Scotland to monitor pollution from Iceland's volcanoes

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 4:03am

ENDS UK: Environment agency consults on new air quality monitoring network that would detect the release of particulates and sulphur dioxides

The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 led to the closure of European airspace and harmed air quality.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is consulting on a new air quality monitoring network intended to detect the release of particulates and sulphur dioxide from Iceland’s volcanoes.

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Categories: Environment

Allergic to life: the Arizona residents 'sensitive to the whole world'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 4:00am

In Snowflake, people tell Kathleen Hale they have found refuge in the desert to escape fragrances, electricity, Wi-Fi and other facets of modern life

A lot of things caused Susie pain: scented products, pesticides, plastic, synthetic fabrics, smoke, electronic radiation – the list went on. Back in “the regular world”, car exhaust made her feel sick for days. Perfume gave her seizures.

Then she uprooted to Snowflake, Arizona.

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Categories: Environment

Food shortages and sea level rise US voters' top climate change concerns

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 4:00am

Survey of Guardian readers appalled at lack of climate discussion in 2016 campaign finds food and water shortages viewed as most pressing consequence

Diminishing food and water security and ruinous sea level rise are the leading climate change concerns of a section of the American electorate that is aghast at the lack of discussion of global warming during the presidential debate.

Related: Climate change: the missing issue of the 2016 campaign

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Categories: Environment

Why the Euro 2016 final was overrun by moths

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 3:16am

A swarm of Silver Y moths at the Stade de France turned into a swarm of memes after one moth tended to the injured Ronaldo. Watch out, they could be heading for Premier League stadiums next

It will forever be remembered as the moth balls final: a rather drab climax to Euro 2016 enlivened by a swarm of moths.

Related: Euro 2016: Guardian writers pick their highs and lows from France

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Categories: Environment

We just broke the record for hottest year, 9 straight times | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 3:00am

Earth’s record hottest 12 consecutive months were set in each month ending in September 2015 through May 2016

2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we’ve seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.

But it’s just happenstance that the calendar year begins in January, and so it’s also informative to compare all yearlong periods. In doing so, it becomes clear that we’re living in astonishingly hot times.

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Categories: Environment

Leaked TTIP energy proposal could 'sabotage' EU climate policy

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/07/11 - 12:00am

EU proposal on a free trade deal with the US could curb energy saving measures and a planned switch to clean energy, say MEPs

The latest draft version of the TTIP agreement could sabotage European efforts to save energy and switch to clean power, according to MEPs.

A 14th round of the troubled negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal between the EU and US is due to begin on Monday in Brussels.

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Categories: Environment

Massive mangrove die-off on Gulf of Carpentaria worst in the world, says expert

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 9:52pm

Climate change and El Niño the culprits, says Norm Duke, an expert in mangrove ecology, after seeing 7,000ha of dead mangroves over 700km

Climate change and El Niño have caused the worst mangrove die-off in recorded history, stretching along 700km of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, an expert says.

The mass die-off coincided with the world’s worst global coral bleaching event, as well as the worst bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, in which almost a quarter of the coral was killed – something also caused by unusually warm water.

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Categories: Environment

Cormorants watch for trout beneath the mirror surface of the lake

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 9:30pm

Watendlath Tarn, Borrowdale At my approach the soot-black, long-necked bird opens its hook-tipped bill, and utters a harsh croak

Watendlath Tarn shines like a burnished mirror. Perfect reflections of the surrounding hills and a Chelsea blue sky are disrupted only by the occasional splash of mallards and greylag geese and jumping trout. Black buzzer flies (chironomids or non-biting midges) on the surface are hatching from the tarn bed.

I think of Judith Paris, the historical novel by Hugh Walpole, which was a bestseller in the 1930s, though little read these days. It is partly set in revolutionary Paris and partly in Watendlath, with tales of passion and murder played out against vivid descriptions of the Cumbrian countryside.

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Categories: Environment

Cutting the cable: Kangaroo Island eyes switch to 100% renewable energy

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 9:29pm

Australia’s third-biggest island could combine wind, solar, PV and battery storage to fuel own electricity needs – and set a blueprint for the rest of the country

Kangaroo Island is one of the great icons of Australian tourism. As Andrew Boardman, the chief executive of the Kangaroo Island council, says: “You can’t buy a name like that.”

