Environment

'Do not kill sharks': Australian survey result undermines world's biggest cull

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 8:32am
As western state slaughters sharks for perceived threat, Sydney Aquarium visitor survey finds 87% saying the predators should not be killed, and 69% backing human safety through education

Australia is conducting an aggressive culling drive against sharks, with the largest slaughter of the marine animals in the world now happening off the state of Western Australia. Yet a new survey finds that many people in the country are not frightened of sharks' presence.

Forty-five sharks have been killed off the state's shores so far this year after being caught in the hunt on baited drum lines. The state government wants to extend this practice for three years.

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Categories: Environment

Food Scraps To Fuel Vertical Farming's Rise In Chicago

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 8:14am

As vertical farming takes root in cities around the world, critics fear it's leaving a big carbon footprint. An experiment in Chicago turning garbage into energy aims to prove them wrong.

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Wildlife in Gulf of Mexico still suffering four years after BP oil spill: report

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 7:54am
Environmental campaign group finds ongoing symptoms of oil exposure in 14 species from oysters to dolphins

The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused dangerous after-effects to more than a dozen different animals from dolphins to oysters, a report from an environmental campaign group said on Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

Satellite Eye on Earth: March 2014 - in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 7:46am
Dust storms, desert lightning and ice strings were among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Years of Living Dangerously a global warming blockbuster | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 6:00am
This new Showtime climate change documentary is a nonfiction thriller you won't want to miss

In full disclosure, I am jealous that I did not get a chance to work on this perhaps the most important climate change multimedia communication endeavor in history.

Climate change really is a made-for-TV story. It has all the drama of Hollywood, with real-life villains and heroes thrown in. We scientists struggle everyday to communicate the importance of climate change to the world. It is great to see communication experts come in and accomplish what scientists alone cannot.

"The goal of this YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY is to galvanize a national conversation on the realities of climate change and inspire people to share their own stories and empower them to get involved in solutions. We're also implementing an engagement campaign that will extend this effort beyond the broadcast to encourage our global leaders in politics, business and religion, as well as concerned citizens, to state where they stand on key climate issues and take action."

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Categories: Environment

Western Australian senate election is repudiation, not validation, of Abbott's climate policy | Alexander White

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 5:04am
If the recent Western Australian half-senate election was a referendum on the carbon price, it was yet another failure for Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott declared the Western Australia half-senate election to be a "referendum" on the carbon price in his first major door-stop as prime minister in Perth last year

If there is a new election it will be another opportunity for the people of Australia to say no to the carbon tax and frankly I welcome another opportunity for the people to participate in a referendum on the carbon tax.

Abbott said the 5.6% swing in the Senate election rerun was "typical" and one of voters' main expectations was that the government would get rid of the carbon and mining taxes.

"As far as I am concerned the very strong take-out of this result is that the Australian people yet again have voted to get rid of the carbon tax and get rid of the mining tax, and I expect these taxes to be swiftly scrapped," he said.

The by-election will be an opportunity for the people of Griffith to vote for a candidate that will support the Government's plan to build a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia.

In particular, it will be an opportunity to vote for a local member who will vote to scrap the carbon tax, reduce electricity prices and ease cost of living pressures.

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Categories: Environment

Five pathways to post-capitalist 'renaissance' by a former oil man | Nafeez Ahmed

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 4:36am
'Capitalism is torpedoing our prosperity, killing our economies, threatening our children. It must be re-engineered, root and branch.'

In The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance, Dr Jeremy Leggett a former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy warns of the risk of an imminent global oil crash as early as next year, and no later than 2020.

In my first post on Leggett's new book, I focused on his analysis of our "risk blindness." But despite his trenchant and uncompromising stance on the potentially catastrophic consequences of business as usual, Leggett is no doomer.

"The incumbency, with their 'new era of fossil fuels', will have suffered a setback as a result of the oil crisis, not a rout. They, like the investment bankers before them, will soon be arguing that the time for remorse is over. They will argue that all forms of national or regional carbon fuel resource must now be mobilised as fast as possible."

"First, the readiness of clean energy for explosive growth. Second, the intrinsic pro-social attributes of clean energy. Third, the increasing evidence of people power in the world. Fourth, the pro-social tendencies in the human mind. Fifth, the power of context that leaders will be operating in after the oil crash."

"The next crash will lay bare all the incumbency's illusions about a new era of fossil fuels and of a wealth-creating financial system in need of only light-touch regulation. They will have left themselves at the mercy of a society that will be looking back in anger, and a political class that will feel impelled, given the state of their streets, to project the will of the people. Society will be being swept with a realisation that energy needs must be met in large measure at home, as fast as possible, and in a climate wherein modern financial institutions cannot in general be trusted with either individuals' money or the provision of financial services to viable economies."

