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Environment | The Guardian



Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.



Published: Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:57:27 GMT2017-03-01T19:57:27Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Private investor divests $34.8m from firms tied to Dakota Access pipeline

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:30:11 GMT2017-03-01T18:30:11Z

Storebrand, a sustainable investment manager in Norway, hopes pulling shares from three groups will ‘make some sort of impact’ amid Defund DAPL movement

Norway’s largest private investor is divesting from three companies tied to the Dakota Access pipeline, a small victory for the Standing Rock movement one week after the eviction of the main protest encampment.

Storebrand, a sustainable investment manager with $68bn in assets, sold off $34.8m worth of shares in Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, and Enbridge, the company announced Wednesday. The three companies are partial owners of the pipeline.

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How to switch to solar power in your home and why now is the time – video

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-03-01T10:00:05Z

Every day, the sun kickstarts mini power plants in about 942,000 homes around America. We are of course talking about solar energy – and in 2017, it’s never been cheaper to invest in it for your home. The Guardian looks at key tips for installing solar panels and why now is the time to switch

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How to install solar panels at home – to save the Earth and your bank account

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-03-01T10:00:05Z

With solar energy becoming cheaper – and federal and state authorities offering tax credits and other incentives – now is a good time to switch

Installing solar panels on the roof of your home is a big project – but it can pay dividends in more ways than one. There’s the obvious environmental benefit, but for many homeowners, the joy comes with a dollar sign attached.

Turning your home into a mini power plant can save you good money on the electric bill. Here is a guide to get you started.

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Latest Trump executive order aims to dismantle Obama's clean water rule

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 21:14:31 GMT2017-02-28T21:14:31Z

  • Environmental policy intended to curb pollution flowing into water sources
  • Trump also signed order to establish federal program to support HBCUs

Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at unraveling one of Barack Obama’s signature environmental policies designed to protect American waterways from pollution.

The president’s move marked the first step toward fulfilling his pledge on the campaign trail to roll back Obama-era regulations, which include a 2015 rule designed to curb the flow of pollution into major bodies of water, wetlands and ponds by expanding the requirement of permits to pursue any actions that might cause them harm.

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Minnesota Vikings' new glass-plated stadium becomes 'death trap' for birds

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 17:01:26 GMT2017-02-28T17:01:26Z

  • US Bank Stadium study shows birds are flying into its clear glass
  • Conservation groups want authorities to make stadium bird-safe

The US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which opened last June and cost more than $1bn of mostly taxpayer money, is beautiful, large, glassy – and deadly to birds.

A new report from a trio of conservation groups reveals that – for wildlife, at least – vast swathes of the new home of the Minnesota Vikings are indistinguishable from the sky and birds are being killed by flying straight into the stadium’s 200,000 sq ft of gleaming, clear glass.

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Scott Pruitt vows to slash climate and water pollution regulations at CPAC

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:47:23 GMT2017-02-25T21:47:23Z

Head of the EPA told the conservative audience they would be ‘justified’ in believing the environmental regulator should be completely disbanded

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has vowed to roll back flagship regulations that tackle climate change and water pollution, telling a conservative audience in Maryland they would be “justified” in believing the environmental regulator should be completely disbanded.

The Trump appointee signalled that the president is set to start the work of dismantling climate and water rules as early as next week. Pruitt said the administration will “deal” with the Clean Power Plan, Barack Obama’s centrepiece policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA wider latitude to reduce pollution of waterways.

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Police remove last Standing Rock protesters in military-style takeover

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 21:52:24 GMT2017-02-23T21:52:24Z

Armed occupation brought an anticlimactic and forlorn end to the camp, which had been home to thousands of activists opposing the Dakota Access pipeline

Dozens of national guard and law enforcement officers marched into the Dakota Access pipeline protest encampment on Thursday in a military-style takeover, one day after a deadline for the camp’s eviction.

Related: Police make arrests at Standing Rock in push to evict remaining activists

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Tents set ablaze at North Dakota pipeline protest campsite – video

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:21:55 GMT2017-02-22T18:21:55Z

Several fires were lit at the Dakota Access pipeline protest campsite in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, early Wednesday ahead of a deadline from authorities to abandon the area. For months, hundreds of Native Americans and environmental activists have occupied the site as they protest the pipeline’s construction, but Donald Trump has signed an executive order clearing the way for construction to move ahead

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Climate scientists face harassment, threats and fears of 'McCarthyist attacks'

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:56:08 GMT2017-02-22T16:56:08Z

Researchers will have to deal with attacks from a range of powerful foes in the coming years – and for many, it has already started

A little less than seven years ago, the climate scientist Michael Mann ambled into his office at Penn State University with a wedge of mail tucked under his arm. As he tore into one of the envelopes, which was hand-addressed to him, white powder tumbled from the folds of the letter. Mann recoiled from the grainy plume and rushed to the bathroom to scrub his hands.

Fortunately for Mann, the FBI confirmed the powder was cornstarch rather than anthrax. It was perhaps the nadir of the vituperation hurled at Mann by often anonymous critics who accuse him and others of fabricating or exaggerating the dangers of climate change.

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New EPA head Scott Pruitt's emails reveal close ties with fossil fuel interests

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:47:56 GMT2017-02-22T16:47:56Z

Documents suggest former Oklahoma AG followed lobby group’s guidance on challenging environmental regulations, and put letterhead to oil firm complaints more than once

The close relationship between Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and fossil fuel interests including the billionaire Koch brothers has been highlighted in more than 7,500 emails and other records released by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office on Wednesday.

The documents show that Pruitt, while Oklahoma attorney general, acted in close concert with oil and gas companies to challenge environmental regulations, even putting his letterhead to a complaint filed by one firm, Devon Energy. This practice was first revealed in 2014, but it now appears that it occurred more than once.

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EPA head: US doesn't have to choose between environment and jobs – video

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:35:51 GMT2017-02-21T21:35:51Z

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, told agency staff on Tuesday that the US should not have to choose between the economy and the environment. ‘I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two,’ Pruitt said in his first speech to EPA workers since he was confirmed as administrator last week

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New EPA head Scott Pruitt: 'We can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment'

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:44:35 GMT2017-02-21T18:44:35Z

Head of Environmental Protection Agency tells staff he will ‘listen, learn, and lead’ as White House reportedly prepares orders to roll back green regulations

The new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, told agency staff on Tuesday that the US should not have to choose between the economy and the environment.

As the White House reportedly prepares executive orders to roll back Obama-era green regulations, Pruitt struck a conciliatory tone in an address to agency staff, saying he would “listen, learn and lead”.

