Environment

‘A great Australian’: Anthony Albanese leads tributes to Yunupingu

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/02 - 5:32pm

‘He now walks in another place, but he has left such great footsteps for us to follow’

The Yolŋu elder and Indigenous leader Yunupingu, who died on Monday, has been remembered as one of the “greatest of Australians” and a fierce leader.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said: “Yunupingu walked in two worlds with authority, power and grace, and he worked to make them whole – together …

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Categories: Environment

British cows could be given ‘methane blockers’ to cut climate emissions

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/02 - 8:55am

UK’s 9.4m cattle produce 14% of human-related emissions, mostly from belching, but green groups remain sceptical

Cows in the UK could be given “methane blockers” to reduce their emissions of the greenhouse gas as part of plans to achieve the country’s climate goals.

Farmers welcomed the proposal, which follows a consultation that began in August on how new types of animal feed product can reduce digestive emissions from the animals.

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Categories: Environment

‘Bees are sentient’: inside the stunning brains of nature’s hardest workers

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/02 - 1:01am

‘Fringe’ research suggests the insects that are essential to agriculture have emotions, dreams and even PTSD, raising complex ethical questions

When Stephen Buchmann finds a wayward bee on a window inside his Tucson, Arizona, home, he goes to great lengths to capture and release it unharmed. Using a container, he carefully traps the bee against the glass before walking to his garden and placing it on a flower to recuperate.

Buchmann’s kindness – he is a pollination ecologist who has studied bees for over 40 years – is about more than just returning the insect to its desert ecosystem. It’s also because Buchmann believes that bees have complex feelings, and he’s gathered the science to prove it.

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Categories: Environment

Squirrels live longer in leafier parts of London, air pollution study shows

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/01 - 5:08am

The closer the rodents live to the centre of the city, the worse their symptoms of lung disease

Deteriorating air quality is a major threat to health, and scientists have discovered that humans are not the only ones in danger.

Grey squirrels suffer worsening lung damage the closer they live to the centre of a city, according to a study in London. It found the lungs of the rodent residents of Richmond fare far better than those of central Westminster.

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Categories: Environment

Starmer criticises government’s ‘flimsy’ plan over water pollution in England

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/01 - 4:30am

Labour leader accuses ministers of turning rivers into ‘open sewers’ after Thérèse Coffey says firms will face tougher penalties

Labour has dismissed government plans that could see water companies in England facing tougher fines and penalties as part of efforts to tackle pollution.

The environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, is expected to set out plans next week that ministers believe will “make polluters pay”, with fines levied on water companies put into a “water restoration fund”.

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Categories: Environment

Harvard professor’s fossil fuel links under scrutiny over climate grant

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/01 - 1:00am

Colleagues and students query role of Jody Freeman, who won prestigious research grant despite sitting on ConocoPhillips board

An eminent Harvard environmental law professor’s links to the fossil fuel industry are under scrutiny from colleagues and students after she was awarded a prestigious research grant to investigate corporate climate pledges.

Jody Freeman, founding director of Harvard’s environmental and energy law program and former Obama-era White House advisor, is a paid board member of ConocoPhillips – a Fortune 500 American multinational oil and gas company that was ranked the 13th most polluting in the world by a Guardian investigation in 2019. The firm’s controversial Willow drilling project in Alaska was recently approved by the Biden administration.

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Categories: Environment

Drought or no drought? California left pondering after record winter deluge

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/01 - 12:01am

Severe storms may have filled reservoirs but in the Golden State, a dry spell is ‘always lurking in the background’

Just a few months ago, millions in California were living under mandatory water conservation rules. The driest three years on record had transformed the state, depleted reservoirs and desiccated landscapes.

Then came a deluge. A dozen atmospheric river storms and several “bomb cyclones” have broken levees and buried mountain communities in snow, but they have also delivered a boon. Reservoirs are refilling. Brown hills are blooming once again.

