New Zealand has its fourth-warmest year on record

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 6:25pm

100 daily records set around the country in 2019, with experts saying global heating is driving the trend

New Zealand has experienced its fourth-warmest year since records began in 1909, with temperatures between 0.5C and 1.2C higher than annual averages across the country.

There were 100 new daily temperature records set at spots around New Zealand.

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Categories: Environment

How the oil industry has spent billions to control the climate change conversation

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 1:39pm

Activists say Democratic climate proposals won’t be able to pass until lawmakers put a stop to oil companies trying to rebrand themselves

America’s oil companies are trying to rebrand themselves as part of the solution to the climate crisis, launching a campaign to counter top Democrats’ proposals to rapidly cut pollution from the power plants and cars that run on the industry’s petroleum and natural gas.

They say natural gas – a fossil fuel that emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – is helping to slow climate disruption by providing an alternative to coal.

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Categories: Environment

Viking runestone may allude to extreme winter, study says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 12:23pm

Ninth-century Rök stone may deal with fear of cold climate crisis in Scandinavia

One of the world’s most famous runestones is now believed to have been erected by Vikings fearing a repeat of a previous cold climate crisis in Scandinavia, a study has concluded.

The Rök stone, raised in the ninth century near Lake Vättern in south central Sweden, bears the longest runic inscription in the world, with more than 700 runes covering its five sides.

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Categories: Environment

UK could put tariffs on food from countries with lower standards

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 7:36am

Environment secretary tells farmers WTO rules would allow UK to uphold standards

The UK could introduce tariffs on imports of food from countries with lower food safety and farming standards than the UK, using World Trade Organization rules, the environment secretary has suggested.

“We want to ensure all our food comes from countries that meet our standards,” Theresa Villiers told an audience of farmers on Wednesday. “That is what the powerful tools of the WTO do, they enable us to impose tariffs where we believe products do not meet our high standards.”

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Categories: Environment

Louisiana greenlights huge pollution-causing plastics facility in 'Cancer Alley'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 7:04am

The $9.4bn facility, owned by Formosa Plastics, would consist of 14 separate plastic plants in St James parish, known as Cancer Alley

The state of Louisiana has issued a series of key air quality permits for a gargantuan proposed petrochemical complex that would roughly double toxic emissions in its local area and, according to environmentalists, become one of the largest plastics pollution-causing facilities in the world.

The $9.4bn facility, owned by the Taiwanese chemicals firm Formosa Plastics, would consist of 14 separate plastics plants across 2,300 acres of land in St James parish, a largely African American community in the already heavily polluted area in southern Louisiana known as Cancer Alley.

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Categories: Environment

Why Iran crisis is unlikely to hit US consumers hard at the gas pumps

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/01/08 - 2:00am

Rumors of Middle East war used to inevitably lead to soaring gas prices but fracking revolution has changed the market landscape

For many older Americans the thought of war in the Middle East will trigger memories of soaring gas prices and long lines at the pumps. But as US relations with Iran sink to a new low there is, as yet, no sign of panic.

Related: By killing Qassem Suleimani, Trump has achieved the impossible: uniting Iran | Dina Esfandiary

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Categories: Environment

'Like sending bees to war': the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 11:00pm

Bees are essential to the functioning of America’s titanic almond industry – and billions are dying in the process

Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.

Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.

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Categories: Environment

Kangaroo pouches, koala mittens: knitters unite to aid animals in Australia fires

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 5:40pm

Volunteers worldwide create shelters for wildlife such as baby marsupials that need pouches to grow

The bushfires affecting Australia in recent weeks have sparked a global crafting effort, as thousands of volunteers unite to knit, crochet and sew shelters for animals affected by the crisis.

Millions of hectares of land have burned in the bushfires, killing an estimated 1 billion animals. As the death toll climbs, many creatures have been orphaned or left without homes.

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Categories: Environment

Birdwatch: treasured moments as the day, and year, closes

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 2:30pm

Even on a dull December day my local patch yields snatches of song and glimpses of egrets

A spare hour at dusk, on the last day of work before Christmas, and after a wet month I took the chance for a walk around my local patch. As often happens here, I saw virtually nothing for the first half of the walk: a few blackbirds chinking along the wooded drive, the rooks in the rookery by the car park.

And then, after dusk had fallen, when it was almost too dark to see, it all kicked off. First, two marsh harriers, floating low over the reedbed; then, no fewer than half a dozen great white egrets, each heading purposefully south to roost on the main Avalon Marshes. These elegant birds arrived here from France just a few years ago, enabled by the warming climate to extend their range northwards. Cetti’s warbler, another relatively recent arrival from continental Europe, wren and robin – the three birds that do sing during the winter – all uttered snatches of song. And as darkness fell, the jink and twist and turn of a male sparrowhawk, shooting across the path in front of me before disappearing into the trees.

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Categories: Environment

IMF boss says raise taxes on the rich to tackle inequality

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 10:36am

Kristalina Georgieva calls for rethink of economic policies to better help those left behind

Raising income tax on the wealthy will help close the growing gap between rich and poor and can be done without harming growth, the head of the International Monetary Fund has said.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, said higher marginal tax rates for the better off were needed as part of a policy rethink to tackle inequality.

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Categories: Environment

Republicans preach fiscal conservatism, yet they always find money for war | Kate Aronoff

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 8:53am

Costs only become an issue when it comes to programs that run counter to Republican policy priorities

If you know who Sean Hannity is, you probably know that he is no fan of the Green New Deal. The proposal has blanketed Fox News since it debuted in November 2018, with Hannity and fellow hosts on the network narrowing in a particular line of attack, summarized during a radio spot he did last year: “What they are proposing is so outrageously expensive and cost prohibitive even they acknowledge that if we confiscated all the billionaires’ wealth, it still wouldn’t be able to pay for this mess of theirs.” Along similar lines, Republicans circulated a bogus study from the industry-funded American Action Forum claiming a Green New Deal would cost $93tn, elevating the number into something of a meme among rightwing talking heads and politicians. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told his colleagues it would be more than enough to “buy every American a Ferrari”.

