Environment

First wild grey wolf pack in nearly a century sighted in California

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 7:19pm

First confirmed wolf sighting in the state since 1924 led to discovery and photographs of pack of five cubs and two adults near Mount Shasta

California’s first grey wolf pack since wild wolves disappeared from the state nearly a century ago has been spotted in the woods in the northern part of the state, wildlife officials said on Thursday.

Related: Wolves in eastern Oregon are returning home – and it's started a culture war

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Categories: Environment

New Zealand hunters apologise over accidental shooting of takahē

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 6:09pm

An inquiry is under way into how a cull of somewhat similar-looking pukeko birds has led to the slaughter of 5% of the wild population of takahē

The head of New Zealand’s national deerstalkers’ association has apologised “to the country at large” after four critically endangered takahē were mistakenly shot by hunters carrying out a cull of a somewhat similar-looking bird.

Deerstalkers were contracted by the Department of Conservation to carry out a cull of pukeko, a non-endangered, very common relative of the takahē, on an island sanctuary in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

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Categories: Environment

Food Waste And Beef Fat Will Be Making Airplanes Soar

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 3:31pm

Biofuel producers are teaming up with farms, meatpackers and waste management companies to tap the gassy waste on farms to make renewable jet fuel and diesel for vehicles.

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Categories: Environment

Ants hold protest calling for protection of Amazon rainforest - video

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 1:32pm

Around half a million ants hold a protest in Cologne, Germany, calling for Angela Merkel, the country’s chancellor, to continue supporting the protection of the Amazon rainforest. As Merkel makes a visit to Brazil, conservation organisation the World Wildlife Fund lazered messages onto leaves, which read, ‘Stand up’ and ‘Save the Amazon’. Ants then carried the messages on their backs as they crawled across their ant farm

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Categories: Environment

3 Firefighters Killed While Battling Wildfires In Washington State

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 1:32pm

Three firefighters in Washington state died while battling wildfires Wednesday. Scores of wildfires are burning throughout the western U.S. and nearly 30,000 firefighters are involved.

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Categories: Environment

Long-suffering California can blame drought on global warming, experts say

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 12:54pm

Latest report finds climate change intensified the drought in California from 2012 to 2014 and predicts ‘enhanced drought’ throughout 21st century

Global warming has increased the severity of the ongoing drought in California, as part of a larger trend of human-caused climate change intensifying dry weather spells, scientists said on Thursday.

Scientists predict that “enhanced drought” will continue in California throughout this century because global warming has “substantially increased” the likelihood of extreme droughts in the state.

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Categories: Environment

EPA says it isn't monitoring an estimated 161,000 abandoned mines

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 9:19am

The agency has said it doesn’t monitor hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines, or know which one could be the source of the next big toxic spill

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said it has no system for monitoring hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that pock the American landscape, or knowing which one could be the source of the next big toxic spill.

“EPA does not maintain records of the number of mines or tailings dams in the US,” a spokesman for the federal agency told the Guardian. In the western US, the EPA estimates there may be 161,000 abandoned “hard rock” mines, where metals such as gold, silver and copper were once dug. But the nationwide threat left by these bygone miners remains largely unknown and unwatched.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change is so dire we need a new kind of science fiction to make sense of it | Claire L Evans

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 8:45am

Star Trek was one way of dealing with the social anxieties of the 1960s. Since sci-fi mirrors the present, ecological collapse requires a new dystopian fiction

Build an imaginary world in your mind, hanging in space. Spin it around a bit; kick the tires. Now change one thing about that world. Throw a bug of your choice into the machine. What if the oceans reclaim your coastal cities? What if you can’t support life? What if the life you bear can’t support you?

Ponder the answer, and you’ll create what the critic Robert Scholes has called “radical discontinuity,” the cognitive dissonance that allows science fiction to explore the most pressing concerns of its age. For our age – the Anthropocene, the proposed geologic epoch defined by human impact – the discontinuities are clear. The question is not if we will change the planet but when, and how existing changes will render it unrecognizable.

