No one doubts that the Saharan dust in the smog affecting parts of the UK is to blame for the layer of grime now sitting on cars but experts agree that the more dangerous element for people's health is the increasingly noxious pollution belching out of our vehicles and industrial plants.
Air pollution from vehicles, factories and homes is now so bad, regularly, in Britain that when it is exacerbated by a storm in the Sahara 2,500 miles away, or by high pressure over northern Europe, it can leave millions gasping, their skin itching and eyes watering.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report on the impacts of global warming this century has been widely recognised as clarifying beyond all doubt that we do, indeed, face an unprecedented planetary emergency. Moreover, not one that will arrive far into the future, but that's happening right now.
" recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability."
"By 2100 for the high-emission scenario RCP8.5, the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year is projected to compromise normal human activities, including growing food or working outdoors."
"Bottom line: We are at risk of making large parts of the planet's currently arable and populated land virtually uninhabitable for much of the year - and irreversibly so for hundreds of years."
"What our findings very clearly spell out is that since the time of the dinosaurs we have not had climate change at rates as rapid as it's currently happening. So, it's the rates and the magnitudes of those changes which are really important."
" the scenario where governments restrict hydrocarbon production in a way to reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions 80 percent during the Outlook period is highly unlikely. The Outlook demonstrates that the world will require all the carbon-based energy that ExxonMobil plans to produce during the Outlook period We see population, GDP and energy needs increasing for the world over the Outlook period, and that all economically viable energy sources will be required to meet these growing needs."
". renewables will continue to comprise about 5 percent of the total energy mix by 2040. Factors limiting further penetration of renewables include scalability, geographic dispersion, intermittency (in the case of solar and wind), and cost relative to other sources. The cost limitations of renewables are likely to persist even when higher costs of carbon are considered."
"Traditional energy sources have had many decades to scale up to meet the enormous energy needs of the world. As discussed above, renewable sources, such as solar and wind, despite very rapid growth rates, cannot scale up quickly enough to meet global demand growth while at the same time displacing more traditional sources of energy."
"We predict that solar, wind, and biomass continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear into the future As solar, wind, biomass, and other power sources gain market share from coal, nukes, and gas, the LCOE [levelised cost of energy] metric increasingly becomes important to the new build power generation decision-making."
"Given the large expected increase in demand for gas, offset by production gains, gas prices are expected to rise over the long term. As a result, the bar for renewables and other fuel sources to cross continues to rise, thus making it easier for alternatives to gain market share Solar is still early in the growth cycle, and in many countries - Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest US - residential-scale solar has already competed with average residential electricity prices. In 2013, solar was the second-largest source of new generation capacity behind natural gas - its prospects look bright in 2014 and beyond as costs continue to decline and improve the LCOE picture."
"More active forms of transport and the consumption of less red meat will cut death and illness from cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Less air pollution will cut the global burden of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and bequeath a sustainable planet worth living on, we must push, as individuals and as a profession, for a transformed, sustainable, and fair world."
Annual Antarctic hunt called off for the first time in 25 years, but officials say whaling will go ahead in other areas as scheduled
Japan has cancelled its annual Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, in line with a UN court ruling that the program was a commercial activity disguised as science.
A "deeply disappointed" Tokyo said earlier this week it would honour Monday's judgement by the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague, but did not exclude the possibility of future whaling programs.
Device automatically saves energy from learning how people use their heating at home
Nest, the US technology company bought by Google in January for $3.2bn (£2bn), is launching its hi-tech version of the humble thermostat in the UK.
The device, which the company says learns how people use their heating at home and automatically saves energy for them, follows its launch in the UK of a smoke alarm last autumn that can distinguish burnt toast from a real fire, and detect carbon monoxide.
"Very high" levels of air pollution made worse by Saharan desert dust will continue in England and Wales for several days, experts have warned.
Large swathes of England and Wales would continue to be affected on Wednesday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
Parliamentary secretary says there is 'an appetite' for removing environmental groups' exemption from secondary boycotts ban
Coalition MPs and industry groups are using a review of competition laws to push for a ban on campaigns against companies on the grounds that they are selling products that damage the environment, for example by using old-growth timber or overfished seafood.
The parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Richard Colbeck, said the backbench rural committee and quite a number in the ministry want to use the review to remove an exemption for environmental groups from the consumer law ban on so-called secondary boycotts.
National Snow and Ice Data Center says findings reinforce trend that Arctic sea ice disappearing much faster than expected
Arctic sea ice remained on its death spiral on Wednesday, with the amount of winter ice cover falling to its fifth lowest on the satellite record, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.
