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Electricity price spikes caused by energy companies 'gaming' the system, report finds

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 9:33pm

Analysis finds fossil fuel generators may have withheld electricity at ‘strategic’ times and got an additional $30.3m windfall

Huge spikes in wholesale electricity prices in South Australia have been a result of energy companies “gaming” the system and exploiting their unusual market power to charge “monopoly rents”, according to an in-depth report by the Melbourne Energy Institute.

The analysis found fossil fuel generators may have withheld electricity at “strategic” times during 2015, causing massive price spikes, which have led to a $30.3m windfall.

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Categories: Environment

Nuclear espionage charge for China firm with one-third stake in UK's Hinkley Point

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 5:11pm

China General Nuclear Power, and engineer Allen Ho, allegedly conspired to develop nuclear material without US approval

The Chinese company with a major stake in the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has been charged by the US government over nuclear espionage, according to the US justice department.

In a 17-page indictment, the US government said nuclear engineer Allen Ho, employed by the China General Nuclear Power Company, and the company itself had unlawfully conspired to develop nuclear material in China without US approval and “with the intent to secure an advantage to the People’s Republic of China”.

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Categories: Environment

rain watch...

The Field Lab - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 4:10pm
Next 10 days are the best chances I have had in awhile to top off all my tanks.  78,94,73,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Dairy groups blast methane reductions: ‘Cows expel gas so they don’t explode’

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 11:51am

California wants to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by belching and farting of 5.5 million cows, but the industry is hitting back with a dose of reality

California’s attempt to curb emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is facing vocal opposition from a dairy industry that fears government meddling in the flatulence of its cows.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has set a goal of slashing methane emissions by 40% by 2030, from 2013 levels, and has targeted the belching and farting – known as “enteric fermentation” – of California’s 5.5 million beef and dairy cows, as well as the manure they create.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking ‘bribes’ raise problematic questions | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 11:51am

The latest “community support” offer from the Treasury (Fracking payouts condemned as ‘bribes’, 8 August) for those areas having fracking rigs installed is truly a Russian roulette gamble for local people. An article in the Washington Post on 10 April last year, headlined “Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry”, reported on a detailed study in the journal Environmental Health Perspective that revealed a “disturbing correlation” between unusually high levels of radon gas in mostly residences and fracking that has become the industry standard over the past decade.

Moreover, this is what Public Health England (the health watchdog) stated in October 2013: “If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay … there is therefore the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.” This health trade-off for money is what this offer really asks residents to accept. In light of this clear precautionary approach, it is odd that all ministers seem to be uncritically cheerleading for expanded fracking, despite its possible radon risk.
Dr David Lowry
Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Categories: Environment

Oil rig in Western Isles may have leaked tonnes of diesel into Atlantic

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 10:35am

Salvage teams believe two fuel storage tanks on Transocean Winner platform have been breached after rig crashed into rocks in storm

Salvage experts fear that tonnes of diesel has leaked into the Atlantic after a drilling rig ran aground, breaching its fuel tanks, in the Western Isles of Scotland earlier this week.

The specialists believe two of the four fuel storage tanks on the Transocean Winner platform were damaged as well as water stability tanks, when the 17,000-tonne rig crashed into rocks near Carloway on the Isle of Lewis in a heavy storm.

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Categories: Environment

Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 10:00am

Efforts to address climate change must not overshadow more immediate priorities for the survival of the world’s flora and fauna, say researchers

Agriculture and the overexploitation of plants and animal species are significantly greater threats to biodiversity than climate change, new analysis shows.

Joint research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday found nearly three-quarters of the world’s threatened species faced these threats, compared to just 19% affected by climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Pressure mounts on retailers to reform throwaway clothing culture

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 8:13am

Americans dispose of about 12.8m tons of textiles annually. But a growing number of environmentalists and clothing retailers say it’s time to begin making new clothes out of old items on a large scale, reports Yale Environment 360

Fast-growing, fast-fashion retailer H&M, which has more than 4,000 stores in 62 countries, sold $24.5bn worth of T-shirts, pants, jackets, and dresses last year. It also took 12,000 tons of clothes back. In a glossy, celebrity-studded video, H&M says: “There are no rules in fashion but one: Recycle your clothes.”

Recycling has become a rallying cry in the apparel industry, with H&M as its most vocal evangelist. The Swedish firm launched a €1m contest to seek out ideas for turning old clothes into new, invested in Worn Again, a company that is developing textile recycling technology, and enlisted hip-hop artist MIA. to produce a music video called Rewear It, that aims to “highlight the importance of garment collecting and recycling”. With Nike, H&M is a global partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose mission is to drive a transition to a circular economy – that is, an industrial system in which everything at the end of its life is made into something new, in contrast to today’s economy, where most consumer goods are produced, used, and then thrown away.

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Categories: Environment

Crunch time for cashew nut lovers as wholesale costs soar

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 6:46am

Adverse weather conditions in key grower countries and falling pound could push up prices next year, warn traders

Cashew nut consumers may face hefty price rises next year, because adverse weather conditions have caused wholesale costs to soar.

Prices have rocketed by about 20% this year to about $4.20 (£3.22) a pound, according to traders who buy for the major UK-based processors and packers. The decline in the value of the pound against the dollar since the Brexit vote has also contributed to the price rise, they said.

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Categories: Environment

Satellite eye on Earth: July 2016 – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 4:40am

China’s floods, Russian wildfires and urban expansion in Delhi were among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month

Clew Bay in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland, contains Ireland’s best example of sunken glacial drumlins – low hills formed from glacial sediment deposited at the end of the last ice age. The bay is associated with Elizabethan pirate queen Grace O’Malley and Dorinish, a private island purchased by John Lennon.