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'The wild west of wind': Republicans push Texas as unlikely green energy leader

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:01:32 GMT2017-02-20T08:01:32Z

The most oil-rich and fracking-friendly of states has found itself with the improbable status of being a national leader in a wind energy boom

Living in New York and Washington, Greg Wortham heard all the grand talk about green energy from liberal politicians. Then he returned to the place where he grew up, a small town that embraced wind power so warmly that within a couple of years of the first turbine turning, it had some of the biggest farms on the planet.

Yet Wortham is not from California, Oregon or New England, but a deeply conservative sector of Texas on the edge of the Permian Basin, one of the most bountiful oil and gas patches in the world.

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Scott Pruitt confirmed as EPA head despite failure to release emails

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:05:33 GMT2017-02-17T19:05:33Z

  • Senate approves former Oklahoma attorney general 52-46
  • Court ordered new environmental head to release emails to fossil fuel industry

Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, has won Senate confirmation to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency he repeatedly sued to rein in its reach during the Obama administration.

The vote on Friday was 52-46 as Republican leaders used their party’s narrow Senate majority to push Pruitt’s confirmation despite calls from Democrats to delay the vote until requested emails are released next week.

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GM 'surrogate hens' could lay eggs of rare chicken breeds, scientists say

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:24:52 GMT2017-02-17T17:24:52Z

Radical plan to maintain diversity of gene pool proposes use of genetically modified chickens as surrogate mothers

The Rumpless Game is squawky and, as its name suggests, lacks a tail, while the Burmese Bantam, has fantastically flared leg feathers and a head like a feather duster. But the true value of rare chicken breeds, according to a team of scientists working to save them from obsolescence, is not their decorative crests and plumage, but the diversity they bring to the chicken gene pool.

In a radical plan to preserve rare varieties such as the Nankin, Scots Dumpy and Sicilian Buttercup, scientists at the the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have bred genetically modified chickens designed to act as surrogates that would be capable of laying eggs from any rare breed.

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'Opportunity for healing': General Custer's relative visits Standing Rock

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:00:12 GMT2017-02-15T13:00:12Z

Descendant’s visit served as painful reminder for some Native Americans that historical traumas are closely linked to present-day battles with US government

Floris White Bull couldn’t believe what she was hearing. On the same day the US government granted permission for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, a descendant of General George Armstrong Custer had arrived at Standing Rock.

Alisha Custer – whose lineage traces back to the US army commander who led the 19th-century wars against Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors – had traveled from Wichita, Kansas, to Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and was ready to speak to Standing Rock members.

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Oroville dam: authorities lift evacuation order for nearly 200,000

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 23:02:47 GMT2017-02-14T23:02:47Z

California water officials said they drained enough of the lake behind it so that emergency spillway won’t be needed to handle runoff from approaching storm

Authorities lifted an evacuation order on Tuesday for nearly 200,000 California residents after declaring that the risk of catastrophic collapse of a damaged spillway for Oroville dam had been significantly reduced.

The Butte County sheriff, Kory Honea, said residents could return home immediately.

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How Oroville went from drought to an overflowing dam in just two years

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:40:52 GMT2017-02-14T21:40:52Z

An unusual amount of rain, climate change and unexpected erosion of an emergency spillway created a perfect storm at Lake Oroville in California

It was only two years ago that the receding waters of Lake Oroville – California’s second largest reservoir, located about 70 miles north of Sacramento – became the defining image of the state’s historic drought.

“It was so low you couldn’t take your boat out on it,” said Joe Pederson, a 52-year-old resident of Oroville. “There are fish but you can’t get to them. It was so low you could walk along sections of the lake.”

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Evacuees wait out uncertainty in Lake Oroville dam crisis: 'I'm just praying'

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 01:16:37 GMT2017-02-14T01:16:37Z

Local residents express a mix of frustration and stoicism as emergency crews race to stem flooding from America’s tallest dam

A fleet of cars, pickup trucks and motor homes crept its way north in twilight, past rivers swollen with brown, muddy water, and away from America’s tallest dam, where state officials desperately fought to keep the frothing waters from breaking through bulwarks and flooding into towns.

That was the dramatic scene on Sunday night. By late Monday afternoon, tens of thousands of people had relocated from the at-risk zone in northern California, 60 miles north of the state capital of Sacramento.

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Judge rejects Standing Rock request to block Dakota Access pipeline drilling

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 20:45:29 GMT2017-02-13T20:45:29Z

Tribes lose challenge to the president’s decision to speed approvals for last stretch of $3.7bn pipeline under Missouri river in North Dakota

A federal judge has rejected a request from indigenous tribes to block drilling of the Dakota Access pipeline, the latest blow to the Standing Rock Sioux after Donald Trump fast-tracked final permits for the last phase of construction.

Related: Army veterans return to Standing Rock to form a human shield against police

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Lake Oroville dam: emergency staff race to fix spillway before more rain strikes

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 19:01:22 GMT2017-02-13T19:01:22Z

Emergency workers and state officials were racing on Monday to repair a damaged spillway on the tallest dam in the United States, while almost 200,000 people evacuated downstream of the structure were given no indication of when they might return to their homes.

Related: Lake Oroville dam: mass evacuation ordered over flooding threat

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Environmentalists warn of bumblebee's extinction after Trump halts regulations

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:38:14 GMT2017-02-10T17:38:14Z

Order for 60-day pause on regulations not yet implemented includes protection for endangered rusty patched bumblebee, which experts say is near extinction

Donald Trump has been accused of targeting Muslims, media outlets and even department stores in his first month in the White House. Now, the US president may have doomed a threatened bumblebee.

An executive order freezing new regulations could push the rusty patched bumblebee towards extinction, environmental groups claim. The 60-day pause on all federal regulations that have yet to be implemented – which includes the bumblebee protection – will review “questions of fact, law, and policy they raise”, according to the White House memo.

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Last stand: 'water protectors' return to Standing Rock as drilling set to begin

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 23:02:09 GMT2017-02-08T23:02:09Z

Tribal leaders may have urged activists to let the fight play out in the courts, but many on the ground are calling for a final push as the pipeline moves ahead

Clarence Rowland returned to Standing Rock in the dark of night.

The 26-year-old Oglala Sioux tribe member arrived to his solar-powered hut at 1.30am on Wednesday, knowing that within several hours, Dakota Access pipeline workers could start drilling.

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Republican elders call for new national carbon tax to replace federal regulations

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 16:50:49 GMT2017-02-08T16:50:49Z

GOP elder statesmen urge Donald Trump’s administration to impose a ‘free market, limited government’ response to rising global temperatures

A group of senior Republicans will meet with White House officials on Wednesday to call for a new national carbon tax to replace federal regulations as a way to combat climate change.