The scientists said Arctic sea ice extent for March averaged 14.80m sq km. That's 730,000 sq km below the 1981-2010 satellite average.
US Environmental Agency expressed concern last year over deal between North Carolina regulators and Duke Energy
The US Environmental Agency expressed concern last year that a proposed deal between North Carolina regulators and Duke Energy to settle pollution violations at two of the company's coal ash dumps was too lenient.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources released more than 13,000 pages of public records in recent days as a response to media requests following the February 2 coal ash spill at a Duke plant in Eden, which coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes it clear that the future of world agriculture is precarious (UN warning over world's food supplies, 31 March). The international mechanisms to address the complex challenges remain weak, and the UK must, as it has done in energy policy, show leadership. We need to re-engineer the UK's food and farming system, not only because we can no longer look to global markets for a safe, secure food future, but also because we need that system to play its full part in adapting to, and reducing the severity of, climate change.
As a priority, less food must be wasted from field to fork: producing more is pointless when so much energy, effort and land is squandered through waste. Decarbonising food supply across the supply chain to cut greenhouse gas emissions is essential, but we also need to give farmers incentives to manage land in ways that store carbon to cut emissions further. Last, we need to reappraise the supply of farmland as a long-term productive resource: in a world of falling crop yields, volatile markets and unpredictable weather, farmland cannot for much longer be regarded as simply ripe for "development".
Campaign to Protect Rural England
Country diary: Achvaneran, Highlands: After a dearth of birds in the winter, they're back round the feeders
We have lived in this old tacksman's cottage in Strathnairn, just south of Inverness, for 27 years. In that time we have fed wild birds all the year round and have noted some interesting trends.
However, this last winter was exceptional because of the comparative lack of birds coming to the feeders. Some feeders, such as the special ones containing nyjer seeds, remained virtually untouched. The birds that did come in often went for peanuts, but the ones they used most were the three feeders containing sunflower hearts. Though the chaffinch continued to be ubiquitous, some other birds remained absent, including my garden favourites, the siskins. One reader emailed me to say that on 20 March three siskins appeared on a feeder in his garden, the first since mid-August last year. I had seen none. However, since then, British gardens have been invaded by these lively little finches in unprecedented numbers.
Schools are being urged to stop pupils from using playgrounds at lunchtime and employees to avoid cycling, running or walking to work during rush hour in the areas of England worst affected by the ongoing rise in pollution.
The government, public health doctors and experts in pollution are also advising older people and those with a heart or lung problem such as asthma to avoid exercising outdoors and use a gym instead.
Tuna, swordfish and other migratory fishes are being overfished by vessels on the high seas. A new proposal says we should close these international waters for a few years to let the fishes rebound.
Will Hodgman says his government should unveil its alternative to the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement within the next week
Tasmanias new Liberal government is set to outline an expansion of logging in areas earmarked for protection, despite the forestry industry voicing its support for the peace deal that set out the reserves.
Will Hodgman, the Tasmanian premier, is expected to unveil the governments alternative plan to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, or TFA, within the next week.
Green cleaning company says algal oil can replace palm oil, which has been linked to deforestation
People will soon be able to wash their clothes using a cleaning product derived from algae, a more sustainable source than the palm oil that is currently used in most detergents.
Ecover, the green cleaning company, will launch the algae-based laundry liquid in Europe later in 2014, as part of its pledge to ultimately replace all palm oil.
Editors of the Radio 4 Today programme and other BBC news teams have been criticised by MPs for giving political opinions about climate change and scientific fact the same weight of coverage.
Andrew Miller, chairman of the science and technology select committee, publishing a report on how the media communicates climate change science, said: "Given the high level of trust the public has in its coverage, it is disappointing that the BBC does not ensure all of its programmes and presenters reflect the actual state of climate science in its output. The Today programme and other BBC News teams continue to make mistakes in their coverage of climate science by giving opinions and scientific fact the same weight.".
James Cook researchers contradict Queensland government's finding on damage to marine life
The controversial expansion of Gladstone harbour probably killed dozens of sea turtles, according to a report that contradicts the Queensland governments analysis of the deaths.
The research, conducted by James Cook University, found that the dredging of Gladstone harbour to increase its capacity so it can handle liquefied natural gas exports caused metals to be dispersed from the seabed, contributing to an unusually large number of turtle strandings and mortalities.
Australian Koala Foundation says current scheme of 'environmental offsets' could doom koalas in some areas
Australias environmental offset system is ridiculous and must change to prevent the koala being wiped out in several areas of the country, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.
The koala has seen much of its habitat cleared for urban expansion and industry, with the marsupial also considered particularly vulnerable to climate change. It was listed as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in 2012.