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Fragile habitats, but sturdy Ikea flatpacks | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 10:52am
Grouse shooting | Sugar and schoolchildren | Ikea furniture | Uber drivers | Cryptic crossword | ‘Pithicisms’

George Monbiot is right: wholesale destruction of wildlife is obscene (The grouse shooters aim to kill, 16 August). Why no grousing, then, on the imminent destruction of the diverse habitats and endangered species, including many red list birds, on the west coast of Cumbria? Why no grouse about the collateral damage in obsessive pursuit of the “biggest nuclear development in Europe” at Moorside? The environmental destruction planned is on a scale the most bloodthirsty grouse hunter could only dream of.
Marianne Birkby
Radiation Free Lakeland, Milnthorpe, Cumbria

• This morning I entered my local Morrisons supermarket to be greeted by a large display, just inside the entrance, selling multipacks of filled chocolate bars. The sign above said “Back to School”. Selling high sugar goods is one thing, but encouraging the purchase for children is quite another (Report, 22 August). Shame on Morrisons.
Roger Frisby
Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

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Categories: Environment

South-east UK set for heatwave as parts of north face floods

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 9:43am

Temperatures in south could reach low 30s by midweek but could be 10 degrees cooler in rain-hit north

South-east England is set for more hot weather while parts of the north are on flood alert.

Following heavy rain in North Yorkshire, water has been gushing on to roads from White Scar Caves in Ingleton, in the Yorkshire Dales national park. Video footage from the scene shows cars driving slowly through deep floodwater.

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Categories: Environment

Enterprise Rent-A-Car becomes paid Alec member despite green efforts

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 6:00am

Car rental company has joined conservative organization that fights environmental rules with prewritten legislation, the Guardian has learned

It’s not easy enough being green for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Though the auto rental service has trumpeted tree-planting initiatives and its fleet of hybrid vehicles, the Guardian has learned that Enterprise recently became a paying member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), the business consortium that sends legislators prefabricated drafts of laws tailored to obscure scientific discovery that might damage its members’ revenues, and help those members avoid environmental regulations.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change will mean the end of national parks as we know them

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 4:49am

As the National Parks Service turns 100 this week, we look at how receding ice, extreme heat and acidifying oceans are transforming America’s landscapes, and guardians of national parks face the herculean task of stopping it

After a century of shooing away hunters, tending to trails and helping visitors enjoy the wonder of the natural world, the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job – slowing the all-out assault climate change is waging against national parks across the nation.

As the National Parks Service (NPS) has charted the loss of glaciers, sea level rise and increase in wildfires spurred by rising temperatures in recent years, the scale of the threat to US heritage across the 412 national parks and monuments has become starkly apparent.

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Categories: Environment

Indian politician ridiculed for being carried through floods

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 4:03am

Madhya Pradesh state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan targeted on Twitter after being shown carried aloft by his entourage

A senior Indian politician has been widely mocked after photos showed police officers carrying him through ankle-deep muddy water while inspecting deadly floods in the centre of the country.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state, was shown wearing crisp white trousers and white shoes as he was carried aloft through the flood water in a field, trailed by his entourage.

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Categories: Environment

Historical documents reveal Arctic sea ice is disappearing at record speed | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 3:00am

Summer Arctic sea ice is at its lowest since records began over 125 years ago

Scientists have pieced together historical records to reconstruct Arctic sea ice extent over the past 125 years. The results are shown in the figure below. The red line, showing the extent at the end of the summer melt season, is the most critical:

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Categories: Environment

Iraqi children pay high health cost of war-induced air pollution, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 1:00am

Researchers identify exposure to toxic materials from explosion of munitions and burning of military waste by US army as cause of birth defects and cancers

Air pollution caused by war may be a major factor in the numbers of birth defects and cancers being reported in Iraq and other war zones, a study has suggested.

Human exposure to heavy metals and neurotoxicants from the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition affects not only those directly targeted by bombardments but also troops and people living near military bases, according to research published in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

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Categories: Environment

Sluggy McSlugface no more: sea slug named for fly-in, fly-out mining workers

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 9:51pm

Multicoloured slug, a species of nudibranch, was discovered in 2000 off the Western Australian coast and will be officially named Moridilla fifo

A multicoloured sea slug discovered off the coast of Western Australia has been named for the state’s fly-in, fly-out mining workforce after a judging panel ruled that Sluggy McSlugface breached the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

The slug, which is a species of nudibranch, was discovered in 2000 off the coast of Dampier, about 1,500km north of Perth, by the WA scientist Dr Nerida Wilson.