The GOP elder statesmen – which include former secretaries of state James Baker and George Shultz, and ex-treasury secretary Hank Paulson – will urge Donald Trump’s administration to impose a “free market, limited government” response to rising global temperatures.

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Final phase of Dakota Access pipeline to be approved, a major blow to Standing Rock Sioux

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 23:02:27 GMT2017-02-07T23:02:27Z

The army corps of engineers says it intends to grant a permit for the oil pipeline to cross the Missouri river, following Donald Trump’s executive order

The US government is set to allow the final phase of construction of the Dakota Access pipeline to begin as early as Wednesday, dealing a major blow to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Related: Over 70 arrested at Standing Rock as Dakota Access aims to finish pipeline

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Reform of EU carbon trading scheme agreed

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 20:08:54 GMT2017-02-28T20:08:54Z

Member states approve changes, including €12bn innovation fund, to emissions plan for cleaner technology and pollution cuts

An overhaul of the EU’s flagship trading scheme for cutting carbon emissions by European industries has been approved by the member states.

The agreement to reform the emissions trading system comes after almost two years’ of discussions but just two weeks after the European parliament voted in favour of a new directive.

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UK nuclear power stations 'could be forced to close' after Brexit

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:28:07 GMT2017-02-28T15:28:07Z

Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told

Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

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Shell's 1991 warning: climate changing ‘at faster rate than at any time since end of ice age’

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:27:13 GMT2017-02-28T10:27:13Z

Critics say public information film shows Shell ‘understood the threat was dire, potentially existential for civilisation, more than a quarter of a century ago’

‘Shell knew’: oil giant’s 1991 film warned of climate change danger

Climate change “at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the ice age – change too fast perhaps for life to adapt, without severe dislocation”. That was the startling warning issued by the oil giant Shell more than a quarter of a century ago.

The company’s farsighted 1991 film, titled Climate of Concern, set out with crystal clarity how the world was warming and that serious consequences could well result.

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‘Shell knew’: oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:20:41 GMT2017-02-28T10:20:41Z

Public information film unseen for years shows Shell had clear grasp of global warming 26 years ago but has not acted accordingly since, say critics

The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered.

However, since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly.

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Big tourism must demand action to save the reef – its business depends on it | David Ritter

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 01:57:16 GMT2017-02-28T01:57:16Z

As the Great Barrier Reef faces the return of coral bleaching, why are Mantra, Accor and Marriott still silent on Adani?

According to a blog post on the home page of the tourism giant Mantra Group, a “family holiday in Queensland would be incomplete without a visit to the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world”.

Which raises the question, why isn’t the Mantra Group – one of Australia’s largest hotel and resort operators, with more than $8bn in asset management including a string of resorts in north Queensland – vociferous in demanding action to save the reef?

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High energy bills here to stay but jobs heading overseas, industry group warns

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:37:44 GMT2017-02-27T19:37:44Z

Ai Group report warns steep price rises will become ‘the new normal’ based on declining coal-fired generation and gas production shortages

The “staggering” increase in energy costs faced by households and businesses will continue thanks to rising gas prices, putting jobs in jeopardy, according to the Australian Industry Group.

Warning that last year’s steep price rises are set to become “the new normal”, the Ai Group says in a report on Tuesday that the complexities of the gas market have combined with a decline in coal-fired power generation to produce a perfect storm for consumers.

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Locals accuse Pakistan of doing the dirty by turning to coal to meet energy needs

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:00:03 GMT2017-02-27T07:00:03Z

As Pakistan seeks to address its power crisis by mining coal, villagers in the Thar desert are fighting to prevent state acquisition of their ancestral land

Amid the din of the excavating machines and the rumble of dumpers removing and hauling tonnes of earth, the voice of indigenous communities in Pakistan’s Sindh province has been drowned out.

Nabi Bux, a resident of Sehnri Dars in the province’s Thar desert, can attest as much. His village, roughly 400km from the port city of Karachi, has been acquired by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and, as a result, he and about 1,800 fellow residents are to be relocated 25km away.

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CEFC approached about coal-fired power station but says plant not 'financeable'

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:46:18 GMT2017-02-27T06:46:18Z

Clean Energy Finance Corporation says project would need to be indemnified against future risk of carbon price being introduced

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was approached last Friday by proponents of a new $1.2bn coal-fired power station with carbon capture and storage technology – but officials have cast significant doubt about whether such a project could ultimately proceed.

The CEFC’s outgoing chief executive, Oliver Yates, told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday his organisation had received an email submission about the project, which purports to be a 900 megawatt power station with a capital cost of $1.2bn.

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Infrastructure fund lacks transparency on Adani plans, warns thinktank

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:00:11 GMT2017-03-01T19:00:11Z

The Australia Institute says the $5bn northern Australia fund lags behind other agencies in process and disclosure

The progressive thinktank the Australia Institute has raised concerns about the operation of the Turnbull government’s $5bn northern Australia infrastructure fund, saying the organisation lacks resources and is not being transparent about its internal procedures.

With officials from the $5bn fund due to front Senate estimates hearings in Canberra on Thursday, the thinktank has released a report arguing the NAIF is behind other comparable government organisations in terms of process and disclosure, and in operational funding.

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Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 15:04:27 GMT2017-03-01T15:04:27Z

Campaign group Mighty Earth says aerial drones, satellite imaging and field research show farmers carried out forest-burning for fast food giant’s soy suppliers

The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report.

Jaguars, giant anteaters and sloths have all been affected by the disappearance of around 700,000 hectares (1,729,738 acres) of forest land between 2011 and 2015.

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Indian traders boycott Coca-Cola for 'straining water resources'

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 14:57:29 GMT2017-03-01T14:57:29Z

Campaigners in drought-hit Tamil Nadu say it is unsustainable to use 400 litres of water to make a 1 litre fizzy drink

More than a million traders in India are boycotting fizzy drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi after claims from from two Indian trade associations that foreign firms are exploiting the country’s water resources.

Traders in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which has a population bigger than the UK, will replace big brands with locally produced soft drinks.

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Northern hemisphere sees in early spring due to global warming

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 14:43:06 GMT2017-03-01T14:43:06Z

Spring is sprung 26 days earlier than a decade ago, causing problems for the natural cycle of plants and wildlife, Climate News Network reports

Spring is arriving ever earlier in the northern hemisphere. One sedge species in Greenland is springing to growth 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. And in the US, spring arrived 22 days early this year in Washington DC.

