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Thousands of whales are being killed by passing ships. Can we save them?

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/09 - 7:00am

Large numbers of cetaceans are dying from lethal collisions with vessels, even in protected areas. Now science may provide the means to protect them

Janie Wray could tell there was something horribly wrong from the way her colleague gasped. They were on a research station off the coast of British Columbia and Wray’s colleague was watching live drone footage through a pair of goggles. “She just went, oh my God,” says Wray.

She had spotted a humpback whale on its migration south, swimming without the use of its tail. Wray and her colleagues at BC Whales crowded around a computer screen to watch the footage. “Immediately, we all knew that we had a whale that most likely had a broken back,” she says. It was almost certainly the result of a ship strike. Later, they discovered it was a whale they knew: Moon.

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Categories: Environment

UK insulation scheme would take 300 years to meet government targets, say critics

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/09 - 6:34am

Exclusive: National Energy Action says progress on energy efficiency is too slow and not well targeted at fuel-poor households

The government’s home insulation scheme would take 190 years to upgrade the energy efficiency of the UK’s draughty housing stock, and 300 years to meet the government’s own targets to reduce fuel poverty, according to industry calculations.

Critics of the Great British Insulation Scheme, which aims to insulate 300,000 homes a year over the next three years, have raised concerns that the plan does not go far enough to reach the 19m UK homes that need better insulation.

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Categories: Environment

‘A plague of locusts’: Barcelona battles port authorities to curb cruise tourists

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2023/04/09 - 1:00am

Councillors and residents hope to limit the number of daytrippers arriving by boat to preserve the city’s streets and character

The ships, at times dwarfing the average apartment building, begin lumbering into Barcelona while much of the city is still asleep. Stretching as long as five buses, some come to embark or disembark passengers, while others disgorge thousands of daytrippers keen to glimpse the city’s modernist architecture and stroll the narrow streets of the gothic quarter.

It’s a scene that plays out daily in Barcelona – much to the chagrin of some local officials. Last Monday, five cruise ships were slated to arrive; this Friday, on 14 April, eight are expected.

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Categories: Environment

Snow, floods and wildlife in peril: grueling winter leaves Yosemite scarred

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/08 - 10:00pm

The national park is open again but intense storms mean the specter of climate crisis is more evident than ever

It’s been a winter few in Yosemite valley will ever forget.

After wildfires left the national park’s dramatic views shrouded in smoke over the summer, winter brought a series of historic storms that left the region inundated with snow. The deluge buried homes, cars and fire hydrants, chewed into stretches of winding mountain roads and downed trees along the park’s slopes.

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Categories: Environment

Why don’t whales get cancer? Cracking one of medicine’s greatest mysteries

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2023/04/08 - 6:00am

Understanding why some animals are more susceptible to the disease could lead to improved screening for humans

Scientists are homing in on one of medicine’s most baffling mysteries: why some species avoid getting cancers while others are plagued by tumours that shorten their lives.

Whales tend to have low rates of cancer but it is the leading cause of death for dogs and cats. Foxes and leopards are susceptible while sheep and antelopes are not. Bats are also relatively well protected against cancer but not mice or rats. In humans, cancer is a leading cause of death that kills around 10 million people a year.

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Categories: Environment

‘Headed off the charts’: world’s ocean surface temperature hits record high

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 5:00pm

Scientists warn of more marine heatwaves, leading to increased risk of extreme weather

The temperature of the world’s ocean surface has hit an all-time high since satellite records began, leading to marine heatwaves around the globe, according to US government data.

Climate scientists said preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) showed the average temperature at the ocean’s surface has been at 21.1C since the start of April – beating the previous high of 21C set in 2016.

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Categories: Environment

Beached sperm whale in Cleethorpes feared to have died

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 1:01pm

Distressed mammal was reported at lunchtime on Friday, but marine rescue service arrived too late to save it

A sperm whale is feared to have died after it washed up on the Lincolnshire coast.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was called at about 12.15pm on Good Friday to help with a “large stranded whale” on the beach at Cleethorpes. The charity said the whale had been spotted “upright in the water” at about midday, but by the time it reached the beach, it was stranded on its side.

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Categories: Environment

California: stunning shift as parched reservoirs replenished by storms

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 9:05am

Reservoirs whose water levels had plummeted during punishing drought have recovered – but officials warn of ‘weather whiplash’

Water levels fell so low in key reservoirs during the depth of California’s drought that boat docks sat on dry, cracked land and cars drove into the center of what should have been Folsom Lake.

Those scenes are no more after a series of powerful storms dumped record amounts of rain and snow across California, replenishing reservoirs and bringing an end – mostly – to the state’s three-year drought.

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Categories: Environment

Green groups sue to stop Ohio from leasing state parks for oil and gas drilling

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 8:55am

New law – condemned as ‘illegitimate giveaway to the oil and gas industry’ – requires state parks to be leased to interested parties

Environmental groups have launched a last-minute effort to halt an extraordinary new law in Ohio that requires government agencies to lease state parks and other public state lands to the oil and gas industry.

A temporary injunction filed on Thursday seeks to put the brakes on legislation that requires state parks to be leased for fracking and which redefines the potent greenhouse gas methane as “green energy”. The law was due to go into effect on 7 April, but the court has not yet responded to the injunction.

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Categories: Environment

Coal seam gas waste plan risks washing ‘5m tonnes of salt into the Murray-Darling Basin’

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 8:00am

Critics say a proposal to dispose of salt from waste brine by burying it in lined landfill is ‘not a long-term solution’

Local landholders and advocacy groups in southern Queensland have criticised the state government’s plans to store millions of tonnes of coal seam gas waste in lined landfills, saying it risks contaminating the Murray-Darlin Basin.

