RSPB plans ‘bat-friendly’ wind turbines at Bedfordshire HQ

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 12:50pm
The charity, known for its opposition to turbines, claims to have commissioned a model that will not threaten local pipistrelle and noctule bats

It is renowned for its opposition to the installation of wind turbines across the nation. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the machines’ blades pose too much of a threat to local species in many areas.

But now the RSPB has joined the opposition. The organisation has agreed to the construction of an 800kW wind turbine at Sandy in Bedfordshire – the site of its headquarters and one of its most important nature reserves.

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Categories: Environment

How would asteroid mining work? A visual guide

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 9:03am

With outer space mining increasingly likely to become reality, firms are drawing up exploration plans. Here’s how one of them, Deep Space Industries, will tackle the job

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The world’s most hated company: can NGOs help turn around Shell’s reputation?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 7:00am

The oil giant has topped the list of most criticized brands for the fourth year running. But should NGOs be doing more to push the carbon fuel debate forward?

In mid-2015, Shell realized its project in the Chuckchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska, was in trouble. After nearly a decade of expensive drilling, it still hadn’t yielded results and increasingly strict regulations were making it harder to operate. Plus, there was the small issue of public opinion, which, inspired by an aggressive campaign by Greenpeace, was turning against the company.

Greenpeace started protesting the Chukchi Sea project in 2012, when activists occupied a Shell-contracted drillship headed for the Arctic. A couple of years later, climbers rappelled off a bridge in Portland, Oregon, to block an icebreaker vessel from leaving the port. And, in September 2015, it staged a weeks-long protest outside Shell’s headquarters in London, erecting a giant animatronic polar bear and enlisting the support of British actress Emma Thompson. Later that month, Shell gave up on its arctic dreams altogether, announcing it was ending the $7bn-effort.

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Categories: Environment

Beyond Flint: In The South, Another Water Crisis Has Been Unfolding For Years

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 4:20am

You've heard of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. But it's not the only place with a water problem. In St. Joseph, La., the water "looks like sludge," according to Louisiana's own state health officer.

Categories: Environment

Orchids: Sow, Grow, Repeat Winter

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 3:00am

From the plastic-wrapped Phalaenopsis crammed on the shelves of your local supermarket to the vanilla seeds in your ice cream, orchids are one of the biggest and most fascinating plant families. Find out more in our latest podcast

This week gardening editor Jane Perrone visits the annual orchid extravaganza at Kew Gardens in London, taking a guided tour with Elisa Biondi, botanical horticulturist at Kew, and Nick Johnson, manager of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. And she talks to wild orchid hunter and plant scientist Susanne Masters about some of the more unusual uses of orchids, and finds out the strange origins of the name

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Categories: Environment

Swansea Bay tidal energy scheme 'must go ahead', say Lib Dems

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/02/06 - 12:01am

Withdrawing government investment from the £1bn clean energy project would be ‘utter madness’, says Tim Farron

It would be “utter madness” for the government to withdraw its support at this late stage from a £1bn revolutionary tidal energy scheme at Swansea Bay, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron will tell his party’s spring conference in Cardiff on Saturday.

The planned project, awaiting a funding decision from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, would provide hundreds of jobs and much-needed low carbon power for over a century, he argues.

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Categories: Environment

The curlew’s call haunts sands and hills

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 10:30pm

St Dogmael’s, Pembrokeshire I could hear the haunting call of a curlew – faintly, distantly, yet it still had a power to arrest and hold my attention. It bubbled up as though from the water itself, swelled to a crescendo and gently died away

Walking along the estuary-side path on an ebb-tide, I kept an ear tuned for our “wet-footed god of the horizons”, scanned with my glass the shimmer around margins of emerging sand-banks for the bird whose curved-beak silhouette is as distinctive as its voice. These river-mouths of western Wales – Teifi, Dyfi, Mawddach, Dwyryd – have a startling textural beauty. Their swirling diurnal intricacy, their light-infused and tide-sculpted Celtic designs of water and sand were once a favourite wintering ground of the curlew.

The haunting call of this largest of British waders, here and in its breeding grounds on commons and wetlands around the higher hills, is surely the most redolent sound of our relict wild country. WH Hudson described it seeming as if “uttered by some filmy being, half spirit and half bird”. Here on the Teifi I could hear one faintly, distantly, yet it still had a power to arrest and hold my attention. It bubbled up as though from the water itself, swelled to a crescendo and gently died away.

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Categories: Environment

Families Near The Huge Gas Leak Wonder: Is Home A Safe Place To Be?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 5:21pm

Most health officials say the small amounts of benzene and other components of the natural gas still leaking in Southern California are probably not a health threat. Still, some parents worry.

Categories: Environment

Don't shrink Australia's ocean sanctuaries, scientists urge ministers

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 4:38pm

Federal review understood to recommend expanding areas permitted for commercial fishing which experts say will be ‘terrible for the environment’

Australia’s leading marine scientists are appealing to the federal government to reject a review expected to recommend a significant reduction in the size of ocean sanctuaries and an expansion of areas permitted for commercial fishing.

