Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 10 hours 14 min ago

New train blockade piles pressure on Trudeau in Wet'suwet'en pipeline fight

Wed, 2020/02/19 - 2:03pm

Group of about 20 blocked Canadian National Railway Co rail line near Edmonton, capital of the western province of Alberta

Demonstrators opposed to a Canadian gas pipelinehave blockaded another railway line in the west of the country, adding to pressure on Justin Trudeau to solve a two-week protest.

Freight traffic in eastern Canada has already been stopped for days after campaigners blockaded a main line in Ontario. Protesters across the country have taken up the cause of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people who are seeking to stop the C$6.6bn (US$4.98bn) Coastal GasLink gas pipeline project in British Columbia.

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Categories: Environment

Ancient fish dinners chart Sahara’s shift from savannah to desert

Wed, 2020/02/19 - 12:00pm

Bones of fish eaten by humans thousands of years ago offer clue to region’s ancient climate

The Sahara’s shift from savannah with abundant lakes to a largely arid expanse has been traced in the remains of fish eaten thousands of years ago.

Researchers analysing material found in a rock shelter in the Acacus mountains in south-west Libya say they have found more than 17,500 animal remains dating from between 10,200 and 4,650 years ago, 80% of which are fish. About two-thirds of the fish were catfish and the rest were tilapia. The team say telltale marks on the bones reveal the fish were eaten by humans who used the shelter.

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Categories: Environment

Oil and gas firms 'have had far worse climate impact than thought'

Wed, 2020/02/19 - 9:00am

Study indicates human fossil methane emissions have been underestimated by up to 40%

The oil and gas industry has had a far worse impact on the climate than previously believed, according to a study indicating that human emissions of fossil methane have been underestimated by up to 40%.

Although the research will add to pressure on fossil fuel companies, scientists said there was cause for hope because it showed a big extra benefit could come from tighter regulation of the industry and a faster shift towards renewable energy.

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Categories: Environment

Red-state Utah embraces plan to tackle climate crisis in surprising shift

Wed, 2020/02/19 - 4:00am

Utah aims to reduce emissions over air quality concerns as other red states are also starting to tackle global heating

In a move to protect its ski slopes and growing economy, Utah – one of the reddest states in the nation – has just created a long-term plan to address the climate crisis.

Related: Washington state takes bold step to restrict companies from bottling local water

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Categories: Environment

Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes pledge $12m to supply solar systems for disaster relief

Wed, 2020/02/19 - 12:46am

The billionaire couple want to provide ready-made solar and battery arrays to communities cut off from the power grid

Software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have promised up to $12m to install solar and battery systems in communities disconnected from the electricity grid by bushfire or flood.

The couple say they will provide prefabricated solar panel and battery systems through a new venture, known as Resilient Energy Collective, that will power up to 100 sites disconnected from the grid in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Some are relying on diesel generators, others are without power.

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Categories: Environment

The European Green Deal will bypass the poor and go straight to the rich | Daniela Gabor

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 11:30pm

For all the talk of retraining Polish miners, this fund will most likely line the pockets of the carbon finance elites

When Josep Borrell, the EU’s newly appointed foreign policy chief, recently caused outrage by dismissing young climate activists as flaky sufferers of “Greta syndrome”, he made not just a serious error of judgment but a serious mistake in macroeconomics. It was a mistake that is symptomatic of the dire state of European economic debate after a decade of austerity and schwarze Null (balanced budget) ideas.

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Categories: Environment

Locusts swarm into crisis-hit South Sudan as plague spreads across east Africa

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 7:24pm

Invasion is further food shortages in country struggling with drought and legacy of civil war

Swarms of locusts ravaging crops and grazing land across east Africa have reached South Sudan, already reeling from widespread hunger and years of civil war, the country’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday.

Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti are battling the worst locust outbreak in decades, and swarms have also spread into Tanzania and Uganda.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists build robot snake that could help in disaster response

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 5:15pm

Robot is almost as fast as a real snake and can nimbly and stably climb large steps

A robot snake has been developed by scientists in the race to advance the abilities of search and rescue machines.

It is hoped that the robots may some day help to explore inaccessible terrain, such as rubble after an earthquake.

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Categories: Environment

Washington state takes bold step to restrict companies from bottling local water

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 4:10pm

State senate passes bill to ban new permits for water bottling operations, calling process ‘detrimental to public welfare’

Washington has taken a major step toward becoming the first US state to restrict companies looking to extract, bottle and sell local water supplies.

On Monday night the state senate passed a bill that would ban new permits for water bottling operations. SB 6278 states “any use of water for the commercial production of bottled water is deemed to be detrimental to the public welfare and the public interest” and would apply retroactively to new permits filed after 1 January 2019.

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Categories: Environment

Coal giant Glencore says its carbon emissions will fall 30% by 2035

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 1:14pm

Miner will not set climate targets, but will produce less coal as reserves are depleted

Mining giant Glencore has predicted its carbon footprint will shrink by almost a third by 2035, but will not set climate targets for the company.

The company expects its total carbon emissions to fall by 30% in the next 15 years as it gradually produces less coal due to the “natural depletion” of its coal reserves.

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Categories: Environment

Justin Trudeau urges 'dialogue and mutual respect' to end rail blockade

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 11:23am
  • Canadian prime minister: ‘I know patience is running short’
  • Indigenous activists are protesting against C$6.6bn gas pipeline

Justin Trudeau has called for patience and dialogue as his government seeks a peaceful end to a rail blockade that has shut down freight and passenger traffic. But the Canadian prime minister is under increasing pressure from the Conservative opposition to clear the tracks.

