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Environment | The Guardian



Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.



Published: Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:18:47 GMT2017-04-27T05:18:47Z

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



Trump review threatens to rip up Obama protections for wilderness areas

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:38:44 GMT2017-04-26T12:38:44Z

  • Interior secretary to review past presidents’ national monument designations
  • Trump says ‘massive federal land grab’ should never have happened

Donald Trump has triggered a review of protections that cover more than a billion acres of US public land and waters in a move that could potentially rescind the designation of several national monuments declared by previous presidents.

Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order relating to the Antiquities Act, a law introduced by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 which gives presidents the ability to name areas of federal land and waters as national monuments. The order directs Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, to review about 30 national monuments that are larger than 100,000 acres and have been declared since 1996.

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Will Sonny Perdue, Trump's agriculture pick, stand up for the little guy? Don't bank on it

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:58:32 GMT2017-04-25T21:58:32Z

In November, America’s beleaguered rural citizens voted against the status quo – but that’s exactly what Trump’s new agriculture secretary looks set to ensure

Donald Trump owes his election in no small part to the support of farm country. But since entering office, almost all his actions and pronouncements have betrayed an abysmal understanding of farm and rural concerns. No surprise, then, that food and farm advocates have looked eagerly to Sonny Perdue, who was sworn in as agriculture secretary on Tuesday, to educate and temper the president on their issues.

The new secretary has his work cut out for him. The president unveiled a budget blueprint last month that slashed funding for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 21%.

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Disney, the Gap and Pepsi urged to quit US Chamber of Commerce

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:00:17 GMT2017-04-24T11:00:17Z

Letter from pressure groups says the trade body’s campaigning against climate change legislation and for tobacco products is at odds with companies’ stance

Disney, the Gap and Pepsi are being pressured to quit the US Chamber of Commerce, America’s largest lobby group, amid criticism of its big-money efforts to fight climate change legislation and promote tobacco products.

A coalition of pressure groups including Action on Smoking and Health, Greenpeace, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club have written to the CEOs of the three companies asking them to stop funding the powerful business group.

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Michael Bloomberg to world leaders: ignore Trump on climate change

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:02:03 GMT2017-04-23T19:02:03Z

  • Former New York mayor defends Paris climate deal in new book
  • Bloomberg argues states and markets will ensure US hits emissions goals

The former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged world leaders not to follow Donald Trump’s lead on climate change, and declared his own intention to stave off the “tragedy” that would be the collapse of the Paris climate deal.

Related: Trump aides abruptly postpone meeting on whether to stay in Paris climate deal

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March for Science puts Earth Day focus on global opposition to Trump

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:23:27 GMT2017-04-22T17:23:27Z

Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

Related: Bill Nye the Science Guy on Trump: 'We are in a dangerous place'

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Ten of the best March for Science signs – in pictures

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:11:19 GMT2017-04-22T17:11:19Z

Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

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Bill Nye the Science Guy on Trump: 'We are in a dangerous place'

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 09:00:10 GMT2017-04-22T09:00:10Z

Ahead of a massive March for Science in Washington, the popular TV educator attacked the Trump administration’s dismissal of ‘objective truths’

Bill Nye, the face of science in US popular culture, has attacked Donald Trump’s “dangerous” dismissal of climate change and planned cuts to research ahead of the first March for Science in Washington DC.

Nye, an engineer and educator known as “the science guy” through his TV appearances, said scientists should unapologetically throw themselves into the political fray as Trump’s administration seeks to dismantle large areas of scientific endeavor, from cancer research to climate analysis.

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Texas's pick to safeguard environment? The man behind Dakota Access pipeline

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:20:22 GMT2017-04-21T13:20:22Z

  • Committee approves Kelcy Warren for Texas parks and wildlife commission
  • Warren is CEO of company that built controversial North Dakota project

The CEO behind the Dakota Access pipeline might not seem an obvious choice to be designated a custodian of the environment. Texas Republicans, though, appear to disagree.

The appointment of Kelcy Warren to the Texas parks and wildlife commission was approved by a state senate nominations committee on Thursday after a 4-3 vote along party lines, meaning it progresses to a vote by the full senate later this year.