The evidence comes from those silent witnesses, the natural things that respond to climate signals. The relatively new science of phenology – the calendar record of first bud, first flower, first nesting behaviour and first migrant arrivals – has over the last three decades repeatedly confirmed meteorological fears of global warming as a consequence of the combustion of fossil fuels.

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Taxi drivers and business leaders call for diesel scrappage scheme

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:22:46 GMT2017-03-01T12:22:46Z

Broad coalition writes to chancellor, urging him to tackle air pollution with compensation scheme for motorists

Taxi drivers and business leaders have added their voices to the growing campaign calling on ministers to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to tackle dangerous levels of air pollution.

A broad alliance of business organisations and environmental charities has written to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, urging him to introduce a system in next week’s budget to compensate motorists switching from diesel to more environmentally friendly vehicles.

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Green Investment Bank: rival bidder launches legal challenge to sale

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 08:14:46 GMT2017-03-01T08:14:46Z

SDCL claims government has not sought value for money for taxpayer in choice of Australian bank Macquarie

A last-ditch attempt has been made to derail the government’s controversial sale of the Green Investment Bank to the Australian investment bank Macquarie.

Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL), a rival bidder for the bank, said it was launching a legal challenge to the government’s decision to select Macquarie as its preferred bidder for the £2bn deal.

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Australia placed on El Niño 'watch' as weather bureau puts chance at 50% for 2017

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:22:09 GMT2017-03-01T05:22:09Z

Analysis shows steady warming in the Pacific Ocean and that Australia could be in for a warmer and drier year

Australia could be heading into another El Niño year according to new analysis by the Bureau of Meteorology, which found the chance Australia would be affected by the phenomenon in 2017 had increased to 50%.

Six of the eight models used by Australian climatologists to predict El Niño and La Niña events indicate the El Niño threshold could be reached by July, while seven indicate a steady warming in the Pacific Ocean over the next six months.

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Environment groups fear cost rules may deter vital court challenges

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:05:20 GMT2017-02-28T16:05:20Z

RSPB, ClientEarth and FoE launch judicial review of Ministry of Justice’s change to costs cap already criticised by UN and peers

Legal challenges to government air pollution standards or to the expansion of Heathrow airport have become too risky financially to pursue under new court regulations, environmental groups are warning.

Changes to cost protection orders brought in by the Ministry of Justice from Tuesday will expose campaign groups to prohibitive costs running into potentially millions of pounds, and deter them from bringing important cases, it is claimed.

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Republican hearing calls for a lower carbon pollution price. It should be much higher | Dana Nuccitelli

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:00:01 GMT2017-03-01T11:00:01Z

Staying below dangerous climate thresholds requires a carbon pollution price much higher than the federal estimate

The ‘social cost of carbon’ is an estimate of how much carbon pollution costs society via climate damages, and can also be considered the optimal carbon tax price. The US federal estimate ($37 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution) underpins at least 150 regulations across various federal agencies, and has thus become a prime target in the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back Obama’s climate policies.

Yesterday, the House Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight held a hearing on the social cost of carbon. The Republican Congressmen and their witnesses argued the federal estimate is too high, but a majority of economists think it’s too low. Not surprisingly, the Republican witnesses have been heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry. They made two main arguments: 1) that the $37 estimate should be based on domestic, not global climate impacts, and 2) that the government should have used a higher discount rate, which would result in a lower estimate.

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Just who are these 300 'scientists' telling Trump to burn the climate? | John Abraham

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-02-27T11:00:00Z

As with all such lists, the 300 ‘scientists’ badly lack climate expertise

If you read my articles regularly, you may have noticed multiple times I have stated that the scientific argument is over; there are no longer any reputable scientists that deny the overwhelming human influence in our climate. An open letter published last week by the anti-environmentalists proves my point.

If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: “300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement.” Wow, 300 scientists. That’s a lot right? Actually, it’s a pitiful list.

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OMG measurements of Greenland give us a glimpse of future sea rise | John Abraham

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 11:00:30 GMT2017-02-24T11:00:30Z

The Oceans Melting Greenland project is taking important measurements to determine how fast sea levels will rise

If you meet a group of climate scientists, and ask them how much sea levels will rise by say the year 2100, you will get a wide range of answers. But, those with most expertise in sea level rise will tell you perhaps 1 meter (a little over three feet). Then, they will immediately say, “but there is a lot of uncertainty on this estimate.” It doesn’t mean they aren’t certain there will be sea level rise – that is guaranteed as we add more heat in the oceans. Here, uncertainty means it could be a lot more or a little less.

Why are scientists not certain about how much the sea level will rise? Because there are processes that are occurring that have the potential for causing huge sea level rise, but we’re uncertain about how fast they will occur. Specifically, two very large sheets of ice sit atop Greenland and Antarctica. If those sheets melt, sea levels will rise hundreds of feet.

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Trump can save his presidency with a great deal to save the climate | Dana Nuccitelli

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:00:32 GMT2017-02-22T11:00:32Z

Donald Trump is a deal maker, and there’s a great deal to be made on climate change

A month into his presidency, Donald Trump already has a minus-8 job approval rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove). Congress has a minus-50 approval rating, and the Republican Party has a minus-14 favorability rating. All are facing widespread protests, marches, and public resistance. Hundreds of concerned constituents have been showing up to town hall events held by Republican Congressmen, like this one with Tom McClintock (R-CA):

This is the scene out Rep. Tom McClintock's town hall. We just made it inside after pleading with Roseville police. pic.twitter.com/13UaXMvWph

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Trump's potential science adviser William Happer: hanging around with conspiracy theorists | Graham Readfearn

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 04:14:18 GMT2017-02-21T04:14:18Z

The Princeton atomic physicist is no climate scientist – and he’s pushing the same old denier myths

William Happer is a physicist at Princeton University – one of those US academic institutions with brand recognition for academic excellence that travels the globe.

Happer is well known for his contrarian views (that’s the polite term) on human-caused climate change.

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Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:04:57 GMT2017-02-21T01:04:57Z

Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’

In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide - the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.

How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note - for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on - or impact - their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

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Expect to see more emergencies like Oroville Dam in a hotter world | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:00:35 GMT2017-02-20T11:00:35Z

Scientists predicted decades ago that climate change would add stress to water management systems like Oroville Dam

The evacuation of nearly 200,000 people near Oroville Dam is the kind of event that makes climate change personal. A co-worker of mine was forced out of his home for several days by the emergency evacuation, and another friend was visiting Lake Oroville and happened to leave 15 minutes before the evacuation order was issued.

