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Great Barrier Reef scientists confirm largest die-off of corals recorded

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 12:49pm

Higher sea temperatures have led to the worst bleaching event on record, new study finds, with coral predicted to take up to 15 years to recover

A new study has found that higher water temperatures have ravaged the Great Barrier Reef, causing the worst coral bleaching recorded by scientists.

In the worst-affected area, 67% of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University study found.

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Categories: Environment

Sheffield trees dispute prompts 'scenes you'd expect in Putin's Russia'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 12:08pm

Five people have so far been arrested in bitter battle, with Nick Clegg criticising the police for detaining peaceful protesters

It was, said Nick Clegg, “something you’d expect to see in Putin’s Russia, rather than a Sheffield suburb”. Council contractors and police had descended on a particularly desirable street in his Hallam constituency under the cover of darkness, “dragged” people out of bed to move their cars and detained peaceful protesters – “all to chop down eight trees”, he wrote in a local paper.

So far five people have been arrested in relation to a long-running and increasingly bitter battle over the fate of Sheffield’s trees, including a 70-year old emeritus professor and a 71-year-old retired teacher, both women. On Thursday two men will become the first of the city’s tree protesters to appear in court, charged under trade union legislation, following a protest on 2 November.

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Categories: Environment

The Standing Rock protests are a symbolic moment | Neil Young and Daryl Hannah

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 11:59am

America’s surprise election is like water on the garden of activism. We stand in solidarity with all those who seek to protect the planet and nurture hope

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving. A time when we remember a feast, the first Thanksgiving, on Plymouth plantation in the autumn of 1621. The tales of pilgrims from the Mayflower who celebrated the harvest, shared and broke bread with the first Americans, are still used as inspiration and shared with children, teaching them the beauty of gratitude.

But it is now widely understood this Thanksgiving story is a fictional history. It was invented to whitewash the vicious genocide wrought upon the native inhabitants of this magnificent continent. Not only did the Europeans try to eradicate native populations, but they made every effort to eviscerate their culture, their language and eliminate them from these coveted lands.

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Categories: Environment

Seeing the wood for the trees in Sheffield | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 11:25am

The short answer is no (Is this a war on trees? Notebook, 22 November). As a several decades-long member of the Woodland Trust, I value mature trees and the recreation of ancient woodland, but in respect to Sheffield’s tree-culling, Patrick Barkham has given only a one-sided story, that of the “save all trees” fanatics who forced the council’s hand. In our leafy suburbs many of the trees are over 100 years old and, yes, they do add many benefits to the environment. However, many are huge, forest varieties, unsuitable for the streets in which they were planted. Thus some obstruct pavements and roadways, and their roots have caused ground upheavals of 20cm or more. Some are also reaching old age, with a consequent risk of falling branches.

Looking at the wider picture, it thus makes very good sense to cut these down and replant with more suitable varieties as part of the road and pavement renewal scheme, to avoid later more expensive replacement after they have damaged the new roads and pavements. I will be sad to see them go – it’s only a selected few – but very glad to get rid of the potholed roads and lumpy pavements with their tripping hazards. And my children will benefit from the new trees as they mature, as part of a planned tree-management scheme.
Michael Miller
Sheffield

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Categories: Environment

More charge points needed urgently for switch to electric cars | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 11:24am

I am delighted to learn that the UK government is to encourage the production of electric cars (Report, 26 November). But there is only a very brief mention of the need for the adequate provision of charge points. My wife and I took delivery of our first electric car, a Nissan Leaf, six months ago. It is our only car. We live in a rural area. We can manage round trips of up to 100 miles easily, relying solely on our domestic charge point for topping up at night.

For longer trips, however, we need to know that there are properly functioning charge points available to enable quick recharges to get us safely home without the anxiety of possibly being stranded on the way back. Unfortunately we regularly find charge points out of order, even in major centres such as Newcastle. On a recent trip to Durham, right on the far edge of our range, we found that the only rapid charge point at an out-of-town park-and-ride centre had been out of order for a long time. If the use of electric cars is to be seriously encouraged, the provision of a good network of readily accessible and reliable charge points has to be given absolute priority.
Clive Wilkinson
Rothbury, Northumberland

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Categories: Environment

Love, death and rewilding – how two clothing tycoons saved Patagonia

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 10:20am

Alongside her husband, Doug, Kris McDivitt Tompkins bought up vast swaths of Patagonia to save it from developers. Now, a year after Doug’s sudden death, she explains how their shared vision is close to reality

She was young, spirited and rich. It was the 1970s and Kris McDivitt seemed to come straight from California central casting; the glamorous ski-racing daughter of an oil-industry man who made her fortune as the first CEO of what was to become the billion-dollar outdoor clothing company Patagonia.