For almost two weeks, protesters across the country have taken up the cause of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people of British Columbia in their campaign against the C$6.6bn (US$4.98bn) 416-mile Coastal GasLink gas pipeline project.

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Categories: Environment

America’s 'recycled' plastic waste is clogging landfills, survey finds

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 10:23am

Many facilities lack the ability to process ‘mixed plastics’, a category of waste that has virtually no market as new products

Many plastic items that Americans put in their recycling bins aren’t being recycled at all, according to a major new survey of hundreds of recycling facilities across the US.

The research, conducted by Greenpeace and released on Tuesday, found that out of 367 recycling recovery facilities surveyed none could process coffee pods, fewer than 15% accepted plastic clamshells – such as those used to package fruit, salad or baked goods – and only a tiny percentage took plates, cups, bags and trays.

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Categories: Environment

How should Jeff Bezos invest his $10bn Earth Fund?

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 9:44am

Scientists propose best use of funds pledged by Amazon founder to fight climate crisis

Amazon revenue to restore the Amazon rainforest? A political war chest in the US to counter the pernicious influence of big oil? Or research funding for “moonshot” technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere?

The world’s richest man is never going to be short of suggestions for how to spend money, but Jeff Bezos’s announcement of a new $10bn (£7.67bn) Earth Fund to fight global heating has raised the question of what is the best bang for a climate buck.

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Categories: Environment

Aurora Australis officer asked to remove post criticising Scott Morrison's climate policy

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 9:30am

P&O Maritime employee Madeleine Habib was asked to remove social media post of a banner on the ship after the Australian Antarctic Division contacted P&O

An officer on Australia’s flagship Antarctic icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, was asked by bosses to remove a social media post showing her on deck with a banner critical of Scott Morrison’s climate policies after Australia’s Antarctic Division contacted her employer.

Madeleine Habib, currently in Antarctica, unfurled the banner with the words “Scomo – Coal or Ice?” and posted the picture on her Facebook page.

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Categories: Environment

Hive heists: why the next threat to bees is organized crime

Tue, 2020/02/18 - 2:00am

Pollination has become big business, and thieves are now targeting hives with growing sophistication in the US

Mike Potts was aware he was at risk of being a victim of crime, he just didn’t think it would happen to him. But Potts is an owner of an increasingly valuable commodity that thieves are targeting with growing sophistication in the US: bees.

A booming demand for honeybees for pollination drew Potts, owner of Pottsy’s Pollination in Oregon, to load 400 hives of his bees on trucks and drive them down to California’s agricultural heartland last month. He unloaded them to a holding area just outside Yuba City and returned just a few days later to find 92 hives had been whisked away by thieves.

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Categories: Environment

Renewables barely feature in building programme for 500 schools

Mon, 2020/02/17 - 11:13pm

Solar panels, heat pumps and sustainable designs bypassed – but now one Somerset school is taking a stand

It is a modernist version of a log cabin nestling in a busy south London suburb – and it is about to make history. The new building for Hackbridge primary, in Sutton, opens next week as England’s first zero-carbon school, able to produce and conserve as much energy as it uses, and even put unused electricity generated back into the grid.

With its wood frame and cladding, solar panels, pumps to collect heat from the ground, and insulation made from recycled newspaper, it is the first school in England to meet the ambitious Passivhaus Plus low-energy design standard.

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Categories: Environment

World leaders urged to 'step back from precipice' of ecological ruin

Mon, 2020/02/17 - 10:01pm

As governments prepare to negotiate a Paris-style UN agreement on nature, 23 former foreign ministers have issued a call for urgent action

Humanity’s ongoing destruction of nature threatens the survival of our species, a group of former foreign ministers has warned, calling on leaders to step back from “the precipice” of irreversible ecological ruin and protect the planet.

The planet’s rapidly warming oceans must be the focus of increased conservation efforts due to their importance in producing oxygen and food for billions of people, the former ministers added, as governments prepare to begin negotiations for a Paris-style UN agreement on nature next week.

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Categories: Environment

Hundreds of thousands of mussels cooked to death on New Zealand beach in heatwave

Mon, 2020/02/17 - 9:38pm

Northland residents describe ‘heartbreaking’ find as experts warn climate crisis could make it a more frequent sight

Hundreds of thousands of mussels have been cooked to death on a beach in New Zealand’s North Island, with experts saying millions more will die as the effects of the climate crisis accelerate.

The mass die-off in Northland was sparked by “an exceptional period of warm weather” combined with low tides in the middle of the day, which had exposed the shellfish, said Dr Andrew Jeffs, a marine scientist from the University of Auckland.

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Categories: Environment

West Midlands canals to help heat hospitals in renewable energy drive

Mon, 2020/02/17 - 5:18pm

Government pledges to spend £20m turning canals, mines and rail lines into heat sources

The canals of the West Midlands may seem an unlikely source of warmth, but these waterways could soon be used to heat hospitals and tower blocks under a plan to harness Britain’s hidden heating sources.

The government has promised to spend more than £20m on nine schemes across the country to exploit cheap, renewable heat from canals, old mineshafts and in London tube lines.

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Categories: Environment

Sydney water restrictions to ease from 1 March following downpour

Mon, 2020/02/17 - 3:49pm

Drop from level 2 to level 1 restrictions announced after the ‘biggest rain event in 20 years’

Water restrictions will be relaxed across Sydney in a fortnight following the boost to dam levels from the “biggest rain event in 20 years”.

The change from level 2 to level 1 restrictions will take effect from 1 March when water quality in the catchment’s dams is expected to have improved.

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Categories: Environment