Like many extreme events, the Oroville emergency is a combination of natural weather likely intensified by climate change. California regularly sees “atmospheric rivers” that deluge the state with rainfall, but in a hotter world, scientists anticipate that they’ll be amplified by an increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

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Deep-pocketed miners don’t like it when those with different views wield clout | Lenore Taylor

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:00:23 GMT2017-02-17T23:00:23Z

The Minerals Council seems mostly intent on using its submission to electoral donations committee to kneecap environmental groups opposed to new mines

In 2010 the mining industry’s $22m campaign against Kevin Rudd’s resources tax helped bring down a prime minister. For years it has spent huge sums on donations and advertising and lobbying to exert enormous political influence. But the deep-pocketed miners really don’t like it when those with different views find the cash and the smarts to wield some clout.

The latest squeal came this week in an appearance by the Minerals Council of Australia before the joint standing committee on electoral donations, which seems likely to reach a bipartisan consensus on banning foreign donations to political parties and other organisations that might influence the outcome of elections – including associated entities (like unions or fundraising foundations) and activist groups like GetUp.

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Afraid of the rise of a Canadian Trump? Progressive populism is the answer | Martin Lukacs

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:42:44 GMT2017-02-16T20:42:44Z

Anti-establishment sentiment is surging to a record high—the question now is who will capture and channel it.

Believe Canada is immune to Trump-like conservatism? That the country could never be swept by a right-wing populist scapegoating the vulnerable, promising to bring back jobs, and beating the drum of law-and-order? Think again. The conditions for such an eruption are on stark display.

A poll released this week reveals a stunning lack of trust in government among people in Canada—and a dramatic drop since Justin Trudeau came to power. No less than 80 percent think the Canadian elite are “out of touch” with ordinary people. 60 percent believe mainstream politicians won’t solve our problems. As in the rest of the world, it is no different here: anti-establishment and populist sentiment is surging like never before.

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Scientists study ocean absorption of human carbon pollution | John Abraham

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:00:01 GMT2017-02-16T11:00:01Z

Knowing the rate at which the oceans absorb carbon pollution is a key to understanding how fast climate change will occur

As humans burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases, those gases enter the atmosphere where they cause increases in global temperatures and climate consequences such as more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, changes to rainfall patterns, and rising seas. But for many years scientists have known that not all of the carbon dioxide we emit ends up in the atmosphere. About 40% actually gets absorbed in the ocean waters.

I like to use an analogy from everyday experience: the ocean is a little like a soda. When we shake soda, it fizzes. That fizz is the carbon dioxide coming out of the liquid (that is why sodas are called “carbonated beverages”). We’re doing the reverse process in the climate. Our carbon dioxide is actually going into the oceans.

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Five rangers die in grim month for wildlife protectors

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 16:45:03 GMT2017-02-27T16:45:03Z

Rangers lost their lives in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India

Five wildlife rangers and three other men working in wildlife protection have lost their lives in four separate countries in the past month, highlighting the numerous hazards rangers and their colleagues face in protecting the world’s wild lands and species.

“It’s a tough week when we lose eight of our ranger family; some to poachers’ bullets and some to the other dangers that come with the territory,” said Sean Willmore, founder and director of the Thin Green Line Foundation, which supports widows and children of rangers killed in the line of duty.

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EU set to ban raw ivory exports from July

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:54:05 GMT2017-02-22T14:54:05Z

Exclusive: Leaked documents indicate that the European Union is now preparing a full ban of raw ivory

The EU is set to ban raw ivory exports from 1 July as it struggles to deal with what was almost certainly another record year of ivory seizures across the continent in 2016.

Europe sells more raw and carved ivory to the world than anywhere else, feeding a seemingly insatiable appetite for elephant tusks in China and east Asia.

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Wildlife ranger killed in Zambia leaves behind seven children

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:16:45 GMT2017-02-17T15:16:45Z

Rodrick Ngulube was shot by poachers in West Petauke game management area, after rangers discovered carcasses of a warthog and zebra

At 7am on 12 February, 37-year-old wildlife ranger Rodrick Ngulube was gunned down by poachers in Zambia’s West Petauke game management area, according to reports from the country’s Game Rangers Association.

Ngulube and fellow rangers had been tracking seven poachers since the night before when the incident occurred. The slain ranger is survived by his wife and seven children.

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'What can I do to help elephants?'

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:00:00 GMT2017-02-13T13:00:00Z

Climate change, poaching, competition for food and water … elephants have never faced such threats. Here are more than 50 ways to give them a helping hand. Can you add to the list?

There is so much being done to help stop elephants being wiped out in the wild. We’ve identified more than 50 campaigns and organisations around the world, from well-known charities like the World Wide Fund for Nature to grassroots groups like Elephanatics in Canada and Laos-based ElefantAsia. If you think we’ve missed anyone or anything, let us know at elephant.conservation@theguardian.com. We’ll update the list with your suggestions.

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Ivory is not beautiful, it’s barbaric | Nicky Campbell

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:42:06 GMT2017-02-09T10:42:06Z

I grew up with a piano in my bedroom, but now the thought of ivory fills me with revulsion. The UK needs to impose a total ban on the trade of elephant tusks

What can I do to help elephants?

Growing up in our two up, two down terraced house on the Southside of Edinburgh, I shared my bedroom with a cherished family heirloom – my granny’s mini-grand. This beautiful piano had been to the other side of the world and back. It ended up taking up half my room and a whole lot of my life. I taught myself to play on it, bashing out the sevenths while pretending to be (pre-Wings) McCartney. Now I think of that piano with total revulsion. I believe anyone in the possession of ivory should feel the same. It is over. It has to be.

Look at the knife handles or antique toothpick and then think of the dead mother with her face hacked off as her tuskless, helpless one-year-old tries to nudge her back to life. Google image search is always a useful resource. I feel no differently about the thought of a gorilla-hand ashtray (yes, they are a thing in parts of the Far East) or a nice cool glass of lion bone wine (ditto). One more time: ivory is so over.

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Elephants in crisis: MPs accuse government and Europe of dragging their feet over ivory ban

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 14:29:40 GMT2017-02-08T14:29:40Z

‘This is the last chance saloon,’ say politicians and campaigners pushing for urgent action

The UK and EU, the world’s largest exporters of legal ivory, have been accused of not doing enough to save Africa’s fast disappearing elephant populations.

“This is the last chance saloon to save elephants,” said UK Labour MP Justin Madders at a meeting at Westminster Hall on Monday where more than 30 MPs on both sides of the chamber debated a public petition of 107,000 signatories calling for government to close its domestic ivory markets.