Hannity and McConnell, along with most of the rest of the Republican party, have more recently been heaping praise onto Trump for assassinating Iranian Gen Qassem Suleimani. “This is a huge victory for American intelligence, a huge victory for our military, a huge victory for the state department, and a huge victory and total leadership by the president,” Hannity boasted after the killing. Without consulting Congress, the president kicked long-simmering US-Iran tensions up to a boil that now threatens to spill over into another full-blown war in the Middle East. His threats to bomb cultural sites throughout the country – in violation of international law – make that even more likely. So why aren’t Republicans asking how the government would pay for it?

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Categories: Environment

Coastal Towns Worry About Storm Surges Damaging Tourist Sites

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 5:25am

Many of the country's most historic communities are along the coast. And as coastal storms become more powerful, that history is increasingly at risk of being washed away.

Categories: Environment

A 3-Decade-Long Water Dispute Heads To The Supreme Court

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 4:07am

Georgia and Florida have been waging a decades-long legal battle over water resources. It's a problem likely to intensify in other areas as the climate warms.

(Image credit: Debbie Elliott/NPR)

Categories: Environment

The Australian fires are a harbinger of things to come. Don't ignore their warning | Steve Pyne

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/01/07 - 1:30am

Fires are more frequent, more damaging, and more terrifying - a symptom of the new age that I call the Pyrocene

Australia is a fire continent. Imagine California on the scale of the 48 contiguous states, but drier, more routinely kindled and with winds that can transform large swathes of land into a veritable fire flume. From time to time, its simmering flames boil over into seeming tsunamis of fire.

And Australia has a culture to match. It has institutions to study, fight and light fire. It has a literature of fire, a folklore of fire and a fire art that is continuous from Indigenous bark paintings to modernist musings. It has special bushfire collections at its museums. It has a fire politics: on three occasions conflagrations have sparked royal commissions, and from 2009 to 2017, 51 official inquiries.

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Categories: Environment

Australia fires live: NSW and Victoria bushfires insurance bill tops $700m – latest updates

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 9:45pm

Rain falls on some NSW, Victorian and South Australian bushfire-affected areas, but worse fire conditions are forecast to return. Follow all today’s latest news and live updates

4.43am GMT

The SA CFS chief, Greg Nettleton provided this update:

This is still a large fire which is not controlled. I visited the island this morning and witnessed many fires are still burning there. I also, however, met lots of people who have been badly affected by the fire and the spirit of the people on the island is magnificent. The fire continues, the recovery mission has commenced. There are many military personnel on the island helping out SES and CFS staff, and the island is resilient and is starting to rebuild.

However, the emergency part of this incident is not over.

4.41am GMT

Corey Wingard, the South Australian emergency services minister is delivering an update on the damage to Kangaroo Island from a bushfire:

I can also further update to say that 233 properties have been assessed and 56 of those properties and homes have been destroyed.

Which is very sad, of course, for all the people involved and those on Kangaroo Island.

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Categories: Environment

Kangaroo Island bushfires: grave fears for unique wildlife after estimated 25,000 koalas killed

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 8:49pm

Greatest concerns for endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart and glossy black-cockatoo after third of island burned

Ecologists have grave concerns for the future of unique and endangered wildlife on Kangaroo Island where bushfires have killed thousands of koalas.

Fires on the island, in South Australia, have so far burned through 155,000 hectares – about one third of the island’s entire area – with blazes concentrated in the biodiversity-rich western areas.

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Categories: Environment

Craig Kelly interview: Piers Morgan calls MP 'disgraceful' for denying climate link to bushfires

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 5:10pm

In Good Morning Britain appearance Australian Liberal MP accuses other politicians of trying to exploit tragedy

The Conservative Liberal MP Craig Kelly – a renowned critic of climate change action – has sparked a storm of controversy and been lambasted as a “denier” and “disgraceful” after telling UK television that there was no link between climate change and Australia’s bushfire crisis.

In a combative television interview with the conservative British commentator Piers Morgan and the meteorologist Laura Tobin, Kelly defended his view that climate change was not driving the bushfire crisis that has so far claimed 25 lives and almost 2,000 homes.

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Categories: Environment

Renewables beat fossil fuels on 137 days in greenest year for UK energy

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 5:01pm

Renewable energy up 9% on 2018 but nuclear outages are limiting progress, report warns

Energy produced by the UK’s renewable sector outpaced fossil fuel plants on a record 137 days in 2019 to help the country’s energy system record its greenest year.

The report by the Carbon Brief website found that renewable energy – from wind, solar, hydro and biomass projects – grew by 9% last year and was the UK’s largest electricity source in March, August, September and December.

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Categories: Environment

US dairy industry suffering as Americans consume less milk

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 2:22pm

The amount of liquid milk consumed per capita in the US has tumbled more than 40% since 1975

The US dairy industry, the largest in the world, is under severe pressure as the consumption habits of Americans shift.

Borden Dairy filed for bankruptcy protection, the second major US dairy to do so in as many months. Borden produces nearly 500m gallons of milk each year for groceries, schools and others. It employs 3,300 people and runs 12 plants across the US.

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Categories: Environment

'Scary Moms' Are Part Of The Citizen War Against Pollution In Pakistan

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2020/01/06 - 10:59am

Environmental advocates in smog-choked Lahore say the Pakistani government has long downplayed the problem of air pollution. That might be changing.

(Image credit: Diaa Hadid/NPR)

Categories: Environment
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