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Wildflowers in the hill country of Texas – in pictures

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:00:24 GMT2017-04-20T10:00:24Z

Think of Texas and it’s most likely you imagine rocky, red desert. But each spring the hill country of central Texas is awash with a riot of colour, as millions of wildflowers bloom

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Meet the man willing to spend millions to convince Elon Musk to dump Trump

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:00:18 GMT2017-04-19T10:00:18Z

Doug Derwin is investing up to $2m to persuade Tesla’s CEO to speak out against US climate change policies and resign from groups advising Trump

Luxury car owners may seem like an unlikely target for organizing a political resistance movement, but to Doug Derwin, it’s all about the make: Tesla.

Derwin is investing up to $2m in an effort to persuade Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, to speak out against Donald Trump’s climate change policy and resign from his positions in groups advising Trump on business and manufacturing jobs. On Monday, Derwin launched the website ElonDumpTrump.com laying out his argument that Musk’s role in the administration is inconsistent with his role as a leader on climate change.

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Trump aides abruptly postpone meeting on whether to stay in Paris climate deal

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:22:19 GMT2017-04-18T17:22:19Z

Unlikely coalition of fossil fuel firms, environmental groups and Republicans are calling on president to stay despite his pledge to ‘cancel’ agreement

Donald Trump’s aides have abruptly postponed a meeting to determine whether the US should remain in the Paris climate agreement, with an unlikely coalition of fossil fuel firms, environmental groups and some Republicans calling on the president to stick with the deal.

Trump’s top advisers were set to meet on Tuesday to provide the president with a recommendation ahead of a G7 meeting in May. However, a White House official said the meeting had been postponed due to conflicting schedules. It is unclear when it will now take place.

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Science strikes back: anti-Trump march set to draw thousands to Washington

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:00:26 GMT2017-04-18T10:00:26Z

Scientists are ditching their labs for the streets in a mass protest against the Trump administration’s war on facts, but will the effort resonate with skeptics?

On Saturday, thousands of scientists are set to abandon the cloistered neutrality of their laboratories to plunge into the the political fray against Donald Trump in what will likely be the largest-ever protest by science advocates.

The March for Science, a demonstration modeled in part on January’s huge Women’s March, will inundate Washington DC’s national mall with a jumble of marine biologists, birdwatchers, climate researchers and others enraged by what they see as an assault by Trump’s administration upon evidence-based thinking and scientists themselves.

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Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet | Bill McKibben

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:00:20 GMT2017-04-17T10:00:20Z

Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.

Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.

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'Like a slow death': families fear pesticide poisoning after Trump reverses ban

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 09:00:19 GMT2017-04-17T09:00:19Z

The administration’s rejection of the science on chlorpyrifos, widely used in California’s Central Valley, means its use will continue – and Latino residents are worried their children’s health issues will worsen along with it

A white cloud of pesticides had drifted into Fidelia Morales’s back yard, coating her children’s swing set.

The 40-year-old mother of five gestured toward the citrus groves that surround her house in California’s Central Valley as she recounted when an air blast sprayer sent chemicals floating onto her property last year – landing on her family’s red and blue jungle gym.

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Is Boston the next urban farming paradise?

Sun, 16 Apr 2017 14:00:33 GMT2017-04-16T14:00:33Z

The city’s healthy startup culture is contributing to Boston’s rapidly growing reputation as a haven for organic food and urban farming initiatives

For those seeking mild, year-round temperatures and affordable plots of land, Boston, with its long winters and dense population, isn’t the first city that comes to mind.

But graduates of the city’s nearly 35 colleges and universities are contributing to the area’s growing reputation as a haven for startups challenging and transforming age-old industries, from furniture to political fundraising. The city’s strong entrepreneurial spirit, combined with progressive legislation like the passing of Article 89, has also turned Boston into one of the nation’s hubs for urban agriculture.

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It's a boy: world watches as New York zoo streams birth of calf to April the giraffe

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 22:06:38 GMT2017-04-15T22:06:38Z

  • Adventure Park uses YouTube to stream eagerly awaited event
  • 1.2 million people watch; calf will be named through a zoo competition

A New York zoo’s much-discussed livestream video of its pregnant giraffe showed her giving birth on Saturday.

