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Environment | The Guardian



Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.



Published: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 02:34:30 GMT2017-08-23T02:34:30Z

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



Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:00:19 GMT2017-08-18T09:00:19Z

The small Louisiana town of Cameron could be the first in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels – and yet locals, 90% of whom voted for Trump, still aren’t convinced about climate change

In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, according to the newly published calculations of the Louisiana government. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.

As a result, Cameron, the principal town in this 6,800-person parish (as counties are called in Louisiana), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So it’s here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.

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Poison once flowed in America's waters. With Trump, it might again | Peter Gleick

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:00:39 GMT2017-08-14T10:00:39Z

Over the past four decades, a huge amount of effort has gone into cleaning America’s heavily polluted waters. Is all of that progress about to be undone?

  • Peter Gleick is a member of the US National Academy of Science and the president-emeritus of Pacific Institute

As a scientist working for decades on national and global water and climate challenges, I must speak out against what I see as an assault on America’s water resources.

I grew up in New York in the 1960s hearing about massive Polychlorinated Biphenyl – a toxic chemical used as a coolant – contamination in the Hudson River and the threatened extinction of bald eagles and ospreys from eating contaminated fish.

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Radical millennials are a climate force to be reckoned with | Geoff Dembicki

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 10:00:10 GMT2017-08-13T10:00:10Z

The window for hope is closing rapidly for the planet. But young activists are demonstrating their power at the ballot box to push for a different future

  • Geoff Dembicki is the author of Are We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change

If progressives can’t take back control of the White House and Congress from climate change deniers in the next three years, it’s conceivable that humankind could be screwed. But evidence is mounting that a new political force is up to the task. It has millions of potential supporters across the US, the UK and Canada. It’s openly critical of capitalism. And it’s led by millennials such as Moumita Ahmed.

The 25-year-old activist is intimately aware of what’s at stake. She grew up in Queens, New York, and rose to prominence during the 2016 Democratic primaries as co-founder of a group now known as Millennials for Revolution.

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Silicon Valley billionaire loses bid to prevent access to public beach

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:39:41 GMT2017-08-10T21:39:41Z

Court decision is blow to Vinod Khosla and other wealthy landowners seeking to buy renowned beaches, making public land private

A California court has ordered a Silicon Valley billionaire to restore access to a beloved beach that he closed off for his private use, a major victory for public lands advocates who have been fighting the venture capitalist for years.

An appeals court ruled on Thursday that Vinod Khosla, who runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and co-founded the tech company Sun Microsystems, must unlock the gates to Martins Beach in northern California by his property.

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New Orleans at risk of further floods after fire cuts power to pumps

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:16:52 GMT2017-08-10T18:16:52Z

  • Mitch Landrieu says: ‘We are at risk if we have a massive rain event’
  • Fire at power station on Thursday reduces city’s ability to drain stormwater

With heavy rains forecast for Thursday, New Orleans is in a “vulnerable position” following a fire at one of the power stations that runs the city’s flood-control water pumps, its mayor has said.

“We are at risk if we have a massive rain event,” Mitch Landrieu said at an emergency 3am press conference on Thursday.

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Alaskan towns at risk from rising seas sound alarm as Trump pulls federal help

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 09:00:33 GMT2017-08-10T09:00:33Z

Communities in danger of falling into the sea say assistance from Washington has dried up: ‘It feels like a complete abdication of responsibility on climate change’

The US government’s withdrawal from dealing with, or even acknowledging, climate change may have provoked widespread opprobrium, but for Alaskan communities at risk of toppling into the sea, the risks are rather more personal.

The Trump administration has moved to dismantle climate adaptation programs including the Denali Commission, an Anchorage-based agency that is crafting a plan to safeguard or relocate dozens of towns at risk from rising sea levels, storms and the winnowing away of sea ice.

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Paris climate deal: US tells diplomats to dodge foreign officials' questions

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 20:07:29 GMT2017-08-08T20:07:29Z

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson directs staff to make clear US wants to help other countries use fossil fuels, diplomatic cable shows

US diplomats should sidestep questions from foreign governments on what it would take for the Trump administration to re-engage in the global Paris climate agreement, according to a diplomatic cable seen by Reuters.

The cable, sent by the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to embassies on Friday, also said diplomats should make clear the United States wants to help other countries use fossil fuels.

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The Trump administration's solution to climate change: ban the term | Bill McKibben

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 09:00:35 GMT2017-08-08T09:00:35Z

The US Department of Agriculture has forbidden the use of the words ‘climate change’. This say-no-evil policy is doomed to fail

In a bold new strategy unveiled on Monday in the Guardian, the US Department of Agriculture – guardians of the planet’s richest farmlands – has decided to combat the threat of global warming by forbidding the use of the words.

Under guidance from the agency’s director of soil health, Bianca Moebius-Clune, a list of phrases to be avoided includes “climate change” and “climate change adaptation”, to be replaced by “weather extremes” and “resilience to weather extremes”.

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US federal department is censoring use of term 'climate change', emails reveal

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 15:43:08 GMT2017-08-07T15:43:08Z

Exclusive: series of emails show staff at Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service advised to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead

Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.

A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.

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EPA backs off delay for smog-causing emissions reduction after being sued

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 14:12:40 GMT2017-08-03T14:12:40Z

Scott Pruitt claims change is testament to responsiveness but makes no mention of legal challenge over Obama-era rules to lessen ground-level ozone

One day after getting sued by 15 states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief, Scott Pruitt, reversed his decision to delay implementation of Obama-era rules reducing emissions of smog-causing air pollutants.

Pruitt presented the change as his agency being more responsive than past administrations to the needs of state environmental regulators. He made no mention of the legal challenge filed against his prior position in a federal appeals court.

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Sam Clovis: Trump's pick for top science job called progressives 'race traitors'

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:39:15 GMT2017-08-02T20:39:15Z

Donald Trump’s nominee to be the department of agriculture’s lead scientist used to run a blog that also likened Obama to a ‘communist’ and ‘dictator’

Sam Clovis, who has been nominated by Donald Trump to be the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) top scientist, previously ran a blog where he called progressives “race traders and race ‘traitors’” and likened Barack Obama to a “communist” and a “dictator”.

Clovis, previously a college professor and radio talkshow host in Iowa, wrote the blog for his show Impact with Clovis. The website has been taken down but is archived.