They have also questioned the integrity of the government’s long-awaited waste management action plan for coal seam gas brine, saying it relies on research from oil and gas lobby group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) and the University of Queensland Centre for Natural Gas, whose donors include Arrow Energy, Australia Pacific LNGand Santos.

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Categories: Environment

Toxic PFAS not necessary to make fabric stain repellent, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 3:00am

Research found that ‘forever chemicals’ had ‘no practical benefit’ in repelling water and stains as compared with untreated fabric

A new peer-reviewed study calls into question how well PFAS-based products repel water and stains in furniture, shoes, clothing, carpeting, outdoor gear and other consumer goods made of fabric.

Most water and stain repellents applied to fabrics worldwide use toxic PFAS as a main ingredient, and though the controversial chemicals are in thousands of products, water and stain repellency are two of their main consumer functions.

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Categories: Environment

Leaks from Minnesota nuclear power plant raise safety fears across US

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 3:00am

Leaks were contained and posed no danger, official reports say, but past disasters continue to cause fears of power source

In December, Janica Jammes started a microgreens business in the basement of her home in Big Lake, Minnesota, just across the river from Xcel Energy’s nuclear plant in Monticello.

At least once each day, she uses water from her well to nourish the plant trays. She delivers her product to customers within a 10-mile radius and says the business has been a success.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2023/04/07 - 12:00am

The best of this week’s wildlife photographs, including a rare leopard, very deep-swimming fish and baby ducks

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Categories: Environment

‘I still can’t handle the big ones’: the new wave of spider hunters scouring Britain’s heaths

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 10:00pm

Having already discovered the presumed extinct great fox-spider, Mike Waite goes hunting on MoD land armed with a pair of his wife’s tights, an old medicine syringe and plastic cups

As a spider-hunting specialist, Mike Waite’s artillery of choice is a pooter. It’s a homemade sucking contraption made from his daughter’s old Calpol syringe and a pair of his wife’s tights (“I like to think they were old ones”), which he uses as a filter so he doesn’t inhale any spiders.

I’m with Waite, from Surrey Wildlife Trust, on Brentmoor Heath, which is partly owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and managed by the trust. It sounds like New Year’s Eve, with continuous bangs from the shooting range. We’re in the buffer zone, on lowland heathland, where the public are allowed and spiders are just waking up from their winter slumber. We see a wolf spider, a gorilla jumping spider, and a raft spider (which recently featured on David Attenborough’s Wild Isles) all in a single morning.

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Categories: Environment

Value of Australian lithium exports tipped to match thermal coal in five years

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 8:00am

Revenue from mining key metal used in EV batteries to triple by 2027-28 while thermal coal exports set to fall by more than 70%

Exports of Australian lithium – a key metal used in batteries – are expected to earn as much as sales of thermal coal within five years, as the world increasingly embraces clean energy and the market value of fossil fuels falls.

New data released by the Australian government forecasts local lithium production will double and the industry’s revenue will triple by 2027-28 compared with last financial year.

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Categories: Environment

State actor still main suspect behind Nord Stream sabotage, says investigator

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 6:54am

Swedish prosecutor casts doubt over theories that independent group was responsible for pipeline blasts

The Swedish prosecutor investigating the Nord Stream sabotage attack has said the “clear main scenario” was that a state-sponsored group had been involved, seemingly casting doubt over theories that posited an independent group was responsible for the pipeline blasts.

Mats Ljungqvist told Reuters on Thursday that though a non-state-backed plot was still theoretically possible, the type of explosive used in the bombings ruled out a “large portion of actors”.

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Categories: Environment

Greenhouse gas emissions rose at ‘alarming’ rate last year, US data shows

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 6:15am

Noaa report shows rapid increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide

Record temperatures, devastating floods and superstorms are causing death and destruction across the planet but humans are failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions fueling the climate emergency, new US data shows.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide – the greenhouse gases emitted by human activity that are the most significant contributors to global heating – continued to increase rapidly during 2022, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

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Categories: Environment

UK agency has backed billions’ worth of aviation deals since Paris agreement

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 4:00am

Government’s UKEF criticised for ‘locking us all into more carbon emissions for decades to come’ with assistance for the sector

A UK government agency has financially supported the high-carbon aviation industry with billions of pounds since the Paris climate agreement was adopted, it can be revealed.

The effective subsidy for new airports, aircraft and maintenance comes despite the agency believing the oil-dependent sector is unlikely to begin cutting emissions “materially” before the next decade.

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Categories: Environment

A US city received $500,000 to remove lead pipes – and still hasn’t spent it

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 3:00am

Troy, New York, has yet to remove a single lead pipe five years after getting the money. What went wrong?

In 2018, almost 30 cities across New York state received federal money to carry out a specific, urgent task: removing lead service lines that poison drinking water.

The city of Troy – which sits across the Hudson River and just north of Albany – was among them, receiving $500,000. But five years later, city leaders have failed to spend a single dollar of that money, and have yet to remove a single lead pipe.

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Categories: Environment

Rains bring California lake back from the dead: ‘We’re surrounded by water’

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/04/06 - 3:00am

Tulare Lake was drained a century ago. Now locals fear flooding as agencies rush in sandbags and rebuild levees

Kayode Kadara is worried about the rising waters near his home. Just a few months ago, this landscape in California’s Central Valley was a dry basin filled with pistachio and almond groves.

Then a winter of historic rain and snow brought Tulare Lake – a huge freshwater body drained a century ago by agricultural canals – rushing back from the dead. Workers from state agencies have brought sandbags in by helicopter, rebuilt levees and constructed walls to hold the deluge back.

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Categories: Environment
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