Environment

Adani may be forced to revamp Carmichael coalmine clean-up plans

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/05/15 - 12:45am

Reforms touted by Queensland government would mandate targets and ratios for progressive rehabilitation of land

Adani may be forced into an expensive revamp of its Queensland coal plans if mining rehabilitation reforms touted by the Palaszczuk government prevail after the next state election.

The environmental group Lock The Gate says Adani now plans a “lowest cost” program to rehabilitate its Carmichael mine, including waiting 39 years to start on rehabilitation of huge open-cut pits that will leave more than 3,300 hectares “completely un-rehabilitated”.

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Three tales of Mogadishu: violence, a booming economy … and now famine

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 11:30pm

Somalia’s capital is buzzing: estate agents thrive and it recently hosted a TedX conference. But Mogadishu is facing a fresh challenge as drought forces half a million people to seek aid. Jason Burke visits a growing camp on the outskirts

Friday afternoon and the light is low across the waves breaking on the long shore. Behind the pocked and pitted seafront promenade, hundreds of children play football among their shattered homes. This, the ruins of the old port area of Somalia’s Mogadishu, is the war-torn city of the news stories, books and films.

Less than a 10 minute drive away down a newly rebuilt double highway, the scene is very different: hundreds of young men and women stroll along the narrow band of sand left by the high tide; they paddle, swim and drink coffee or soft drinks in cafes. An ancient stretch limousine, hired out for weddings, noses through the traffic. Rickshaw drivers shout for fares.

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Top UK fund manager divests from fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 10:01pm

Archbishop of Canterbury plays crucial role in BMO Global Asset Management’s decision to dump £20m of shares in firms such as BHP Billiton

One of Britain’s biggest managers of ethical funds is to dump £20m of shares in fossil fuel companies in one of the biggest divestments so far because of climate change.

Shares in BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, will be among those sold by BMO Global Asset Management’s range of “responsible” funds, which manage £1.5bn of assets. They were previously known as the “stewardship” funds, the first ethical funds launched in Britain.

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Coralroot, a rare beauty among the old graves

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 9:30pm

North Wessex Downs, Hampshire Cow parsley and common vetch crowd around the carved words of grief and remembrance

My right hand, flushed with warmth after a day’s walking, is refreshed at the touch of the stone gate post. Standing at the entrance of an abandoned church, I can see it has been worn marble-smooth by the hands of the long-vanished faithful. Centuries of their feet, too, have passed this way and carved a dip into the threshold of one of its ancient doorways.

Although they are faint and rubbed, I’m nonetheless able to trace the radiating spokes of the witches’ marks that decorate the stone lintel. And above the squat and timbered tower a weathercock, long since rusted in place, cannot turn to greet me but instead shudders in the spring breeze.

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Ikea’s solution to peak stuff? Invest in plastics recycling plant

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 9:00pm

Furniture giant commits to reducing use of virgin raw materials but experts raise concerns about supply chain domination

Ikea has bought forest in Romania and the Baltics, wind farms in Poland and now it is investing in a plastic recycling plant in the Netherlands.

For the Swedish furniture giant, extending control across its supply chain in this way could help it become more sustainable by avoiding environmentally damaging activities like illegal deforestation and plastic waste.

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Mining company BHP drops Billiton from name in $10m ad campaign

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 5:52pm

Company announces ‘clean brand change’ as it unveils campaign to emphasise its Australian roots

BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner is rebranding, changing its name back to just BHP from this week.

The company is rolling out a $10m advertising campaign that includes television ads and a new slogan, “Think Big”, to facilitate the change.

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Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 4:19pm

Once considered an eco-warrior’s pipe dream, renewable energy is rapidly gaining ground in the traditional mining state of Western Australia

Along the remote southern coastline of Western Australia, the locals have cottoned on to a new, surefire way to keep their beer cold.

The energy grid around Esperance and Ravensthorpe is unreliable at the best of times, but after a bushfire took out the poles and wires around these far-flung outback towns last year, the power company asked residents if they might be interested in trying out a more economically and environmentally sustainable way to keep the lights on and the bar fridge humming.