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Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 15:00:01 GMT2017-07-31T15:00:01Z

Researchers find that economic, emissions and population trends point to very small chance Earth will avoid warming more than 2C by century’s end

There is only a 5% chance that the Earth will avoid warming by at least 2C come the end of the century, according to new research that paints a sobering picture of the international effort to stem dangerous climate change.

Related: Bill Nye: 'You can shoot the messenger but climate is still changing'

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Pittsburgh officials may have 'deflected' attention from lead-contaminated water

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 17:43:32 GMT2017-07-25T17:43:32Z

According to a report obtained by the Guardian, health officials in Pittsburgh have downplayed the dangers of lead contamination discovered in local water

Health officials in a major American city downplayed dangers of lead contamination in water even as officials connected to the Flint, Michigan crisis faced a criminal investigation, according to a report obtained by the Guardian.

Related: Philadelphia water department faces class action lawsuit over water testing

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Trump proposes scrapping Obama-era fracking rule on water pollution

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 11:31:59 GMT2017-07-25T11:31:59Z

Bureau of Land Management says it is moving to discard 2015 regulation as it duplicates state rules and ‘imposes unjustified costs’ on oil and gas industry

The Trump administration has proposed scrapping an Obama-era rule that aimed to ensure fracking for oil and gas does not pollute water supplies.

Related: Pennsylvania nuns oppose fracking gas pipeline through 'holy' land

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New Jersey's biggest shark catch: fishing crew reels in 12ft, 926lb mako

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 21:15:30 GMT2017-07-24T21:15:30Z

  • Crew was fishing 100 miles off coast in area known as Hudson Canyon
  • ‘Kevin’s passion and persistence has paid off today for a fish of a lifetime’

A fishing crew in New Jersey has reeled in a 12ft, 926lb shortfin mako shark, which officials say is the biggest shark catch in the history of the state.

Related: Viewers angry after Michael Phelps loses race to computer-generated shark

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Viewers angry after Michael Phelps loses race to computer-generated shark

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:18:21 GMT2017-07-24T15:18:21Z

  • Olympic great loses by two seconds in man v (fake) beast contest
  • Phelps calls for rematch in warmer contest after defeat

Not for the first time in Earth’s history, humans have been found wanting.

Mankind’s latest setback came on Sunday after one of the greatest Olympians ever, Michael Phelps, lost a 100m swimming race to a great white shark. To add to the ignominy, the shark wasn’t even real.

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Bernie Sanders and Al Gore on solving the climate crisis

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:00:33 GMT2017-07-24T10:00:33Z

In this excerpt from The Bernie Sanders Show, Sanders talks to Gore about his new film, An Inconvenient Sequel

In this episode of the Bernie Sanders Show, Sanders talks to Al Gore about his new film, An Inconvenient Sequel. Below is an abridged transcript of their conversation.

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Snooty, world's oldest known manatee, dies aged 69 in 'heartbreaking accident'

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 19:59:23 GMT2017-07-23T19:59:23Z

  • Snooty reportedly got stuck in a maintenance hatch at South Florida Museum
  • Museum says: ‘A lot of people loved that manatee. We loved him too’

Snooty, the world’s oldest known manatee, died on Sunday at his Florida home, a day after celebrating his 69th birthday.

In a statement, South Florida Museum chief executive Brynne Anne Besio said Snooty’s death appeared to be “a heartbreaking accident” and added that staff were “devastated”.

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Lawsuit aims to force EPA to crack down on air polluters in Texas

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:00:22 GMT2017-07-20T14:00:22Z

Environmental groups accuse agency of turning blind eye as Texas ‘renders useless’ pollution controls by issuing lax permits for oil and gas facilities

Campaign groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to force it to clamp down on industrial air pollution in Texas.

Related: Texas companies penalized in less than 3% of illegal air pollution cases – report

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Late-night hosts on US healthcare: 'Hard to overstate the level of failure'

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:32:33 GMT2017-07-19T15:32:33Z

Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers discussed the failure of the Republican healthcare plan and rollback of environmental regulations

Late-night hosts addressed the GOP healthcare bill on Tuesday night, which collapsed after four Republican senators came out in opposition to it.

“Trumpcare is no more,” Trevor Noah of Comedy Central began. “I don’t know why we’re surprised. We all knew the words Trump and care were never destined to be together.”

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Trump's decision to allow plastic bottle sales in national parks condemned

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 19:25:49 GMT2017-08-20T19:25:49Z

Reversal of ban shows ‘corporate agenda is king and people and environment are left behind’, say campaigners

The Trump administration’s decision to reverse a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles in some of America’s most famous national parks, including the Grand Canyon, shows “the corporate agenda is king and people and the environment are left behind”, campaigners have said.

Related: Day of doom for national monuments is approaching

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Trump's day of doom for national monuments approaches

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:13:33 GMT2017-08-20T17:13:33Z

Created by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument protects Oregon’s extraordinary biodiversity, from butterflies to trout. But a Trump review threatens to open the landscape to the timber industry

Dave Willis, a grizzled woodsman and backcountry outfitter, has spent decades laboring to protect the mountains of south-western Oregon, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse regions in the country.

Through grassroots activism, Willis and his conservationist allies have won the support of two US presidents. In 2000, Bill Clinton created the roughly 52,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou national monument, proclaiming it an “ecological wonderland”. Located just outside of Ashland, it was the first such monument established solely for its extraordinary species diversity. It’s a place that harbors rare lilies and endemic trout, Pacific fishers and goshawks, black bears and a stunning array of butterflies.

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Trump plan could open Giant Sequoia monument to logging

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 09:00:37 GMT2017-07-26T09:00:37Z

As the Trump administration continues to roll back protections on public lands, timber industry advocates are pushing to reduce federal defenses for California’s giant trees

For the largest living things standing on the planet, California’s giant sequoias have an unassuming, almost gentle aura to them. The recognizable cinnamon-colored bark is soft and fibrous. Its cones are modest. When cut down, the trees tend to shatter and won’t produce reliably sturdy timber.

These majestic plants have a lineage stretching back to the Jurassic period, but fears over their future have prompted a somewhat counterintuitive plan presented to the Trump administration – in order to save the giant sequoias, some say, their surrounding area must be stripped of protected status.