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Categories: Environment

Rising avocado prices fuelling illegal deforestation in Mexico

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 3:08am

Mexican farmers can make higher profits than most other crops so are thinning out pine forests to plant young avocado trees

The popularity of the avocado in the US and rising prices for the “superfood” are fuelling deforestation in central Mexico.

Mexican farmers can make much higher profits growing avocados than from most other crops and so are thinning out pine forests to plant young avocado trees.

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Categories: Environment

The lake that left town: why is this California community drying up?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 3:00am

Eagle Lake is one of the largest in the state, but receding waters have caused the town around it, and its industries, to dwindle. Is climate change to blame?

Val Aubrey parked her boat trailer on the shore of Eagle Lake, in north-eastern California. She walked to an overlook where a sign warned against swimming and diving. “This” – she opened her arms wide – “used to be the marina.”

Down below, docks sat among nettles and thistles growing on what used to be the lake bed. The boat ramp led to sunbaked dirt, and squirrels skittered across the concrete.

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Categories: Environment

Climate scientists make a bold prediction about sea level rise | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 3:00am

John Fasullo and colleagues predict that satellites will detect accelerating sea level rise within the next decade

One of the great things about science is that it allows you to make predictions. Three top climate scientists just made a very bold prediction regarding sea level rise; we should know in a few years if they are correct.

As humans emit greenhouse gases, it’s causing the Earth to warm. That’s indisputable and proven. We can actually measure the amount of extra heat. Since most of it ends up in the oceans, we can also measure other changes in the oceans.

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Categories: Environment

Hinkley Point: Mandelson urges government to support China-backed project

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 1:58am

Labour peer says Brexit vote has put UK in difficult position and ‘we can’t be too fussy about who we trade with’

Peter Mandelson, the former business secretary, has urged the government to go ahead with the controversial, Chinese-backed Hinkley Point nuclear project, saying that after Brexit “we can’t be too fussy about who we do trade with”.

Lord Mandelson, an architect of New Labour who served in several key positions under the Blair and Brown governments, said security fears over Chinese involvement in the project were unfounded, and Britain should foster a relationship with the country as a “prized trading partner”.

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Categories: Environment

Shipping noise impairs ability of humpback whales to forage, study shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 1:44am

Shipping noise in the North Atlantic could impact population levels of the whales, new research shows

Increased shipping noise is disrupting the foraging behaviour of humpback whales in the North Atlantic, according to a new study.

Scientists in the US and UK said their findings could impact upon the numbers of humpback whales in the long term.

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Categories: Environment

Rising seal numbers in Thames estuary hide triple threat to populations

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 1:00am

Scientists conducting annual count of grey and common seals warn of potential impact of dredging, a deadly virus and predation between species

Scores of seals loll on the riverbank of the Stour, snorting and bellyflopping as they sun themselves a couple of miles outside Ramsgate’s busy marina.

Far from exceptional, these are just a smattering of the hundreds of seals that the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) hopes to count this week in the Greater Thames estuary. The mammals are sighted as far up as Teddington Lock, and Canary Wharf is a hotspot for seeing them.

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Categories: Environment

More seals in greater Thames estuary, reports London zoo – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/08/10 - 1:00am

Conservation scientist Jo Barker from London zoo takes us on a tour of the greater Thames estuary to see the harbour and grey seal populations. The harbour seal population has largely increased in spite of the episodic phocine distemper virus. There are concerns that the seals’ habitat will be damaged as a result of dredging

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Categories: Environment

Paul McCartney and Ranulph Fiennes back Amazon tribe threatened by dams

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/09 - 11:00pm

Artists, poets, film directors and musicians call on Brazilian government and European companies to recognise the rights of the Munduruku people

Some 48 musicians, poets, chefs, artists, film directors and other celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Mark Rylance have called on the Brazilian government and European companies to recognise the rights of an Amazonian group whose territory is threatened by a large complex of dams.

In a letter to the Guardian, the group says Brazil’s plan to build four large and many smaller dams on the Tapajós river and its tributaries could destroy thousands of square miles of forest and imperil the Munduruku indigenous people.

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Categories: Environment

Brazil must recognise Munduruku lands | Letter from Lily Cole, Paul McCartney, Olivia Colman and 45 others

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/09 - 11:00pm

We warmly welcome the decision taken last week by the Brazilian environment agency, IBAMA, to stop the huge São Luiz do Tapajós dam that threatened to wipe out a whole swath of pristine rainforest deep in the heart of the Amazon (Report, theguardian.com, 5 August). This was a day of relief and hope not just for the Munduruku indigenous people, who faced having their ancestral lands flooded, but for everyone who cares about protecting one of the world’s great natural wonders.

The Tapajós river and the surrounding rainforest are areas of unparalleled natural beauty and biodiversity, where new animal species are still being discovered to this day.

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Categories: Environment

willing and able...

The Field Lab - Tue, 2016/08/09 - 4:15pm
A couple of good storms popped up again in the area so I got my "pumping station" ready.  Laid out the lines and the PVC inlet.  I made the PVC piping a couple of years ago when I discovered the soft outlet hose doesn't like to bend when it is under pressure.  It is all ready to go but I'll keep the pump back in the greenhouse to till I'm ready - it really doesn't like to start when it is soaked and I don't really need to make a housing for it out in the field since it is easy to move.  One of my neighbors west of me got almost 2" of rain today.  Me...just a sprinkle.  I have high hopes for later in the week  though...75,94,74, .09",C
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs
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