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Australia's bushfires could affect cost and availability of fresh local produce

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 9:03pm

Bushfires across NSW and Victoria have caused road closures, making it difficult to get product to consumers

Widespread damage to farms and crops as well as critical infrastructure from the unprecedented bushfires could affect the price and availability of fresh produce, experts say, but the effect is only expected to be short-term.

Shaun Lindhe, a spokesperson for industry body AusVeg, says that damage from the fires has already had an impact on vegetable growers.

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Categories: Environment

Yosemite national park: 170 recent visitors suffer norovirus symptoms

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 8:52pm

Two cases of upset stomach and diarrhea confirmed as norovirus, as park says it is undertaking ‘extensive cleaning’ efforts

Roughly 170 people who have visited Yosemite national park in recent weeks have suffered upset stomachs and diarrhea, symptoms that park officials say are consistent with norovirus.

Two of those cases have been confirmed as norovirus, park officials say. The park spokesman Scott Gediman issued a written statement that most of those who fell ill had spent time in Yosemite Valley around the first week of January.

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Categories: Environment

Rain hits drought-stricken NSW and Victoria but fire danger increases in some areas

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 6:59pm

Up to 100mm of rain has fallen in parts of NSW over Thursday and Friday with more forecast for the state and Victoria

From dancing cows to the overdue shaving of a two year old beard, Australians across drought-stricken and fire-hit parts of New South Wales and Victoria have celebrated the arrival of much-needed rain.

Up to 100mm of rain has fallen in parts of NSW over Thursday and Friday, in what was, for some areas, the most significant rainfall in months.

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Categories: Environment

Biggest food brands 'failing goals to banish palm oil deforestation'

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 5:01pm

Commitments to phase out deforestation by 2020 are out of reach for many, reports find

Some of the world’s biggest brands are failing in their commitments to banish deforestation from their supply chains through their use of palm oil, despite making public claims to environmental sustainability, according to two reports.

Scores of the world’s biggest consumer brands have agreed to phase out deforestation through the use of sustainable palm oil by 2020, but this goal looks far out of reach for many, according to separate reports from the campaigning groups WWF and Rainforest Action Network.

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Categories: Environment

Huge ‘hot blob’ in Pacific Ocean killed nearly a million seabirds

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 4:38pm
  • Thousands of bodies washed up on North America’s Pacific coast
  • Study finds common murres probably died of starvation

A million seabirds died in less than a year as a result of a giant “blob” of hot ocean, according to new research.

A study released by the University of Washington found the birds, called common murres, probably died of starvation between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

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Categories: Environment

Microsoft pledges to be 'carbon negative' by 2030

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 12:23pm

Company seeks to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits within a decade

Microsoft has announced it aims to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits by 2030 and hopes to have removed enough carbon to account for all the direct emissions the company has ever made by 2050.

The computer giant made the announcement on Thursday, and its promise is the latest in a flurry of climate goals set out by private companies since Donald Trump decided to pull the United States out the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

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Categories: Environment

Germany will pay billions to speed up coal-fired power plant shutdowns

Thu, 2020/01/16 - 12:10pm

In fight against climate crisis, operators will be compensated for early switch-offs

Germany will pay its utility companies billions of euros to speed up the shutdown of their coal-fired power plants as part of the country’s efforts to fight climate crisis, the government has said.

The agreement reached between federal ministers and representatives of four coalmining states removes a key hurdle in Germany’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

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Categories: Environment

Harvard law students ramp up protest against ExxonMobil climate firm

Wed, 2020/01/15 - 6:12pm

Students say law firm Paul Weiss has cultivated liberal reputation despite representing oil companies, tobacco and big banks

Harvard law students have disrupted a recruiting event for Paul Weiss, the law firm representing ExxonMobil in climate lawsuits, in an escalation the protesters hope will open a new front in climate activism in the legal world.

Related: James Murdoch's climate stance distances him from family empire

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Categories: Environment

David Attenborough warns that humans have 'overrun the world'

Wed, 2020/01/15 - 10:14am

In a new film, A Life on Our Planet, the broadcaster rails against the imminent, man-made dangers behind the climate emergency

David Attenborough has warned that humans have “overrun the world” in a trailer for A Life on Our Planet, a forthcoming documentary looking at the changes on Earth during his lifetime.

The 93-year-old naturalist and broadcaster describes the project as a “witness statement” of the effects of the climate crisis, adding that the actions of humanity are sending the planet into decline.

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Categories: Environment

NSW government fails to keep promise to provide regional towns with renewable backup power

Wed, 2020/01/15 - 9:30am

Regional Community Energy Fund never opened and Gladys Berejiklian’s government refusing to explain why

The New South Wales government has failed to act on a promise to provide regional towns with renewably sourced emergency backup power during disasters, leaving funding unavailable ahead of the state’s bushfire crisis.

In 2018, the NSW government announced a $30m program to fund small-scale renewable energy generation and storage in regional and remote communities, through a scheme known as the Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF).

