UK must focus on carbon removal to meet Paris goals, climate advisers urge

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 10:00pm

Report from the Committee on Climate Change says a government strategy to deploy new, radical technologies at scale by 2050 must begin now

The UK government needs to kickstart technologies to suck carbon dioxide from the air if it is to play its part in meeting the goals of the Paris climate change agreement, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official advisers.

The global climate deal, which the prime minister, Theresa May, says the UK will ratify by the end of 2016, pledges net zero emissions by the second half of the century, in order to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Given that some emissions, such as those from aviation and agriculture, will be very difficult to reduce to zero, that means removing some carbon from the atmosphere.

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Moratorium on logging Tasmania's old growth forests could be reversed

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 9:55pm

Environmentalists furious that 2020 moratorium on 400,000ha of Tarkine forests could be reversed to help Forestry Australia ‘stand on its own feet’

Old growth forests in the Tarkine could be logged by private companies under plans being considered by the Tasmanian government to reverse a moratorium on harvesting 400,000ha of high conservation value forests.

The forests were part of 500,000ha protected under the forest peace deal signed by the former Labor government in 2013, which would have seen them eventually gazetted into national parks.

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Categories: Environment

Don't let fracking kill our ecologically unique wildflowers | Piers Verstegen

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 9:30pm

People flock to Kwongan Heath to experience a living laboratory of plant species. But these unique wildflowers are under threat

Kwongan Heath country in the midwest of Western Australia is one of the of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Whereas Europe and North America have had the evolution of their flora species reset to near zero several times due to extended glacial periods, Western Australia is host to the longest unbroken evolution of plant species on the planet. You can literally see evolutionary history written in the landscape. Nutrient poor soils and continuous wet and dry cycles over millennia have produced an incredible array of adaptations, specialisation and coping methods to fill every available ecological niche.

There’s no better time than wildflower season (now) to experience this living laboratory, and people from all over the country, and indeed the world, come to experience the carpets of colour and marvel at each unique specimen.

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Categories: Environment

British public support for fracking sinks to lowest ever level

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 9:01pm

Long-running YouGov poll shows support for shale gas extraction at 37.3% – just as industry gears up to begin drilling

The British public’s support for fracking has fallen sharply in the last year and is now at the lowest level ever, according to a long-running poll published as the industry gears up to begin drilling.

New polling by YouGov for the University of Nottingham, which has been tracking attitudes towards shale gas extraction for more than four years, shows support for fracking in the UK is now at 37.3%, down from 46.5% a year ago and 58% in the summer of 2013.

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Shark attack victim worries nets will snare turtles and dolphins

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 5:29pm

Seneca Rus, 25, was bitten by a suspected white pointer in surf in Ballina on Wednesday

The surfer attacked by a shark on the NSW north coast is worried the use of nets around beaches could hurt marine life.

Seneca Rus, 25, was bitten by a suspected white pointer on Wednesday at Sharpes beach in Ballina when surfing with his mates.

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Preserving historical buildings: the most sustainable thing is not to build new stuff

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 3:05pm

Making heritage buildings sustainable is just as important as preserving their history – and they can offer energy-efficiency lessons of their own

After grinding grain since 1897, Sydney’s Crago Flour Mill finally cranked to a halt in the mid 80s. Over the years, this handsome industrial Newtown site became rundown, a dusty labyrinth of rooms sprawled over four buildings.

Given the job in 2008 of transforming the mill into 47 strata studios, architects Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) made a strategic decision. By refusing to tear down the structure, they saved an estimated 21,000 tonnes of CO2. Preserving embodied energy (the energy consumed by the entire building process) was key, along with avoiding the physical energy needed to destroy a large structure.

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Protests Disrupt Pipelines Across The Northern U.S.

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 2:08pm

On Tuesday, activists targeted five pipelines carrying crude oil into the U.S. from Canada, as construction resumed on a North Dakota pipeline.

Categories: Environment

Coffee And Climate Change: In Brazil, A Disaster Is Brewing

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 1:00pm

Climate change is threatening the world's coffee, a new report says. In the biggest coffee supplier on the planet, Brazil, rising temperatures are being felt to devastating effect.