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Categories: Environment

EU calls for urgency in ‘seriously lagging’ Paris climate talks

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 8:20am

EU’s top climate official warns that ‘painfully slow’ negotiations must be accelerated to seal a meaningful global emissions pact at Paris summit

With 100 days to go until the Paris climate summit, the EU’s climate chief has warned that progress in thrashing out a draft negotiating text is proceeding too slowly and urgently needs to be stepped up.

Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s climate commissioner, said that the 85-page draft agreement currently being poured over by diplomats still contains far too many bracketed options that need to be rapidly narrowed.

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Categories: Environment

Wind energy in Belgium's Flanders region booms

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 8:03am

Before the end of 2015 at least 80 new wind turbines will rise up, increasing capacity by a third, reports De Standaard

Wind turbines are under construction everywhere. In the coming months they will be unmissable along Flemish roads, as an unprecedented building boom breaks out, a survey by De Standaard and green power companies reveals.

The result of the boom has been a sharp increase in wind power capacity in Flanders. Late last year the counter stood at 604 megawatts. Already during the second half of this year, 195 megawatts will be added. In comparison, the smallest nuclear reactors in our country – Doel 1 and 2 – each have a capacity of 433 megawatts.

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Categories: Environment

Pesticides linked to bee decline for first time in a countrywide field study

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 7:56am

Landscape-wide research by former UK government agency on oilseed rape fields in England and Wales shows link between neonicotinoids and honeybee colony losses

A new study provides the first evidence of a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and escalating honeybee colony losses on a landscape level.

The study found the increased use of a pesticide, which is linked to causing serious harm in bees worldwide, as a seed treatment on oilseed rape in England and Wales over an 11 year period correlated with higher bee mortality during that time.

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Categories: Environment

Pesticides blamed for bee declines widespread in US waterways

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 7:00am

Expert says neonicotinoids, even at EPA’s ‘safe’ levels, could devastate aquatic invertebrates: ‘The water issue is probably as important as the pollinators’

The most comprehensive survey to date of pollution in the US from a controversial group of pesticides has found the chemicals are widespread in streams and rivers. Though not considered a human health threat, the findings underscore the environmental ubiquity and potential for ecological harm of neonicotinoids.

While neonicotinoids have been blamed for fuelling declines of bees, researchers say their effects could extend beyond pollinators. Also at risk are invertebrates that form the foundation of aquatic food chains and the myriad creatures who feed upon them.

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Categories: Environment

Tory lobbying against air pollution laws smells of political corruption | George Monbiot

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 6:31am

The UK government’s bid to weaken EU laws to limit toxic pollution wouldn’t appear in any manifesto. It reveals a party working in the interests of corporate coal rather than the public

It’s interesting to note how readily modern conservatism degenerates into a defence of corporate malfeasance.

By this I don’t mean a defence of corporations in general, which you might expect from a political movement aligned with the interests of wealth and power, but of the worst corporations in particular. That is not a pro-corporate position, as favouring bad practice undermines the competitive position of more responsible companies. It’s a decision to side with the worst capitalists against the better capitalists.

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Categories: Environment

BP lobbied against EU support for clean energy to favour gas, documents reveal

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 5:13am

BP was part of oil and gas lobby that successfully undermined EU renewable energy targets and subsidies in favour of gas as a climate fix in 2011

The fossil fuel giant BP helped spur a concerted industry push to curb EU policy support for renewable energies such as wind and solar in favour of gas, the Guardian has learned.

The European commission last year outlawed most subsidies for clean energy from 2017, and ended nationally-binding renewable targets after 2020, despite opposition from environmentalists and clean energy firms.