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Categories: Environment

'There is no link': the climate doubters within Scott Morrison's government

Wed, 2020/01/15 - 9:30am

Scott Morrison suggest he will ‘evolve’ his government’s climate policy but many still openly doubt the science

The science minister, Karen Andrews, has said it’s “time for everyone to move on” from ideological debates on climate change.

“Every second that we spend discussing if climate change is real is a second we don’t spend addressing these issues,” she told Nine Newspapers. “Let’s move on and get over this.”

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Categories: Environment

Coalition's axing of funding to climate change adaptation body condemned

Wed, 2020/01/15 - 9:30am

National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility funding was discontinued in 2017, while Scott Morrison was treasurer

The Coalition’s decision to axe funding to a climate change adaptation research body in 2017 has left Australia “not well positioned” to deal with fires, the “silent killer” of drought and other global heating impacts, its director has said.

Jean Palutikof, the director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), told Guardian Australia the decision to discontinue funding in 2017 – when Scott Morrison was treasurer – had hollowed out the research community and “the capacity to take action on climate change is smaller than it was decade ago”.

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Categories: Environment

New Cumbria coalmine 'incompatible' with climate crisis goals

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 11:00pm

Facility threatens UK’s aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, report says

Britain’s first new deep coalmine in 30 years is unnecessary and incompatible with UK climate ambitions, according to a report.

The £165m Woodhouse colliery in Cumbria was given cross party-backing in March 2019, leading to protests from climate campaigners who said the mine would harm the UK’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

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Categories: Environment

Australians need a 'slip slop slap'-style campaign to learn about air pollution

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 6:48pm

Doctors liken this summer’s hazardous bushfire smoke to the days when we realised the sun contributes to skin cancer

Unprecedented bushfires have sparked health concerns for Australia’s most vulnerable populations, but proper education and adequate policies may help the public to cope better, according to the Public Health Association of Australia.

People such as children under the age of 14, those over the age of 65, pregnant women and individuals with pre-existing respiratory issues are at the highest risk during periods of poor air quality.

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Categories: Environment

Warming oceans force leatherback turtles on longer journeys to feed

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 5:01pm

Migration routes after nesting in French Guiana found extended as far as Nova Scotia and France, research shows

Leatherback turtles are making exhausting journeys, in some cases nearly twice as long as usual, from nesting to feeding grounds, because of rising ocean temperatures and changing sea currents.

After nesting, turtles must move to cooler waters to feed, but higher temperatures mean some are having to swim further to reach suitable areas, according to research from Greenpeace and the French Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, part of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

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Categories: Environment

Victoria faces more hazardous air as East Gippsland residents shelter on beach from bushfire

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 2:55pm

Rain forecast to bring relief from smoke haze in afternoon as 12 people remain at Tamboon, which is cut off by fire

Environmental authorities have warned much of Victoria is set for another smoky day on Wednesday, but conditions are expected to improve with rain forecast for large parts of the state by the afternoon.

The forecast comes after small group of residents still in a town cut off by bushfire were forced to shelter on the beach after a blaze in Victoria’s East Gippsland flared.

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Categories: Environment

World's biggest fund manager vows to divest from thermal coal

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 9:27am

BlackRock CEO says climate crisis will now dictate investments but environmentalists remain wary

BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, has announced it will put sustainability at the heart of its investment decisions.

In his annual letter to chief executives, the BlackRock boss, Larry Fink, writes that the climate emergency is altering how investors view the long-term prospects of companies. “Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

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Categories: Environment

Can air purifiers improve students' academic performance?

Tue, 2020/01/14 - 4:00am

After purifiers were installed in southern California classrooms following a gas leak, students saw gains on math and English tests

A 2015 gas leak that belched toxic chemicals into the air and spread panic may have indirectly led to higher student test scores.

In the days after a gas leak was discovered in Aliso Canyon, 30 miles north of Los Angeles, thousands of residents were evacuated from the area, many of whom reported headaches, nausea, stomach aches, dizziness or breathing problems. Students from two nearby schools were relocated and 18 other schools were impacted.

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Categories: Environment

Melbourne's air quality 'worst in the world' as bushfires continue to burn across Victoria

Mon, 2020/01/13 - 6:38pm

Authorities warn people to take health precautions as firefighters spend night responding to alarms triggered by smoke haze

Victorians started Tuesday by breathing in the worst air in the world due to smoke blowing down from bushfires in the state’s east and New South Wales.

The city centre recorded hazardous levels of fine particles in the air from 12am to 4am and had since been categorised as very poor by the Environmental Protection Authority.

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Categories: Environment

Australia bushfires are harbinger of planet’s future, say scientists

Mon, 2020/01/13 - 5:01pm

Apocalyptic scenes give glimpse of what would be normal conditions in 3C world

The bushfires ravaging Australia are a clear sign of what is to come around the world if temperatures are allowed to rise to dangerous levels, according to scientists.

“This is what you can expect to happen … at an average of 3C [above pre-industrial levels],” said Richard Betts, professor of geography at Exeter University. “We are seeing a sign of what would be normal conditions in a 3C world. It tells us what the future world might look like. This really brings home what climate change means.”

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Categories: Environment