Environment

The whinchat in decline on lowland farms

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 1:30pm

Forty years ago there were as many as 150 breeding pairs of whinchats on the Somerset Levels. Now there are none

Some birds pop up when you least expect it. On August bank holiday I went for a walk to my coastal patch, along with assorted relatives and a very boisterous dog. Bird-wise, apart from a high-tide roost of a thousand redshanks along the river Brue, things were relatively uneventful.

But as we were strolling back to the car, a small bird flew up onto a protruding twig along a hedgerow, and posed in a way that made its identity virtually certain.

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Categories: Environment

'No time to waste': climate changes for films on global warming

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 8:54am

Rob Callender, who appeared in Sherlock and Game of Thrones, discusses The Incentive, his environmental call to arms

Rob Callender is talking about cheese. “My dad loves cheese, really loves it. So I’ve had to persuade him to cut down. Instead of leaping on every two-for-one in the supermarket, buy one really nice cheese once a week. Dairy farming is such a horrible industry.”

Callender’s passionate advocacy of veganism has made him an object of fun and curiosity on film sets, but he is now turning his environmentalism into art. In just over a month’s time, he he will begin shooting a short crowd-funded feature film on climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Glencore court ruling in Zambia may trigger new pollution claims

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 6:56am

Mining giant to pay damages after court rules sulphur dioxide emissions at copper plant led to death of politician

Toxic fumes from one of Glencore’s copper plants in Zambia caused the death of a politician, the African country’s high court said, in a ruling that could trigger fresh claims against the company.

The London-listed mining and commodities trader was ordered to pay 400,000 Zambian kwacha (£30,000) in damages to the widower of Beatrice Mithi, a politician who died after inhaling sulphur dioxide released by Glencore subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines.

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Categories: Environment

The hidden danger in your hand soap | Sarah Ades and Kenneth Keiler

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 6:00am

Antibacterial agents in handsoaps have been banned in the US. That’s good news – they seep into urine and breast milk, and can promote bacterial resistance

A US Food and Drug Administration ruling this month bans the use of triclosan, triclocarban and 17 other antiseptics from household soaps because they have not been shown to be safe or even have any benefit.

About 40% of soaps use at least one of these chemicals, and the chemicals are also found in toothpaste, baby pacifiers, laundry detergents and clothing. It is in some lip glosses, deodorants and pet shampoos.

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Categories: Environment

UN Secretary General Pushes Climate Change Agreement Before Next Administration

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 4:49am

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is working to wring commitments out of 55 nations to ratify the Paris Climate Change treaty.

Categories: Environment

From Dutch hospital to Afghan clinic: new VR app aims to link 8.5m doctors

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/18 - 12:00am

MDLinking aims to be a WhatsApp, LinkedIn and virtual reality video library rolled into one to allow doctors from Afghanistan to Angola to share skills

Imagine you’re a doctor in Swindon and a patient with a chewing tobacco habit turns up with unusual tongue lesions. What if you could, at the press of a few buttons, locate and get instant advice from the Mumbai-based world expert on cancers related to chewing tobacco?

This is the vision for a new app which aims to transform the way in which 8.5 million doctors around the world share their knowledge and skills.

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Categories: Environment

Hinkley must not be taken as a precedent for other nuclear stations

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 11:00pm

Political reality made it hard for Theresa May to deny the French and Chinese their project. But other new plants still can, and should, be opposed

Despite the majority of the British public being opposed to a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, according to various surveys, Theresa May has approved the £18bn project.

The arguments against it are well understood – cost, safety and national security. On the first point, George Osborne, the former chancellor, was on the radio supporting the project last week, claiming that the costs would be borne by French group EDF and its Chinese partner CGN.

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Categories: Environment

Wildflowers on the verge of disappearing

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 10:59pm
Roadsides are a haven for rare species, but council mowing is a threat. New schemes offer hope

Orchid-spotters have long-known that the best site in the UK to take in a display of pyramidal orchids is a roadside verge in Warwickshire, yet the role verges play in conservation isn’t widely appreciated. There are almost 251,000 acres of rural road verges across the country that are home to 703 species of wild plants – 87 of which are facing extinction.

Britain has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s as land has been turned over to grow food crops. Rural roadside verges and small, family-owned farms remain the only places left for species such as the crested cow-wheat, spiked rampion and man orchid to thrive. These roadside verges represent the last stronghold of British wildflowers yet they are being mown down by local councils because of budgetary pressures and a lack of guidance, conservationists have warned.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to noise pollution

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 10:00pm

Peace and quiet is an increasingly scarce commodity in the modern world

Silence is golden – or at least it should be. But according to the Noise Abatement Society (NAS), it’s increasingly rare. “Peace is a precious commodity,” says Poppy Szkiler, of Quiet Mark, part of the NAS.

Anti-noise campaigners suggest we have a “sliding baseline” in terms of our expectation of quiet time. This ecological term refers to an incremental lowering of standards as each generation progresses.

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Categories: Environment

Arctic nations square up as clamour for resources grows

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 4:05pm
With the Danes rebuffing Russia, and Canada laying further claim to the Northwest Passage, rising access to north pole reserves risks flashpoints

Kristian Jensen, Denmark’s foreign minister, gave a precise response last week to a request by Russia for the nations to enter bilateral talks over the ownership of the north pole. He flatly rejected the move. “We need to apply the international rules,” he told reporters.

The Russian request and the swift Danish response are intriguing. The United Nations is currently assessing Russian, Danish and Canadian claims to own sizeable chunks of the Arctic seabed. The Russian move was generally viewed as an attempt to strike a deal that would cut out Canada, while Denmark appears to believe its case is strong enough to exclude such manoeuvres.