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Categories: Environment

There are 45 fracked wells within 2 miles of my daughter's school | Rodrigo Romo

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 3:45am

I believe California is illegally discriminating against students of color by permitting wells that are disproportionately close to the schools they attend

Every morning, I send my daughters off to school with a kiss on the cheek and a heavy heart. School is supposed to be a safe and supportive environment where children are able to learn without worrying about threats to their health. Unfortunately, this is not the case in my hometown of Shafter, California.

California state laws have allowed oil companies to hydraulically fracture oil wells perilously close to my daughters’ schools, exposing them to dangerous air toxins and putting their health and safety at risk on a daily basis.

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Categories: Environment

Tanzania turns a blind eye to poaching as elephant populations tumble

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 2:17am

As illegal poaching escalates in national parks from Selous to Ruaha, officials attempt to silence the crisis and many fear Serengeti herds will be next

For tour guides in Tanzania, the results of a continental elephant census showing that the country had lost two-thirds of its herd in five years and become Africa’s ivory trading hub came as no surprise.

They’d tried to prevent tourists from seeing the melting skins and drying bones littering the Selous ecosystem in southern Tanzania for years. But they couldn’t mask the shots heard from safari camps in a reserve once known as “the elephant capital of the world”. Last year it was named in the journal Science as Africa’s poaching hotspot, and a Unesco world heritage in danger site.

“When you hear the gunshots next to the camp, you know that they’re [elephants] being finished,” said one safari guide in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As people cried foul over Cecil, a 13-year-old lion shot to fame by a holidaying Minnesotan dentist in Zimbabwe, the slaughter of five elephants by Tanzanian poachers in Kenya’s Tsavo park passed almost silently.

In Tanzania, it is not hunters who can freely take home trophy elephants, but illegal poachers, who have decimated herds in the Selous. Leaving behind mainly baby elephants waiting for tusks, they’ve followed disappointed safari-goers to Ruaha, Tanzania’s second greatest pachyderm-heavy area.

“At every camp in Ruaha we’ve either heard shots, seen poachers or elephant carcasses,” with the latter even spotted at the park gates that ivory flows out of on the back of motorbikes, in ambulances and on public buses, said the guide.

Sirili Akko, executive secretary of Tanzania’s Association of Tour Operators said: “We have to create international pressure on the countries which are defined to be the market for the ivory and other wildlife products, as now, the lions are going the same way.”

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Categories: Environment

How Colorado Politics Could Interfere With New EPA Standards

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 2:13am

When it comes to new regulations for existing coal-fired power plants, Colorado is ahead of the curve. But the state's governor and attorney general are clashing over next steps.

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Categories: Environment

Drilling Deeper Wells Contributes To California's Subsidence Problem

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2015/08/20 - 2:13am

Parts of California's Central Valley are sinking faster than ever before. The subsidence is due to an increase in groundwater pumping, as drought-stricken farmers drill deeper to find water for crops.

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Categories: Environment

How do you catch a wombat? In a giant butterfly net of course – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/08/19 - 11:45pm

PhD students at the University of Tasmania are netting bare-nosed wombats as part of their research into sarcoptic mange, which can cause localised extinction. Among other things, they hope to determine how the disease was introduced to Australia. Once caught, the wombats are anaesthetised, put in sacks and taken in for testing and assessment, then released back into the wild where they were found

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Categories: Environment

The wasteland - what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?*

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/08/19 - 9:30pm
Crook, County Durham We count the usual suspects among the rubble – teasels, mugwort, ragwort, poppies, mullein and melilot

The fragrance of newly mown hay drying in the sun in Weardale’s meadows is just a memory now that the last cut has been gathered in, but 10 miles down the dale, in this small market town, it lingers. It grows stronger as we walk down an alley to the post office, past a bulldozed wasteland that was, until last year, the council depot.

A forest of melilot (Melilotus altissima) has appeared in the brick and concrete rubble. This is a plant supercharged with coumarin, the compound that gives mown grass its heady aroma. Today the scent comes in waves, released as the plant’s tangled stems brush against each other in the warm wind.

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