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Categories: Environment

Farne Islands shut to visitors over fears of new avian flu outbreak

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 11:00pm

Rangers work to avoid repeat of last year’s devastating losses in breeding seabird colonies on the islands off the Northumberland coast

The Farne Islands will not open to visitors this spring in anticipation of bird flu once again ravaging breeding seabird colonies, after an “unprecedented” spate of deaths last year.

The rocky outcrop of islands off the coast of Northumberland has been looked after by the National Trust since 1925 and there are no previous records of so many endangered seabirds dying at once. More than 6,000 carcasses were picked up last year, which is believed to be the tip of the iceberg compared with how many birds would have died in total.

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Categories: Environment

‘Why mine so close?’: the fight to protect the pristine Okefenokee swamp

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 11:00pm

An Alabama company wants to mine near the 440,000-acre Georgia swamp, but locals and scientists fear it could be irreparably harmed

Humans, as a general rule, are rather unkind to swamps. They are disparaged as rotten places that must be drained, either literally, to make way for farmland and houses, or metaphorically, to make way for demagogues. It’s to this backdrop that one of the last remaining intact large swamps in the US, a pristine wetland almost unrivaled anywhere in the world, finds itself under threat from a planned mining project.

The Okefenokee swamp, found in the deep southern reaches of Georgia, may lack the fame of the fabled national parks of the US, but it is no less remarkable. Untouched by development, the 440,000-acre (180,000-hectare) swamp is a sort of time machine, offering an idea of what this mosaic of pine islands, with its riot of wildlife, would have looked shortly after its formation about 7,000 years ago.

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Categories: Environment

'It’s going so fast': The decline of New Zealand's glaciers – video

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 1:00pm

Scientists responsible for monitoring the health of New Zealand's glaciers have revealed a trend of declining snow and ice. The 2023 survey was the 46th undertaken in a collaboration between the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), Victoria University of Wellington, and the Department of Conservation. The longstanding project captures an aerial portrait of more than 50 Southern Alps glaciers at a similar time each year to track how they change. The team spent nearly eight hours travelling back and forth over the alps, taking thousands of aerial photographs of glaciers of differing sizes and orientations to use in various national and international research projects, including one that builds 3D models used to compare snow and ice year-to-year

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Categories: Environment

Starmer accuses government of ‘turning Britain’s waterways into an open sewer’

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 11:30am

Lib Dems call for Thérèse Coffey to resign after raw discharges sent into English rivers 825 times a day last year

Keir Starmer has accused the government of “turning Britain’s waterways into an open sewer”, as data showed raw discharges were sent into English rivers 825 times a day last year.

Private water companies have been consistently accused of failing to take action, and the Environment Agency admitted there were more than 300,000 spillages into rivers and coastal areas in 2022, lasting for more than 1.75m hours.

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Categories: Environment

Four climate activists convicted of causing public nuisance, but no jail term

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 11:03am

Men staged protest in City of London in October 2021, which included one gluing head to road to block traffic

Four climate protesters, including a man who glued his head to the road in order to block traffic in central London, have escaped jail terms.

Matthew Tulley, 44, Ben Taylor, 38, George Burrow, 68 and Anthony Hill, 72, staged a protest between Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street in the City of London on 25 October 2021. They were convicted of causing a public nuisance by a jury at Inner London crown court. All four represented themselves.

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Categories: Environment

Four Insulate Britain protesters convicted of causing public nuisance

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 10:40am

Julie Mecoli, 68, Stefania Morosi, 45, Louise Lancaster, 57, and Nicholas Till, 67, took part in London street blockade in 2021

Four climate protesters who stopped traffic on a central London road during rush hour have been convicted of causing a public nuisance.

Julie Mecoli, 68, Stefania Morosi, 45, Louise Lancaster, 57 and Nicholas Till, 67, were among a group of Insulate Britain supporters who walked into Upper Thames Street on 25 October 2021 while a separate group also blocked nearby roads on Bishopsgate, in the City of London financial district. All four denied the charges.