But now the third-biggest island in Australia, which lies just 120kms from Adelaide, wants to make its mark in a different way: by supplying 100% of its electricity needs and much of its transport fuels through locally sourced renewable energy.

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Categories: Environment

A rich variety of wildlife to be found in the dunes: Country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 11 July 1916

Close to the sands – indeed, washed by the highest tides – is a small marsh where, amidst a forest of sea club-rush and sea-plantain, both now in flower, young natterjacks, each with its yellow back-stripe, well earn their name of running toad: here a few sea asters, wild Michaelmas daisies, are already out, long before their scheduled date. A few sturdy ragworts grow on the seaward sides of the dunes which back the marsh, but little else can keep its head above the drifting sand; on the sheltered landward side, however, is a rich harvest of flowers, where blown small heaths, coppers, and blues flit from blossom to blossom, sampling their sweets. Until recently bird’s-foot trefoil monopolised the slopes and levels, at any rate in places where the burnet rose and dewberry had failed to spread; now the pink flowers of the rest-harrow mingle with the yellow pea-like flowers of the trefoil, and great pitches are still more yellow with bedstraw and stonecrop. Starting as a downy bud, the crimson flowers of the wild thyme are opening, shedding fragrance, and amongst them are the still softer and silky flowers of the hare’s-foot clover.

A wheatear, showing his white lower back as he flies from us, dodges amongst the dunes, and the meadow pipit ascends with his chittering song: surely he is singing to his mate in view of a second brood, for young titlarks are now strong on the wing. By no means all birds have ceased to sing, silent though the country is; a fine crimson-breasted linnet was in splendid song as he sat, showing off, on a gorse bush, and near by a healthy family, perhaps his own, twittered as they followed a more sombre hen.

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Categories: Environment

Calls for a new clean air act in the UK

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 1:30pm

We are still a long way from being able to breathe air that does not harm our health

Last week Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, joined campaigners to call for a new clean air act.

This July marks the 60th anniversary of the original legislation that transformed the air in our cities and saved many lives. The Act followed the deaths of nearly 13,000 Londoners in the 1952 and 1956 smogs. Government finally accepted that regulating factory chimneys was not enough. We had to tackle home fires, too. This was politically difficult, since a cheery fire was seen as the heart of a family home. The Act required smokeless coals and, importantly, provided money to help people to change their fireplaces and boilers to burn cleaner fuels. It worked. Air pollution improved across the UK and the deaths of up to 700 Londoners during the last great coal smog in December 1962 marked the welcome end of an era.

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Categories: Environment

Cathedral on the marsh: Crossness pumping station reopens

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 10:26am

Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewage treatment works was the first of its kind in the world and helped eradicate cholera in London

A glorious monument to the towering genius of Victorian engineering reopens this week, complete with a smart new cafe and a distinctive whiff of sewage drifting across from the working side of the Crossness sewage pumping station, south-east London.

Related: A Geek's Guide to the UK's best science and technology attractions

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Categories: Environment

How sea otters help save the planet

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 1:15am
New research into the complex links of the food chain suggest that the lovable mammals play a key role in managing carbon dioxide levels

Charles Darwin once mused on the impacts that predators could have on the landscapes around them. In particular, he wondered – in On the Origin of Species – how neighbourhood cats might affect the abundance of flowers in the fields near his house at Downe in Kent. He concluded the animals’ potential to change local flora was considerable.

A robust cat population, he argued, would mean that local mouse numbers would be low and that, in turn, would mean there would high numbers of bumble bees – because mice destroy bee combs and nests. And as bees pollinate clover, Darwin argued that this cascade of oscillating species numbers would result in there being more clover in fields in areas where there are lots of feline pets. Cats mean clover, in short.

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Categories: Environment

'Heaven's water': the launch of Amsterdam’s first rainwater beer

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/07/10 - 12:00am

A group of Dutch entrepreneurs has used their country’s wet weather as a business opportunity by creating a rainwater bitter

It may have been the wettest June since records began in some of the Netherlands, but that’s no reason for the Dutch to be despondent.