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Categories: Environment

The power of water to drive a mill and break a bridge

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 9:30pm

Burneside, Cumbria I walked a narrow bank, the mill race on one side and a steep drop to the swirling Sprint on the other. And I thought of last December’s flood

Sprint Mill sits in a small wooded gorge below a cascade of sinuous waterfalls on the river Sprint. There has been a cloth manufacturing or processing mill on this site since at least the 1400s, all dependent on water power provided by the river. The current owners have restored the 19th-century mill with the help of a grant from Natural England; the front wall had developed a worrying bulge. When work began, they found that this three-storey building had been constructed without foundations.

The Dales Way weaves around the most recent mill race, hollowed out of the earth like a small canal and used until the mill closed in 1954. Ahead of me, long-tailed tits fidgeted, tails flicking up and down as they moved on, their ratcheting, rolling contact calls travelling on the breeze.

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Categories: Environment

Knowledge and Sorrow

The Field Lab - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 2:57pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

South Florida's Seminole Cowboys: Cattle Is 'In Our DNA'

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 2:44pm

Florida, with its lush grasslands, ranks 10th in the nation for its beef cattle herds — nearly 2 million head. And the Seminole Tribe of Florida is a major player in the cattle industry.

Categories: Environment

Fine days for harvesting: Country diary 50 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Guardian on 26 August 1966

HAMPSHIRE: The wondrous fine days of last week have come just right for the harvesters. Although tractors with trolleys are not so picturesque as horses with wains, there remains a flavour of the sacred earth at harvest-time. The more especially in large fields with men and girls scattered at various jobs. And I have seen a young fellow, stripped to the waist, and as brown as a South Sea islander, with a girl beside him, her hair neatly plaited in pigtails, both holding on to a jolting bar, as they returned to the farm after work. The quality remains, in spite of the combustion engine. In many fields the straw is being trussed, and not wastefully burnt. Various uses are being found for it besides the bedding down of animals; in right conditions cabbages can be grown, also seed potatoes bedded and grown, with great saving of labour. If for no better use, it can be made into compost. The hot days have brought swarms of flying ants, fat, juicy, young queens, that birds relish. Starlings, that naturally have quick, gliding flight, learn to hover, not very well, but sufficiently slowly to snatch at the flying ants in midair. The starlings fly at a low level over fields and gardens, and, higher up, seagulls circle to taste the formic acid flavour. They remind me of the time when I have eaten honey-ants in West Australia that were dug up by aborigine girls. These were the only form of sweetmeats that the bush provided, and very good too. I was sorry to learn that the Scops owl had escaped, with but poor chance of survival I fear.

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Categories: Environment

A collared pratincole pays a rare visit to Somerset

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 1:30pm

An exotic visitor, that should should have been sunning itself by the Mediterranean, attracts crowds of birdwatchers to the Ham Wall reserve

My birding friend Rob may have got married only the day before, but nothing stops him from looking regularly at his pager to check out the latest sightings of rare birds. Fortunately, he then took the trouble to text me the news: that a collared pratincole had turned up at the RSPB’s Ham Wall reserve, just down the road from my home.

It would have been rude not to pay this bird a visit, especially as it should have been sunning itself on some Mediterranean marsh, not flying around the Somerset Levels. I had never actually seen this species before in Britain, so I walked along the disused railway line that bisects the marshes with more than the usual spring in my step.

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Categories: Environment

Listen to the sand eels on climate change | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 10:43am

Michael Grange (Letters, 19 August) recommends “not asking the frogs first” before building tidal barrages on the Severn. But we are already being spoken to by the sand eels, mosquitoes, birds, butterflies and even the humble Highland saxifrage (Climate change threatens UK’s mountain plant life, 18 August) if only we would listen.