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In the Grand Canyon, uranium mining threatens a tribe's survival

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 06:00:43 GMT2017-07-17T06:00:43Z

The Havasupai are attempting to fight back against the operation of a uranium mine that they say could contaminate their sole water source

Ed Tilousi knelt down next to the crystal-clear turquoise creek. The only sounds were the gurgling of the current and the sawing of cicadas in a pecan nut tree as the hot sun made the red rock canyon walls towering above him glow.

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'More valuable than gold': Yellowstone businesses prepare to fight mining

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 11:00:20 GMT2017-07-16T11:00:20Z

Around Yellowstone national park, mining companies anticipate the end of the Obama-era moratorium, but local businesses are fighting back

Bruce Gordon’s Cessna Centurion floats off the runway south of Livingston, Montana, quickly escaping the confines of Paradise Valley, walled on both sides by the Absaroka and Gallatin mountain ranges. Snaking through the alfalfa fields, cottonwood thickets and ranches below, the Yellowstone river is still surging with late spring snowmelt.

As soon as we crest the ridges, the whole of Yellowstone national park is visible to the south, with Grand Teton towering on the far horizon. Places that would take hours to drive between – because of impassable mountains and roadless wilderness – are revealed to be only a handful of miles apart. The nearly 1m acres of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is spread out to the east, teeming with unseen elk herds, mountain lions and grizzly bears. Gordon, who runs the nonprofit EcoFlight, based in Aspen, Colorado, pilots flights like this one to help people understand conservation issues with a view from above. “We’re coming up on Emigrant Gulch now,” Joe Josephson, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, says over the intercom as we fly over the green-roofed buildings of Chico Hot Springs resort, skirting the conical 10,915ft Emigrant Peak. Josephson, an avid mountaineer who recently summited Emigrant Peak to celebrate his 50th birthday, is the Montana Conservation Associate for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a nonprofit devoted to defending the 20m-acre Yellowstone ecosystem from degradation.

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'Escape from a crazy world': why people value America's public lands

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 14:36:29 GMT2017-07-07T14:36:29Z

We asked readers to share their experiences and memories from the public lands of America that are, for now, preserved for all Americans

The outlook for America’s public lands is shifting, with Congress looking to transfer large swaths of federal land over to states in a move that could diminish access and result in a sell-off to private interests. President Trump has also ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to consider resizing 27 national monuments, the public comment period for which closes Monday.

Related: Campaign against Trump’s threat to US national monuments gathers pace

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Campaign against Trump’s threat to US national monuments gathers pace

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:08:23 GMT2017-07-07T13:08:23Z

Activists are ramping up efforts to raise awareness of the US president’s order, which puts 27 US parks at risk of losing their protected status
US national monuments – in pictures

Imagine staring across the Utah wilderness at those famous towering mesas and buttes. Now imagine a line of oil derricks in the middle of it. It’s an apocalyptic vision of an American landscape given over to the energy industry, and one that campaigners fear could become a reality.

A total of 27 parks in the US known as national monuments – which together account for more than 11 million acres of protected land in 11 mostly western states – are at risk of being reduced in size or losing their designation altogether following an unprecedented presidential order issued in April. Americans have until Monday to voice their opinions before the Interior Department makes its recommendations.

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Creationist uses Trump order to get permission to take rocks from Grand Canyon

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 10:30:40 GMT2017-07-07T10:30:40Z

Geologist Andrew Snelling sued US Department of the Interior when it initially turned down his plan to prove the Bible’s great flood story is true

An Australian geologist who is trying to prove the existence of the biblical great flood will be allowed to collect rock samples from the Grand Canyon.

Andrew Snelling was awarded a PhD by the University of Sydney in 1982 and is the director of research at Answers in Genesis, a Christian science group that believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible.

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Vintage images of public lands in the US in color – in pictures

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 09:00:08 GMT2017-07-03T09:00:08Z

The late 1800s showcased the beauty of America’s public lands in color for the first time. A photographic technique called photochrom was developed, which allowed color to be introduced on to black and white negatives. The process was used extensively by William Henry Jackson, whose early pictures of Yellowstone helped convince Congress to make it the first national park in 1872. Here is a selection of the collection held by the Library of Congress

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'Nebraska is the last hope to stop the Keystone XL pipeline' – video

Thu, 04 May 2017 07:09:09 GMT2017-05-04T07:09:09Z

After Trump’s revival of the Keystone XL pipeline project, some communities along its route are getting ready to fight back. Others see the US president keeping his promise to ‘make America great again’. The Guardian drove along the proposed route of the pipeline, through three red states – Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska – to hear what those who will be affected have to say about it

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Keystone XL: the final leg and the myth of Trump's job promise

Thu, 04 May 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-05-04T07:00:02Z

Part three: The Guardian’s pipeline road trip ends in Nebraska, where Trump has sold the project as a creator of ‘a lot of jobs’, but facts don’t support his claims

“Nebraska is the last hope for stopping this,” says Art Tanderup, sitting on the lawn close to the solar panels that provide most of the energy to his farm. Spring comes a little earlier here than in South Dakota and Montana. The 2ft deep snow drifts that had blanketed the farmland melted a month ago, revealing acres of harvested corn stubble that is now being readied for replanting.

Related: Support the Guardian's climate change reporting: make a contribution now

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Keystone pipeline defiance triggers further assault on citizens' rights

Wed, 03 May 2017 11:00:29 GMT2017-05-03T11:00:29Z

Part two: In South Dakota, a law could ban protests amid opposition from Republican ranchers, as many fear a ‘serious threat’ to water

Bret Clanton might not belong to the most obvious group of opponents to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. But when a survey crew from TransCanada arrived on his property eight years ago, the rancher and registered Republican – worried they were cattle thieves – says he called the sheriff’s department, and marched out to confront them.

He says the encounter changed his life, and set up a battle that would come to dominate his existence.

