Environment

New methods are improving ocean and climate measurements | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/06/20 - 3:00am

Improvements to ocean temperature measurements are making good measurements great

I have often said that global warming is really ocean warming. As humans add more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, it causes the Earth to gain energy. Almost all of that energy ends up in the oceans. So, if you want to know how fast the Earth is warming, you have to measure how fast the oceans are heating up.

Sounds easy enough at first, but when we recognize that the oceans are vast (and deep) we can appreciate the difficulties. How can we get enough measurements, at enough locations, and enough depths, to measure the oceans’ temperatures? Not only that, but since climate change is a long-term trend, it means we have to measure ocean temperature changes over many years and decades. We really want to know how fast the oceans’ temperatures are changing over long durations.

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Categories: Environment

Does the Great Barrier Reef's death haunt the dreams of coal's company directors? | David Ritter

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 4:24pm

The Business Council and Minerals Council of Australia have been silent about the bleaching of the reef but not all miners have to take the same path

As the scale of the recent catastrophe on the Great Barrier Reef has become widely known, a clamor has occurred across Australia.

People are grieving and furious about the devastation of our reef. I have lost count of the number of distressed people I have talked with, distraught at what has happened, hardly knowing what to say.

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Categories: Environment

Cambridge University rejects calls to divest from fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 4:01pm

Working group on investment responsibility argues it is better to keep investments in oil and gas companies, rather than divest £5.9bn endowment

The University of Cambridge has rejected calls to divest its £5.9bn endowment from fossil fuels, as students, academics and the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have called for.

In a report on Friday, the university ruled out future investments in coal and tar sands, although it currently has no direct holdings in either, and only negligible holdings in coal by investments managed externally.

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Categories: Environment

European commission warned of car emissions test cheating, five years before VW scandal

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 4:01pm

Documents seen by Guardian show that the commission’s in-house science service told it in 2010 that tests had uncovered what researchers suspected to be a ‘defeat device’

The European commission was warned by its own experts that a car maker was suspected of cheating emissions tests five years before the VW emissions scandal.

A documents cache seen by the Guardian show that the commission’s in-house science service told it in 2010 that tests had uncovered what researchers suspected to be a “defeat device” that could cheat emissions tests.

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Categories: Environment

Diverse coastal wildlife out on display: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 20 June 1916

June 19.
Deep purple marsh orchids pushed their sturdy, densely-packed heads through the damp turf, and graceful white flowers hung from the upright stalks of the wintergreens. These were in the level spaces between the dunes, but on the sand itself the pink-flowered bindweeds were out, trailing up the slopes and striving to hold the shifting grains. Good as the bindweed is, it is less effective than the restharrow, whose sticky leaves were dusted with blown particles though its matted roots held firm enough, firmer even than the marram grass, actually planted to stop the shifting of the sand.

Blue butterflies enjoyed the sunshine, settling to close their bright wings when a cloud obscured the sun, and lizards lay basking, but not sleeping, almost invisible upon the sand. Predatory tiger beetles, green gems, quartered the slopes like sporting dogs, then rising, whisked down wind to the next dune; and large, metallic-coated flies, their prey, dropped on the warm sand for a moment, ready to dart off sideways from even the shadow of the foe. The ringed plover whistled plaintively as it strove to lure us from the neighbourhood of its nest, now flying, now running swiftly to attract our attention, but the noisy redshanks, well dubbed “yelpers,” kept up an incessant din as they rapidly flew round and round, or passed above, yelping hard, with quivering wings and expanded, wedge-shaped tails.

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Categories: Environment

Willow warbler: our commonest, and most inconspicuous, summer migrant

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 1:30pm

The willow warbler, easily confused with other visitors, breeds throughout Britain, from Cornwall to Shetland

What’s the commonest summer visitor to our shores? The swallow perhaps, or the swift? The house martin, or the blackcap?

Actually it’s the willow warbler – a bird not all that many people have heard of, let alone heard. Yet the silvery, shivery song of this tiny, leaf-like sprite is the accompaniment to the burgeoning of spring – from the Isles of Scilly in the south to Shetland in the north.

