Fear in Mexico as twin deaths expose threat to monarch butterflies and their defenders

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/02/08 - 8:19am

The deaths of two butterfly conservationists have drawn focus to a troubling tangle of disputes, resentments and violence

The annual migration of monarch butterflies from the US and Canada is one of the most resplendent sights in the natural world – a rippling orange-and-black wave containing millions of butterflies fluttering instinctively southward to escape the winter cold.

The spectacle when they reach their destination in central Mexico is perhaps even more astonishing. Patches of alpine forest turn from green to orange as the monarchs roost in the fir trees, the sheer weight of butterflies causing branches to sag to the point of snapping. Tens of thousands of the insects bounce haphazardly overhead, searching replenishment from nearby plants.

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Categories: Environment

After the wildfires: tourist firms in California's wine country say no one is coming

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/02/08 - 4:00am

Businesses are still struggling months after a massive wildfire hit Sonoma county and prompted widespread evacuations and panic

Like so many other wine country towns dependent on tourism and out-of-town visitors, the California resort community of Guerneville typically experiences a winter downturn.

Business owners know to prepare for it. Restaurant owners scale back seasonal staff. Hotels offer discounted rates.

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Categories: Environment

Why Finland leads the field when it comes to winter cycling

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2020/02/08 - 1:00am

Progressive policies help get people on their bike, even in below-freezing conditions

In London, where I live, the idea of winter cycling generally involves little more than remembering some gloves and making sure your bike lights are charged. In Joensuu, the compact city in eastern Finland, where I am now, it’s arguably a more serious business.

When I got off the train from Helsinki the temperature was -16C (3F), and hasn’t yet risen higher than -6C. Every roadway, pavement and cycle route is covered in a layer of compacted snow.

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Categories: Environment

It Was 65 Degrees In Antarctica This Week

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 4:34pm

The preliminary finding, reported by Argentine researchers on the Antarctic Peninsula, would be the continent's hottest temperature on record if verified by the World Meteorological Organization.

(Image credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Categories: Environment

Stars urged to ditch the red carpet sequins to save the oceans

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 2:24pm

Although shiny on the red carpet they ‘hide serious socio-environmental impacts’

Fashion insiders are warning the great and the good of Hollywood not to wear sequins on the Academy Awards red carpet because of their terrible environmental impact.

Last Sunday at the Baftas, despite guests being urged to opt for more planet-friendly fashion choices, Scarlett Johansson wore a sequinned pink Versace dress, Rebel Wilson was wrapped in a red sequin custom-made Prabal Gurung gown and Naomie Harris shone in silver sequinned Michael Kors. At the Grammys and Golden Globes last month, the red carpets were similarly awash with sequins.

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Categories: Environment

Big polluters again allowed to lift emissions without penalty

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 12:00pm

The ‘safeguard mechanism’ promised to limit industry’s carbon pollution, but in two years has approved more than 7m tonnes of extra emissions

Mining and heavy industry companies, including BHP and Alcoa, have again been allowed to lift their greenhouse gas emissions without penalty under a climate change policy that the Australian government promised would prevent national pollution increasing.

Under changes posted online on Thursday, BHP coal and iron ore mines in Western Australia and Queensland, Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria and a Boggabri coalmine in New South Wales were each given the green light to emit more under the scheme known as the “safeguard mechanism”.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:56am

The pick of the world’s best flora and fauna photos, including a baboon with a lion cub and Devon beavers

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Categories: Environment

Man found guilty of smuggling £50m worth of live eels out of UK

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:47am

Gilbert Khoo transported endangered ‘glass eels’ to Hong Kong hidden beneath other fish

A seafood salesman has been found guilty of smuggling more than £53m worth of endangered live eels out of the UK.

Gilbert Khoo, 66, transported the rare elvers from London to Hong Kong hidden underneath other fish between 2015 and 2017.

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Categories: Environment

Cherokee Nation to preserve culturally important seeds in Arctic vault

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:27am

Varieties of corn, beans and squash seen as central to Cherokee identity will be deposited in Norway’s Svalbard seed bank

The Cherokee Nation will bank corn, bean and squash seeds in the Arctic “doomsday vault”, becoming the first US-based tribe to safeguard culturally emblematic crops for future generations.

The Svalbard seed vault, the world’s most sheltered storage facility, currently holds 992,039 crop seeds from across the world.

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Categories: Environment

Armed ecoguards funded by WWF 'beat up Congo tribespeople'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:27am

Exclusive: Inquiry into $21.4m conservation project reports ‘credible’ evidence of abuse

Armed ecoguards partly funded by the conservation group WWF to protect wildlife in the Republic of the Congo beat up and intimidated hundreds of Baka pygmies living deep in the rainforests, an investigation into a landmark global conservation project has heard.

A team of investigators sent to northern Congo by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to assess allegations of human rights abuses gathered “credible” evidence from different sources that hunter-gatherer Baka tribespeople living close to a proposed national park had been subjected to violence and physical abuse from the guards over years, according to a leaked draft of the report.