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Keystone XL: Republican ranchers join the fightback in South Dakota – video

Wed, 03 May 2017 11:00:29 GMT2017-05-03T11:00:29Z

After Trump’s revival of the Keystone XL pipeline project, some communities along its route are getting ready to fight back. Others see the US president keeping his promise to ‘make America great again’. The Guardian drove along the proposed route of the pipeline, through three red states – Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska – to hear what those who will be affected have to say about it

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Keystone XL: fear and enthusiasm fill the plains of eastern Montana – video

Tue, 02 May 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-05-02T07:00:21Z

After Trump’s revival of the pipeline project, some communities along its route are preparing to fight back while others see a promise kept by the US president to ‘make America great again’. The Guardian drove along the proposed route of the pipeline through three red states – Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska – to hear what those who will be affected have to say about it

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Nebraska to become battleground over fate of Keystone XL pipeline project

Tue, 02 May 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-05-02T07:00:21Z

Landowners and activists expected to descend on town of York on Wednesday for first public meeting on proposed construction after Trump revived it

More than 100 landowners and environmental activists are expected to descend on the town of York, Nebraska, on Wednesday to voice opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline as the state holds its first public meeting on the proposed construction since the Trump administration revived it.

Related: How Keystone XL, the pipeline rejected by Obama, went ahead under Trump

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Life on the Keystone XL route: where opponents fear the ‘black snake’

Tue, 02 May 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-05-02T07:00:21Z

Part one: In Montana, Native Americans fear a leak could destroy their way of life, but local politicians worry about the threat of protesters above all else

“Our people call it the black snake because it is evil,” says Tressa Welch, as thunder clouds steamroll the blue sky over the plains of Wolf Point. “And like snakes they come out of nowhere; they slither and strike unknown.”

Related: Nebraska to become battleground over fate of Keystone XL pipeline project

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Trump hails ‘most successful first 100 days in history’ – video

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 13:52:53 GMT2017-04-29T13:52:53Z

The US president gives his weekly address as he reaches 100 days in office, which he says have been the most successful in history. He refers to job creation in the automotive industry, the Dakota pipeline and the appointment of Neil Gorsuch as a supreme court judge as some of his most important achievements

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How Keystone XL, the pipeline rejected by Obama, went ahead under Trump

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:03:57 GMT2017-03-24T14:03:57Z

The expansion, which was originally proposed in 2008 and faced strong protest from environmental advocates, secures permit to start building from Trump

2008

TransCanada proposes expanding an existing pipeline to transport oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas, to transfer Canadian tar sands oil to US refineries. It was scheduled to be completed by 2013.

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Keystone XL: Trump issues permit to begin construction of pipeline

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:31:37 GMT2017-03-24T12:31:37Z

President ushers in ‘new era of American energy policy’ Friday as environmental activists denounce revived oil pipeline as a ‘disaster for the planet’

Donald Trump announced a “new era of American energy policy” as he signed the presidential permit allowing TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It’s going to be an incredible pipeline. Greatest technology known to man. Or woman. And frankly, we’re very proud of it,” said Trump in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

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BHP’s shale sale could happen: this is not a drill

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-08-20T06:00:35Z

The mining giant will give a critical results presentation this week, with activist investors lobbying impatiently for divestments

It has been a turbulent few years for BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining and petroleum company.

First came the Samarco tragedy in Brazil, when the collapse of a dam at its iron ore mine unleashed a flood and killed 19 people. The company is still facing the prospect of criminal charges and a potential $47bn settlement over the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history.

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The eco guide to Electric Vehicle hype

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 05:00:34 GMT2017-08-20T05:00:34Z

Don’t get spooked by the pro-fossil fuel lobby: when we abandon petrol and diesel, our whole world is going to change

When it comes to cars, I had a bit of luck this summer. No, I wasn’t loaned the new Tesla Model 3. My street underwent a pavement improvement scheme. All the parking bays were suspended and minicabs no longer idled their engines during the night. I found myself living in an accidental Low Emissions Zone. It was wonderful.

The best I can say about the anti-EV campaign is that it lacks imagination

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Silver linings: the climate scientist who records cloud behaviour

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:23:27 GMT2017-08-18T17:23:27Z

Clouds cool the planet by reflecting solar energy back to space and also trap heat and radiate it back to Earth. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, physicist Kate Marvel discusses the double-edged effect clouds have on rising temperatures

Clouds perform an important function in cooling the planet as they reflect solar energy back into space. Yet clouds also intensify warming by trapping the planet’s heat and radiating it back to Earth. As fossil fuel emissions continue to warm the planet, how will this dual role played by clouds change, and will clouds ultimately exacerbate or moderate global warming?

Kate Marvel, a physicist at Columbia University and a researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is investigating the mysteries of clouds and climate change. And while she and her colleagues would like to offer definitive answers on this subject, the fact is that few now exist. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she discusses what is known about the behaviour of clouds in a warming world (they are migrating more toward the poles), why strict controls need to be imposed on geoengineering experiments with clouds, and why she is confident that science and human ingenuity will ultimately overcome the challenge of climate change.

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UK fracking may produce less fuel than claimed, says geologist

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:01:03 GMT2017-08-17T05:01:03Z

Prof John Underhill argues that geology is fundamental but has been forgotten in assessments of UK’s shale gas capability

Fracking for oil and gas in the UK may produce much less fuel – and profits – than has been mooted, according to research based on seismic imaging of the country’s underlying geology.

Most of the areas in which deposits of onshore “unconventional” gas and oil are likely to be found were affected by tectonic activity along the Atlantic plate about 55m years ago.

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Brooklyn's social housing microgrid rewrites relationships with utility companies

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:00:03 GMT2017-08-17T05:00:03Z

Microgrids, promising energy self-reliance for communities, are growing in popularity as they become more affordable

Residents of a social housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, can’t stop another tempest like Superstorm Sandy from crashing through their city, but they can feel secure that it won’t cause a power cut.

In June, the 625-unit Marcus Garvey Village cut the ribbon on its very own microgrid, a localised network of electricity production and control. Rooftop solar panels produce clean power when the sun is up; a fuel cell takes in natural gas and churns out a steady current all day; when it’s more valuable to save the electricity for later, the largest lithium-ion battery system on New York City’s grid does just that.

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Adani mining giant faces financial fraud claims as it bids for Australian coal loan

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:57:35 GMT2017-08-15T22:57:35Z

Exclusive: Allegations by Indian customs of huge sums being siphoned off to tax havens from projects are contained in legal documents but denied by company

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A global mining giant seeking public funds to develop one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia has been accused of fraudulently siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars of borrowed money into overseas tax havens.

Indian conglomerate the Adani Group is expecting a legal decision in the “near future” in connection with allegations it inflated invoices for an electricity project in India to shift huge sums of money into offshore bank accounts.