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Categories: Environment

Oysters and whisky? Why the pairing could have huge benefits for wildlife in Scotland

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 1:49am

Scientists find that using oysters as water filters helps the bivalve and other species thrive – and could treble the amount of carbon going into the seabed

Good whisky needs pure clean water, which partly explains why distilleries in Scotland always seem to have such scenic, loch-side backdrops. And one of the best ways to filter that water is oysters. Indeed, the European native oyster was so plentiful in Scotland that 30 million a year were harvested from oyster beds outside Edinburgh in the 1800s.

But today the species is almost extinct: populations have dropped by 85% over the past century, most likely because of overfishing from bottom trawling.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/03/31 - 12:00am

The best of this week’s wildlife photographs, including a baby egret, a newborn shark and a zebra on the loose

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Categories: Environment

Tokitae, the oldest orca in captivity, has path to freedom after 50 years

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/03/30 - 2:22pm

Miami Seaquarium, where the whale performed, announced a ‘binding’ agreement to relocate her to her home – Puget Sound

More than five decades after being captured in the waters off the Pacific north-west, Tokitae the orca has a plan to return home, delivering a victory to animal rights advocates and Indigenous leaders who have long fought for her release.

On Thursday, the owners of the Miami Seaquarium where Tokitae lives announced a “formal and binding agreement” with a group called the Friends of Lolita to begin the process of returning Tokitae to Puget Sound. A news release indicates that the joint effort is “working toward and hope the relocation will be possible in the next 18 to 24 months”.

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Categories: Environment

Brazilian meat firm’s A- sustainability rating has campaigners up in arms

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/03/30 - 2:07pm

Environmentalists question high grade given to JBS and accuse it of deforestation in the Amazon and under-reporting emissions

The award of an A-minus sustainability grade to the world’s biggest meat company has raised eyebrows and kicked off a debate about the rating system for environmental and social governance.

Brazilian meat company JBS has previously been linked to deforestation in the Amazon, where its slaughterhouses process beef from ranches carved out of the Amazon, Cerrado and other biomes. But in the latest Climate Change Report by the influential rating organisation CDP, the multinational got a grade of A- for its efforts to tackle climate change – up from B in the previous assessment – and was given a “leadership” status award.

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Categories: Environment

Net zero strategy shows UK will miss 2030 emissions cuts target

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/03/30 - 9:55am

Government admits its policies will achieve only 92% of cuts and experts think that is a ‘generous reading’

The UK government has said it is still on track to meet its international climate commitments under the Paris agreement, as analysis of its energy plans suggested more drastic policies would be needed to make the required carbon cuts.

Ministers announced the UK’s revamped net zero strategy on Thursday, with a raft of documents exceeding 1,000 pages, setting out policies on sectors from biomass to solar power, and from electric vehicles to nuclear reactors. It came as Rishi Sunak headed to Oxfordshire to visit a development facility for nuclear fusion, accompanied by Grant Shapps, the energy and net zero secretary.

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Categories: Environment

Reports of rotten pork being sold in UK may lead to tighter control of FSA

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/03/30 - 9:16am

Therésè Coffey may bring Food Standards Agency, now overseen by health department, under remit of Defra

The UK government is considering tightening control over the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after news that allegedly fraudulent pork products found their way on to supermarket shelves.

Therésè Coffey, the secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), told the House of Commons on Thursday that she would look at bringing the FSA under her department’s control.

This article was amended on 30 March 2022. An earlier version said that Robert Goodwill was Defra minister of state; in fact he is chair of the EFRA committee.

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Categories: Environment

Climate activists disrupt Humza Yousaf's first FMQs five times – video

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/03/30 - 8:50am

Scottish first minister's questions was disrupted five times on Thursday as Yousaf took questions from MSPs. When FMQs eventually got going, Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, queried Yousaf's appointment of an independence minister, asking if it was a fair use of taxpayers' money. Yousaf hit back, telling MSPs that independence was a priority for the Scottish people. Yousaf said: 'I make no apology whatsoever for having a minister for independence because, my goodness, we need it more than ever before'

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Categories: Environment
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