Environment

Fifty new species of spider discovered in far north Australia

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/04/11 - 12:16am

New arachnids found in Queensland include brush-footed trap-door spider, which looks like a funnel web and can walk up glass doors

More than 50 new species of spider, including a peacock spider with a “wonderful courtship behaviour, like dancing”, have been discovered in Queensland Australia’s Cape York region, during a 10-day trip by scientists from the Queensland Museum.

The new arachnids, which are now being formally classified, include a brush-footed trap-door spider, a large black creature that looks like a funnel web with the added power of being able to walk up glass doors; a new species of swift spider, with fuzzy black and white front legs; and several new species of ant spider.

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Categories: Environment

More than a quarter of UK birds face extinction risk or steep decline – study

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 10:30pm

Red list entries swell to 67 species as conservationists call for urgent action to save birds of Britain including warblers, curlews and puffins

More than a quarter of UK birds, including the puffin, nightingale and curlew, require urgent conservation efforts to ensure their survival, according to a new report on the state of the UK’s birds.

Since the last review in 2009, an additional 15 species of bird have been placed on the “red list”, a category that indicates a species is in danger of extinction or that has experienced significant decline in population or habitat in recent years. The total number of species on the red list is now 67 out of a total of 247.

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Categories: Environment

Sunshine releases all the sounds of spring

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 9:30pm

Ebernoe Common, West Sussex Swedes call it ‘early cuckoo morning’ – the act of getting up just to enjoy the first birdsong

The sun is rising above the trees. I cross the meadow, passing gorse bushes bursting with yellow flowers, and enter the wood by the small gate. I walk up the narrow, winding footpath, and a couple of woodcock fly up from the ground, scattering the leaves where they were hiding. The two striped brown birds dart away through the trees in their panic, as if they’d been fired from a gun. I wait for the air to settle after the commotion, look up to the canopy and listen.

Birdsong is everywhere – a wall of sound pulsing through the wood. I pick out the birds, one by one, selectively listening to each song in turn: greenfinch, chaffinch, robin, blackbird, song thrush, nuthatch, great tit, blue tit, and so on.

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Categories: Environment

Adani mine needs $1bn public funding to go ahead, Barnaby Joyce says

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 4:17pm

Acting prime minister calls $900m concessional loan a ‘tipping point issue’ as Malcolm Turnbull meets Adani founder

The Adani Carmichael coalmine needs $1bn of government funds for a rail line because it is “a tipping point issue” to get the mine going, Barnaby Joyce has said.

The Nationals leader has given a full-throated defence of subsidising the mine, telling Radio National that Australians should support it because they are “citizens of the world” and warning those that oppose fossil fuels “if you live with the butterflies, you will die with the butterflies”.

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Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India's aim to stop imports

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 1:24pm

Glut in Indian coal market, plans to phase out imports and lower than forecast energy demands cast doubt on future for exports from proposed Adani mine

Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible.

The prime minister touched down in New Delhi on Monday for his first official visit to the south Asian giant. Selling Australia as an attractive destination for Indian students and reviving negotiations over a free-trade agreement are high on the agenda as the government vies for a slice of the world’s fastest growing major economy.

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Categories: Environment

Natural Gas Plant Makes A Play For Coal's Market, Using 'Clean' Technology

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 9:03am

The idea behind "clean coal" is technology that would capture for reuse most of the carbon dioxide emitted by coal-burning power plants. Entrepreneurs aim to use similar tech to clean natural gas.

(Image credit: Courtesy of NET Power)

Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef Hit By Bleaching For The Second Year In A Row

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 8:14am

Scientists say severe bleaching events have happened three other times in the past 20 years — but never in consecutive years. They fear that prolonged stress could kill the corals.

(Image credit: Greg Torda/ACR Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

Categories: Environment

Labor says ageing coal-fired power stations need 'orderly' retirement plan

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 1:06am

Opposition says Turnbull government must not fund new coal-fired power plants because they are not value for money

Labor is calling on the Turnbull government to create a national framework for the “orderly exit” of ageing power stations, with a transition plan for thousands of workers who will lose their jobs from station closures in coming years.

It also says the Turnbull government must stop funding new coal-fired power plants because commonwealth funding does not represent value for taxpayer dollars.

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Categories: Environment

Malcolm Turnbull to meet Adani founder during India visit

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/04/10 - 12:09am

Australian prime minister confirms he will meet Gautam Adani but says mining company’s bid for government loan is independent

Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will meet the founder of the Adani mining company, Gautam Adani, during his India visit, but would not be drawn on discussions about the company’s bid for almost $1bn in federal loans.

Energy policy has dominated discussion before Turnbull’s visit, in which is due to meet the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

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Categories: Environment

Abbot Point coal port spill causes 'massive contamination' of Queensland wetland

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 10:53pm

Expert says sensitive Caley Valley wetlands blackened by coal-laden water from Adani’s nearby port after rain from Cyclone Debbie

Coal dust released from Adani’s Queensland coal port after Cyclone Debbie appears to have caused “massive contamination” of sensitive wetlands, an academic expert says.

A vast swathe of the Caley Valley wetlands has been blackened by coal-laden water released from nearby Abbot Point port after Debbie’s torrential rains inundated its coal storage facilities last month.

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Categories: Environment

Year 2 are making a bug hotel

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 9:30pm

Willaston, Cheshire Sorting through the bits and bobs, gathering leaf litter and twigs, they work in harmony like ants

There is a frisson of excitement, giggles and whispers, as the seven-year-olds file out of the school building, clutching bamboo canes and tiles, bits of corrugated cardboard and roofing felt, along with broken terracotta crocks.

