Environment

Experts puzzled as 30 whales stranded in 'unusual mortality event' in Alaska

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 12:17pm

Scientists ‘very concerned’ and suspect toxic algae, though Noaa concedes ‘bottom line is we don’t know what’s causing deaths’

Thirty large whales have recently washed ashore on Alaskan coasts, prompting a federal agency to declare an “unusual mortality event” and mount an official investigation into the mystery of what could be killing so many marine mammals.

Related: 'A deaf whale is a dead whale': US navy sonars could be cause of strandings

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Categories: Environment

Fracking: who’s who in the race to strike it rich in the UK

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 9:32am
Situation is similiar to early days of the US shale boom, says industry expert

In The Frackers, a book about the fracking industry in the US, Gregory Zuckerman tells the story of “new billionaire wildcatters” who made fortunes and went on to use their wealth to shake up Hollywood, education, politics and sport. In the UK, a similar book would present a very different narrative, as local anger and government delays slow the expansion of the industry.

But now, with the award of licences for fracking in 27 locations in England, some of those who have doggedly supported the controversial method of extracting gas from deep beneath the ground are hopeful they are about to embark on the first chapter of a new, more profitable, journey.

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Categories: Environment

Tropical Storm Danny Losing Strength, But Still Packs A Punch

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2015/08/22 - 7:53am

The storm, downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a tropical storm over the course of Saturday, is expected to continue to lose steam as it heads toward the the eastern Caribbean.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous tribe opposes hydropower projects in Tawang | Janaki Lenin

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 11:25pm

An indigenous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, the Monpa, fears its religious and cultural sites will be affected by 15 hydroelectric projects

On 24 and 25 August, the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is scheduled to discuss the impact of 15 hydroelectric projects planned for the Tawang river basin in western Arunachal Pradesh. In an area wedged between China and Bhutan, these dams, with a combined capacity of about 2800MW of power, will submerge 249 hectares (615 acres) of forest. Other construction work such as roads will affect an even larger area of forest.

The Buddhist Monpa tribe, which lives in Tawang, fears its sacred sites, monasteries, and springs will be affected by the various components of these hydel projects. Villagers organised a huge rally from Tawang monastery to protest the construction of hydroelectric projects, defying a ban on public gathering in December 2012.

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Categories: Environment

Eye to hypnotic eye with a one-horned nanny

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 9:30pm

Glen Strathfarrar, Highlands Not until I uploaded the photographs onto the computer did I realise that she only had one horn

The remnants of the old Caledonian Pine Forest and the river Farrar rushing through the bottom of the glen were attractive and impressive. Yet what drew my attention were the snow patches on the surrounding hills.They seemed to sum up the summer, with its low average temperatures compared with other years, as the snow should have long melted.

Related: Country diary: Glen Strathfarrar

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Ecology initiative to encourage more birds, bats and insects to central London

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 4:01pm

Wild West End will link parks with green stepping stones to draw wildlife to built-up streets, with beehives, bird and bat boxes being installed

London’s West End may not seem the ideal habitat for wildlife, but wrens, thrushes and bats are making it their home.

Robin-like black redstarts, common pipistrelle and the rarer Leisler’s bat, pied wagtails, song thrushes and wrens are among those recorded in a recent survey of buildings around Regent Street, Haymarket and Piccadilly Circus.

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Categories: Environment

Yes, The U.S. Is On A Historic Lucky Streak In Dodging Major Hurricanes

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 12:49pm

A major hurricane hasn't hit the U.S. since 2005. There hasn't been a lull that long since 1861 to 1868 — when Abraham Lincoln was president.

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Middle East conflict 'drastically altered' air pollution levels in region – study

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 11:54am

Rise of Isis led to substantial decrease in NO2 emissions in Baghdad and central Iraq since 2013, say researchers, with similar trends seen in Egypt and Syria

War, humanitarian catastrophe and economic crises in the Middle East have drastically altered air pollution levels in the region, according to a new study.

In major cities across Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, the levels of nitrogen oxides have dropped by 20-50% since 2010, researchers told the Guardian. Satellite observations show that before 2010, levels had been on a steady and marked rise since the mid 1990s, when monitoring of pollution in the region from space began.

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Categories: Environment

Lancashire residents still have to boil tap water two weeks after outbreak

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 10:12am

United Utilities says it is ‘step closer’ to lifting notice for 300,000 affected homes as potential compensation bill mounts following cryptosporidium outbreak

Concern and anger are rising in Lancashire more than two weeks after 300,000 homes were warned to boil tap water following an outbreak of a parasitic bug.

Facing a compensation bill of at least £15m, the water company United Utilities has announced new measures to kill off cryptosporidium after first finding the organism in a water treatment plant on 6 August.

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Categories: Environment

Shell will despoil the Arctic. But Barack Obama is the real villain here | John Vidal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 9:49am
Historians will wonder why the US president was so willing to compromise his stance on climate change

The Arctic sea ice starts about three days’ steaming north of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Small, sporadic floes grow larger, the great Atlantic swells flatten out, the bitter polar winds are stronger and the utter stillness begins. If you can handle the monotony of the vast ice-scape that unfolds, it is possible to navigate a ship with a strong hull and a good lookout nearly to the north pole at this time of year.

Three years ago, I got to within a few hundred miles, alongside Greenpeace and a group of international ice researchers. We might have pressed on through the thick sea ice that forms and melts every year, but no one, least of all the scientists, expected that year’s record ice loss, and only a fuel shortage and time forced us back.