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Categories: Environment

Can Boris Johnson be trusted to act on the climate crisis?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 9:47am

He has a history of ‘not getting’ global heating but his desire for Britain to be a world leader could be the planet’s hope

Will Boris Johnson please listen to his own father, rather than Jeremy Corbyn’s climate sceptic brother, on the subject of climate change? It may go against the prime minister’s instincts, but it is the best hope for Britain to live up to its responsibilities in a crucial year for our species.

Johnson cannot do this on his own. That much was clear this week during the shambolic London launch of the COP 26 UN climate summit, which will take place in Glasgow in November. This will be the most important international conference in five years and as host the UK will play a leading role in deciding whether it ends in success or failure.

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Categories: Environment

Australia's East Gets Drenched By Rain, And Flood Warnings Replace Fire Alerts

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 8:55am

A deluge is falling on Australia's southeast coast — and while it's quashing stubborn fires, the water is also causing flash floods and other hazards.

(Image credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

From Delivery Trucks To Scooter-Moving Vans, Fleets Are Going Electric

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 7:48am

Lime is all about electric vehicles — battery-powered scooters, that is. But now the company is also going to use plug-in vans for behind-the-scenes operations. And it's far from alone.

(Image credit: Yann Schreiber/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The EU’s green deal is a colossal exercise in greenwashing | Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 5:19am

Ursula von der Leyen’s signature proposal co-opts the slogans of climate activism, but has none of the substance

Emergencies tend to reveal our true priorities. When our house is burning down or the storm waters are flooding in, we hold on to what we value most, and leave the rest behind.

A decade ago, the leaders of the European Union found themselves facing such a moment. With the French and German banks falling into a black hole, they did whatever it took to save them. Between 2009 and 2013, European governments channelled €1.6tn (£1.36tn) to Europe’s bankers, while imposing stringent austerity upon the European citizens they pledged to serve. When in 2015 they realised that more support was necessary, the European Central Bank printed €2.6tn over just four years.

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Categories: Environment

Feds May Open Utah National Monuments For Mining And Drilling

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/02/07 - 3:09am

The Trump administration announced management plans for public lands in Utah that were formerly part of national monuments declared by President Obama. Critics worry it means more drilling and mining.

Categories: Environment

This is the age of the megafire – and it’s being fuelled by our leaders | Tim Flannery

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/02/06 - 7:00pm

In the face of the climate disaster it helped create, the Australian government has given us only lies and denial

Unprecedented wildfires have recently devastated California, the Amazon, southern Europe, Siberia and Australia. It’s safe to say that we’ve entered the era of the climate-fuelled megafire. But because fire conditions depend on local vegetation, topography and climate, each of these great conflagrations is different.

Australia’s bushfires of the last four months have been true megafires, creating their own weather and becoming so vast in their impact that more than half of all Australians have been directly affected by them. As I write, fires continue to burn around Canberra, and though rain has begun to fall in northern New South Wales, 17 are “yet to be contained” according to the fire service. Meanwhile, what is traditionally the worst part of the fire season for Victoria and South Australia is just commencing. Conditions have been so severe that firefighters have often been unable to stop fires joining up, generating massive dry thunderstorms that spread fire with thousands of lightning strikes.

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Categories: Environment

Trump finalizes plans to open Utah monuments for mining and drilling

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/02/06 - 3:10pm

Lawsuits are pending from groups who have challenged the constitutionality of shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante

Plans finalized on Thursday for two national monuments in Utah downsized by Donald Trump would ensure that lands previously off-limits to energy development will be open to mining and drilling.

The move comes despite pending lawsuits from conservation, tribal and paleontology groups, who have challenged the constitutionality of the president’s action. The Trump administration slashed the size of Bears Ears national monument by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument by nearly half in December 2017, in what represented the largest elimination of public lands protections in US history.

Conservation groups criticized the Trump administration on Thursday for spending time on management plans they believe will become moot when the court sides with their assertion that Trump misused the Antiquities Act to reverse decisions by previous presidents.

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Categories: Environment

Trump Administration Finalizes Plans To Allow Development On Downsized Monuments

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2020/02/06 - 2:50pm

More than two years after Trump dramatically shrank the protected land in Utah, the Bureau of Land Management released the framework for the move, despite continuing challenges to its legality.

(Image credit: George Frey/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Canadian police arrest activists at Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camp

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/02/06 - 2:15pm

Royal Canadian Mounted officers arrested at least six people at a roadblock erected by Indigenous people to block construction

Canadian police have made a series of arrests in northern British Columbia as they enforced a court injunction to remove activists who have been blocking the construction of a controversial natural gas pipeline on Indigenous territory.

Before dawn on Thursday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers backed by tactical teams and dogs arrested at least six people at a roadblock erected by the Wet’suwet’en people to stop construction of the C$6bn (US$4.5bn) Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL).

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Categories: Environment

Largest maker of pesticide linked to brain damage in kids to stop producing chemical

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/02/06 - 2:11pm

Announcement comes after Trump administration reversed plans to ban chlorpyrifos and rejected scientific conclusions of experts

The world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, has announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year.

The announcement on Thursday by Corteva, the corporation formed from a Dow Chemical and DuPont merger, comes after the Trump administration reversed regulatory plans to ban the pesticide and rejected the scientific conclusions of US government experts.

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