Related: April the pregnant giraffe: live stream attracts millions – and YouTube censors

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Don Benton: the Trump 'shadow' adviser taking over the US draft system

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-04-15T11:00:00Z

Former lawmaker, a member of the president’s ‘shadow cabinet’ spread across the government, was reassigned from the EPA after reportedly talking too much

Forty minutes between campaign stops and a Filet-o-Fish sandwich from McDonald’s cemented Don Benton’s place in Donald Trump’s orbit.

The brusque former lawmaker from Washington state remained close to Trump as the campaign intensified, reportedly wielding “an unusual degree” of influence over the Republican nominee.

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Scott Pruitt hails era of environmental deregulation in speech at coal mine

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 22:21:53 GMT2017-04-13T22:21:53Z

EPA administrator declared an end to the government’s ‘war’ on coal in a speech to miners – an agenda that has been bitterly opposed by agency staff

Scott Pruitt, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, heralded a new era of environmental deregulation on Thursday, in a speech at a coal mine that was fined last year for contaminating local waterways with toxic materials.

Pruitt said the new “back to basics” agenda for the EPA would focus on devolving oversight of clean air and water to individual states, and bolstering jobs in industries such as coal, oil and gas.

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President Trump, it's time we left coal behind

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 16:00:02 GMT2017-04-12T16:00:02Z

Coal isn’t the future of the American economy – it’s renewable energy. The sooner Donald Trump realizes that, the better

In the wake of President Trump’s latest executive orders to undo Obama’s efforts on climate and energy, it has become clear that climate science denial isn’t the only blind spot of this administration. It also suffers from what Australian commentator Waleed Aly calls “commercial denialism” – an attempt to fulfill the campaign promise to protect the dying coal industry all while ignoring the market forces that are leading to its demise.

You know something is wrong when Robert Murray, a coal industry giant and CEO of Murray Energy, tells President Trump to rein in the rhetoric about bringing coal jobs back. Trump is ignoring the reality that the world is moving beyond coal, just as we moved past horses and buggies, landline telephones and cigarettes. The transition is not complete yet, but coal jobs are not coming back substantially. It is time that we move on. We should plan for that.

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The California drought is officially over, but next could be 'around the corner'

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 19:56:44 GMT2017-04-07T19:56:44Z

Governor announces end to the historic drought, yet water conservation is far from finished as state tries to build climate change resilience

California’s governor, Jerry Brown, officially declared an end to the state’s historic drought Friday, but warned that it must be prepared for the future.

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”

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Coalition of 17 states challenges Trump over climate change policy

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 01:38:45 GMT2017-04-06T01:38:45Z

A coalition led by New York state insists the Trump administration has a legal obligation to regulate the emission of carbon pollution: ‘The law is clear’

A coalition of 17 US states filed a legal challenge on Wednesday against efforts by Donald Trump’s administration to roll back climate change regulations, deepening a political rift over his emerging energy policies.

Led by New York state, the coalition said the administration has a legal duty to regulate emissions of the gases scientists believe cause global climate change.

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Environmentalists sue EPA for reversing Obama-era move to ban pesticide

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:40:41 GMT2017-04-05T15:40:41Z

The EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, has ignored the scientific recommendation of his own agency to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos, despite its links to brain damage

Environmental groups have filed a complaint against the US government over its support of a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, one week after Donald Trump’s administration rejected federally backed science and reversed an Obama-era policy.

The Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed the case against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday, seeking to force the government to follow through with the Obama administration’s recommendations to ban an insecticide widely used in agriculture.

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We can resist the Dakota pipeline through a powerful tool: divestment | Krystal Two Bulls and Matt Remle

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 10:00:48 GMT2017-04-04T10:00:48Z

The fossil fuel industry, and its enablers in government and the financial sector, have a stranglehold on us. But we can fight back

Money is power. And when money conspires to block the path to a just and sustainable future, it takes the organized efforts of millions of people to break through those roadblocks. Divestment has worked in the past – and it is time to rediscover its power.

The fossil fuel industry, and its enablers in government and the financial sector, have a stranglehold on the country. These must be resisted at every turn.