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Categories: Environment

'Both sides are unhappy': Obama's Arctic drilling green light heightens tensions

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 9:23am

State Department official says administration’s stance on oil drilling program continues to spur criticism as Hillary Clinton joins list of opponents

A senior official at the State Department has admitted there is an “obvious tension” between the US’s commitment to combat climate change and its approval of Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic.

Shell was given the final green light by the Obama administration to drill off the coast of Alaska on Monday. Following the arrival of a key safety vessel, the Fennica, to the Chukchi sea, Shell was allowed to commence its drilling program.

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Categories: Environment

Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett: 'Now is the time to listen to ordinary people again'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 8:38am

They tried to influence government – but it stopped working. So now the new boss of Friends of the Earth is taking a more radical approach. And, as he predicts a storm of protest over a massive expansion of fracking, he’s ready to take on George Osborne in an ‘ideological war’

For someone who spent the night celebrating a Welsh community’s rejection of a giant opencast coal mine, Craig Bennett seems pretty clear-headed.

The new head of Friends of the Earth (FoE) may not have known the words of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem, but he sang them along with ex-miners in the Blast Furnace Inn pub in Pontlottyn, he says, and the experience of working with them and others to reject the Nant Llesg mine rammed home the point that environmental groups must become relevant again to all kinds of people.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 8:24am

Sleeping otters, a giant gecko and humpback whales feature in this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Charlotte Church adds her voice to Arctic oil protest

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 8:07am

Singer will perform outside Shell’s headquarters in London to campaign against the company drilling for Arctic oil and to raise awareness of climate change

She’s performed for the pope, the Queen and the former president of the United States, but next week Charlotte Church will turn her attention – and her voice – to the employees of the oil giant Shell.

On Wednesday the singer-songwriter and actor will sing a “heartbreaking” song alongside a requiem outside Shell headquarters in London, as its oil exploration vessels gear up to restart drilling for oil in the Arctic. She hopes it will highlight the oil firm’s “nonsensical and exploitative” billion dollar venture under the ice cap and persuade its employees to blow the whistle on the company.

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Categories: Environment

Are jellyfish going to take over the oceans? | Karl Mathiesen

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 7:29am

Like a karmic device come to punish our planetary transgressions, jellyfish thrive on the environmental chaos humans create. Is the age of the jellyfish upon us?

Another British summer, another set of fear-mongering headlines about swarms of “deadly” jellyfish set to ruin your holiday. But news that jellyfish numbers may be rising carries implications far beyond the interrupted pastimes of the sunburnt masses.

Like a karmic device come to punish our planetary transgressions, jellyfish thrive on the chaos humans create. Overfishing wipes out their competitors and predators; warmer water from climate change encourages the spread of some jellies; pollution from fertilisers causes the ocean to lose its oxygen, a deprivation to which jellyfish are uniquely tolerant; coastal developments provide convenient, safe habitat for their polyps to hide. In addition, the great mixing of species transported across the world in the ballasts of ships opens up new, vulnerable ecosystems to these super-adaptors.

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Categories: Environment

Scottish town cuts twinned link to Faroe Islands over whale killings

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 6:17am

Councillors of Wick in far north of Scotland say ‘disgusting’ slaughter of over 400 pilot whales has tainted the whole of the Faroe Islands

A Scottish town has broken off its relations with the Faroe Islands in protest against this year’s “disgusting” killing of over 400 pilot whales.

Wick, a coastal in the far north of Scotland closer to the Faroes than to London, has been twinned for 20 years with Klaksvík, the second-largest community in the Faroes. But the islanders’ traditional whale hunts have sickened civic leaders who fear that their association with the remote archipelago could also affect their own tourism.

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Categories: Environment

Oilseed rape pesticide linked to UK honeybee deaths, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 6:06am

Imidacloprid, a nicotine-like pesticide used on crops, led to loss of bee colonies in England and Wales, according to government-backed research

Protecting oilseed rape crops with a controversial nicotine-like pesticide has led to the loss of honeybee colonies across England and Wales, a government-backed study has found.

The research, based on large-scale data on pesticide use, crop yields, and honeybee losses spanning 11 years, looked at the effects of coating seeds with imidacloprid in nine regions between 2000 and 2010.

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Black rhino to be reintroduced in Chad

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 5:44am

Conservation group plans to move five to 10 rhinos from South Africa, where poaching is on the rise, to Zakouma national park

The critically endangered black rhino is to return to Chad decades after it was last seen in the country as part of an ambitious relocation from South Africa, where it is under siege from poachers.

African Parks, a conservation organisation that recently reintroduced lions to Rwanda, intends to transport between five and 10 black rhinos to the Zakouma national park in Chad next year.

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Navajo leader feels betrayed by EPA over 'contaminated' water supply

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 5:12am

Water delivered to sustain agriculture and livestock on Native American land after Gold King Mine toxic spill but liquid allegedly tainted with black oil substance

The president of the Navajo Nation said he feels betrayed that water supplied by the Environmental Protection Agency appeared to be tainted with a black oily substance.

The water was delivered by the EPA to Shiprock, New Mexico, on Friday 14 August, to sustain agricultural operations and livestock after an EPA accident released a toxic plume from Gold King Mine into their natural water supply.

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Brazil’s illegal loggers downscale to avoid satellite detection

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/08/21 - 5:11am

Hard-to-detect small-scale clearance of Amazon rainforest makes up half of country’s deforestation rate, says study. RTCC reports

Brazil’s drive to nip illicit tree-felling in the bud has shifted the nature of the problem, according to researchers.

Small-scale illegal logging is – proportionally speaking – on the rise, says a report by the Climate Policy Initiative and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

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