Related: Big fish, big money: the business case for conservation in Australia's marine parks

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How big oil spent $10m to defeat California climate change legislation

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 2:53pm

The oil industry targeted business-friendly Democrats in the legislature to kill parts of a bill mandating a 50% reduction in gasoline use in the state by 2030

The oil industry spent more than $10m lobbying state lawmakers in a massive push to kill California climate change legislation last year, new disclosures have revealed.

Much of the money spent by big oil was targeted at a specific piece of legislation, SB-350, that would have mandated a 50% reduction in gasoline use in the state by 2030 in addition other climate change initiatives.

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Noaa and Nasa team up to investigate strongest El Niño on record

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 1:46pm

Two agencies’ survey via land, sea and air will hopefully help improve weather forecasts and models that predict the longer-term impact of climate change

America’s two leading climate science agencies are conducting an unprecedented survey via land, sea and air to investigate the current El Niño event and better understand its impact on weather systems that have brought both parched and soaking conditions to North America.

The project, which will conclude in March, will deploy resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and Nasa to analyze one of the strongest El Niños on record. El Niño is a periodic phenomenon in which parts of the eastern Pacific warm, causing a ripple effect for weather around the world.

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Categories: Environment

Green light: Ethiopia's lions, energy storage and nuclear fusion

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 10:04am

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

X projects: Alphabet's 'moonshot' ventures that could change the world

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 7:51am

Google makes the money but Alphabet’s other companies are wildly ambitious, from ‘curing’ ageing to robot butler design

Looking at the annual results of Alphabet, you could be forgiven for thinking that last year’s reorganisation of the world’s most valuable company was all for nothing.

Google, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet, dominated financially. The segment, which includes most of the best-known Google products such as its search engine, maps, Gmail, YouTube and Android, made up $74.5bn of the company’s $75bn (£52bn) annual revenue.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 7:00am

Toxic toads, a feeding wolf and rare Grevy’s zebras are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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VW postpones release of financial results due to diesel emissions scandal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 6:47am

Volkswagen delays annual shareholder meeting and results as it tries to establish the cost of the emissions affair

Volkswagen has postponed the release of its financial results and annual meeting with shareholders because of the diesel emissions scandal.

The German carmaker said it was still trying to establish the cost of the emissions affair, which could run into tens of billions of euros.

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Categories: Environment

The truth about London's air pollution

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 5:23am

Invisible pollution kills up to 9,000 people a year in the capital. But under government plans, from school gates to shopping streets, Londoners will be breathing dangerous air until 2025. What more can be done?

“In the morning, this traffic island is packed with children and pushchairs and they are about a metre from all the exhausts,” says Shazia Ali-Webber. She is walking her three boys to school in Hackney, the eldest of whom, Zain, is eight and asthmatic.

Crossing choked Mare Street, where the heavy traffic grinds slowly past, is her biggest concern. “Children’s lung development is affected by air pollution: they have smaller lungs for life,” she says. “The government’s new plan says pollution will not fall to legal levels till 2025. But I don’t have time to wait: Zain will be 18 by then. They are condemning a generation of children to ill-health.”

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Sakurajima volcano erupts in southern Japan – video

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 5:14am

Sakurajima volcano erupts sending plumes of smoke and lightning-like flashes into the sky and burning lava down its slopes. Japan’s meteorological agency said the volcano, on the southern island of Kyushu, erupted at about 7pm local time (10am GMT). There were no immediate reports of injuries but entry to the area was banned and the existing no-go zone around the crater was increased to a 1.2-mile radius. Photograph: AP

Read: Sakurajima volcano in Japan erupts

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Categories: Environment

Zimbabwe declares 'state of disaster' due to drought

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 4:43am

More than quarter of population face food shortages as country hit by severe drought, with cattle dying and crops destroyed

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has declared a state of disaster in rural areas hit by a severe drought, as more than a quarter of the population face food shortages.

A regional drought worsened by the El Niño weather phenomenon has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia as well as Zimbabwe, leaving tens of thousands of cattle dead, reservoirs depleted and crops destroyed.

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Asda puts UK's first supermarket wonky veg box on sale

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 4:12am

Box of imperfect in-season vegetables will feed a family of four for a week and costs £3.50 – 30% less than standard lines

The UK’s first supermarket ‘wonky vegetable’ box goes on sale on Friday, containing enough ugly potatoes and knobbly carrots to feed a family of four for an entire week for just £3.50.

The Asda box is filled with in-season winter vegetables and salad ingredients at a price that is 30% cheaper than standard lines.

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Categories: Environment

Body of whale that died on Norfolk beach to be tested

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/02/05 - 3:37am

Investigators will take samples from sperm whale in attempt to explain spate of strandings off east coast of UK

Tests are to be carried out on a sperm whale that died after washing up on a Norfolk beach in an attempt to explain a spate of recent deaths.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said the bull died shortly after 8pm on Thursday. It had been stranded at Hunstanton since that morning.

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