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Categories: Environment

Woman attacked by bear while running marathon in New Mexico

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 12:55pm
  • Officials say female black bear attacked after cub ran up a tree
  • Runner suffers bites, scratches and injuries to head, neck and upper body

Wildlife officials say a bear attacked a woman who was running a marathon in a national preserve in northern New Mexico.

Related: How a mama bear saved a woman and her dog from the wolf stalking them

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Categories: Environment

Top Peruvian Amazon tourist destination invaded by gold-miners

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 10:53am

Interview with environmental activist Victor Zambrano on his work protecting the Tambopata National Reserve in Madre de Dios

The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that travel and tourism’s “total contribution” to Peru’s GDP will exceed 11% by 2026, but how well, in the long-term, is Peru protecting its best tourist assets? Among foreign tourists easily the most popular destination in the country’s lowland Amazon region is the 274,000 hectare Tambopata National Reserve (TNR) - yet it currently stands invaded by gold-miners.

The TNR is in the Madre de Dios region in the south-east of Peru. Over 632 bird species, 1,200 butterfly species, 103 amphibian species, 180 fish species, 169 mammal species and 103 reptile species make it one of the most biodiverse places in the world, according to the Environment Ministry, but those numbers don’t compare to the gold-miners. According to Victor Zambrano, president of the TNR’s Management Committee and the recently-announced winner of the 2016 National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation, there are 8,000 miners in the reserve itself and more than 35,000 in its buffer zone.

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Categories: Environment

Fundraising drive aims to save seabird paradise off Scotland

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 10:36am

World heritage site of St Kilda, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, is suffering a dramatic fall in species due to warming seas

A fundraising appeal to help preserve St Kilda, the acclaimed world heritage site off the west coast of Scotland, has begun after research showed catastrophic crashes in seabird numbers linked to climate change.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is asking for donations to help fund the £270,000-a-year costs of conserving the once-populated archipelago, which sits in the Atlantic 41 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.

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Categories: Environment

UK government needs a nuclear plan B, says Tim Yeo

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 8:10am

Hinkley Point delays mean projects such as Bradwell in Essex should be fast-tracked, says former energy select committee chair

Ministers need to talk to the Chinese about fast-tracking the planned reactor at Bradwell in Essex because the future of the £18bn Hinkley Point project is so uncertain, according to a leading pro-nuclear campaigner.

Tim Yeo, a former chair of the energy and climate change committee, said the government should also consider whether the Russian state operator, Rosatom, or the British state could build new atomic plants.

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Categories: Environment

Trees of life: tiny beetles turn Californian forests into tinder for energy

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 8:00am

Dry weather in California and growing fire risks are prompting a new effort to cull dead trees affected by bark beetles and use them to make electricity

California’s record four-year drought has primed its coastal forests for a bug invasion. Millions of native bark beetles, which thrive in warm conditions, are burrowing into trees weakened by a lack of water, leaving in their wake dry, dead wood that becomes natural tinder. The beetles and drought have already killed off 29m trees, with tens of millions more expected to become casualties.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a California company, decided to turn the serious fire hazard into a source of low-carbon energy. It received the state’s approval last week. PG&E plans to clear away dead or dying trees close to its power lines and use them to produce electricity.

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Categories: Environment

Carbon capture: UK pays firms £30m despite scrapping projects

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 6:17am

Government is accused of pouring money away with payments to companies including Shell and Drax

The government has handed out almost £30m to Shell and other companies for work on carbon capture and storage (CCS) despite scrapping their projects that could have played a role in beating climate change.

The payments, revealed in a written parliamentary answer, come as the UK government is about to host the international Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum even though it has just mothballed a £1bn CCS research programme.

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Categories: Environment

Wentworth activists GetUp to mischief with Malcolm Turnbull's election posters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/06/19 - 1:10am

Lobby group says ‘guerilla street nannas’ are out in the PM’s electorate hanging climate change posters below Turnbull’s own

While the ordinary voters of Wentworth sheltered from the rain on Sunday afternoon, a small group of activists set out on a stealthy campaign against their local member, the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Dubbed the “guerilla street nannas” by GetUp climate campaign director, Sam Regester, the group, mostly comprised of women in their 60s, braved the weather to check on their latest endeavour: a set of corflute signs showing the torso of a man in a business suit crossing his fingers.