"Modern capitalism's worst-ever crash may prove to be a cloud drifting across human history that has a very big silver lining indeed."

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Categories: Environment

Switching to a biomass boiler: 'It's sustainable and my exercise'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 2:06am

Tony and Rhoda Graham have switched their Windermere home from oil heating and are ready for the renewable heat incentive

The government announced the renewable heat incentive for householders today. For Tony and Rhoda Graham, who have lived for 30 years in their 5 bedroom home which doubles as a bed and breakfast, in an idyllic location in Windermere, it is long overdue.

Several years ago, while cycling through Europe, the couple came across eco-friendly biomass boilers, but couldnt find them in the UK. Eventually the government announced its intention to launch the scheme, which prompted them to make the switch from oil exactly a year ago, for Tony's 70th birthday. He explains why:

I switched for several reasons. We have our own woodlands opposite the property and for years I have managed its conservation and wildlife. I feel passionately about the need to be sustainable.

The boiler itself was £13,000, but in total weve spent around £20,000 to set this up. The financial gain is slow in coming although if we had to buy the wood, weve worked out it is still 50% cheaper than oil. When the RHI comes in, it will go some way to repaying some of the capital and running costs.

Why should I use fossil fuels to turn the wood into chip? For me, burning the wood is the most environmentally friendly option.

The domestic RHI is a super idea, and is all part of the governments commitment to reducing carbon emissions. My concern, however, is with the commercial companies. Large schemes and uptakes have created a massive demand for wood mostly chips and pellets. This is counter-productive as it will create something unsustainable and we are already importing both from abroad.

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Categories: Environment

Wildlife trafficking app launched at Sydney's Taronga Zoo

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 1:47am

App aims to crowdsource intelligence about the illegal wildlife trade by having users report and photograph suspicious activity

Australian travellers in south-east Asia are being encouraged to report illegal wildlife trafficking using a new app.

Wildlife Witness, launched on Wednesday at Sydneys Taronga Zoo, aims to crowdsource intelligence about the illegal wildlife trade by having users report and photograph suspicious activity and pin its general location on a public map.

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Categories: Environment

Renewable heat incentive offers homeowners money to switch from oil

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 1:24am

Financial incentives for homeowners off the gas grid to switch to technologies such as biomass boilers

Homeowners relying on expensive, dirty oil for heating will be offered payments of thousands of pounds from Wednesday to switch to renewable energy alternatives in a government drive to cut carbon emissions from heat.

The domestic renewable heat incentive, which was meant to launch in 2012 but has been repeatedly delayed, is the first scheme of its kind in the world, offering financial incentives for low carbon heating technologies including boilers that burn wood pellets.

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Categories: Environment

States, Lawmakers Want Feds To Use New Math For FEMA Calculations

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 12:37am

As a new tornado season begins, Illinois officials say they need more help from the federal government, and Sens. Kirk and Durbin have reintroduced a bill proposing changes to the disaster formula.

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Categories: Environment

Maules Creek coal mine divides local families and communities

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2014/04/09 - 12:09am

The project has ripped apart the landscape and ruined relationships in Indigenous groups and farming communities

The tiny chopper quivered in the wind. It hovered at 300 metres and 75-year-old Uncle Neville Sampson, a Gomeroi elder, surveyed the Leard state forest below. Lush box gum woodland, the land that Sampsons ancestors have walked for thousands of years, stood proud. But eventually, as the chopper zipped along, the terrain gave way to the mine construction.

For Uncle Neville it was both breathtaking and heartbreaking in equal measure. The Maules Creek mine, Australias largest coal mine under construction, has ripped apart both the landscape and the Gomeroi community. Many are now prevented from entering the mine site, which holds numerous Indigenous artefacts and significant sites, after accusing the leaseholders, Whitehaven Coal, of not respecting their wishes for preservation.

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Categories: Environment

Western Australia wave energy project on the brink of commercialisation

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 11:28pm

A major sustainable energy plan has come closer to fruition with the launch of three giant buoys in Perth

Australia could be set for a breakthrough in energy derived from waves, following the launch a major new project in Western Australia.

Carnegie Wave Energy unveiled three large buoys in Perth on Wednesday as part of a new $70 million technology which will feed energy into the Australian grid later this year.

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Procter & Gamble bows to pressure on palm oil deforestation

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 10:43pm

Multinational pledges to ensure that the palm oil and palm kernel oil it sources is traceable to the supplier mills

Procter & Gamble has bowed to pressure from environmentalists and revealed a new, extensive no-deforestation policy in the production of its products, including demanding fully traceable palm oil from suppliers.

