The grey parrot and the race against Africa’s wildlife extinction

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/24 - 1:44pm

The number of African greys has plunged to 1% of past levels, conservationists warn. But it is just one of a host of animals and plants on the continent whose future will be debated by more than 180 nations in Johannesburg this week

Perry, a five-year-old African grey parrot, is for sale on a well-known pet trade website for £750. She looks in good condition with her large black bill, red tail and white mask and her owner says she can whistle the tune of Flower of Scotland, does a passable imitation of R2D2 and is “very clever and funny”.

What Perry’s Scottish owner does not tell prospective buyers is that the African grey is close to extinction in the wild largely because of the international pet trade.

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Categories: Environment

Baby lobsters in hot water as ocean temperatures rise

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/24 - 8:48am

A new study by scientists in Maine found that if global warming trends continue, lobsters will struggle to survive by the year 2100

Baby lobsters might not be able to survive in the ocean’s waters if the ocean continues to warm at the expected rate.

That is the key finding of a study performed by scientists in Maine, the state most closely associated with lobster. The scientists, who are affiliated with the University of Maine Darling Marine Center and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, said the discovery could mean bad news for the future of one of America’s most beloved seafood treats, as well as the industry lobsters support.

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Categories: Environment

Could ants be the solution to antibiotic crisis?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/24 - 4:17am
Bacterial defences of fungus-farming ants could help in medical battle against superbugs

Scientists have pinpointed a promising new source of antibiotics: ants. They have found that some species – including leaf-cutter ants from the Amazon – use bacteria to defend their nests against invading fungi and microbes.

Chemicals excreted by the bacteria as part of this fight have been shown to have particularly powerful antibiotic effects and researchers are now preparing to test them in animals to determine their potential as medicines for humans.

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Categories: Environment

PHOTOS: Dreamlike Pictures Of The Water The World Needs

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2016/09/24 - 4:00am

Photographer Mustafa Abdulaziz has spent four years documenting the world's water woes. His "Water Stories" are now on display by New York's East River.

Categories: Environment

Red squirrels with a taste for antlers

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 9:30pm

Strathnairn, Highlands A squirrel at one of the wooden boxes suddenly darted along the branch and started gnawing away at the antler

For our first 29 years in this house we didn’t see a single red squirrel in the garden, but since May this year they have become daily visitors. The wooden feeder boxes on the apple trees have been a big attraction, and watching the squirrels push up the lids with their heads and reach in to get the peanuts can often be amusing.

However, some of them persist in visiting a wire feeder that was put out for birds, despite the difficulty of getting the nuts out. When the squirrels are at the feeders, I have noticed that a couple of mallard immediately head over to the bottom of the tree, to pick up any nuts or fragments they might let drop.

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Categories: Environment

Giant 'corpse flower' begins to bloom for first time in five years

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 7:07pm

Endangered plant named ‘morphy’ starts to smell like a burning cigar at Ivy League college but far worse whiffs lie in store at the weekend

A giant endangered “corpse flower” that got its nickname from its putrid smell started to bloom on Friday for the first time since 2011.

Related: 'Worse than one thousand pukes': fetid corpse flower overwhelms New York

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Categories: Environment

Lessons from the environmental front line | John Paul Brammer

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 10:01am

The Dakota pipeline protests have drawn indigenous people from across the Americas. But everyone else needs to understand it’s their fight too

“I’m here until January,” said a man sitting with his arms crossed in the backseat. The six of us had piled into an old Ford Taurus, hitching a ride back to camp from a prayer ceremony at the site in North Dakota where protests against the now infamous pipeline project had been met with riot police and attack dogs only days before. “The long haul.”

“Right on,” said a woman in the front. “That’s dedication.”

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Categories: Environment

Andrew Veitch obituary

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 9:29am
Trailblazer in science journalism

Andrew Veitch, who has died aged 70, was one of those journalists with a sustained talent for self-invention: a talent driven by enthusiasm, curiosity and a generous sense of responsibility. It took him to Channel 4 News as science correspondent, covering health and environment stories, as well as the occasional international crisis, and then from 2003 to BBC World, working as a freelance producer, writer and presenter of documentaries made by Rockhopper Productions.

However, Andy started in print, joining the Guardian in 1971. He became a subeditor in the features department – taking the reporter’s typewritten prose and the photographer’s printed pictures and composing them into finished newspaper pages to be steered through a complex process of hot metal production – but metamorphosed into a medical correspondent.

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Categories: Environment

Wildlife trade summit is a 'do or die' moment for endangered animals

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 8:25am

Conservationists urge countries to give imperilled species the highest level of protection at the global Cites summit opening on Saturday to prevent them becoming extinct in the wild

A global wildlife summit opening on Saturday is a “do or die” moment for endangered animals around the world, say conservationists, from iconic species such as elephants and lions to lesser known, but equally troubled, creatures such as devil rays and the psychedelic rock gecko.