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Jean-Michel Jarre to play anti-Donald Trump Dead Sea concert

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:03:04 GMT2017-04-03T15:03:04Z

French musician to perform in front of ancient Masada fortress to draw attention to urgency of saving planet Earth

Pioneering electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre has said he wants to use an all-night concert at the Dead Sea to highlight what he sees as the anti-environmental policies of Donald Trump.

The French musician, who shot to fame in the 1970s, will perform in front of the ancient Masada fortress in Israel on Thursday in a bid to draw attention to the “urgency of saving the Dead Sea”, he told AFP.

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God and coal: Trump won on both issues in West Virginia but inspires doubt

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:00:22 GMT2017-03-30T09:00:22Z

Voters in the state elected Trump in hope he’d revive its core industry and inject more religion into American life – but many are unsure of whether he’ll deliver

Pastor Jerry Morrell was not playing to his audience. “I was asked if Donald Trump is a man of God,” the evangelical preacher told the congregation of The Way of Holiness church on the outskirts of Buckhannon, West Virginia. “I said: ‘No, I don’t see him as a man of God. Or, at this point, a godly man. I think he’s a man whose heart can be touched by God. I think he may be open to that’.”

A silence fell. The cries of acclamation greeting much of the Pentecostal pastor’s sermon drained away.

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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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Rex Tillerson won't work on Keystone pipeline issues due to ExxonMobil links

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 01:41:56 GMT2017-03-10T01:41:56Z

Greenpeace argued that ExxonMobil, where secretary of state was CEO, would ‘directly and predictably’ benefit from approval of multibillion-dollar pipeline

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has recused himself from issues related to TransCanada Corp’s application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the state department said in a letter on Thursday to the environmental group Greenpeace.

“He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State, and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada’s application,” said the letter from Katherine McManus, the state department’s deputy legal adviser.

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Keystone pipeline will create just 35 permanent jobs. Don't believe the lies | Congressman Raul M Grijalva

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:11:39 GMT2017-01-25T16:11:39Z

We cannot pollute our way to prosperity. If President Trump doesn’t own up to that, he will face a backlash

For those who still insist fossil fuels are the future, the Trump administration represents a new day for some old ideas. In an early sign of things to come, the president showed his faith in big oil when he signed documents Tuesday pressuring federal agencies to support construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Each of these projects faced enormous protests and was put on hold by the Obama administration because of legitimate environmental and due process concerns.

Congressional Republicans frequently howled at far less heavy-handed exercises of executive power under the previous administration. Today, they applaud Trump’s move on the mistaken premise that these pipelines are good investments. Not only will these projects not create long-lasting jobs – as CNBC, not exactly an anti-corporate mouthpiece, has noted: “Pipelines do not require much labor to operate in the long term” – they will further delay the inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy our economy needs and the American people demand.

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Trump signs order reviving controversial pipeline projects – video

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:12:20 GMT2017-01-24T19:12:20Z

Donald Trump signed a number of executive orders Tuesday that will allow construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines to move forward. Both projects had been blocked by Barack Obama due in part to environmental concerns, but Trump hailed the thousands of construction jobs that he said would be created. He also signed an order ensuring the pipes themselves would be made within the US

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How Keystone XL and Dakota Access went from opposition to resurrection

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:12:32 GMT2017-01-24T18:12:32Z

Both projects were opposed by grassroots groups, mired in court battles and produced high-profile clashes between environmentalists and energy interests

Both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects – revived by Donald Trump by executive order on Tuesday – ran up against grassroots opposition fortified by support from the Barack Obama administration. The Keystone XL project was rejected by the president himself in November 2015 after the state department concluded that the pipeline promised no major benefit for energy security or pricing.

Related: Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines to be revived by Trump administration

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Resurrection of Keystone and DAPL cements America's climate antagonism

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:33:05 GMT2017-01-24T17:33:05Z

Contrary to all evidence, the new US president will ignore climate change science and proceed with aggressive pro-oil and gas policies

If there were any lingering doubts over Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for shoving the US back into the smoggy embrace of fossil fuels, his decision to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines banishes them utterly.