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Australia's gas export industry sheds value while tightening local supply

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:05:04 GMT2017-08-15T04:05:04Z

Santos wipes more than $1bn from its LNG plant in Queensland – just a week after Origin announced a similar devaluation

Australia’s natural gas export boom, which is causing soaring gas prices and pushing up carbon emissions, appears to be rapidly shedding value.

Santos wiped more than $1bn off the value of its liquefied natural gas plant in Queensland on Tuesday, just a week after Origin announced a similar devaluation.

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Australian coal-power allowable pollution would be illegal in US, Europe and China – report

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 18:00:13 GMT2017-08-14T18:00:13Z

Environmental Justice Australia report says Australian coal-fired power plants regularly exceed lax limits imposed on them

Australian coal-fired power stations are allowed to produce levels of toxic air pollution that would be illegal in the US, Europe and China, and may exceed even the lax limits imposed on them with few or no consequences, according to an investigation by Environmental Justice Australia.

The report reveals evidence that operators of coal power plants in Australia have been gaming the systems that monitor the deadly pollution, while others have reported figures the federal government says are not reliable.

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Shell and Exxon face censure over claim gas was 'cleanest fossil fuel'

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 16:14:53 GMT2017-08-14T16:14:53Z

Dutch advertising watchdog’s ruling prompts company to change line to ‘least polluting fossil fuel’ as campaigners welcome action over ‘misleading’ ad

The Dutch advertising watchdog will on Tuesday censure Shell and Exxon for claiming that natural gas was “the cleanest of all fossil fuels” in an advert earlier this year.

It will be the second time this summer that the Netherlands advertising standards board has ruled against the fossil fuels industry, after it slapped down Statoil in June for calling gas a “clean energy” and “low emissions fuel”.

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Port Augusta solar thermal plant to power South Australian government

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:07:09 GMT2017-08-14T07:07:09Z

Jay Weatherill’s government says 150 megawatt plant will be biggest of its kind in the world and create about 700 jobs

A proposed solar thermal power plant in South Australia’s mid-north has been contracted to supply all the state government’s power needs.

Work on the $650m SolarReserve facility will start in 2018, creating 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing positions.

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Arena to provide $12m for new battery at Dalrymple electricity substation

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:36:10 GMT2017-08-22T20:36:10Z

Josh Frydenberg says ElectraNet will build and own the battery and lease out the commercial operation to a major energy retailer

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will provide funding of up to $12m for a new battery at the Dalrymple electricity substation on the Yorke Peninsula.

The federal environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, is expected to confirm the funding for the 30MW battery on Wednesday during a visit to South Australia.

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Floods claim more than 800 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:25:59 GMT2017-08-22T12:25:59Z

Millions affected by severe flooding in south Asia, as aid agencies struggling to cope with disaster warn of food shortages and risk of disease

More than 800 people have been killed and 24 million affected following widespread floods across south Asia.

Severe flooding has devastated communities and destroyed crops in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, with NGOs warning of food shortages and the risk of disease.

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UK condemned over 'shocking' export of deadly weedkiller to poorer countries

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 06:00:14 GMT2017-08-22T06:00:14Z

UK accused of double standards as thousands of tonnes of pesticide not authorised for use in EU are produced in Britain for export to developing world

A highly toxic weedkiller not authorised for use in the EU is being exported to developing countries from a UK factory.

Paraquat, a pesticide so lethal that a single sip can be fatal, has caused thousands of accidental deaths and suicides globally, and was outlawed by EU states in 2007.

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Spectacular rebirth of Belize's coral reefs threatened by tourism and development

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 05:00:13 GMT2017-08-22T05:00:13Z

Report reveals improvement but also details danger posed by tourist-generated pollution, oil extraction and climate change

Just below the surface of the turquoise sea, coral flutters majestically amid schools of puffed up porcupinefish and fluorescent blue and yellow angelfish.

The gangly staghorn and fanning elkhorn corals are thriving in swimming distance of Laughing Bird Caye, a tiny Caribbean sandy islet in southern Belize, thanks to a restoration project that is yielding striking results.

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Jay Weatherill renews warning Labor states could go it alone on energy policy

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 00:35:34 GMT2017-08-22T00:35:34Z

South Australian premier signals possible collaboration on alternative to clean energy target, and urges Turnbull to face down rightwing pressure

Podcast: ‘They’re insatiable’ – Jay Weatherill on his clash with the Coalition

The South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill, has renewed his warning that Labor-led state governments could go it alone on energy policy if the Turnbull government can’t resolve its internal battle over the clean energy target.

If we are going to do it ourselves we might as well design the best system

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Moss may prove cheap city pollution monitor, study finds

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:23:31 GMT2017-08-21T17:23:31Z

Common moss changes shape in areas of high nitrogen pollution and drought and has potential to be big bioindicator, say scientists

Delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution, according to Japanese scientists.

Moss, a “bioindicator”, responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or by disappearing, allowing scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations, said Yoshitaka Oishi, associate professor at Fukui Prefectural University.

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Serious farm pollution breaches rise in UK – and many go unprosecuted

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:04:19 GMT2017-08-21T16:04:19Z

Environment Agency figures show severe incidents are weekly occurrence as farms struggle with cost of pollution prevention despite subsidies

Serious pollution incidents in the UK from livestock farms are now a weekly occurrence, leading to damage to wildlife, fish, farm livestock and air and water pollution.

The Environment Agency in England and its devolved counterparts in Wales and Scotland recorded 536 of the most severe incidents between 2010 and 2016, the worst instances among more than 5,300 cases of agricultural pollution in the period across Britain. In England and Wales the figures relate to pig, poultry and dairy farms whereas in Scotland they refer to all livestock farms.

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'Thick, black tarry stuff flowed down our stream': how slurry spills affect the land

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:00:48 GMT2017-08-21T16:00:48Z

The Whittemores were hoping for an ‘idylllic lifestyle’ farming in Sussex. Instead, noxious byproducts from a biogas farm poisoned their land

Lynda and Richard Whittemore bought Quennells farm in the quiet Sussex countryside six years ago. They were hoping for what Lynda calls “an idyllic lifestyle”, tending their flock of 400 pedigree sheep and 45 cattle on 180 acres of farmland.

“We have an undulating field at the back of the stream, winding to the other corner,” Lynda says. “Usually it has lovely clear water, with a gentle slope down to the water supply. It’s picturesque – the [livestock] don’t need troughs, they can walk down to drink the water.”