In the wake of severe criticism by a Greenpeace report earlier this year, the multinational company said on Wednesday that by the end of 2015 it would ensure that the palm oil and palm kernel oil it sources is traceable to the supplier mills.

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British butterflies make fluttering recovery thanks to hot summer

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 10:00pm
Four-fifths of UK species improve numbers after 2013 and targeted conservation but extinction threat lingers

Butterflies returned to the skies last year with four-fifths of British species increasing after the worst summer on record, but overall numbers were still well below average.

An unusually sunny midsummer gave respite to rare species threatened with extinction following a disastrous 2012, in which fewer butterflies were recorded by volunteers and scientists than at any time since records began.

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Categories: Environment

The realities of living with windfarms | @guardianletters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 1:00pm

Chris Huhne asserts that wind generation is popular with the British public (The Conservatives' onshore wind sums are all at sea, 7 April). He omits to say that's because up to now the British public has been largely unaffected by the development of this fundamentally useless form of electricity generation. However, in the relatively small and thinly populated area of Britain that is the Scottish Borders, many of us have spent much of the past decade fighting windfarm development. Unsuccessfully, it has to be said: in spite of planning policies aimed at preventing undesirable development, some 400 turbines have been built here, and there are many more in the planning pipeline. If those 4,000 turbines across the UK produce about 5% of our total electricity need when the wind is blowing be sure there will be a windfarm coming your way quite soon. Let's see how popular that turns out to be.

Huhne thinks that turbines are "elegant and minimalistic". Individually on a distant horizon, Mr Huhne, or dozens in vast slabs of metal 70, 80 or more metres high, covering a couple of square miles and in your face on a daily basis? But even if they may be elegant, they certainly are not a solution to a pressing energy need. For every hour a turbine operates it has to be supported by alternative means, just in case the wind doesn't blow, often when the temperature is at its lowest and our need is greatest. And should it blow too hard, landowners, many of whom don't live close by and aren't characterised by Huhne as "venomous nimbies", can pocket large sums of "compensation" in return for turning them off. So it's no surprise that here on the A1 at the Scotland-England border, there is a fine panorama of wind turbines 20 miles or more to the north, west and south.
George Russell
Eyemouth, Berwickshire

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Categories: Environment

Country diary: Wenlock Edge: Marsh marigolds jump into life like a bawdy old song

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 1:00pm
Wenlock Edge: The name comes from the Old English for horse-gall, a flowerbud like a blister, also called mare's blob

Like that buried hoard of gold sword hilts folded up, the marsh marigold buds begin to undo. On green hearts broken from black water reeking of rain and muck, they turn on yellow. Unlike the pot marigolds and corn marigolds, the name has nothing to do with Mary and the healing of power of gold but comes from the Old English merc-meargealle meaning marsh horse-gall, a flower bud like a blister or swelling, also called mare's-blob or 'oss-bleb. Forgotten since last spring, these flowers jump into life like a bawdy old song, a beauty kept by a rough country language that refuses to be gentrified.

Because it shines so brightly in dark boggy places, marsh marigold is a tonic for the eyes. There are other things leaping from darkness: tonics for all the senses. From the top of a blackthorn, a chiffchaff bursts into his two-syllable rant. The sound is electric, more than an announcement of arrival, pulsing along the hedges and across fields, filling the landscape. The song of a nuthatch somewhere between a dog whistling and a car alarm sounds from old sycamore trees. The green woodpeckers yell their mocking rain call.

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Categories: Environment

David Attenborough voices mountain gorilla documentary

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 12:00pm

Broadcaster lends his support to conservation efforts to promote recovery of critically endangered ape

David Attenborough has lent his support to a fresh push to protect Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas.

The naturalist and broadcaster has voiced a 15-minute documentary on conservation efforts by the charity that continues the work of Dian Fossey, the primatologist made widely known by the film adaptation of her book, Gorillas in the Mist.

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Categories: Environment

David Attenborough lends support to new campaign to save Rwanda gorilla video

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 12:00pm
Exclusive: Naturalist and broadcaster has voices a 15-minute documentary on conservation efforts by the charity that continues the work of Dian Fossey, the primatologist made widely known by the film adaptation of her book, Gorillas in the Mist. 'Dian Fossey knew that the survival of mountain gorillas depended on the education and progress of communities around them,' Attenborough says in the film. 'Today in this densely populated country, communities still live and farm right up to he edges of the gorillas' habitat.' Continue reading...
Categories: Environment

Carbon divestment activists claim victory as Harvard adopts green code

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2014/04/08 - 9:30am

Managers of university's $33bn endowment adopt UN-backed responsible investment rules

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