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如果你是一头大象……

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 17:26:11 GMT2017-02-07T17:26:11Z

拥有超乎人类理解范围的敏锐感官、清晰的“自我”意识、严格的母系社会……大象的世界看起来比人类的精彩得多!《化身为兽》的作者写道。(翻译:金艳/chinadialogue)

如果你一觉醒来,发现自己变成了一头大象,那会是什么画风?

首先,你会发现自己的脸上多出了一只甩来甩去的,仅有两根指头的手。这条手像生殖器一样敏感,却能推倒一堵墙或捡起一颗樱桃。你会发现,好友们纷纷用它们的“手”在你的嘴里探来探去,只是为了增进友谊。你也可以用这只手“闻”到数英里外的水源和脚下的野花。这只手可以带给你五种讯息:一,迫在眉睫的危险;二,潜在的威胁;三,食物和水;四,短期及长期的天气预报;五,愉快。

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Live Q&A: What can we do to help elephants?

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 17:05:22 GMT2017-02-06T17:05:22Z

Volunteer? Raise money? Be a citizen scientist? Join us Monday 13 Feb at 1 - 2.30pm GMT to talk about what we can all do to help elephants.

In the face of falling elephant populations around the world, it’s easy to feel a little hopeless. But in fact there are a number of things you can do to help - from volunteering to becoming a citizen scientist yourself, to supporting some of the extraordinary organisations out there.

We’ve launched a database of actions you can take to help elephants. And we’renow hosting an online discussion with elephant experts, discussing what everyone can do, and assessing areas where genuine progress is being made.

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Armed herders invade Kenya's most important wildlife conservancy

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-02-02T07:00:23Z

Nomadic herders have killed wildlife and torched buildings but questions remain over the causes of the violence

Thousands of heavily-armed herders are invading conservancies, private properties and smallholdings in Laikipia, one of Kenya’s most important wildlife areas, as they search for pasture for their cattle.

Over the past couple of weeks, about 10,000 nomadic herders, armed with automatic rifles and driving 135,000 cattle, have left a trail of destruction and chaos in the county, just three hours drive from Nairobi. The herders have indiscriminately killed wildlife – from elephants, giraffes, zebras and lions to family dogs. Residents have been injured, some seriously. At least one person has been killed, according to reports.

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Two wildlife rangers shot dead in Catalonia

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:36:08 GMT2017-01-26T13:36:08Z

Accused has ‘no memory’ of shotgun killings in Spanish olive grove

Two forest rangers have been shot dead in the Spanish region of Catalonia after approaching a hunter reportedly carrying an unlicensed shotgun.

The rangers, who worked for the region’s agriculture department, were on a routine mission on Saturday when they met a hunter in an olive grove and asked to see his firearms licence, according to Roger Cole, from the International Rangers Federation.

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How drones are helping design the solar power plants of the future

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 14:00:31 GMT2017-02-26T14:00:31Z

A cottage industry is growing around new technology for solar power developers to design, build and operate solar farms to help compete with fossil fuel power

At the edge of a plot of muddy farmland, a few miles down the road from the University of California at Davis, an engineer takes a few quick steps across crop rows and lets go of a three-foot drone. Within seconds, the device – which weighs less than 2lbs and carries a powerful camera – ascends hundreds of feet into the cold, clear, blue sky and begins to snap detailed photos of the ground far below, including a long row of large solar panels mounted on steel poles.

This flight is just a test, demonstrated by Kingsley Chen, the drone fleet coordinator for SunPower at the solar company’s research and development center, which is under construction and about a two-hour drive northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area. The drone will enable SunPower to survey a wide region and help design a solar power farm that can fit more solar panels on a piece of land, more quickly and for lower costs than it previously could.

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Morning Routines – the making of long-distance runner Scott Jurek – video

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 17:11:15 GMT2016-12-13T17:11:15Z

What ingredients are required to make an ultramarathon runner? In Boulder, Colorado, Scott Jurek has concocted quite the recipe that has kept him going the distance for the past two decades. He runs anywhere between 50 miles to over 150 miles, and in his lifetime has won over 20 ultramarathons, smashing records along the way. His passion for running kickstarted his morning regimen in 1997, when he cut out meat completely. In 1999, he transitioned to a plant-based diet, which has since fueled his long-distance running career. On an average day, Scott runs about 10 miles, and this is typically before the sun rises over the beautiful Boulder Flatirons.

What we do when we wake up in the morning sets the tone for our days and ultimately shapes our lives. In this new series, we take a look at how the hyper-successful among us have leveraged rituals to create the trajectories they want.

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Raising the steaks: the Seattle startup crowdfunding sustainable beef

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:54:39 GMT2017-02-21T17:54:39Z

Crowd Cow works directly with ranchers across the US, cutting out the middleman and giving farmers an alternative to selling calves to factory farms

If crowdsourcing makes you think of fundraising campaigns for smartwatches and wine coolers rather than sustainable food, you’re not alone. But a new Seattle-based startup called Crowd Cow is hoping to change that.

Crowd Cow works like most crowdfunding campaigns. Every few days, the company hosts an “event” on its website featuring cows from one of the seven beef ranchers it works with on the west coast. There are photos and videos of the ranch itself, to give people a better understanding of the farmers and the cows on the ranch. Customers can then select cuts of beef they wish to buy from the ranch. Once enough beef has been purchased, the cow “tips” – and customers become “steakholders” in the cow. “Steakholders” then receive their beef (frozen in dry ice) in as little as a few days. If the cow doesn’t tip, there is no charge. But most Crowd Cow cows tip within one or two days.

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Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue and millions of jobs

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:39:10 GMT2017-01-19T14:39:10Z

Though recreation on public lands creates $646bn in economic stimulus and 6.1m jobs, Republicans are setting in motion a giveaway of Americans’ birthright

In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn each year in economic stimulus from recreation on public lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

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The beauty industry now has its own green 'seal of approval'

Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:00:15 GMT2015-11-30T14:00:15Z

Environmental Working Group has launched EWG Verified, a label that will help consumers spot products that meet stringent ingredient and transparency requirements

It may soon be easier for shoppers to find beauty products without toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group nonprofit launched a new label this month called EWG Verified, which certifies personal care products as free from chemicals of concern.

The program is an extension of the group’s work with the Skin Deep database, which for more than a decade now has given tens of millions of visitors information on the chemical contents and relative safety of their favorite cosmetics and shampoos.

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Samsung and Greenpeace: what you need to know about e-waste

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-03-01T06:00:00Z

Greenpeace claims Samsung has 4.3m smartphones to dispose of after its Galaxy Note 7 recall. What’s the responsible way to recycle them?

At the smartphone world’s annual shindig in Barcelona, there are some things the tech giants have been trying to get people talking about – the relaunch of the Nokia 3310, BlackBerry’s new fingerprint scanner, Samsung’s virtual reality headset.