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Mont Blanc: mayor tries to stop ill-equipped 'hotheads' tackling peak

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:04:36 GMT2017-08-21T14:04:36Z

Saint-Gervais mayor warns that people who try to climb France’s highest mountain without proper kit face fines after series of deaths and accidents

French authorities are calling for police to enforce fines against climbers who attempt to scale Mont Blanc without proper clothing and equipment.

The move follows a series of deaths and accidents on western Europe’s highest mountain. Earlier this month, a Hungarian woman and her nine-year-old twins were helicoptered off the peak by mountain rescuers.

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Prince Charles's estate was warned about beach danger before man died

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:50:15 GMT2017-08-21T11:50:15Z

Duchy of Cornwall was told in April that storm damage had left Crantock beach where Oneil Din died more dangerous

Prince Charles’s private estate was repeatedly warned about the danger posed by a Cornish beach it owns before an incident in which a man died after being swept out to sea.

Councillors told the Duchy of Cornwall as the summer season approached that someone could die at Crantock beach because storm damage had made the water more dangerous.

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All work, no pay: the plight of young conservationists

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:39:21 GMT2017-08-17T15:39:21Z

Qualified graduates are struggling to find paid jobs and many give up to pursue a different career. The result is a net loss for conservation work, reports Mongabay

Nika Levikov swore she would never work as a waitress again. But, today — with a master’s degree in conservation science from Imperial College London — she’s taking orders, delivering drinks, and cleaning tables to support herself.

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Hardcore cycling in almost guaranteed rain: Scotland's no-frills 'anti-sportive'

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:45:00 GMT2017-08-17T05:45:00Z

The Ride of the Falling Rain on the Hebridean island of Islay has no entry fee, route card or medals, but its laidback, friendly vibe keeps riders coming back despite the weather

The Ride of the Falling Rain is an annual cycling event on the Hebridean island of Islay that proudly describes itself as “anti-sportive”.

Held on the first Sunday in August, there is no entry fee, no feed stations, no timing chips and no medal or certificate at the end. Yet in its 14-year history, it has attracted a hard core of regulars who travel from all over the UK.

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Great climate science communication from Yale Climate Connections | John Abraham

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:00:39 GMT2017-08-14T10:00:39Z

Stellar work by group led by Anthony Leiserowitz on putting climate change research into public domain is empowering citizens and institutions


This is an unabashed endorsement of an important group. I have no affiliation with them or conflict of interest. They are great, period.

The ability to convey complex climate science to a wide-ranging audience is a golden attribute, something very few can achieve. This characteristic makes the Yale Climate Connections group unique.

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The year Trump was elected was so hot, it was 1-in-a-million | Dana Nuccitelli

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:00:56 GMT2017-08-11T10:00:56Z

The odds of 2014, 2015, and 2016 naturally being as hot as they were are about the same as the odds you’ll be struck by lightning this year

2014, 2015, and 2016 each broke the global temperature record. A new study led by climate scientist Michael Mann just published in Geophysical Research Letters used climate model simulations to examine the odds that these records would have been set in a world with and without human-caused global warming. In model simulations without a human climate influence, the authors concluded:

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The Transcontinental bike race: 2,400 gruelling miles across Europe – in pictures

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:30:51 GMT2017-08-11T06:30:51Z

Hundreds of riders race from Belgium to Greece, with no set route, facing extreme heat and often on only a few hours sleep a night

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‘Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of world's biodiversity’

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 08:36:09 GMT2017-08-09T08:36:09Z

Interview with UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Today is the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, numbering an estimated 370 million in 90 countries and speaking roughly 7,000 languages. To mark it, the Guardian interviews Kankanaey Igorot woman Victoria Tauli-Corpuz about the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which she calls “historic” and was adopted 10 years ago.

Tauli-Corpuz, from the Philippines, was Chair of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues when the Declaration was adopted, and is currently the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In this interview, conducted via email, she explains why the Declaration is so important, argues that governments are failing to implement it, and claims that the struggle for indigenous rights “surpasses” other great social movements of the past:

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打压盗猎盗伐,别小看了旅游业的本事

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:56:58 GMT2017-08-08T08:56:58Z

当野生动植物的存亡关系到当地居民切身利益时,他们就会成为野生动植物的最佳保护者,约翰·斯坎伦写到。

随着全球游客人数不断增长,旅行者们钟情于探索地方文化和观赏野生动植物,寻求更为丰富、更新奇的个人体验,以野生动植物为基础的旅游业正在全球范围内迅速升温。而这也促使我几年前决定从法律事业的苦海中暂时抽身,申请了6个月的无薪假期,和妹妹一起背上行囊走上了南美之旅。欣赏亚马逊雨林、伊瓜苏瀑布、马丘比丘等地的自然美景,了解保护这些美景的当地人,改变了我的一生。

联合国世界旅游组织估计,全球7%的旅游与野生动植物旅游相关,并以每年3%的速度增长,而且增长率在世界遗产地等地区还要高得多。世界自然基金会的一份报告显示,全球自然遗产中有93%支持娱乐和旅游活动,91%提供就业机会。据说在伯利兹城,超过50%的人口以珊瑚礁相关的旅游和渔业为生。

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Fossil fuel subsidies are a staggering $5 tn per year | John Abraham

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:00:07 GMT2017-08-07T10:00:07Z

A new study finds 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidizing dirty fossil fuels

Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences.

Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives.

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Diesel has to die – there is no reverse gear on this

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 06:30:02 GMT2017-08-07T06:30:02Z

Daimler says diesel is worth fighting for but there is no comeback for the toxic technology and the fight must now be to save lives

When the story of Volkswagen’s cheating on diesel emissions tests broke nearly two years ago, a number of reporters asked me if this spelled the end for diesel cars. My response was a confident, dismissive “no”. While dieselgate would cast a long shadow, there was no reason to write off diesel cars, at least in the short term. After all, the technology does exist to make clean diesel cars. It’s just a question of improving the existing regulations and enforcing them better.

I was wrong.