Categories: Environment

How Google is using big data to protect the environment

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 12:27pm

Google’s sustainability officer Kate Brandt outlines the company’s wide-range interest in sustainable fishing, green buildings and renewable energy

For many people, Google is simply the gateway to a vast archive of facts and memories. For those who pay closer attention to its business dealings, the company also invests billions to find new ways to use the power of computers: it’s developing robots, virtual reality gear and self-driving cars. Remember all the hubbub about Google Glass?

Google has been using the same approach in sustainability – spreading its wealth in a variety of projects to cut its waste and carbon footprint, initiatives which may one day generate profits. During the SXSW Eco conference this week, I caught up with Google’s sustainability officer, Kate Brandt, to find out more. Brandt joined the company in July last year after serving as the nation’s chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration.

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Butterfly decline is no surprise to bee-liners | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 11:26am

I read about the butterfly decline noticed by people all around the country, described by Patrick Barkham (Record low UK butterfly count is ‘a shock and mystery’, 10 October). I don’t find it so much of a mystery, having spent the summer planning for and walking from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh on what we called a Bee Line.

This initiative was triggered by a visit in September 2014 to our former farm on the edge of Salisbury Plain. When we moved there in the late 1940s, there were permanent pastures, hedges and ancient drove roads lined with wayfarers’ trees and carpeted with wildflowers – orchids, harebells, trefoils – and abuzz with bees, butterflies, dragonflies and pollinators of all kinds. Now, 60 years on, it is a silent landscape; no cows, chickens, sheep, or even farm workers, just contractors, and of course no birds, butterflies, bees or flying insects. Between 30 August and 6 September we followed our Bee Line, walking some 80km from Edinburgh to our home along small roads, footpaths, cycle tracks, disused railway lines, through open moorland. We saw few butterflies, moths or bees and even noted a lack of midges.

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Categories: Environment

National Grid: two coal plants to get £77m to be on winter standby

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 10:53am

Eggborough and Fiddler’s Ferry will be ready to start up if needed, as part of plans to minimise electricity blackout risk

Two coal power plants will be paid a combined £77m to be on standby this winter as part of National Grid’s plan to minimise the risk of electricity blackouts.

The size of the UK’s capacity margin – the buffer zone between available power supply and predicted peak demand – will be revealed on Friday when National Grid publishes its winter outlook.

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Categories: Environment

Xavi Bou's photographs reveal flight paths of birds – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 9:53am

The Spanish photographer Xavi Bou digitally combines sequential pictures of birds to create a single image, or chronophotograph, that reveals the shapes of their flight paths against Catalonian skies. His work shows the variety and beauty to be found in the daily activities of the local birds, including spiralling storks, swooping starlings and giddy swifts

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On the line: call for Danish anglers to help catch escaped trout

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 8:07am

Up to 80,000 rainbow trout enter open sea after ship rams aquafarm, raising concerns farmed fish may eat eggs of wild sea trout

Christmas has come early for Denmark’s anglers: up to 80,000 rainbow trout have escaped into the open sea after a cargo ship rammed a fish farm, a local broadcaster has reported, prompting urgent calls for help to catch them.

TV2/FYN said the trout, worth up to DKr 10m (£1.2m), swam off on Tuesday when a freighter heading from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to the southern Danish port of Kolding rammed the aquafarm, in the Little Belt strait between Denmark’s mainland and the island of Funen.

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Categories: Environment

What if nature, like corporations, had the rights of a person? | Chip Colwell

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 7:31am

For some people, like the Zuni in New Mexico, wild places are considered living beings. In western society, it’s companies that assume that privileged position

In recent years, the US supreme court has solidified the concept of corporate personhood. Following rulings in such cases as Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, US law has established that companies are, like people, entitled to certain rights and protections.

But that’s not the only instance of extending legal rights to nonhuman entities. New Zealand took a radically different approach in 2014 with the Te Urewera Act which granted an 821-square-mile forest the legal status of a person. The forest is sacred to the Tūhoe people, an indigenous group of the Maori. For them Te Urewera is an ancient and ancestral homeland that breathes life into their culture. The forest is also a living ancestor. The Te Urewera Act concludes that “Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself” and thus must be its own entity with “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person”. Te Urewera holds title to itself.