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Britons throw away 1.4m edible bananas each day, figures show

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 4:01pm

Government study says £80m worth is discarded every year – sometimes simply because of a minor bruise or black mark

Britons routinely bin 1.4m edible bananas every day at a cost of £80m a year, figures reveal.

A third of consumers (30%) admit to discarding a banana if it has even a minor bruise or black mark on the skin. More than one in 10 (13%) also throw the fruit away if it shows any green on the skin.

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Gorse badly damaged by harsh winter: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 17 May 1917

Our Cornish driver said today that here they had had “two winters in one, and that a bad one.” Certainly one does not remember ever to have seen gorse so badly damaged. One thinks of gorse and ling as the hardiest of hardy shrubs, yet here there are great tracts of whin quite sandbrown, and the green, young shoots of the ling are only beginning to prevail over the dead surface. If you beat a bush of ling you have the queer experience of seeing it turn green under the taps of your stick. Another odd thing is that the succulent shoots of the Mesembryanthemum have in many places survived without harm. Of course many square feet of this rampant exotic have been destroyed, but on one sunny slope to the sea we saw a continuous sheet over a well ten feat high and about thirty foot long; it came rambling over the top of this wall, cascading down and then running along the gravel path at the foot, and out over the border and through the fence and on to the cliff beyond, like the ripples of the waves below, after they have broken, invading every crevice with silent haste. This huge tract was deeply green and full of promising buds, yet the gorse bushes with which the fleshy leaves came in contact had been killed by the winter.

Another odd effect of the very late spring is that the blackthorn was overtaken by the gorse, and we have had the very uncommon sight of gorse bushes in full glory of gold and odour, with the frothing among them of blackthorn blossoms, peculiarly thick and snowy this season. In the coves running down to the sea here the blackthorn grows very dwarf and hugs the stones, looking almost like a distinct variety.

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Categories: Environment

Grey plaque scheme highlights NO2 pollution in London

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 10:18am

London’s Choking initiative aims to draw attention to areas where nitrogen dioxide pollution threatens public health

They take their inspiration from the well-known signs linking people from the past with the buildings they once inhabited, but the symbols now appearing across London are to highlight a different connection.

In the past week, grey plaques – direct copies of the English Heritage blue plaques identifying the homes of the dead and famous – have been put up on buildings across the capital to identify streets and houses in areas where air pollution threatens public health.

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April cold weather could cause a shortage of British fruit, say farmers

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 7:19am

National Farmers’ Union warns of ‘waiting game’ on apples, pears and plums after last month’s Arctic blast

Cold weather in April could lead to a shortage of British apples, pears and plums, farmers have warned.

Alison Capper, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture board, said she feared her own apple harvest, which includes varieties such as Gala, Braeburn and Red Windsor apples, could drop by 70-80% as a result of the cold snap.

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Categories: Environment

Trump is deleting climate change, one site at a time

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/14 - 12:00am

The administration has taken a hatchet to climate change language across government websites. Here are several of the more egregious examples

During inauguration day on 20 January, as Donald Trump was adding “American carnage” to the presidential lexicon, the new administration also took a hammer to official recognition that climate change exists and poses a threat to the US.

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The eco guide to green lawns

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 10:00pm

Manicured grass comes at a heavy cost in terms of pollution from pesticides. We need better legislation, and wildflowers happily mixed with the turf

As contenders for the 12th Britain’s Best Lawn competition will know, with a great lawn comes great responsibility. Despite the fact that the winner receives a lithium-ion-battery, self-propelled lawnmower (far more eco than a petrol version), lawn-keeping typically involves a shed-load of pesticides and herbicides.

The Mormon temple in LA let its famous lawn dry out in the sun

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Peril of the deep – the killer poison that lingers unseen in British waters

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:05pm

The discovery of alarming levels of PCBs, a type of chemical banned 40 years ago, has led scientists to call for an urgent clean-up

The body of Lulu the killer whale was found on jagged rocks on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides last year. A member of the only pod found in British waters, she died after getting entangled in fishing lines.