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Categories: Environment

Buzzards back in hunters’ crosshairs over threat to UK pheasant shoots

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 4:04pm
Licences for gamekeepers to kill the protected bird of prey will open the floodgates to illegal hunting, warn conservationists

Tim Boxall points at a shape in the field bordering the seven-acre wooded pen where he keeps 1,500 pheasants. “Here you are,” he says. “Look! There’s one over here.” He bends down and prises the remains of a pheasant from the long grass. “That’s a buzzard kill, you can tell by the way it’s been eaten.”

Boxall is a gamekeeper, raising 10,000 pheasants a year to be killed in commercial shoots on the land he rents in Gloucestershire. This year, however, the pheasants have something other than Boxall’s clients to fear: the buzzard.

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Categories: Environment

In Ohio, frackers are drilling. Soon Ineos will be doing the same in Britain

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 8:00am
The UK chemicals giant, which has 30 applications to drill at home, is running publicity tours on the Appalachian shale fields to boost the industry’s image

Red velvet curtains hung on the windows and painted cherubs played on the ceiling as Jim Ratcliffe accepted the 2016 ICIS Kavaler Award at the Metropolitan Club in New York last week.

The British billionaire is the first foreigner to be awarded the honour, given by leaders in the chemical industry. It comes as Ineos, the chemicals company he founded, plans to bring fracking – the controversial oil and gas extraction process – back to the UK.

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Categories: Environment

EPA Weighs In On Glyphosate, Says It Likely Doesn't Cause Cancer

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 6:49am

The Environmental Protection Agency says that the country's most widely used weedkiller, glyphosate, probably does not cause cancer. The chemical has been under intense international scrutiny.

Categories: Environment

Florida sinkhole causes vast leak of wastewater into drinking water source

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/09/17 - 6:10am

Phosphate supplier says ‘absolutely nobody at risk’ as company monitors groundwater at central Florida fertilizer plant

More than 200m gallons of contaminated wastewater from a fertilizer plant in central Florida leaked into one of the state’s main underground sources of drinking water after a huge sinkhole opened up beneath a storage pond, a phosphate company said on Friday.

Mosaic, the world’s largest supplier of phosphate, said the hole opened up beneath a pile of waste material called a “gypsum stack”. The 215m gallon storage pond sat atop the waste mineral pile. The company said the sinkhole was about 45ft in diameter.

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Categories: Environment

Shades of yellow on the baking heath

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 9:30pm

New Forest The heather is studded with yellow tormentil, and mixed with dwarf gorse so tight to the turf that it’s knee-high to a grasshopper

A grey minibus pulls up behind me as I’m changing into my walking shoes. Five young people get out and hitch their packs. ”We’ll be there at five,” says the driver, and goes. They set off along the concrete perimeter road of the old airfield, with a two and a half hour walk ahead of them. I cut through some trees and, by the time I’m on the same road, they’re a speck in the distance.

It’s been too dry, and a little early yet, for autumn fungi to show, but a whitish dome in the grass under the trees suggests it will not be long before they do. It’s hot, the car thermometer registers 26°, and I’m hoping to find shade in the Inclosure.

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Categories: Environment

Pacific Ocean's hidden wonders revealed on dive to underwater volcano

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 8:40pm

US scientists find possible new coral species and rare Dumbo octopus on expedition to previously unexplored extinct volcano off Hawaii

Scientists believe they have identified a new species of coral and found a rare Dumbo octopus during an expedition 3,000ft (900m) down in the Pacific Ocean.

Diving in a submersible to the previously unexplored Cook seamount, an extinct volcano at the bottom of the sea 100 miles south-west of Hawaii’s Big Island, the three-person team was hoping to examine the rich variety of marine life that collects around the nutrient-rich volcanic waters.

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Categories: Environment

Pipeline rupture in Alabama threatens fuel shortages across eastern US

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 12:01pm

The governors of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency following a gasoline spill in an ecologically sensitive area

An interstate gasoline pipeline has ruptured in central Alabama, spilling 338,000 gallons of fuel in an ecologically sensitive area and threatening fuel shortages across the eastern US. So far governors in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.

The line runs from Houston to the New York harbor, and experts say the line’s owner, Colonial Pipeline, was extraordinarily lucky: the spill happened 500ft from the retention pond for a mining company, and all the fuel flowed into it. That spared the Cahaba river system, one of the most biologically diverse spots in the country, prized by scientists for its concentration of endangered species.

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Categories: Environment

China must wait four years for decision on Bradwell nuclear plant

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 11:26am

After Hinkley Point C go-ahead, Essex reactor would be even more significant for China - and more controversial for UK

China faces at least a four-year wait to find out whether its plans to build a nuclear power station in Essex will be approved.

If it got the go-ahead, Britain would be relying heavily on Chinese investment for its future energy supply after the government approved the construction of an £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which will be 33% owned by China General Nuclear (CGN).

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Categories: Environment

Norway plans to cull more than two-thirds of its wolf population

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 10:53am

Environmental groups criticise plan that will allow hunters to shoot up to 47 of an estimated 68 wolves living in wilderness

Norway is planning to cull more than two-thirds of its remaining wolves in a step that environmental groups say will be disastrous for the dwindling members of the species in the wild.

There are estimated to be about 68 wolves remaining in the wilderness areas of Norway, concentrated in the south-east of the country, but under controversial plans approved on Friday as many as 47 of these will be shot.

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Categories: Environment

Peter Cubbage obituary

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 9:51am

My father, Peter Cubbage, who has died aged 91, was a leading gas forensic research scientist. He led a team that was responsible, among other things, for pioneering the flame-release chamber, a safety innovation used in offshore oil rigs and pipelines, which was compared to the miners’ Davy lamp for its significance.

He was appointed by the crown in 1988 to write the report into what happened during the first two seconds of the Piper Alpha rig explosion.

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