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Industrial meat production is killing our seas. It's time to change our diets

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 14:00:45 GMT2017-08-04T14:00:45Z

America’s addiction to cheap meat, fed on corn and soy in vast indoor factories, comes at a high cost to our own health and that of the planet

  • Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation, at the University of York, UK

Every spring, as the snows thaw, water rushes down the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, spreading life, then death into the Gulf of Mexico. The floodwaters are laden with fertilisers washed from fields and factory farms. As spring turns to summer, excessive nutrients first drive a huge bloom of living plankton, then cause death on a gargantuan scale as a dead zone blossoms across the seabed. Most years it grows swiftly to over 5,000 square miles of seabed, killing everything that cannot outrun it.

Related: Why meat eaters should think much more about soil | John Sauven

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Leading elephant conservationist shot dead in Tanzania

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:56:30 GMT2017-08-17T16:56:30Z

Wayne Lotter had received numerous death threats while battling international ivory-trafficking networks

The head of an animal conservation NGO who had received numerous death threats has been shot and killed by an unknown gunman in Tanzania.

Wayne Lotter, 51, was shot on Wednesday evening in the Masaki district of the city of Dar es Salaam. The wildlife conservationist was being driven from the airport to his hotel when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. Two men, one armed with a gun opened his car door and shot him.

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The defenders: recording the deaths of environmental defenders around the world

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-07-13T11:00:06Z

This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian aims to record the deaths of all people killed while protecting land or natural resources. At the current rate, about four defenders will die this week somewhere on the planet

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Five park rangers killed in DRC in tragic weekend for wildlife defenders

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:13:19 GMT2017-07-17T17:13:19Z

An ambush by local rebel forces led to five deaths in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, while another ranger died in Virunga

Four Congolese park rangers and one porter have been killed in an ambush in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A large group of journalists and park rangers were attacked on Friday 14 July in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve by an armed local rebel group. It is believed that the journalists – one from the US, two Dutch, and one Congolese – were covering a story about the work of the rangers in the forest.

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Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-07-13T11:00:06Z

Exclusive Activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders are dying violently at the rate of about four a week, with a growing sense around the world that ‘anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions’

• See the names of all defenders who have died so far this year here. Read more from the project here.

• Read this article in Spanish

Last year was the most perilous ever for people defending their community’s land, natural resources or wildlife, with new research showing that environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world.

Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago.

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The Canadian company mining hills of silver – and the people dying to stop it

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-07-13T11:00:06Z

In Guatemala, one of the world’s largest silver deposits reaps millions for its Canadian owners but for local farmers the price is their land and even their lives

Deep underground, buried in the lush hills of southern Guatemala, lies a veritable treasure trove: silver, tonnes of it, one of the largest deposits in the world.

But it’s above ground where the really dangerous activity goes on. On a dusty highway, about 50 peasant farmers stand praying in a circle, a makeshift roadblock intended to stop trucks reaching the mine. They have already been violently dispersed by police teargas. Now they fear the army might move in.

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Environmental and land defenders killed in 2016: the full list

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-07-13T11:00:06Z

200 people were killed while defending the environment or land in 2016, with Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines among the countries with most deaths

• Read more from the environmental defenders project here. You can see the names of those who have died so far this year here

Anowarul Islam (Angur)

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Tanzanian police believe wildlife activist may have been tracked by his killer

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:33:06 GMT2017-08-18T17:33:06Z

A police insider has told the Guardian that the killers of Wayne Lotter may have been following him

Police believe Wayne Lotter’s killer may have followed and targeted the conservationist when he was shot on Wednesday, according to inside sources.

Lotter was stopped and then fatally shot while travelling by taxi from Dar es Salaam airport to a hotel. He had been working in Tanzania for many years, exposing and jailing wildlife poachers and traffickers, and he had received a number of death threats. Tanzania’s director for criminal investigation, Robert Boaz, said a murder investigation was underway.

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Three wildlife rangers killed in attack by violent militia in DRC

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:58:08 GMT2017-08-16T14:58:08Z

Three wildlife rangers at DRC’s Virunga national park were killed this week in an ambush by Mai Mai rebels, bringing this year’s fatalities to eight

Three rangers have been killed and another is missing after an attack by violent militia in Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bringing the number of fatalities in the park this year to eight.

The park rangers, Charles Paluku Syaira, Jonas Paluku Malyani and Pacifique Musubao Fikirini were murdered on the morning of Monday 14 August during a routine patrol around the park, which is home to critically endangered mountain gorilla.

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Amnesty condemns 'campaign of harassment' against Nicaragua canal critics

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 15:00:17 GMT2017-08-03T15:00:17Z

The interoceanic canal and its ‘murky legal framework’ was also criticized by Bianca Jagger, who called the canal ‘an insane project’

Nicaragua’s former revolutionary leaders have led a campaign of harassment and persecution against communities opposing the construction of a controversial canal that threatens the homes and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, according to Amnesty International.

Plans to construct a $50bn shipping canal 175 miles long and 500 yards wide have provoked a mix of anger, fear and defiance not witnessed since the civil war between the Sandinista government and US-backed Contra rebels ended in 1988.

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La empresa canadiense que extrae plata de unas colinas, y la gente que muere por intentar evitarlo

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:29:28 GMT2017-07-17T16:29:28Z

En Guatemala está uno de los mayores depósitos de plata del mundo; a sus dueños canadienses les proporciona millones de dólares, pero para los campesinos locales pone en peligro sus tierras y, a veces, sus vidas

Lean esta historia en inglés

A grandes profundidades, enterrado en las exuberantes colinas del sur de Guatemala, se encuentra un verdadero tesoro: toneladas de plata que forman uno de los mayores depósitos del mundo.

Sin embargo, lo verdaderamente peligroso sucede en la superficie. En una carretera polvorienta, aproximadamente 50 campesinos rezan en círculo, una especie de barricada para que no pasen los camiones que se dirigen a la mina. La policía ya los ha dispersado por la fuerza con gases lacrimógenos. Ahora tienen miedo de que llegue el ejército.

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'They're like the mafia': the super gangs behind Africa's poaching crisis

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-08-19T07:00:07Z

Pressure is mounting against multi-faceted smugglers but the legal case, though strong, is enormously complex

Late on 6 June 2014 Kenyan police, acting on a tip-off, raided a used car lot in Mombasa’s industrial area. Inside Fuji Motors East Africa Ltd, in one of the lock-ups, they found two tonnes of ivory.

Days earlier a white Mitsubishi truck, its paperwork claiming “household equipment” but in fact carrying more than 300 elephant tusks secreted beneath a tarpaulin, had pulled into the yard on Mombasa Island’s dirty northern fringe, far from the tourist hotels and beaches for which the city is famous.

