Collinsville coal-fired power station is backed by 'big mining companies', Queensland LNP says

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 11:42pm

Shadow energy minister says state has ‘plenty of power’ and party is not proposing any government investment in new coal-fired power

The proposed Collinsville coal-fired power station is being backed by “big mining companies” and the Queensland Liberal National Party won’t fund the project, the party’s energy spokesman has said.

Michael Hart told a renewable energy forum in Brisbane on Thursday, organised by Solar Citizens and conservation groups, the LNP would not support any government investment in the controversial proposed power project.

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Categories: Environment

MPs to check if the government's green plans are fit for purpose

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 4:01pm

Treasury and business committees to question whether policies will help or hinder sustainable recovery

MPs plan to scrutinise the government’s green economic plans and industrial strategy to test whether they are still fit for purpose in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The government will face two separate inquiries into its plans, by the Treasury and business department parliamentary select committees, to question whether its existing policies will help or hinder sustainable post-pandemic economic growth.

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Categories: Environment

Sierra Club apologizes for racist views of ‘father of national parks’ John Muir

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 2:11pm

Muir, who helped spawn the environmental movement, made derogatory comments about Black and Indigenous people

The Sierra Club has apologized for racist remarks its founder, naturalist John Muir, made more than a century ago as the influential environmental group grapples with a harmful history that perpetuated white supremacy.

Michael Brune, the group’s executive director, said Wednesday it was “time to take down some of our own monuments” as statues of Confederate officers and colonists are toppled across the US amid a reckoning with the nation’s racist history following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Categories: Environment

Plastic waste entering oceans expected to triple in 20 years

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 11:00am

Current and planned waste-cutting efforts will reduce volume only by about 7%, say researchers

Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is expected to nearly triple in volume in the next 20 years, while efforts to stem the tide have so far made barely a dent in the tsunami of waste, research shows.

Governments could make drastic cuts to the flow of plastic reaching the oceans through measures such as restricting the sale and use of plastic materials, and mandating alternatives, but even if all the most likely measures are taken it would only cut the waste to little less than half of today’s levels, the analysis found.

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Categories: Environment

Cost of preventing next pandemic 'equal to just 2% of Covid-19 economic damage'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 11:00am

World must act now to protect wildlife in order to stop future virus crises, say scientists

The cost of preventing further pandemics over the next decade by protecting wildlife and forests would equate to just 2% of the estimated financial damage caused by Covid-19, according to a new analysis.

Two new viruses a year had spilled from their wildlife hosts into humans over the last century, the researchers said, with the growing destruction of nature meaning the risk today is higher than ever.

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Categories: Environment

'We have no market, but lots of lobsters': a Maine lobsterwoman fights for her livelihood

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/07/23 - 2:00am

The fishery is buffeted by the climate crisis and other problems but the coronavirus pandemic has opened a new front

“If I’m not fishing, I’m working on gear or my boat. Or meetings involving fishing. It’s what I eat, sleep and breathe,” lobsterwoman Julie Eaton tells me.

Eaton lives on Deer Isle, and fishes Penobscot Bay – a deep blue inlet of the Gulf of Maine, dotted by working waterfronts, rocky islands, wooden schooners and lobster buoys. I ask her what it’s like to start lobster season.

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Categories: Environment

Congress approves billions for US national parks in rare bipartisan push

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 2:38pm

Great American Outdoors Act allocates $9.5bn over the next five years for previously neglected park maintenance

The US Congress has approved a sweeping, long-awaited bill to continuously fund national, state and local parks – a major boon to conservation and one of the few pieces of significant legislation the government has been able to agree on in a divisive election year.

The Great American Outdoors Act, passed on Wednesday afternoon, allocates $9.5bn over the next five years for previously neglected park repairs. And it sets up $900m a year to acquire land for conservation and continue maintenance.

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Categories: Environment

Sierra Club Denounces Founder John Muir For Racism

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 1:05pm

The head of the environmental organization Sierra Club has denounced the group's founder, John Muir, as racist. The move reflects wider workplace turmoil after national protests over systemic racism.

Categories: Environment

North Korea's 'ghost ships' linked to illegal fishing by China fleet, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 11:00am

Almost 600 North Korean ‘ghost ships’ have washed up on the coast of Japan in the past five years, some containing the corpses of their crew

Dark fleets” of hundreds of Chinese vessels are fishing illegally in North Korean waters, according to a study, forcing displaced local fishermen to risk their lives in distant waters in unsafe boats, many of which are carried across rough seas to the coast of Japan.

In a report published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, Global Fishing Watch (GFW), says more than 900 vessels of Chinese origin fished illegally in the area in 2017, and 700 in 2018. Together it is estimated they caught more than 160,000 metric tonnes of squid, worth more than $440m (£346m).

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Categories: Environment

Sharks 'functionally extinct' at 20% of world's coral reefs as fishing drives global decline

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 10:30am

Worldwide study finds Australia among nations with highest shark numbers, but 34 out of 58 nations have half what was expected

Destructive and unsustainable fishing has caused a crash in shark numbers across many of the world’s coral reefs, upsetting the ecological balance of the critical marine ecosystems, a major study has found.