It was a sad discovery, especially as a postmortem revealed Lulu had never had a calf. But a recent autopsy also revealed something else that is alarming marine experts and offers a bleak, damning judgment on the state of Britain’s coastal waters. Lulu’s body had some of the highest levels of a particular type of manmade chemical ever recorded – more than 100 times above the level that scientists say will have biological consequences for a species.

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Time is running out for Madagascar – evolution’s last, and greatest, laboratory

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:04pm
Kew scientists warn that unique plants on Madagascar are at risk of extinction

It is a unique evolutionary hotspot home to thousands of plants found nowhere else on Earth. However, Madagascar’s special trees, palms and orchids – which provide habitats and food for dozens of species of rare lemur and other animals – are now facing catastrophic destruction caused by land clearances, climate change and spreading agriculture, scientists will warn this week.

Thousands of plant species could be lost to humanity in the near future according to a report, The State of the World’s Plants, by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and due to be published on Thursday.

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Race is on to rid UK waters of PCBs after toxic pollutants found in killer whale

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:03pm

Scientists say more must be done to eliminate the chemicals, which have a devastating impact on marine life and can end up in the food chain

The body of Lulu the killer whale was found on jagged rocks on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. A member of the only pod found in British waters, she had died last year after getting entangled in fishing lines.

It was a sad discovery, especially as a post-mortem revealed Lulu had never produced a calf. But the recent autopsy also revealed something else; something that is alarming marine experts and which offers a bleak, damning judgment on the state of Britain’s coastal waters. Lulu’s body contained among the highest levels of a particular type of man-made chemicals ever recorded – more than 100 times above the level that scientists say will have biological consequences for a species.

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Can riverbank wildlife cope with another summer of drought?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:03pm
Water levels are low after a dry winter and mammals and birds could be at risk

Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, famous for its abbey, the Wars of the Roses battle in 1471 and the floods that ravaged the town in 2007, might seem an unlikely place to look for evidence of impending drought. But stroll along the riverbank at Abbey Mill Gate and the signs are there: the mud is cracked and dry, the reeds brown and withering, and the water is starting to form pools.

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'This is our land': New Mexico's tribal groups gear up to fight for their home

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/13 - 4:00am

President Trump’s decision to review the designations of 27 national monuments has raised fears of a corporate giveaway – and the pueblos of the Rio Grande valley are worried

As interior secretary Ryan Zinke arrived in Bears Ears national monument in southeastern Utah earlier this week to calm fears over proposals to reduce or redesignate 27 national monuments across 11 states, Taos Pueblo warchief Curtis Sandoval issued a stern warning: “If they allow drilling in the canyons, they’ll set off the volcanoes.”

Related: Bears Ears among 27 national monuments at risk under Trump

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Sweet-scented scurvy-grass is a spring tonic in every sense

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 9:30pm

South Uist The bitter leaves of this hardy little plant once provided a welcome dose of vitamin C after a hard winter

Scurvy-grass is usually found in coastal regions, where its high tolerance of saline conditions enables it to flourish where other plants fail to thrive. It is an early flowerer and will grow abundantly on steep cliffs, sometimes forming sizeable, rather untidy clumps of stemmed white flowers.

There is something endearing about this unassuming yet resilient plant, whose presence here is so linked to the beginning of a fresh new season. Strangely, its scent is not mentioned in most of the plant identification guides, yet springtime walks with a warm breeze lifting and carrying up with it the sweet fragrance of the profusion of flowers unseen on the rocky faces below have always been a delight.

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Free water from the bar tap? Get the app | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/12 - 11:04am
Guy Hodgson has a tech solution for reducing the amount of plastic drinking bottles we use

I can quite understand why people feel awkward asking for tap water without making a purchase (British embarrassment over asking for tap water in bars fuels plastic bottle waste – survey, 11 May). Fortunately, the Refill app from refill.org.uk will help direct people to all sorts of lovely businesses who have made clear their commitment to plastic waste reduction. They will refill with no obligation to buy anything. If there are any businesses who would like to join, they can do so within the app, and together we can provide a robust alternative to plastic drinking bottles.
Guy Hodgson
Bath

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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