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Tanzania's ghost safari: how western aid contributed to the decline of a wildlife haven

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT2017-08-13T06:00:06Z

Lions, elephants and hippos have vanished from Kilombero valley after UK- and US-funded projects helped turn a once-thriving habitat into farmland, teak, and sugar plantations

The long road from Dar es Salaam brings you through sparsely wooded hills and fields to the narrow northern neck of the Kilombero valley. There’s a bend in the road, then the land opens out, suddenly, in front of you.

Along the west side lie the steep-faced Udzungwa mountains, one of the last pristine rainforests in Tanzania. The Kilombero river runs through the red soils of the valley, flooding in November or December and subsiding by June. Down the longer eastern flank rise the Mahenge mountains, and beyond them, invisible, unfurls the vast territory of the Selous game reserve, one of the largest remaining chunks of African wilderness.

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Elephants unchained: 'The day has gone by when this was entertainment'

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 07:00:38 GMT2017-08-12T07:00:38Z

As our understanding of the minds of our fellow species improves, will we increasingly look back at the way we have treated them in horror and repulsion?

  • Photographs by Karine Aigner

Water streams off the edges of her giant ears, runs in rivulets down the wrinkles of her slate-grey skin. She presses her whole head into the hose’s force, the spray welling into her mouth. As she drinks, she rubs her skin against the steel fence, her eyelids drooping luxuriously, her trunk relaxing. If ever I’ve seen a captive elephant happy, it’s Flora this morning.

There are no people laughing or pointing here at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. There are no infants crying, no children arguing. The public are not allowed into the sanctuary, whose unofficial motto is, “Allow elephants to be elephants”: give them the freedom of choice, the freedom of large areas to explore, the freedom from human gawkers (apart from via the online elecams) while still providing the kind of care that comes with a zoo.

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UK named as world's largest legal ivory exporter

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 23:31:46 GMT2017-08-09T23:31:46Z

A new trade analysis reveals the scale of Britain’s role in the international ivory trade

Britain was the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory between 2010 and 2015, a breakdown of records held by the Convention on international trade in endangered species (Cites) has revealed.

Not only did the UK export more ivory than anyone else to Hong Kong and China – which are considered smuggling hubs for “blood ivory” - it also sold on 370% more ivory than the next highest exporter, the USA.

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Saving the world's wildlife is not just 'a white person thing'

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 09:01:44 GMT2017-07-31T09:01:44Z

The conservation sector is dominated by white faces, and for many people it looks a bit like colonialism. It’s time for new voices to take up the fight

In a few days it will be the 18th anniversary of the death of Michael Werikhe, the enigmatic African conservationist. You don’t hear or read much of him these days.

Nicknamed “the Rhino Man” because his work and campaigns focused on the critically endangered black rhino, Werikhe’s main campaign tactic of choice was walking to raise awareness. His first walk, starting on Christmas Day 1982, took him from Mombasa to the Kenyan capital Nairobi – a distance of 484 kilometres – and lasted for 27 days. He later walked in East Africa, Europe and North America to raise awareness and money, raising nearly $1m and covering nearly 5,000km.

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We know how to reduce deforestation – so where's the money?

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 05:00:17 GMT2017-07-28T05:00:17Z

Paying people not to cut down trees works, evidence shows – so can we really afford not to do so?

For years some environmentalists and economists have argued that you could pay people to keep their forests standing, maintaining carbon sources and habitat for threatened species. Yet, the idea – known as payments for ecosystem services or PES – has faced critics, who argued it wouldn’t live up to the hype. A new study in Science this week may make them think twice.

“We needed better evidence about how well this approach worked in order to know if we should be scaling it up or rethinking it,” said Seema Jayachandran, lead author and development economist with Northwestern University.

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Powerhouse: the startup making solar the most accessible energy in the world

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 13:00:00 GMT2017-04-30T13:00:00Z

It’s one of the only incubators focused on solar companies – but Powerhouse is part of a larger movement to nurture new companies in the low-carbon future

It started with a crowdfunding startup, an investment from Prince, and the idea to help new solar companies tackle business challenges that can be hard to overcome on their own.

Now, four years later, the idea has morphed into a group called Powerhouse, and notably, in a world flush with tech startups, it’s one of the only incubators out there focused on launching and growing solar companies.

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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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Businesses must promote diversity – not just because it's good for the bottom line | Tim Ryan

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 16:34:58 GMT2017-06-16T16:34:58Z

Too many of America’s workplaces are not representative of our communities. In a divided country, we have a duty to advance diversity and inclusion

We’re living in a country of growing division and tension, and it’s having an impact at work. But it’s often the case that when we walk into the office – where we spend the majority of our time – we don’t address these issues.

And yet there’s so much to talk about – from growing societal inequality and America’s racial divide to single-digit minority representation in corporate America. (Just 1% of the nation’s Fortune 500 CEOs are black, only 4% are women, and even fewer are openly gay).

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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’ birthrightUpdate: Republicans back off bill to sell public land after outcryIn 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. Continue reading...[...]


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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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Is it fair to blame Coca-Cola and big corporations for our waste crisis?

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 06:00:39 GMT2017-08-02T06:00:39Z

Some global corporations are trying to address the environmental impact of throwaway culture, but campaigners say they remain part of the problem

When John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, heard a woman complain on the radio that supermarket croissants were cheaper to buy wrapped in plastic than paper, he was so startled he went straight to his local Co-op

“It was true,” Sauven said at a recent Guardian roundtable discussion on the future of waste. “If I bought two croissants in a brown paper bag, it was 79p [each], and if I bought them in a big plastic container it was 63p [each]. And I just thought ... this is a complete failure of the system.”

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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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Will China's children solve its crippling water shortage problem?

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:35:00 GMT2017-03-22T10:35:00Z

China is home to 21% of the world’s population but just 7% of its freshwater. One NGO teaches young people to make tackling water scarcity a priority

In Beijing’s Tongzhou Number Six school, around 100 impeccably-behaved middle school students are being lectured about water.

The visiting teacher tells them that, among other things, they should take shorter showers, buy less clothes, eat less meat and drink tea rather than coffee, to help alleviate China’s water scarcity problems.

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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 energyDivestment – 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. Continue reading...[...]


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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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