Environment

Climate denial arguments fail a blind test | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/05/23 - 3:00am

In a ‘Pepsi challenge’ test, economist and statisticians find mainstream climate arguments accurate and contrarian arguments wrong and misleading

As we saw in the recent legal ruling against Peabody coal, arguments and myths that are based in denial of the reality of human-caused global warming rarely withstand scientific scrutiny.

In a new study published in Global Environmental Change, a team led by Stephen Lewandowsky tested the accuracy of some popular myths and contrarian talking points sampled from climate denial blogs and other media outlets. The scientists searched the blogs for key words related to Arctic sea ice, glaciers, sea level rise, and temperature to identify the most popular arguments. Not surprisingly, they found some common myths:

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: the dangerous wild animals kept on UK private property

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/05/23 - 12:27am

Councils have issued licences for thousands of animals, research shows, including lions, wolves and crocodiles

Lions, wolves and deadly venomous snakes are among thousands of dangerous animals being kept on private properties across the UK, figures have revealed.

Big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are prowling behind the fences of addresses up and down the land, an investigation by the Press Association has found.

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Categories: Environment

Blossom and bulls on a walk to Bucknell Wood

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 9:30pm

Abthorpe, Northamptonshire Blue-purple columns of bugle and the crimped leaves of betony abound

“Do you ever get over to the Silverstone area?” queried John in his first email to me. I don’t, but when he then enthused that the rustic parish of Abthorpe “seemed to be a relic of a long disappeared countryside”, he had my attention.

South of Abthorpe a network of footpaths traverse straight lines across clayey fields of blossoming yellow oilseed rape and blue-green sprays of wheat. A visually unexceptional landscape perhaps, but an encounter soon hints at more. An unfamiliar voice from the apex of a small hedgerow tree: “Cheeese pleeese” it calls shrilly. And there it is, a neat little lemon-yellow bird with a fine acute bill – a male yellow wagtail. This red-listed insectivore was three times more common in 1970s Britain than it is today.

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s worst invasive plant species available for import on Amazon and eBay

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 7:28pm

Internet trading sites host ads for prohibited weeds, with Invasive Species Council warning postal system a ‘big gap’ in quarantine system

Amazon and eBay have been exposed as weak points in Australia’s quarantine system, with the internet trading sites hosting dozens of offers to import the nation’s most dangerous weeds.

Any Australian with a credit card can order home delivery of thousands of seeds of gorse, blackberry or cactus. Also available is the Mimosa pigra tree, which the Northern Territory government spends $500,000 each year trying to eradicate from Kakadu national park.

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Categories: Environment

Club owned by Shell tries to block local hydropower scheme

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 3:09pm

Private club owned by oil giant appealing against judicial review defeat in favour of co-operative renewable energy scheme at Teddington Lock

Shell is involved in blocking the development of a renewable energy project in a legal battle between a private club owned by the company and a community hydropower scheme on the river Thames.

The scheme at Teddington lock and weirs has won planning permission and defeated a judicial review from the Lensbury club, but the club is now seeking to appeal against the judicial review decision.

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Categories: Environment

A Warming World Means Less Water, With Economic Consequences

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 2:50pm

We know that climate change will make water scarcer. But it could also have big economic impacts, Richard Damania of the World Bank says.

Categories: Environment

New life seen in everything after heavy rain: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 27 May 1916

Surrey
In one of our valleys, where a narrow river eats its way through rich, deep soil and yet runs over a gravel bed, the heavy rain this morning sent down small cascades from the extended boughs of trees that are all in full leaf: elms, chestnuts, lime, sycamore, and, in the middle of the meadows, beeches and oaks. The big tassels of the sycamores, green and gold, held the water almost like a sponge. Along the banks the nettles, thickly together in a bush, fell over as wheat does in a thunderstorm, carrying with them thistles and tall docks. The lane was littered with bloom of all kinds that a few days ago was beautiful.

Then came a break in the clouds, the sun with it, and as if by some marvellous inner process a new life was to be seen in everything. The nettles stood breast-high; the tall grasses, nearly ripe and very sweet in scent, waved lightly in the west wind; lady’s-smock, orchid, snake’s-head, foxgloves about the hedgerows seemed to open or grow before your eyes.

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Categories: Environment

With Drought The New Normal In The West, States Scramble To Prepare

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 2:00pm

As the Colorado River dries out, the seven states that rely on this body of water risk water scarcity. Colorado state historian Patty Limerick discusses preparations for water scarcity in the West.

Categories: Environment

E.O. Wilson Goes To Washington

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 2:00pm

The Pulitzer Prize winner, who's known as the "father of biodiversity," is a scientific superstar. But now he's trying to convince Congress to set aside half the earth as wilderness.

Categories: Environment

The long-distance migrants are back in force

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 1:30pm

After a slow spring, Stephen Moss’s favourite summer visitors have all returned to Somerset – cuckoo, swift, hobby and a surprise redstart

Sometimes birds appear when you least expect them. One evening towards the end of April I was driving my son to football training when the first swifts of the year zoomed past – low as fighter jets, heading due north.

On the way back, I thought I’d stop to see if there were any more. No swifts, but a real surprise, heralded by a flash of orange, as a small brown bird flew into a hawthorn. A lift of the binoculars confirmed my hunch – a female redstart, flicking her russet tail before plunging deep into the foliage, never to be seen again.

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Categories: Environment

How to make rain – by splashing water

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 1:30pm

Farmers can keep those raindrops falling by turning their sprinklers on


Need to make it rain? Try asking farmers to turn their water sprinklers on. New findings suggest that the act of water splashing on to ploughed fields throws up millions of microscopic particles – the remains of dead plants and animals. And it turns out that this special dust often helps to seed clouds and generate localised rainstorms.

