Environment

Thames Water needs to clean up its act after yet more fines | Nils Pratley

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/06/15 - 4:20am

Nationalisation would be a costly way to fix the industry – the regulator should push a lot harder on behalf of customers

Thames Water is the company that gives even doubters cause to wonder whether renationalisation of the water industry might be a good idea.

Ownership of the operating business, and the finer details of the colossal £10.75bn of debt financing, is contained within a labyrinth of intermediary offshore companies that makes it impossible to calculate how much the owners have made over the years. All one can reasonably observe is that even insiders concede Australian financial outfit Macquarie made a packet in the period before it sold its final stake this year.

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Categories: Environment

Tilos, Greece: the first island in the Med to run entirely on wind and solar power

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/06/15 - 3:15am

Tiny Tilos, in the Dodecanese, is a pioneering nature reserve. Now, Greece’s ‘green island’ is set to be powered by renewable energy

You’re more likely to run into friendly partridges, rare orchids and endangered eagles than people as you trek around Tilos. The entire Dodecanese island is a nature reserve, with more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds, over 650 plant varieties, and a permanent population hovering around 500. Tilos owes its extraordinary biodiversity to a network of underground springs that feed five wetlands – but also to the late mayor, Tassos Aliferis, a committed environmentalist who earned Tilos its reputation as “Greece’s green island”.

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Categories: Environment

How should world leaders punish Trump for pulling out of Paris accord? | Wael Hmaidan

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/06/15 - 2:49am

The international community must show Trump, and any other leaders that may follow suit, that other core diplomatic goals – such as Nato funding – will depend on honouring their climate commitments

World leaders’ response to Donald Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the US from the Paris agreement was strong and unified. But did it sting the president and his administration? To deter other potential backsliders and maintain the integrity of the Paris agreement, the perpetrator of a defection of this magnitude should be made to feel the pain. But how?

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Categories: Environment

Pipeline to the classroom: how big oil promotes fossil fuels to America's children

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/06/15 - 2:00am

Documents show how tightly woven group of pro-industry organizations target impressionable schoolchildren and teachers desperate for resources

This story was a collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact Oklahoma, a reporting project of NPR member stations in Oklahoma.

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Categories: Environment

Ratty returns: hundreds of water voles released in UK's biggest reintroduction

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 10:30pm

Almost 700 of the endangered rodents, immortalised in Wind in the Willows, will be released in Northumberland – and it’s all thanks really to the otter

The biggest reintroduction of water voles in the UK began this week, with 325 voles released into Kielder Forest in Northumberland, and 350 more to follow later in the summer.

Water voles hold a special place in Britain’s natural history, providing the model for Ratty, the much-loved character in The Wind in the Willows. But the species has suffered catastrophic declines over several decades, driven by loss of habitat, the pollution of waterways, increased urbanisation, and rampant populations of American mink, originally farmed for their fur but which escaped into the wild and proved a voracious predator on the native vole.

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Categories: Environment

Lily beetle wears a frock of frass to deter foes

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 9:30pm

Crook, Country Durham Tiny larvae hatched then covered their bloated bodies in their own sticky excrement so they resembled bird droppings

At first I thought the flash of red under the leaf was a ladybird. Then I realised that this was a scarlet lily beetle, which has the delightfully alliterative scientific name of Lilioceris lilii.

These gaudy insects have a formidable appetite for lily foliage and have spread from their native Eurasia throughout most of the temperate northern hemisphere. They first appeared in a Surrey garden in 1939 and reached the US in 1943. They turned up in my garden in May.

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Categories: Environment

Marine expert warns of climate emergency as fish abandon tropical waters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 8:20pm

Daniel Pauly is calling for a new plan to manage fishing levels as the industry’s expansion combines with global warming

As climate change pushes marine species towards cooler waters, and the fishing industry expands around the globe, the tropics are emptying out, a leading fisheries expert has warned.

The federal government is expected to release its new management plan for marine reserves in coming weeks, after a 2016 review recommended winding back protections. However Dr Daniel Pauly has called for the creation of more, saying they are the only realistic form of mitigation to the current crisis.

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Categories: Environment

Dakota Access pipeline: judge rules environmental survey was inadequate

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 7:03pm

In what’s being hailed a ‘significant victory’ for pipeline’s opponents, a judge said he would consider whether operations must halt until assessment is redone

A federal judge has handed a lifeline to efforts to block the Dakota Access pipeline, ruling Wednesday that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the possible impacts of an oil spill where the pipeline passes under the Missouri river.

US district judge James Boasberg said in a 91-page decision that the corps failed to take into account how a spill might affect “fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial”.

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Categories: Environment

Adani mine loses majority support of traditional owner representatives

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 5:14pm

Wangan and Jagalingou representative who had backed an Indigenous land use agreement now says he opposes the mine

Adani has lost majority support from traditional owner representatives for a land access deal for its Queensland mine, casting doubt on moves to implement the agreement.

Craig Dallen, a Wangan and Jagalingou representative who last year backed an Indigenous land use agreement (Ilua) with the miner, now says he opposes a deal that will not make up for “the destruction the project will wreak upon the traditional culture and lands of our people”.

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Categories: Environment

Phytoplankton Have Turned The Bosphorus A Stunning Turquoise

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 4:29pm

When conditions are right, phytoplankton populations can grow explosively. And the ones blooming in the Black Sea right now are reflective, turning the usually dark water bright and milky.

(Image credit: Norman Kuring, Ocean Biology Processing Group/NASA)

Categories: Environment

2 Top Michigan Officials Face Criminal Charges Over Flint Water Crisis

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 1:35pm

The director of the state's Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells are the highest-ranking state officials to be charged in the crisis.