The summit in Johannesburg brings together 181 nations to crack down on wildlife trafficking, currently a $20bn-a-year criminal enterprise, and to ensure the legal trade in food, skins, pets and traditional remedies does not threaten the survival of species. The member nations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will vote on proposals to toughen or loosen trade bans and regulations for over 500 species.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 6:00am

A dozing brown bear, hungry badger and a very hairy caterpillar are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Dutch parliament votes to close down country's coal industry

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 5:55am

Non-binding vote for 55% cut in CO2 emissions will require closure of remaining five plants and ensure country meets its Paris climate commitments

The Dutch parliament has voted for a 55% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030, which would require the closure of all the country’s coal-fired power plants.

The unexpected vote on Thursday night by 77 to 72 would bring the Netherlands clearly into line with the Paris climate agreement, with some of the most ambitious climate policies in Europe.

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Categories: Environment

Existing coal, oil and gas fields will blow carbon budget – study

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 5:53am

Expansion of fossil fuel extraction amounts to ‘climate denial’, says thinktank Oil Change International, but observers argue some additional oil and gas could be safe. Climate Home reports

The world’s working coal mines and oil and gas fields contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the threshold for catastrophic climate change, according to a report released on Thursday.

If all the existing fuel were to be burned, projects currently operating or under construction could be expected to release 942Gt CO2, said the report by US-based thinktank Oil Change International (OCI).

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Categories: Environment

Ivory crackdown, Greenland ice loss and Asian hornets – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 5:45am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

Norway's wolf cull pits sheep farmers against conservationists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 3:37am

Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming support for the cull runs deep

Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent, unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century.

But not everyone in Norway is behind the plan. The wildlife protection group Predator Alliance Norway, for example, has campaign posters that talk of wolves as essential for nature, and a tourist attraction for Norway.

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Categories: Environment

Terns follow record warm temperatures in 'shock' migration to north of Alaska

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 3:00am

Researchers on north-west coast of Alaska startled to discover Caspian terns 1,000 miles farther north than species had been previously recorded

Eyebrows would be raised if American crocodiles, found on the southern tip of Florida, decided to relocate to New York’s Fifth Avenue or Moroccan camels suddenly joined the tourist throng outside Buckingham Palace in London. Yet this is the scale of species shift that appears to be under way in Alaska.

In July, researchers in Cape Krusenstern national monument on the north-west coast of Alaska were startled to discover a nest containing Caspian terns on the gravelly beach of a lagoon. The birds were an incredible 1,000 miles further north than the species had been previously recorded.

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Categories: Environment

Ratifiying the Paris agreement will be a major step but must be the first of many

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/23 - 2:32am

Making the accord legally binding is not enough to guarantee the world keeps warming within agreed limits. That will take much more - not least ending our reliance on fossil fuels

In a rare show of international unity, more than 30 countries this week declared their plans to translate into national laws the Paris agreement on climate change.

As a result, by the end of this year, or soon after, the accord should come into effect and become binding under international law.

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Categories: Environment

Australians waste $10bn of food a year and Gen Y is largely to blame, says report

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/22 - 8:39pm

Survey finds households wasting up to $1,100 of food each year with problem worst in capital cities

Australians waste $10bn of food annually with “excitable” Generation Y consumers the worst offenders, according to a new report.

The RaboDirect Financial Health Barometer 2016 Food and Farming Report found that households wasted up to $1,100 worth of food each year, or 14% of their weekly groceries, with one in four Gen Y consumers saying they threw out up to 20% of their weekly groceries.

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Categories: Environment

BP's planned response to any Great Australian Bight oil spill too slow, says expert

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/22 - 8:31pm

Andrew Hopkins says BP’s plans to drill in Bight fall short of best practice and would not be allowed in other regions

BP is proposing to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight using plans that fall a long way short of industry best practice and would not be allowed in some other regions, according to an expert in oil spill disasters.

Andrew Hopkins, emeritus professor at the Australian National University, has researched BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Writing in the Conversation he said it was “by no means obvious” that BP had reduced risks of a spill in the Bight to as low as reasonably practicable, which is the requirement under Australian law.

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Categories: Environment

How climate science deniers can accept so many 'impossible things' all at once | Graham Readfern

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/22 - 6:47pm

New research claims psychological traits could help explain why climate science deniers often make contradictory arguments

Sometimes, climate science deniers will tell you that we can’t predict global temperatures in the future. Sometimes, they’ll say we’re heading for an ice age.

Occasionally, contrarians will say that no single weather event can prove human-caused global warming. But then they’ll point to somewhere that’s cold, claiming this disproves climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Greener pastures: the dairy farmers committed to sustainability

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/22 - 4:41pm

Biological farming, conservation planning and water recycling are part of a concerted push to make the milk industry more ‘carbon confident’

It was a soil bacteria course in New Zealand that convinced Reggie Davis to change his farming methods.

The fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmer had become increasingly concerned by the costs, chemicals and time involved in the use of nitrate fertilisers to maintain – what was considered to be – high-quality pasture for his dairy herd.

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Categories: Environment
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