A network of remote underwater cameras across 58 countries found sharks were “functionally extinct” at almost one in five of the 371 reefs studied over four years.

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Categories: Environment

Bovine TB vaccine trials get go-ahead in England and Wales

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 8:59am

Scientific breakthrough could lead to phasing out of badger culling to tackle disease

Field trials of a cattle vaccine for bovine tuberculosis have been given the go-ahead as part of moves to phase out badger culling to tackle the disease.

The trials are due to get under way in England and Wales to accelerate deployment of a cattle vaccine for TB by 2025, the government announced on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

'Tired of being the canary in the mine': pressure grows to push oil and gas wells away from homes

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 5:45am

Decades of research has made it clear that current setback distances – in states where they exist – are inadequate to protect public health

Ashley Hernandez was in middle school when her family moved into its first house, in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilmington. For years, her undocumented parents had moved around in search of steady work, gone without meals, rented out too-small apartments. Finally they had a place of their own, with three bedrooms and even a yard.

“My parents were really excited about that American dream that we’d always talked about,” Hernandez said.

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Categories: Environment

U.S. Disaster Response Scrambles To Protect People From Both Hurricanes And COVID-19

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 2:08am

Hotel rooms would be "ideal" for housing an overflow of evacuees from shelters practicing social distancing, but few towns have them lined up in the southeast, where coronavirus infections are raging.

(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Florida Closes Iconic Apalachicola Oyster Fishery

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 2:03am

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approves a five-year ban on harvesting wild oysters from Apalachicola Bay to give the fishery time to recover from drought and other pressures.

(Image credit: Debbie Elliott/NPR)

Categories: Environment

The proof is in the sewage: hundreds of Yosemite visitors may have had coronavirus

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 2:00am

No one had tested positive via nasal swabs, but researchers’ investigation tells a different story

Yosemite national park officials suspect that hundreds of visitors this summer may have had Covid-19 thanks to an unorthodox approach – testing sewage.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that the county health department has been collecting untreated wastewater flowing from the idyllic Yosemite Valley for testing. Prior to this effort, according to the Chronicle, no one had tested positive for the virus through nasal swab testing at the park’s health clinic.

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Categories: Environment

Who needs Tokyo? Meet South Africa's Olympic chameleons

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/07/22 - 1:30am

Scientists are putting dwarf chameleons through their paces in a series of speed and endurance challenges to study how the species is adapting

The tension is palpable. The first athlete is placed on the starting line and the official timer, Dr Anthony Herrel, resets the stopwatch on his smartphone. Once given the go-ahead, Dr Krystal Tolley tickles the yellowy-green chameleon’s tail and the two-inch reptile springs into action. About 10 seconds later, after reaching the end of the 1-metre dowel in a season’s best time, it returns to the resting area and the next competitor is given a chance to strut its stuff.

In the coming days, 120 Knysna dwarf chameleons (Bradypodion damaranum) – male and female, from forest habitats, gardens and parks – will be put through their paces in a series of speed and endurance challenges that the scientists refer to as the Chameleon Olympics. They will run on horizontal and vertical dowels of varying diameter; have the strength of their bite and gripping forces measured in newtons, and be tested on their ability to thermoregulate along a course that has a temperature gradient.

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Categories: Environment

Gomeroi custodians lose bid to protect sacred sites from NSW Shenhua coalmine

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/07/21 - 6:42pm

Traditional owners were suing environment minister in the federal court over areas of significant Aboriginal culture heritage in the Liverpool Plains

The Gomeroi people have lost their legal bid to protect significant areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the footprint of the Shenhua Watermark open-cut coalmine on the Liverpool Plains in north-west New South Wales, but said they will fight on a new front.

Gomeroi custodian Dolly Talbott was suing the environment minister, Sussan Ley, in the federal court, alleging Ley made an error of law in deciding not to make a declaration to protect the Aboriginal heritage.

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Categories: Environment

First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/07/21 - 4:01pm

Researchers say potent climate-heating gas almost certainly escaping into atmosphere

The first active leak of methane from the sea floor in Antarctica has been revealed by scientists.

The researchers also found microbes that normally consume the potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere had only arrived in small numbers after five years, allowing the gas to escape.

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Categories: Environment

Two firefighters injured as northern California wildfires prompt evacuations

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/07/21 - 11:00am

Authorities have warned of poor air quality in central and northern parts of the state due to Gold, Hog and Mineral fires

Wildfires burning in rural north-eastern California have prompted evacuations and injured two firefighters, fire officials in the state said.

Two firefighters were injured Monday while battling the Gold fire, which erupted on Monday in Lassen county and has burned several hundred acres.

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Categories: Environment

Conservationists criticise Coalition plan to rush through new environment laws

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2020/07/21 - 10:30am

The Morrison government promises draft laws to change the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act next month

Conservationists have criticised a Morrison government plan to rush through legislation implementing new environmental approval rules, warning they will be too vague and will not improve wildlife protection.

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, has promised draft laws to change the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act will be introduced to parliament next month, before a review of the legislation has been concluded.

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