A small group of entrepreneurs has demonstrated that it’s the perfect excuse to make beer, launching a brew made from rainwater.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to home baking

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/07/09 - 10:00pm

Baking your own bread sounds like the pinnacle of green cooking, but we still need to be aware of road miles and heat use

For a non-baker (like me), a zero-energy cake used to mean one someone else made. But I’ve forced myself to recognise the footprint of shop-bought croissants and cream puffs. It’s no joke. First, there are obviously the giant ovens devouring energy, then there’s industrial baking’s reliance on palm oil, too. A new report highlights the devastating impact of the continued march of palm oil monocultures. A further ingredient is bread miles: in the UK an estimated 130m extra road miles are caused by getting “fresh” bread into stores.

Home baking gives you some control. But a homemade cake still has an impact. Research from the Centre for Alternative Technology highlighted the impact of the eggs (1.8kg of CO2 per box) and the 350 ears of wheat it takes for one loaf.

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Categories: Environment

'A Government-Sponsored Disaster': Florida Asks For Federal Help With Toxic Algae

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2016/07/09 - 10:00am

The massive toxic algae bloom in Florida is threatening businesses and the health of people and animals. The state is asking for federal help for a disaster that's both natural and political.

Categories: Environment

From basket weavers to salt farmers: the women leading a renewables revolution

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/07/09 - 12:00am

From female basket weavers in Tanzania to the women farming salt in Gujarat, social enterprises are helping women become clean energy entrepreneurs

“People call us Mama Solar,” says Solar Sister entrepreneur Hilaria Paschal. In her native Tanzania, Paschal and her fellow basket weavers buy solar lights and clean cookstoves from Solar Sister, a social enterprise empowering women to bring clean energy to rural African communities, and sell them to friends and neighbours living without access to electricity.

The women pay for the products with savings, income from other businesses, funding circles or through Solar Sister’s startup funding packages. Paschal has sold products to more than 1,000 people, channelling the income into her children’s school fees and expanding her basket weaving business. Now, she mentors other women keen to gain economic independence.

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Categories: Environment

Why won't TV show more women's cycling?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/07/08 - 11:52pm

The two most important bike races in the world are on right now: but you can only watch the Tour de France boys on telly. Meanwhile, fans of the Giro Rosa must check Twitter to follow the girls. Helen Pidd talks to TV networks — and cycling commentator Ned Boulting —to find out why

July is the best month of the year for cycling fans: three glorious weeks of the Tour de France to gorge on, provided you can wrestle the remote from any Wimbledon watchers in your life.

Yet while it is possible to watch Mark Cavendish’s renaissance live on both Eurosport and ITV4, anyone wanting to follow the Giro Rosa has to make do with crumbs posted on social media.

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Categories: Environment

These urgent bird calls are designed to distract

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/07/08 - 9:30pm

South Uist If the oystercatchers had sounded anxious, the new arrival sounds almost desperate, for its call has a panicky breathlessness about it

At the end of a hot summer day what could be pleasanter than a peaceful evening stroll down to the beach? The sun is still warm, there’s just the lightest of breezes, and the only sound to be heard is that of a skylark singing overhead. But we haven’t walked far before an oystercatcher takes to the air, uttering a succession of loud, shrill calls.

Over and over again it repeats its brief, anxious notes as it flies over our heads away across the field, and then returns to make another pass above us. A second oystercatcher a little further away echoes the vocal performance so that our eyes are constantly drawn to one or the other. They accompany us for a 100 metres or more along the track without once letting up. Then they are joined by a lapwing.

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Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef: government must choose which parts to save, says expert

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/07/08 - 3:15pm

Professor Hugh Possingham says authorities must confront prospect that some parts of reef are doomed and focus on what to preserve

Governments must decide which parts of the Great Barrier Reef they most want to save and confront the prospect that some of it may be doomed, an expert on conservation modelling has warned.

University of Queensland professor Hugh Possingham said agencies, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, needed to make tough decisions about which parts of the natural wonder are most worth preserving “rather than trying to save everything”.

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Categories: Environment
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