But there’s another, less glamorous story that they haven’t been so keen to promote. And that concerns the fate of their gadgets when consumers have finished with them.

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Amid California’s historic drought, ancient sequoias show signs of stress

Sat, 05 Sep 2015 12:00:00 GMT2015-09-05T12:00:00Z

California’s giant trees are showing unprecedented die-back, and land managers who are already battling drought, warming and fire are racing to save them

Last September, US Geological Survey ecologist Nate Stephenson hiked into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest to look for dying seedlings. California was suffering through its third year of severe drought, and trees were dying in the park in greater numbers than usual. The roadside leading up to Giant Forest was pincushioned with trees faded brown – dead oaks, sugar pine, fir, incense cedar. But the forest’s namesake trees, which are among the world’s oldest and largest, were faring better. They’re tough – they have to be to live for thousands of years – and tend to grow in the wettest parts of the landscape.

Related: World view: free climbing a giant redwood, Eureka, northern California, US

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Apps and maps: 6 ways companies can cut their water footprints

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:17:32 GMT2016-09-22T12:17:32Z

Our expert panel highlights six ways to ensure companies put water at the heart of their operations

Food, clothing, electrical goods, energy – everything we consume has a hidden water footprint. So how can businesses cut water consumption and reduce the footprints of their products?

We brought together six experts to debate the question. Here’s what we learned.

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How a student's death highlighted our reliance on companies for health advice

Sun, 12 Jun 2016 07:00:17 GMT2016-06-12T07:00:17Z

The death of Wei Zei, a student seeking cancer cures online, raises questions about the responsibility of tech companies for the health data they provide

China’s equivalent of Google is under fire. Search engine Baidu has been criticised following the death of 21-year-old student Wei Zai, who used the search engine to research esoteric treatments for his cancer.

After Wei Zai’s death, the state-run People’s Daily attacked Baidu, claiming it was ranking search results in exchange for money. “There have been hospitals making profits at the cost of killing patients who were directed by false advertisements paid at a higher rank in search results,” the article claimed, adding, “profit considerations shall not be placed over social responsibility”.

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Topshop owner worth £4.3bn; store cleaners say wages don’t cover rent and food

Thu, 24 Mar 2016 12:45:27 GMT2016-03-24T12:45:27Z

As contracted cleaners demand fairer pay, fashion chain removes document supporting living wage from website after Guardian inquiry

For the past six and a half years, Susana has cleaned Topshop’s flagship store for a living. For the past hour, the Ecuadorian single mother of three has been pouring out stories of low pay, bullying and excessive workloads in breathless Spanish. The words flow effortlessly until she starts to talk about the seven months she had to take off work for stress and anxiety. At that point her pace slows and her voice breaks as she tries to hold back tears.

It happened in 2011, after she says her manager at Britannia Services Group – the company contracted to clean Topshop’s Oxford Street branch – kicked a bucket at her in the store. Speaking to the Guardian through a translator, she says: “That was the final straw. I was depressed and humiliated.” She was admitted to hospital for stress.

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Behind the label: can we trust certification to give us fairer products?

Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:00:09 GMT2016-03-10T06:00:09Z

It began with Fairtrade. Almost 30 years later, with hundreds of different certifications is it time to question what they all do and who benefits?

In 1988, the first Fairtrade label, Max Havelaar, was applied to packs of Mexican coffee sold in Dutch supermarkets. At the time, using a product label to say something about standards in a supply chain was revolutionary, but today it is routine. The Ecolabel Index currently lists 463 certifications in 199 countries.

On the face of it, certifications on everything from fish to timber can be seen as progress, promising higher standards and transparency in the pursuit of sustainability. But what purpose are the certification labels actually serving? Can we assume that they are beneficial to producers? Do consumers understand what’s behind a certification label, and does it even matter if they do? These were some of the questions asked at a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the Guardian and supported by Mondelēz International.

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Greener pastures: the dairy farmers committed to sustainability

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 23:41:20 GMT2016-09-22T23:41:20Z

Biological farming, conservation planning and water recycling are part of a concerted push to make the milk industry more ‘carbon confident’

It was a soil bacteria course in New Zealand that convinced Reggie Davis to change his farming methods.

The fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmer had become increasingly concerned by the costs, chemicals and time involved in the use of nitrate fertilisers to maintain – what was considered to be – high-quality pasture for his dairy herd.

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Have we reached the tipping point for investing in renewable energy?

Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:00:07 GMT2016-02-13T15:00:07Z

As oil prices bottom out and fossil fuels no longer offer strong returns, investment dollars are starting to move to renewable energy

Divestment – the decision to voluntarily reduce one’s fossil fuel investments – has been a hot button topic of discussion since 2011, when university students began calling on their institutions to remove fossil fuels from their portfolios. Divestment arguments have often focused on the morality of investments, but the economic value of divestment has recently become hard to ignore.

In January, portfolio planner Advisor Partners reported that, between 2014 and 2015, New York City’s biggest pension fund lost $135m because of its fossil fuel holdings. And, earlier this month, Market Forces, an activist group that works in environmental finance, reported that fossil fuel investments cost 15 of Australia’s top funds an estimated $5.6bn. On average, this cost each member of these funds $1,109.

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Can solar cookstoves help reduce greenhouse emissions in developing countries?

Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:58:08 GMT2015-10-30T17:58:08Z

An Ohio startup is disrupting the clean cookstove industry with the introduction of a solar powered cookstove - but not everyone is convinced

Since Hillary Clinton announced the creation of a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in 2010, the public-private partnership has helped raise more than $400m for cleaner stoves and cooking fuels, enlisted more than 1,300 partners and, by its own accounting, helped drive about 28m cookstoves into the world’s poorest countries.

The vast majority of those cleaner cooking devices are powered by biomass – wood, charcoal, dung and agricultural waste. Millions more are powered by cleaner fuels like liquid propane gas (LPG), ethanol and electricity. At most, the alliance reported, 2% of the stoves distributed in 2013 relied on solar power, the cleanest fuel of all.

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Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:51:11 GMT2017-02-24T14:51:11Z

Climatologists say Labrador Sea could cool within a decade before end of this century, leading to unprecedented disruption, reports Climate News Network

For thousands of years, parts of northwest Europe have enjoyed a climate about 5C warmer than many other regions on the same latitude. But new scientific analysis suggests that that could change much sooner and much faster than thought possible.

Climatologists who have looked again at the possibility of major climate change in and around the Atlantic Ocean, a persistent puzzle to researchers, now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.