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Categories: Environment

The lifeboat rescue teams hanging by a thread

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 11:00pm

As one of our best-loved charities, the RNLI attracts enormous public support. But is it making life difficult for Britain’s independent lifeboat crews?

It’s a sunny day on the Isle of Wight. Mark Birch is building an extension for a local shop when his pager goes off. He scans the device briefly then turns and starts running. His colleagues are not surprised. They’re used to it. Within minutes he arrives at the local lifeboat station in Sandown on the southeast coast. Soon he and his two crew are at sea, powering towards Culver Cliff, where two swimmers, men in their 30s, are trapped against the rocks by a heavy swell.

It’s a tricky operation to steer the rigid inflatable boat close enough without it, too, being smashed against the rocks. Mark has to bring it in quickly then hover, balanced carefully at 90 degrees to the swell. The crew hoist one man out and Mark swings the boat round for the other before turning for home. With both men delivered safely to the emergency services, the boat is rehoused, washed and prepared for the next incident. Within two hours Mark is back at the building site.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to reusables

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 10:00pm

Single-use packaging is still normal practice, but every reusable receptacle saves about 100 disposable versions

I recently bought a set of top-of-the-range reusables. For coffee I got a KeepCup (keepcup.com), which fits neatly under any coffee machine, ensuring baristas don’t hate you during the morning rush. For water, famously available for free from a tap, I bought a Jerry Bottle (jerrybottle.com) and to add bubbles, a SodaStream (sodastream.co.uk) – each carbonator displaces 40 bottles.

For every reusable receptacle you bring into your life, you save about 100 disposable versions. Plus, I’ve made new friends. When I bring my KeepCup to the coffee stand people want to know where I got it. Single-use packaging is so normalised – the average UK household gets through 500 plastic bottles a year – that it turns out you have to re-make the case for reusables quite often.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 4:25pm

Swarming mayflies, a black-naped monarch and beached whales are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

The Barrier Reef is in danger – but it’s still one of the world’s great sights

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 4:04pm
In Cairns, north Queensland, coral bleaching isn’t the real worry – it’s the fear that tourists won’t come because they think the reef is already dead

Anyone in the Cairns tourism industry who might be feeling a sense of panic about the largest destruction of coral on the Great Barrier Reef since divers first strapped on snorkels is not letting it show.

The north-eastern Australian city – a global holiday destination where the natural wonder’s name festoons everything from the signs greeting airport arrivals to the local casino – is celebrating a storming tourist trade over the last 12 months.

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Categories: Environment

Obama at Yosemite attacks 'lip service' to natural beauty amid climate inaction

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 1:18pm

Barack Obama warned on Saturday that climate change could ravage many of America’s vaunted national parks, criticizing political opponents who “pay lip service” to areas of natural beauty while opposing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Related: Donald Trump would allow Keystone XL pipeline and end Paris climate deal

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Categories: Environment

Colorado mother fights off mountain lion that attacked five-year-old son

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/06/18 - 6:07am
  • Boy playing outside home suffers injuries to face, head and neck
  • Lion killed as presumed to be ‘either injured or very ill’, authorities say

Authorities say a mother fought off a mountain lion that attacked her five-year-old son in Colorado on Friday night.

Related: Disney World to post alligator warning signs in wake of child's death

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Categories: Environment

Curiosity rewarded in a New Forest clearing

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/06/17 - 9:30pm

Knightwood Inclosure, New Forest This clearance was done so long ago that many of the stumps dotting the area are punctured with holes made by wood-boring larvae

We crossed the ditch together into the clear-felled area of this inclosure. At once, she dropped at my feet and disappeared into the heather. She didn’t budge as I gently pulled the stems apart to find her, and no doubt would have been more active on a warmer and less overcast day.

The common heath moth Ematurga atomaria atomaria comes in a variety of colours. This female is the dark form; her wings, barely two centimetres in span, are crossed by ragged black lines set against a weave of tawny scales. No doubt her pheromones are already wafting on the breeze, inviting suitors to come and mate.

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Categories: Environment
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