Rising numbers of great white sharks headed toward Cape Cod, scientists say

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/12 - 8:20am

Figure rises for second consecutive year, says Massachusetts’ top shark expert, warning of ‘public safety issue’ despite no deaths in state’s waters since 1936

Great white sharks are swimming toward the waters off Massachusetts in rising numbers, scientists say, after a second consecutive year showing an increase in predators to Cape Cod.

The latest data from a multiyear study of the ocean predators found that the number of sharks in waters off the vacation haven appeared to be on the rise, said Greg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts division of marine fisheries, and the state’s top shark expert.

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Categories: Environment

Green Investment Bank sell-off racks up at least £1m in fees

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/03/12 - 8:10am

MPs condemn ‘waste of money’ as documents show controversial £2bn privatisation has cost taxpayers at least £1m in banking and legal fees

The troubled £2bn privatisation of the Green Investment Bank has already cost at least £1m of taxpayer money in consultancy fees, official documents have revealed.

Ministers have promised that the sale of the bank, which has invested in green projects from offshore windfarms to energy-saving street lights, will deliver value for taxpayers’ money. An announcement on the sale to Australian investment bank Macquarie was expected in January but has yet to materialise amid strong political opposition.

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Categories: Environment

Elon Musk and Malcolm Turnbull talk battery solutions for energy problems

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 10:35pm

Tesla boss speaks to South Australian premier and then Australian prime minister about issues with state and national supply

Malcolm Turnbull has spoken to the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, about energy storage issues after the tech billionaire offered to supply battery technology to solve South Australia’s energy reliability problems within 100 days.

The prime minister’s office said the hour-long conversation on Sunday had occurred by mutual arrangement, given Turnbull’s longstanding commitment to exploring technological options to enhance storage.

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Categories: Environment

The farming revolution that aims to bring free-range milk to Britain

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 5:05pm
Smallholders hope to reverse years of dairy industry decline with a return to cows grazing in the great outdoors

This is a story that is almost as rare as a free-range cow: a good news story about the British dairy industry.

This month, Jenni and Jerry Hobbs will swing open the gates to the yard of their modest farmhouse in Gloucestershire, shout a few words of encouragement and watch as their herd of brown Swiss, Friesians, Fleckviehs and the rest, big eyes blinking as they survey the expanse of grass before them, buck and cavort their way out to pasture.

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Categories: Environment

The top 10 threats to the most biodiverse place on planet Earth

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 2:01pm

Manu national park in Peru threatened by roads, oil/gas operations, narco trade, goldmining, logging and ‘human safaris’

Just under half of Unesco’s World Heritage sites are under threat, the WWF asserts. Sites deemed threatened include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Pantanal in Brazil and the Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo – and 111 others.

But what about the Manu national park in Peru’s Amazon, which Unesco calls the most biodiverse place on Earth and was declared part of a biosphere reserve in the 1970s?

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Categories: Environment

Shell’s sale of dirty tar sands assets cleans up debt and spruces image

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 8:59am

But campaigners remain unconvinced by firm’s shift towards cleaner energy

When Shell sold most of its Canadian tar sands operations last week, the Anglo-Dutch oil company took a modest step towards making good on its promise to be part of the solution on global warming, rather than the problem.

Tar sands are reviled by climate change campaigners as one of the dirtiest forms of energy. The sands are a glutinous, bitumen-addled mix when extracted from the ground and a huge amount of energy is need to turn them into synthetic crude oil.

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Categories: Environment

Activists Work To Preserve Government Environmental Data

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 6:29am

Scott Simon talks with historian Matt Price, whose group holds "hack-a-thons" to preserve scientific information. Activists fear environmental data will be harder to find under the new administration.

Categories: Environment

Proposed Border Wall Would Affect Many Endangered Species

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 6:29am

A border wall between the U.S. and Mexico would run thousands of miles along an ecologically diverse region. Environmentalists say it would cause major harm to wildlife and their habitat.

Categories: Environment

Gaggle of Cambridge University students criticise geese-cull plans

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 5:01am

Rapidly growing Canada goose population is health hazard but quarter of King’s students sign petition to spare the birds

It’s been an exasperating week for Philip Isaac, domus bursar at King’s College, Cambridge University. It all started with an impassioned letter from students which, invoking the words of Gandhi, called for the peaceful coexistence of scholars and geese. It was only a matter of time before the press got wind of the petition. Journalists flocked to cover the story of the college that’s murdering its wildlife.

Related: Make a honk for rare geese | Patrick Barkham

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Categories: Environment

Conservatives cheer EPA cuts that activists fear 'will be borne by lungs'

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/03/11 - 5:00am

Trump administration’s zeal for deregulation seen by environmentalists as a recipe for fossil fuel cronyism, runaway climate change and toxic water crises

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, caused conniptions among scientists this week by claiming that carbon dioxide isn’t the primary catalyst of global warming. Conservative groups and industry, on the other hand, heard hints that a cherished goal may be within reach.

