elephants in Hwange national park

As a drought-inducing El Niño settled over southern Africa in 2016, the animals of Hwange national park in Zimbabwe faced desperate water shortages.

During a heatwave in October, conservation worker Prince Sansole spotted an elephant partially submerged in a muddy pool. His movements initially looked no different from the water games routinely played by the giant creatures. Only a closer look revealed that the young bull was in trouble, struggling to get up. His limp trunk kept dropping back into the water, unable to catch a fresh breath.

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Categories: Environment

Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense | Bill McKibben

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 5:00am

Now a fossil fuel executive will run America’s foreign policy, right out in the open. Donald Trump gets credit for a kind of barbaric transparency

In one of the futile demonstrations that marked the run-up to the Iraq war, I saw a woman with a sign that read “How Did Our Oil End Up Under Their Sand?” In nine words she managed to sum up a great deal of American foreign policy, back at least as far as the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran and helped toss the Middle East into its still-boiling cauldron.

If the Senate approves Rex Tillerson after his testimony on Wednesday, they’ll be continuing in that inglorious tradition – in fact, they’ll be taking it to a new height, and cutting out the diplomats who have traditionally played the middleman role.

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Categories: Environment

New species of gibbon discovered in China

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/01/11 - 2:31am

Newly recognised species given the name ‘Skywalker hoolock gibbon’ by the team that proved it was distinct from other Chinese gibbons

Scientists have discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests.

Although scientists had been studying the primate for some time, new research has revealed it is in fact a different species.

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Categories: Environment

Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 11:00pm

Rising temperatures and crop farming mean birds are disappearing from parts of England, says study, while butterflies and dragonflies are faring better

Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.

The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.

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Categories: Environment

The tiny world in a rotten post top

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 10:30pm

Wenlock Edge, Shropshire In this miniature pool had fallen a gunk of seeds and leaves, and lawns of algae had spread

Something about the fencepost grabbed my attention, and instead of watching the path winding through dark trees against the orchestral sweep of a January sky, I picked out small visual notes: moss, water, tree rings on the post.

I’d passed this way 100 times; each time was different and each time I’d been looking elsewhere. What brought the fencepost into focus this time? Perhaps it was the dissimilitude of small birds in the trees: blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, robins, so different from each other yet similar in their size and movement, their little mutterings under breath made me notice smaller details.

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Categories: Environment

Crocodile caught near far north Queensland children's playground

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 7:00pm

Wildlife officers warn heavy rains influencing ‘unexpected’ crocodile movements after 1.5 metre reptile initially mistaken for palm frond

Wildlife officers were called to remove a saltwater crocodile near a children’s playground in far north Queensland on Tuesday, amid warnings that heavy rains were seeing the dangerous reptiles turning up in “unexpected places”.

The 1.5 metre crocodile was spotted by residents in a grass area opposite a caravan park playground in Bramston Beach, near Cairns.

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Categories: Environment

First US bumblebee species listed as endangered after numbers plummet

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 6:00pm

Rusty patched bumblebee population plunged nearly 90% since the late 1990s

The rusty patched bumblebee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once familiar to much of North America, was listed on Tuesday as an endangered species, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such federal protection.

One of several species facing sharp declines, the bumblebee known to scientists as Bombus affinis has plunged nearly 90% in abundance and distribution since the late 1990s, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Categories: Environment

Alaskan Village, Citing Climate Change, Seeks Disaster Relief In Order To Relocate

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 4:08pm

Rising temperatures and thawing permafrost threaten tiny Newtok. Its residents want President Obama to declare an official disaster, to unlock the millions it needs to move the community.

(Image credit: Eric Keto/Alaska's Energy Desk)

Categories: Environment

'Clean coal' project is a personal endeavour not linked to lobby groups, founder says

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 12:37pm

Australian Power Project launched by former AGL spokesman, with assistance from former Malcolm Turnbull advisor, aims to give a voice to businesses ‘crippled’ by high energy costs

A ‘clean coal’ advocacy organisation which is opposed to higher renewable energy targets and seeks to give a voice for businesses “being crippled by massive gas and electricity bills” has been launched by a former spokesman for AGL, with apparent assistance from a former advisor to Malcolm Turnbull.

The Australian Power Project, which appears to have launched in late 2016, calls for businesses affected to share their stories and urges government to take a “middle road” in energy policy, and has been quoted in media reports.

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Categories: Environment

Snow monkey attempts sex with deer in rare example of interspecies mating

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 11:32am

Monkey’s unusual behaviour is only the second recorded observation of sexual interaction between distantly related wild animals

A male snow monkey has been observed attempting to have sex with female sika deer on Japan’s Yakushima Island, in an unusual example of interspecies mating behaviour.

Related: Sandpipers go the extra 8,000 miles to have as much sex as possible

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Categories: Environment

Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 11:27am

The national railway company, NS, said that its renewables target had been met a year earlier than planned

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said .

“Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

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Categories: Environment

China: the secret lives of urban waste pickers

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 10:49am

Chinadialogue interviews two sociologists who have documented the hidden lives of waste pickers in recycling communities on the outskirts of Beijing

Rarely do we stop and question where our waste goes and who collects and sorts it. Waste pickers work at the margins of our lives, removing things we don’t want to see. In a new book, The Life of Waste, sociologists Wu Ka Ming and Zhang Jieying describe these unknown lives that play out on the outskirts of Beijing. They visit the village of Lengshui, 50km north of Beijing, home to a community of waste pickers.

Part of this world is as one might expect it to be. Piles of rubbish and pools of foul water gather, while pets and children play in the waste. Yet homes are often spotless, as if domestic life becomes more orderly the more chaotic the surroundings. The families from all over China form close-knit communities that extend beyond blood relationships. Chinadialogue (CD) spoke to the authors about life in these recycling communities.

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Categories: Environment

Businesses and investors renew plea to Trump: don't ignore climate change

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 8:17am

A letter released today contains signatures from 530 companies including Campbell Soup and Johnson & Johnson, urging the president-elect to take action

More than 600 businesses and investors signed and released a letter on Tuesday urging president-elect Donald Trump to fight climate change – a move that coincides with the start of the Senate hearings to confirm his cabinet nominees, who are poised to gut existing climate policies.

The letter contains signatures from roughly 200 more companies and investors than when it was initially submitted after the election in November, including Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson and the New York State Retirement Fund. The previous plea was signed by companies like Monsanto, eBay, Levi Strauss and Staples.

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Categories: Environment

Warming Oceans Could Boost Dangerous Toxin In Your Shellfish Dinner

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/01/10 - 5:00am

A new study finds a link between warming waters and a dangerous neurotoxin that builds up in species like Dungeness crabs, clams and mussels — and can be hazardous, even fatal in people who eat them.

(Image credit: Eric Risberg/AP)

Categories: Environment
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