And then in 1993, aged 43, Kris McDivitt unexpectedly fell in love with Doug Tompkins, the adventure-junkie rock-climber and deep green environmentalist who had co-founded not one but two giant outdoor-clothing companies, North Face and Esprit.

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Categories: Environment

John Gregory obituary

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 10:19am

Freshwater fish are out of sight and out of mind for most of the British public. And so are the dedicated band of fishery scientists who look after a resource that indicates the health of our rivers and lakes, and supports angling. Such an individual was my friend John Gregory, who has died aged 67, after a lifelong career in fisheries management.

John was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. His father, Tom, was an engineer at Rolls-Royce in Derby and his mother, Jenny, worked in the local hospital. After graduating in biological sciences from the University of East Anglia, and getting married to Lynden Stratten in 1971, John spent two years as a fisheries officer in the Solomon Islands.

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Categories: Environment

EU in 'Mexican standoff' over independent checks on car emissions

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 7:48am

Leaked documents reveal EU pledge to carry out tests deleted from draft as governments come under pressure from carmakers

Plans for independent checks of how much pollution new cars emit are being killed off by EU member states, according to leaked documents seen by the Guardian.

After the Dieselgate scandal, the European commission proposed empowering its respected science wing, the Joint Research Centre, to inspect vehicles separately from national authorities, which are paid by the car manufacturers they regulate.

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Categories: Environment

Madrid to double farmers' compensation fund for wolf attacks

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 7:29am

Wolf attacks on animals in region around Spanish capital up from 91 to 209 in a year, prompting rise in reimbursement budget

Madrid’s regional government is to double its compensation fund for farmers who lose animals to wolves after a steep increase in fatal attacks in the last year.

Wolves, hunted to the brink of extinction over the past seven decades, have begun to reappear in the region in recent years.

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Categories: Environment

Shrinking glaciers cause state-of-emergency drought in Bolivia

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 4:19am

Climate News Network: Three main dams supplying water to La Paz and El Alto are no longer fed by Andean glaciers and have nearly run dry

The government of Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, has been forced to declare a state of emergency as it faces its worst drought for at least 25 years.

Much of the water supply to La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, and the neighbouring El Alto, Bolivia’s second largest city, comes from the glaciers in the surrounding Andean mountains.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists rate Canadian climate policies | James Byrne and Catherine Potvin

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 4:00am

Canada has made significant progress in its climate policy, but has further yet to go

The Paris Agreement was ratified globally in November. This is unprecedented amongst international agreements for how quickly it has come into force. The Agreement allows each country to decide how it will tackle climate change, and requires as of 2020, regular reporting on progress. Countries of the world have officially embarked in a global race to implement ambitious climate policies that contribute to reducing green-house gas emissions at the planetary-scale.

This process is not unlike the Olympics games where countries get together to compare their strengths and performance. If Canada wants to be a medalist in 2020, domestic climate policies must rapidly be adopted to accelerate the low carbon transition. In this context, Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD) – a network of 60+ scholars from across Canada – produced Rating Canada’s Climate Policy; a progress report on Canada’s climate actions over the past year. We analysed climate decisions made in Ottawa in 2016 in relationship to the 10 policy orientations that we proposed previously in our position paper entitled Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars.

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Categories: Environment

China risks wasting $490bn on new coal plants, say campaigners

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 3:19am

Carbon Tracker says many plants running at overcapacity but China reluctant to wean itself off coal, fearing unemployment and unrest

China could waste as much as half a trillion dollars on unnecessary new coal-fired power stations, a climate campaign group has said, arguing that the world’s top carbon polluter already has more than enough such facilities.