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Apocalypse hedgehog: the fight to save Britain's favourite mammal

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 15:30:07 GMT2017-03-01T15:30:07Z

The much-loved creature of the suburban garden is in rapid decline – with new builds, roads and badgers to blame. Can we prevent their extinction?Hit by a car. Savaged by a dog. Slashed by a strimmer. Burnt in a bonfire. Tangled in garden netting. Poisoned by slug pellets. Caught in a postman’s discarded rubber bands. Head stuck in a tin can. Tricked out of hibernation by increasingly unpredictable winter weather. Modern life, governed by humans, designs a multitude of ingenious ways for a hedgehog to die. It is no wonder that this treasured animal, a suburban garden fixture, which consistently tops favourite-species polls and is the source of many people’s first close encounter with a wild creature, is vanishing from Britain.This disappearance is rapid, and recent. A survey of more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine in February found that 51% of gardeners didn’t see a hedgehog at all last year, up from 48% in 2015. Barely one in 10 saw a hedgehog regularly. Scientific studies are unequivocal. Britain’s hedgehog population was calculated to be 1.55 million in 1995. Since the turn of the century it has declined by a third in urban areas and up to 75% in the countryside. A survey based on roadkill calculates that hedgehogs are declining by 3% each year. This exceeds the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list criteria, which identifies species at greatest conservation risk. Why are we obliterating hedgehogs? Will they become extinct? Or can we save them? Continue reading...[...]


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How have you been affected by air pollution?

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:00:01 GMT2017-03-01T17:00:01Z

If you are campaigning against high levels of toxic air or planning to relocate because of it, we’d like to hear from you

There are 802 educational institutions in London where pupils as young as three are being exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The schools, nurseries and colleges are within 150 metres of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels that exceed the EU legal limit of 40µg/m3 (40 micrograms per cubic metre of air), putting tens of thousands of children at risk from lifelong health problems.

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Syngenta photography award 2016-17 exhibition – in pictures

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:03 GMT2017-03-01T09:00:03Z

This year’s theme is Grow-Conserve and entries will be on show in Somerset House, London, from 9 to 28 March. Winners will be announced on 8 March

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Biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end of century

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:37:54 GMT2017-02-25T20:37:54Z

Scientists at Vatican conference are searching for a solution to the manmade ‘major extinction event’

One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere.

“The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week.

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Fukushima nuclear reactor radiation at highest level since 2011 meltdown

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 10:19:34 GMT2017-02-03T10:19:34Z

Extraordinary readings pile pressure on operator Tepco in its efforts to decommission nuclear power station

Extremely high radiation levels have been recorded inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown.

The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011.

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British people unaware of pollution levels in the air they breathe – study

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:01:42 GMT2017-03-01T00:01:42Z

‘Citizen science’ project launched as FoE survey indicates population outside London overestimates air quality

People across the UK are underestimating the impact of the air pollution crisis in their local areas, according to a new survey.

Almost two thirds of respondents said they were concerned about the issue of air pollution, but only one in 10 said they thought the air they breathe is bad.

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Keep it in the ground: Shell's 1991 film warning of climate change danger uncovered

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:04:51 GMT2017-03-01T16:04:51Z


Public information film unseen for years shows Shell had clear grasp of global warming 26 years ago but has not acted accordingly since, say critics

More than a quarter of a century ago, oil giant Shell made an extraordinary public film about the dangers of global warming, called Climate of Concern, which has just been rediscovered. The film, says one leading climate scientist, is one of the best he has ever seen: the science is sharp, the predictions uncannily accurate and the suggested solutions smart. The film even had an urgent message: “Action now is seen as the only safe insurance.”

Yet Shell has spent the 26 years since investing many billions in highly polluting tar sands and helping to lobby against climate action. As Bill McKibben told me: “Imagine if Shell had taken their own advice and we’d spent the last quarter century in all-out pursuit of renewables, energy efficiency, and conservation. We wouldn’t have solved the problem of global warming, but we’d be well on the way. Shell made a big difference in the world – a difference for the worse.”

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End UK tax incentives for diesel vehicles, ministers are urged

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:26:14 GMT2017-02-26T15:26:14Z

Campaigners write to chancellor to urge him to end tax breaks and bring in scheme to encourage switch to greener cars

Ministers are coming under growing pressure to remove tax incentives for diesel cars and offer compensation to motorists so they can swap to more environmentally friendly vehicles.

A group of medical professionals, environmental campaigners and lawyers has written to the chancellor ahead of the budget to demand a change to the vehicle excise duty that they say subsidises diesel cars.

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Simplicity and symbolism in flowers and poems

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:30:48 GMT2017-03-01T05:30:48Z

Wenlock Edge Daisy – daes eage, day’s-eye – a wonderfully simple poetry that has become a complicated symbolic chain-link of love, innocence and death

Hazel catkins are limp, in a still brightness they hang fire, waiting. After the thrashing they got from Storm Doris it’s a wonder they survived, let alone have any pollen left, but from woods and hedges, unimpeded by leaves, the magic dust cloud drifts for wider fertilisation. The pollen record found in peat bogs shows an expansion of hazel during the Mesolithic, 11,000 – 6,000 years ago and the speculation is that travelling people transported hazel nuts, so that now, catkins dangle from here to the Caucasus and Algeria.

Related: Country diary: Wenlock Edge: The lesser celandine, the voice of spring

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:45:41 GMT2017-02-24T16:45:41Z

A jaguar killing an anteater, a green tree python and the winner of the underwater photographer of the year are among this week’s images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:47:54 GMT2017-02-17T17:47:54Z

Sea turtles laying eggs, buffalo and a swan lake are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:00:02 GMT2017-02-10T14:00:02Z

A tiger family drinking at the watering hole, a nightingale and a snake that plays dead are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:09:38 GMT2017-02-03T14:09:38Z

An otter family, a diving kingfisher and the Amazon coral reef are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 14:00:27 GMT2017-01-27T14:00:27Z

A baboon squaring up to a leopard, white-tailed eagles, and a cauliflower jellyfish are among this week’s pick of animals from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:00:08 GMT2017-01-20T14:00:08Z

Hugging deer, feeding green turtles and a Konik foal are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:19 GMT2017-01-13T14:00:19Z

Fighting meerkats, a posing leopard and rescued turtles are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:00:20 GMT2017-01-06T14:00:20Z

A swimming baby elephant, diving penguins and jumping impalas are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 14:00:18 GMT2016-12-23T14:00:18Z

Fruit bats, a nosy kangaroo and the last male northern white rhino are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 14:00:02 GMT2016-12-16T14:00:02Z

Feeding Bryde’s whales, fighting seals and a Harry Potter spider are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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