In 2009 the EPA determined that greenhouse gas emissions “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations”, opening the door to regulation. Donald Trump’s crusade against government strictures could target this finding, effectively making it official US policy that burning fossil fuels poses no threat to Americans, despite a mountain of scientific literature to the contrary.

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Categories: Environment

Panic on the machair as a predator approaches

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 10:30pm

South Uist Though we cannot see the hunters their presence is signalled by the waders that suddenly rise in flocks

Far in the distance the craggy peaks of Skye have been rendered Alpine-like by the overnight snow. Away to the north the high hills of Harris also bear a covering, and even South Uist’s less lofty heights have a dusting of white. There is a hint of warmth in the morning sun, but what makes this a glorious day to be outside is the complete absence of wind, for with even a light breeze it would be skin-flayingly cold.

We’re not the only ones to appreciate the calm, dry weather, for there are aerial predators abroad and the machair is full of birds for them to prey upon. Though we cannot see the hunters their presence is signalled by the groups of waders and starlings that suddenly rise in dense panicked flocks.

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Categories: Environment

Earth's oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 12:00pm

Our new study improves estimates of the rate of ocean warming - a critical component of climate change

New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase - of over 40%, with most since 1980 - traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet.

But how fast is the Earth warming and how much will it warm in the future? Those are the critical questions we need to answer if we are going to make smart decisions on how to handle this issue.

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Categories: Environment

'He Needs To Listen To Us.' Protesters Call On Trump To Respect Native Sovereignty

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 11:36am

Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., were urging the Trump administration to meet with tribal leaders, and protesting the construction of the nearly complete Dakota Access Pipeline.

(Image credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Categories: Environment

Spare a thought for the poor old mole | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 11:13am

All of the methods of catching moles described in your article (The long read, 8 March) rely on the violent crushing of a sentient creature. Society wouldn’t tolerate killing a dog in this way, yet moles have a nervous system similar to dogs’ (and humans’), which strongly suggests they are capable of feeling pain and thus suffering. As the article indicates, the total cost of mole “damage” is very low but as it is part of the routine, casual cycle of killing practised by country dwellers we’re expected to accept it. All this because of a few piles of earth on a lawn.

The destruction of wildlife should be prohibited unless absolutely necessary – and only after there is evidence that damage is substantial, cannot be prevented by other intervention and that the killing can be done humanely.

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Categories: Environment

High price of rhino horn leaves bloody trail across the globe

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 10:14am

The recent killing of a rhino in a Paris zoo marks a shocking new development in this ruthless global trade but rhino experts remain optimistic that the situation can be reversed

On the black market it is reputedly worth more than its weight in gold or cocaine, and this week the lure of rhino horn brought the bloody business of poaching to a zoo near Paris. There, in the dead of night, criminals broke in, shot a white rhino called Vince three times in the head and then hacked off its eight-inch horn with a chainsaw.

The attack marks a shocking new development in a crisis that sees more than three rhinos killed every day in their southern African homelands. Trade in rhino horn is completely illegal but demand from Vietnam and China fuels poaching and smuggling, putting the rhinos at risk of extinction.

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Categories: Environment

Wildlife poaching, snow leopards and climate change denial – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 9:16am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 7:02am

A rare jaguar sighting in the US, a green toad and spring flowers are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

'Where is the help?': black tea and dark despair as Somalia edges closer to famine

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 6:24am

With nothing to eat and no sign of respite, people in the Somali town of Caynabo are fighting to stave off malnutrition and disease as they survive off scraps

On a rock-hard dust bowl of barren land outside the Somali town of Caynabo, more than a thousand people have pitched up makeshift shelters as they figure out how to survive. Searing drought has all but destroyed their pastoral lifestyle and now it threatens to kill them.

They are among 6 million people here in Somalia in need of urgent food assistance to prevent a repeat of the 2011 famine that claimed a quarter of a million lives.

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Categories: Environment

Russia's rare snow leopards find protection in camera traps

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 4:55am

In the remote Altai mountains, cameras traps are shedding light on the secret lives of these elusive animals, enabling researchers to identify individual leopards in the first ever nationwide census

The snow leopard is so rare and elusive that it’s commonly known as the “ghost of the mountains”. But researchers in the Altai mountains, where the borders of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China converge, are increasingly coming face to face with this endangered animal through a growing network of camera traps.

On a recent day in Sailyugem national park in Russia’s Altai Republic, rangers in ski goggles and huge parkas were retrieving footage from a high-altitude camera trap – a black box holding a dozen AA batteries, a memory card and a motion-activated lens – nestled among a cluster of dark burgundy rocks covered with orange and green lichen. Such windswept ridges are where snow leopards typically travel in search of prey such as ibex and musk deer, sneaking down from above to break the victim’s neck with one crunch of their powerful jaws.

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Categories: Environment

High-Tech Greenhouse Has Neighbors Throwing Shade Over Light Pollution

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/03/10 - 3:36am

LEF Farms is investing $10 million to grow gourmet lettuce indoors in New Hampshire. Neighbors say they support the idea of locally grown food, but worry that the lights may affect property values.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Dennis Jakubowski )

Categories: Environment
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