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Categories: Environment

Can an upcycling expert transform my junk?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 6:30am

Max McMurdo has made a career out of turning household tat into chic new forms. But can his creations match his talk? We put him to the test

Max McMurdo stands on the doorstep surrounded by toolboxes, neat as a pin. A professional upcycler, he has offered to convert my worst bits of household junk into brilliant new forms. It’s hardly surprising that he is smiling: upcycling is a form of recreational optimism. The whole pursuit is underpinned by the belief that no tat is too tatty. All junk can be saved.

McMurdo, 38, defines upcycling as “adding emotional or financial value [to waste objects] through the addition of design”. The idea has been around since at least the 1990s, and while the principle of adding value to waste makes sense, I have always disliked most of the interiors styles it has generated. Too often, upcycling bolts an adjective – such as “shabby” or “industrial” – to the word “chic” in the hope of rendering rubbish desirable. But maybe Max will change my mind.

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TripAdvisor bans ticket sales to attractions that allow contact with wild animals

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 3:57am

Animal welfare groups laud step by travel giant but concerns remain that it is not going far enough to counter cruel practices and exploitation by tourism businesses

It’s an experience that has become one of those “must do before you die” moments: to swim with a large marine mammal. You reach out and stroke. So does everyone else. Then someone tries to hitch a ride.

Now internet giant TripAdvisor is launching a “no touching of wild animals” policy, whereby it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travellers come into physical contact with captive, wild or endangered animals. As well as swimming with dolphins, the policy also covers petting tigers and elephant rides, a tourism experience that animal welfare charities have long campaigned against. It’s a move that many animal welfare and conservation charities have welcomed. Stephanie Shaw from PETA says: “We applaud TripAdvisor taking this stance, helping to raise awareness. Elephant training, for example, is brutal and cruel.”

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Categories: Environment

Investors warn car industry over climate change

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/10/12 - 2:50am

Car manufacturers told they must address climate change by switching to low-emission models − or face a sell-off of their shares, reports Climate News Network

Major investors have warned the automotive industry it needs to accelerate its readiness for a low-carbon world if it is to retain their support and prosper.

Vehicle makers must put climate change specialists on their boards, engage better with policy-makers, and invest more heavily in low-emission cars, says a network of 250 global investors with assets of more than $24tn (£20tn).

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Queensland can reach its 50% renewables target by 2030, say experts

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/10/11 - 11:28pm

Panel says there are three ‘credible’ ways to hit target but ‘significant government policy action’ needed

Queensland has three “credible” options to achieve a 50% renewable energy target by 2030, a panel of experts said.

A draft report by the state’s independent renewable energy expert panel said “significant government policy action” would be needed for Australia’s biggest carbon polluting state to reach the target.

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Categories: Environment

Shark attack at Ballina: beaches closed after surfer bitten

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/10/11 - 10:25pm

Sixth attack in 21 months persuades the premier, Mike Baird, to lobby federal government to install shark nets on north coast beaches

All beaches in Ballina on the New South Wales north coast are closed after a man was bitten by a shark while surfing, the sixth attack in 21 months in the area.

The attack has caused a backdown from the premier, Mike Baird, who has resisted the idea of shark nets on north coast beaches has now announced he will lobby for them to be installed.

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Categories: Environment

Blood and bandages: a healer in the hedgerow

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/10/11 - 9:30pm

Wenlock Edge, Shropshire Even though the woundwort has lost its place in the pharmacy, bees visit these late flowers for the nectar tucked inside them

Woundwort grows from a hedge as if to mark some hurt, not to heal so much as to witness it. Hedge woundwort, Stachys sylvatica, belongs to the betony, horehounds and catmint of the waysides. It has small tight whorls of “blood and bandages” flowers – purply red clasps with white markings – nettle-like leaves and a hairy stem that when rubbed has a stink bad enough to do you good.

Related: Country diary: Baltimore, Ireland: For centuries these leaves were nature's gift to wearied travellers

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