They are on the move already. The environmental effects of sea-level rise will dramatically alter the Severn estuary, and all its inhabitants, if we do little to deploy alternatives to fossil fuels now. Can the seriousness of the crisis justify the sacrifice of some present wetlands in order to avoid them being found far inland by our great grandchildren?
Professor Terry Gifford
Research Centre for Environmental Humanities, Bath Spa University

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Categories: Environment

Radon from fracking will not be a threat | Letter from Prof Averil MacDonald

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 10:42am

In his letter (11 August) Dr David Lowry raised the issue of radon and shale gas quoting studies in Pennsylvania and sought to reinforce his own views by quoting from a study undertaken by Public Health England in 2014. Let me quote the same study, which states, “caution is required when extrapolating experiences in other countries to the UK since the mode of operation, underlying geology and regulatory environment are likely to be different” and “the PHE position remains, therefore, that the shale gas extraction process poses a low risk to human health if properly run and regulated”.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas present throughout the UK at very low levels. PHE recognised that radon may be released to the environment from shale–gas activities, as is the case with existing natural gas supplies, but at concentrations that are not expected to result in significant additional radon exposure. PHE will be undertaking baseline outdoor and household radon monitoring in the Vale of Pickering in North Yorkshire in areas around Third Energy’s KM8 well near Kirby Misperton at three-monthly intervals. The first monitoring “measurements indicated that the radon concentration in the outdoor air around KM8 is close to the UK average”. There is no indication of elevated radon concentrations in Pickering, a radon affected area in close proximity of KM8. The analysis for the control site in Oxfordshire showed that the radon concentrations were similar to those for the Vale of Pickering.

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Categories: Environment

National parks must be for people, plants, pumas - not Big Oil

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 9:40am

Huge swathe of new “protected natural area” in Peru’s Amazon is included within an oil and gas concession run by Canadian company

The creation of the 1.3 million hectare Sierra del Divisor National Park in the western Amazon in November 2015 generated considerable elation and Peruvian and international media coverage. Logging, gold-mining, coca cultivation and narco-trafficking were highlighted by some media as ongoing threats to the new park, but why such failure to acknowledge what is possibly, in the long-term, the most serious threat of all?

The sorry, alarming fact is that approximately 40% of the park is superimposed by an oil and gas concession run by a Canadian-headquartered company, Pacific Exploration and Production. This is despite Peru’s 1997 Law of Protected Natural Areas stating “the extraction of natural resources is not permitted” in parks, while 2001 regulations on Protected Natural Areas state “the exploitation of natural resources is prohibited.” In addition, Peru’s 1993 Constitution “obliges” the government “to promote the conservation of biological diversity and protected natural areas.”

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Categories: Environment

Oil rig stranded off Isle of Lewis to be refloated at high tide

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 9:18am

Salvage experts plan operation two weeks after 17,000-tonne Transocean Winner ran aground near Carloway, Scotland

Salvage experts have said they will try to refloat at high tide a 17,000-tonne oil rig that has been stranded on the coast of the Isle of Lewis for two weeks.

The semi-submersible rig Transocean Winner ran aground close to Dalmore beach near Carloway, Scotland, on 8 August. It was being towed from Norway to Malta when a towline snapped in rough seas.

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Categories: Environment

Louisiana Ignored Dire Forecasts And Flash Flood Warnings

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 6:24am

Tens of thousands in Louisiana were surprised by floods last week. In a changing climate, what more can be done to warn communities that the weather can do things they aren't used to?

Categories: Environment

In Drought-Stricken California, There's No Longer A Fire 'Season'

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 6:17am

The state now sees wildfires that are on average bigger than ever and that burn through more of the year. Cal Fire's Southern Region information officer Michael Mohler speaks to Rachel Martin.

Categories: Environment

Calls to halt McArthur River mine operations over safety and remediation concerns

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/08/21 - 1:30am

Report demands mining stop until it can be determined how and at what cost the operation can be made safe

The huge McArthur river mine must stop operations until a public commission of inquiry is set up and has examined whether it can be made safe and at what cost, according to an independent report being released on Monday.

Based on the limited public data on the mine, up to $1bn will need to be spent to safely remediate the site, according to Gavin Mudd from Monash University and the Mineral Policy Institute, who wrote the report.

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Categories: Environment
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