Categories: Environment

Air pollution is killing wildlife and people | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 12:14pm
Measures to cut air pollution need to be extended beyond urban areas, say representatives of six wildlife organisations. Plus Dr Richard Carter warns that avoiding main roads won’t protect you from small particulates

On National Clean Air Day, Thursday 15 June, we’re calling for action to cut air pollution which threatens our native wildlife (Nature needs fresh air too, 2 June). The UK government’s air quality consultation, closing on 15 June, focuses on “tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities”. That issue deserves urgent action – but it’s not enough. Air pollution is a problem in both rural and urban areas, for people and wildlife. We need to tackle the sources and solutions as a whole.

Nitrogen in air pollution acts as a fertiliser, making conditions too rich for many wild fungi and plants. That’s why you’re more likely to see nitrogen-tolerant species, such as common orange lichen, nettles and hemlock, on road verges and field margins – rather than bird’s foot trefoil, harebells or orchids, which are more sensitive. In 63% of special areas of conservation, our best wildlife sites, nitrogen levels are already too high. This has dire consequences for animals, including pollinating insects, that depend on wild fungi and plants for food, nutrients and shelter. This affects us all, as biodiversity is vital to our health and wellbeing, our culture and our economy.

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Categories: Environment

Push for Adani to appear before Senate inquiry into infrastructure fund

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 11:00am

Greens say miner should be grilled on environmental history and ‘allegations of fraud, corruption and the use of tax havens’

The Greens will push for Adani to front a federal Senate inquiry into Australia’s infrastructure fund and “grill” the miner on its overseas environmental and business record.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a motion for an inquiry into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is considering a $900m concessional loan to Adani for a railway as part of its massive proposed Queensland coal project.

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Categories: Environment

Global oil glut set to continue despite efforts to prop up price

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 10:26am

Increasing production from US and non-Opec countries means growth in oil supply will outstrip demand in 2018

The world’s oil glut is likely to persist next year in a blow to efforts by major producers to shore up the oil price by cutting output, according to a leading energy authority.

Growth in oil supply will outstrip growth in demand during 2018, driven by increasing production from US shale and other countries outside Opec, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

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Categories: Environment

EPA: air pollution rule should be delayed – despite its effect on children

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 9:07am

Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges postponing Obama administration measure might have ‘disproportionate’ effect on young people

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed delaying a federal air pollution rule for two years, despite acknowledging that children will be disproportionately harmed by the decision.

The regulator plans to suspend standards aimed at preventing leaks from the oil and gas industry while it reconsiders the rule, which was introduced in June 2016 under Barack Obama’s administration.

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Categories: Environment

‘Plankton explosion’ turns Istanbul’s Bosphorus turquoise

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 6:35am

Transformation of the usually blue waters of the Bosphorus is not caused by pollution, say scientists

A sudden change in the colour of the Bosphorus Strait that divides the continents of Europe and Asia in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul has surprised residents, with scientists putting it down to a surge in a species of plankton across the Black Sea.

The sudden transformation of the usually blue waters of the Bosphorus to a milky turquoise since the weekend had alarmed some residents.

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Categories: Environment

Thames Water given maximum £8.5m fine for missing leak target

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 3:38am

Penalty for ‘unacceptable’ water leaks comes three months after the company received a record fine for an untreated sewage leak

Thames Water will pay a £8.5m penalty after failing to meet its target to cut water leakage from its pipes. Ofwat, which regulates the privatised water industry, called the failure “unacceptable” and said the penalty was the maximum possible.

Leaks from Thames Water’s network rose by 5% in the last year, or 35m litres per day. In May, the Guardian revealed that amid fears of a drought and with some water companies asking customers to save water, the vast amount of water that leaks from company pipes every day across England has not fallen for at least four years.

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Categories: Environment

New research may resolve a climate ‘conundrum’ across the history of human civilization | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 3:00am

The new study also confirms the planet is warming 20 times faster than Earth’s fastest natural climate change

Earth’s last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago. The warmer and more stable climate that followed allowed for the development of agriculture and the rise of human civilization. This important period encompassing the past 12,000 years is referred to as the Holocene geological epoch. It also created a “conundrum” for climate scientists, because global temperatures simulated by climate models didn’t match reconstructions from proxy data.

To be specific, the overall temperature change during the Holocene matched pretty well in reconstructions and models, but the pattern didn’t. The best proxy reconstruction from a 2013 paper led by Shaun Marcott estimated more warming than models from 12,000 to 7,000 years ago. Then over the past 7,000 years, Marcott’s reconstruction estimated about 0.5°C cooling while model simulations showed the planet warming by about the same amount.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change study in Canada's Hudson Bay thwarted by climate change

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 2:00am

Warm temperatures create perilous ice conditions off Newfoundland, trapping fishing boats and tankers: ‘It’s not something you would expect to see there’

Scientists in Canada have been forced to abandon an expedition to the Hudson Bay to research the impact of climate change, after warming temperatures created perilous ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland.

In late May, 40 scientists from five Canadian universities set off from Quebec City on the icebreaker and Arctic research vessel CCGS Amundsen. The expedition was the first leg of a four-year, C$17m research project designed to delve into the effects of climate change on Hudson Bay.

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Categories: Environment

George Christensen signals he won’t vote for Finkel's clean energy target

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/06/14 - 1:33am

LNP backbencher says he and most of the Nationals won’t vote for any clean energy target that penalises coal

The LNP backbencher George Christensen has signalled he won’t vote for a new clean energy target because it won’t end the decade long climate wars – because Labor will “out Finkel us on Finkel”.

Christensen said on Wednesday evening that he saw no prospect of achieving policy stability on climate and energy policy through bipartisanship, because the gulf between the major parties was too wide.

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