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Categories: Environment

UK property executive drawn into violent African mine dispute

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 10:45am

Graham Edwards defends environmental credentials of titanium-mining project

A wealthy British investor has been dragged into a deadly dispute over a South African mine, after a community leader was killed amid allegations that excavating the site would damage the environment.

Threatening comments by Mark Caruso, the chief executive of the firm at the heart of the dispute, have also served to heighten tensions, say locals.

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It's our duty as Americans to protect our national parks for the next hundred years | Alex Honnold

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 6:00am

Rock climber Alex Honnold argues we must do more to defend US national parks from a slew of imminent environmental threats

Just over eight years ago, I completed a free solo ascent – unroped – of the one of the most beautiful and challenging climbs in the world: a 350 metre crack called Moonlight Buttress in southwestern Utah’s Zion national park. At the time, Alpinist magazine called it “one of the most impressive free solos ever achieved.”

While I find it hard to articulate exactly why I’m drawn to this type of exposed, unroped climbing, the setting certainly plays a big role. Zion is aptly named: it’s a promised land of striking multicolored sandstone cliffs soaring from a green valley below. Though I’m intensely focused when I climb, the gift of doing it in such breathtaking places is not lost on me.

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Categories: Environment

5 Years After Devastating Missouri Tornado, Communities Assess Disaster Response

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 5:00am

Five years ago, a massive tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., killing 161 people. This week, Joplin will host leaders from other tornado-stricken cities to discuss the lessons they've learned.

Categories: Environment

Are Indians Turning To The 'Supernatural' In Subterranean Search For Water?

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 4:54am

More than 330 million Indians are desperate for water, leading some to rely on an ancient — and unproven — method to find it underground.

Categories: Environment

How southern Africa is coping with worst global food crisis for 25 years

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/05/22 - 2:00am

From Angola to Zimbabwe, food prices are soaring and malnutrition is on the rise as the latest El Niño weather event takes a brutal toll

Drought is affecting 1.4 million people across seven of Angola’s 18 provinces. Food prices have rocketed and acute malnutrition rates have doubled, with more than 95,000 children affected. Food insecurity is expected to worsen from July to the end of the year.

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Categories: Environment

Across Africa, the worst food crisis since 1985 looms for 50 million

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/05/21 - 11:00pm

A second year without rain threatens to bring catastrophe for some of the poorest people in the world. Donor countries, in the grip of wars and refugee crises, have been slow to pledge funds. But by the time they do, it could be too late

Harvest should be the time for celebrations, weddings and full bellies in southern Malawi. But Christopher Witimani, Lilian Matafle and their seven children and four grandchildren had nothing to celebrate last week as they picked their meagre maize crop.

Related: 'It's a disaster': children bear brunt of southern Africa's devastating drought | Lucy Lamble

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to geodesic domes

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/05/21 - 10:00pm

Take a leaf from the designs of Buckminster Fuller and redefine the space you live in with a freedome

Most of us are trapped in rectangular living, trying to retrofit eco-efficiency, but we could be enjoying life in a geodesic freedome. For starters, freedomes are inherently efficient: they need no intermediate columns or supporting walls. After all, a geodesic line is the shortest line between two points on the surface of a spheroid, and the sphere is nature’s most efficient shape.

Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, who created the Montreal Biosphère in 1967, was the foremost pioneer of geodesic domes, the master of tensegrity – tensile integrity – and the reason why geodesic structures are forever associated with eco living.

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Categories: Environment

Flirting with Trump? No, the US will vote for a Boulder solution

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/05/21 - 4:21pm

Boulder, Colorado, has been voted the US’s happiest city, thanks to its urban planning, high level of healthcare and burgeoning service jobs

The future is here and it works. Importantly, it is not a conservative future. Boulder, Colorado, is not as famous as San Francisco or even Palo Alto – but this city of some 100,000, where the high plains end and the Rocky Mountains begin, is the leading American urban area of the 21st century. It is a bewildering alchemy of 1960s hippy culture, frontier technologies, thoughtful urban planning and burgeoning service jobs ranging from diet counselling to advanced road bike maintenance. Boulder has become the exemplar of how rich and satisfying urban life can be. It is also a Democrat stronghold.

It has been voted the US’s brainiest city, its happiest city, the country’s foodiest place and the number one city for health. It is a standing reproach to Donald Trump, and indeed Britain’s rightwing Brexiteers who ape his thinking. The place is booming around values and principles to which they are hostile – but attracting families, entrepreneurs and innovators from all round the US because it is such a delightful place in which to live and work.

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Categories: Environment

The Observer view on the GM crops debate

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/05/21 - 4:04pm

Europe can no longer turn its back on the benefits of genetically modified crops

For a generation, a campaign by the green movement against the growing of genetically modified crops has held sway across Europe. These foodstuffs are a threat to health, the environment and the small independent farmer, NGOs have argued. As result, virtually no GM crops have been grown on Europe’s farms for the past 25 years. Yet hard evidence to support what is, in all but name, a ban on these vilified forms of plant life is thin on the ground. In fact, most scientific reports have indicated that they are generally safe, both to humans and the environment.

This point was endorsed last week when a 20-strong committee of experts from the US National Academies of Science announced the results of its trawl of three decades of scientific studies for “persuasive evidence of adverse health effects directly attributable to consumption of foods derived from genetically engineered crops”. It found none. Instead the group uncovered evidence that GM crops have the potential to bestow considerable health benefits. An example is provided by golden rice, a genetically modified rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Its use could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency in the third world, say scientists.

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