China’s rise to become the world’s second largest economy was largely powered by cheap, dirty coal. But as growth slows, the country has had a difficult time weaning itself off the fuel, even as the pollution it causes wreaks havoc on the environment and public health.

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Categories: Environment

Electricity from coal should be phased out in Australia – Senate report

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 12:53am

Coal-fired power plants should be closed in orderly fashion to ensure energy supply is not disrupted

A Senate report has recommended that Australia should move completely away from coal-generated electricity, citing economic factors as the primary drivers.

It comes about a month after the unplanned closure of Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest coal station, and before the expected unplanned closure of several others around the country.

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Categories: Environment

Bobby: the gorilla on the wrong side of the law

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/11/28 - 12:02am

The western lowland gorilla was smuggled from Africa to Italy in the 1980s. As taxidermy, he is part of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland

Name: Bobby
Species: Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Dates: 1983-2008
Claim to fame: Much-loved zoo animal
Where now: National Museum of Scotland

In 1994, magistrates from the Italian province of Ancona found the manager of a local circus guilty of importing a gorilla into the country. Bobby (variously also known as Bongo, Bongo III and Bongo Junior) had been captured as a baby in Equatorial Guinea more than a decade earlier and is thought to have been brought to Italy soon afterwards as “a chimpanzee”.

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Categories: Environment

Rare miniature monkeys stolen from Symbio wildlife park – video

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 10:25pm

Miniature monkeys at Symbio wildlife park in Helensburgh, south of Sydney. Three pygmy marmosets, including one that was only four weeks old, were stolen late last week. Two Sydney brothers have pleaded guilty to transporting and intending to sell them. Two of the three monkeys have been recovered but a third, 10-year-old Gomez, is still missing

Sydney brothers plead guilty over theft of rare miniature monkeys

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Categories: Environment

South Pacific island ditches fossil fuels to run entirely on solar power

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 10:09pm

Ta’u island in American Samoa will rely on solar panels and Tesla batteries as it does away with diesel generators

A remote tropical island has catapulted itself headlong into the future by ditching diesel and powering all homes and businesses with the scorching South Pacific sun.

Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply – though the process of converting has been tough and pitted with delays.

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Categories: Environment

Psalm 55

The Field Lab - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 3:35pm
22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee...
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

100 years ago: A touch of green on the lower plough-field

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 3:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 2 December 1916

Surrey, November 30
A night frost made everything appear in the early morning as though it had been covered with a light fall of very fine snow. But when this melted with a slight shift of wind a touch of green came across one of the lower plough-fields. It is not a large stretch of land ­– the farmer calls it “a patch of corn,” – harrowed and sown, broadcast by hand while the surface was rather soft for a drill. There is always pleasure in the sight of these first shoots: you note their coming from one side just where the faint light of the sun strikes about noon, then cross to the other side and wait to see birds fly over from the meadow, where the tops of the grass here and there have withered to a dull brown. A farm hand is lifting swedes in the turnip field and trimming off the green tops with a bill, packing them in sacks for market. When this old labourer pauses for a rest he chops a root asunder, tosses half to a heifer that has come inquisitively across from the barnyard, cuts off a slice for himself, nibbles, pulls up his sheepskin gloves, and sets to work again. The afternoon turns grey and raw, and the wind is mournful in the bare elms. While a few small flakes are tossed in various directions a missel thrush starts his first song from the extreme branch of a pear tree by the orchard. It is but a few notes at a time with long pauses between, but it enlivens us all just here about the farm.

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Categories: Environment

Louisiana Veteran Flood Victims Still Find Recovery Programs Tough To Navigate

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 6:38am

Parts of Louisiana were inundated by heavy rain and flooding earlier this year. Myra Engrum lost her house, but it wasn't the first time. Hurricane Katrina ruined her home years earlier.

Categories: Environment

Danish supermarket selling expired food opens second branch

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/11/27 - 5:42am

Wefood in Copenhagen has proved a huge success as food waste becomes hot topic worldwide

It may be past its sell-by date, but for many Danes it’s a tasty proposition: surplus food being sold in a Copenhagen supermarket has proved so popular that a second store has been opened.

After launching in the district of Amager earlier this year, the Wefood project attracted a long queue as it opened a second branch in the trendy neighbourhood of Nørrebro, this month.

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Categories: Environment
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