Today Year 2 are making a bug hotel. A great way of recycling and giving homes to all kinds of creepy crawlies, their teacher had explained earlier in the week before sending them home to raid garages and sheds.

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Categories: Environment

People who blame sickness on windfarms 'may be bypassing doctor'

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 7:15pm

Windfarm commissioner’s first report says complainants may fail to seek medical advice ‘due to the possibly incorrect assumption’ that nearby turbines are to blame

The office of the national windfarm commissioner is concerned people are not going to the doctor because they are incorrectly attributing symptoms of illness to windfarms.

Commissioner Andrew Dyer published his first report to the Australian parliament on 31 March which revealed the office had received 90 complaint between November 2015 and 31 December 2016.

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Categories: Environment

How did the Great Barrier Reef reach 'terminal stage'? – video explainer

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 6:44pm

Back-to-back severe bleaching events, caused by warming oceans, have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found. Climate change is not the only challenge – runoff-affected water quality, reef-killing crown of thorns starfish and the destruction of Cyclone Debbie also threaten the reef’s health. Scientists are warning that Australia has little time left to act on climate change and save the world’s largest living structure.
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Diesel cars can improve air quality, claims motor industry group

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 4:01pm

Car makers’ group SMMT claims latest vehicles are the ‘cleanest ever’ and vital in fight against climate change

Car manufacturers have hit back at the recent spate of negative comments about diesel vehicles, saying that the latest incarnations are “the cleanest in history” and “light years away from their older counterparts”.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said diesel cars could play an important role in helping improve air quality in towns and cities and in tackling climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Beachcombing yields surprises: Country diary 50 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Guardian on 13 April 1967

NORTH DEVON: At the time of writing no oil from the Torrey Canyon has reached local beaches. On the other hand one has never had to look very far for oil waste in its coagulated state during recent years. It occurs in tiny pulverised fragments, indistinguishable from some of the constituents of shingle till it adheres to one’s foot, and in lumps up to the size of a football. The oiled carcass of a gannet or an auk is an only too familiar sight on the high water mark.

The Atlantic drift which brings oil on to our coastline also carries less objectionable material: seeds, skeletons and bodies of sea creatures, shells, many of which have travelled a very long distance. Among these are seed cases and fruit from trees which are native to the banks of the Amazon; the flat, purple Entada scandens, the Sacoglottis amazonica, Mucuna the fruit of a climbing plant; objects which are of the size of a marble or golf ball. At the other end of the scale whales and sharks in addition to ships are sometimes cast up. What appeared to its discoverers to be the exceptionally well-preserved bones of “an extinct prehistoric reptile” turned out to be the skeleton of a whale buried by locals, as the simplest method of disposing of its bulk, earlier in the century. And when an expert hurried out to inspect an “Elizabethan canon” uncovered by the tide, he found it to be the rusted end-section of an old sewer!

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Categories: Environment

Australia's politicians have betrayed the Great Barrier Reef and only the people can save it | David Ritter

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 2:02pm

The big lie propagated by government and big business is that it is possible to turn things around for the reef without tackling global warming

• Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at bleaching data

Once upon a time, in the distant 60s and 70s, the Great Barrier Reef faced imminent destruction. Tenement applications for drilling and mining covered vast swathes of the reef, with both government and industry enthusiastically backing the plans for mass exploitation.

In the face of the reef’s impending doom a motley collection of ordinary Australians shared a common determination that something had to be done. But the odds didn’t look good. The poet turned campaigner Judith Wright wrote that “if it had not been for the public backing for protection of the reef that we knew existed, we might have given up hope”.

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Categories: Environment

This mortal coral: new bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 2:01pm

Aerial surveys of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef conducted in late 2016 and early 2017 show the Unesco world heritage site has suffered severe coral bleaching for the second year in a row. According to Prof Terry Hughes, who conducted the surveys, the bleaching is caused by ‘record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming’.
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Great Barrier Reef at 'terminal stage': scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 2:01pm

‘Last year was bad enough, this is a disaster,’ says one expert as Australia Research Council finds fresh damage across 8,000km

• ‘Australia’s politicians have betrayed the reef and only the people can save it’

Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found.

The findings have caused alarm among scientists, who say the proximity of the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events is unprecedented for the reef, and will give damaged coral little chance to recover.

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Categories: Environment

Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching – video

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 1:59pm

‘The combined impact of this bleaching stretches for 1,500km, leaving only the southern third unscathed,’ says Prof Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook aerial surveys in 2016 and 2017. He has warned Australia faces a closing window to take action on climate change in time to save the reef.
• Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at bleaching data

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Categories: Environment

Spring is not the only thing in the air

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/04/09 - 1:30pm

Warmer days are welcome, but this is often our most polluted time of year, with agriculture one of the biggest culprits

Longer days are here at last, but in terms of air quality, spring is often our most polluted time of year. Pollutants left over from the northern hemisphere winter cause increased ozone at ground level. Coastal areas are most vulnerable and the problem tends to move south through spring.

During March, ozone on Shetland reached four on the UK’s 10-point warning scale. Heavy fertiliser use and spreading manure that was stored over winter causes big releases of ammonia each spring. This reacts chemically with pollution from traffic and industry to create particles that can stay in the air for a week or more. These caused pollution to reach eight on the UK’s 10-point scale across England in February, and six during March.

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