Trump has thrown down the most provocative gauntlet possible to the environmental movement, which now sees its worst fears crystalizing within a few days of the inauguration. Those Trump Tower chats with Al Gore about climate change – and Ivanka Trump’s apparent concern over the issue – now vanish over the horizon. This will be an aggressively pro-oil and gas administration, even if that means boiling the planet.

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Trump orders revival of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:32:24 GMT2017-01-24T17:32:24Z

Native American and climate change activists condemn president for ‘pledging allegiance to oil companies and Wall Street’ after signing of executive orders

Donald Trump was sharply criticised by Native Americans and climate change activists on Tuesday after he signed executive orders to allow construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines.

Both pipe projects had been blocked by Barack Obama’s administration, partly because of environmental concerns. But Trump has questioned the science of climate change and campaigned on a promise to expand energy infrastructure and create jobs.

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Why can’t we elect a Native American like Faith Spotted Eagle as president? | Julian Brave NoiseCat

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 14:31:33 GMT2016-12-21T14:31:33Z

The indigenous leader is the first to receive a vote for president in the US electoral college. This historic act of defiance offers hope for our collective future

On Monday, electoral college delegates convened in capitols across the 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their votes for the 45th president and vice-president of the United States. Some said that the future of a global superpower, and liberalism itself, hung in the balance. Reeling from reports of Russian hackers and confounded by a president-elect viewed by many as a fascist-in-making, desperate voices from both the left and right called on the electors to vote their conscience.

Conservative defectors pleaded for delegates to select a more competent Republican like John Kasich. Liberals demanded that all electors align with the people and support Hillary Clinton, who pulled-in 2.8 million more votes than her rival. The electoral college, a system originally designed to bolster the power of slave states against the free, looked like the final fortress of progress.

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US environmentalists take aim at second TransCanada pipeline

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 10:27:05 GMT2016-07-27T10:27:05Z

Campaigners say company behind Keystone XL plans to send hundreds of supertankers of crude oil down the Atlantic coast with fears for potential spills

Environmentalists are again taking aim at the company that proposed the Keystone XL pipeline this time for another of its projects they fear would send hundreds of supertankers laden with crude oil down the Atlantic coast to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

TransCanada is behind the Energy East pipeline project, a 4,600km pipeline, or nearly 3,000 miles, that would carry crude oil from tar sands in Western Canada to the East Coast, where it would then be shipped to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. When completed, the project would carry 1.1m barrels of crude oil every day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada.

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Hume Coal mine would threaten water and net just $6m in royalties a year for NSW

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:04:43 GMT2017-04-27T02:04:43Z

Locals told proposed mine in the southern highlands of NSW, part of Sydney’s water catchment, would damage water table in the region for as long as 73 years

A controversial underground coalmine that will threaten the water supply of 71 landowners in NSW’s southern highlands will net the state government just $120m over two decades, locals have been told.

A multinational steelmaker, Korea-based Posco, is seeking approval for an underground coalmine near Berrima in the southern highlands of New South Wales, part of Sydney’s drinking-water catchment.

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A government of death is plundering our ancient Munduruku lands. Help us stop it

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:05:19 GMT2017-04-25T13:05:19Z

As the UN forum on indigenous issues meets in New York, we, the Munduruku people of Brazil, demand an end to the destruction of our territory

We, the Munduruku people, send our thoughts and words to you who live far away. We echo the cry for help from our mother, the forest, and from all the indigenous peoples in Brazil.

Our home of Mundurukânia and all 13,000 of our people are threatened by the Brazilian government’s plans to build more than 40 hydroelectric dams in the Tapajós basin, as well as an industrial waterway and other major projects.

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Tory windfarm policy endangers cheap energy in UK, commission finds

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:19:44 GMT2017-04-25T05:19:44Z

Shell-sponsored group says wind is ‘increasingly the cheapest form of electricity’ and urges Tories to review ban on subsidised onshore windfarms

Conservative opposition to windfarms risks the UK missing out on one of the cheapest sources of electricity, according to the head of a Shell-funded industry group.

Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, said wind and solar power costs had fallen dramatically globally and urged the government to rethink its ban on subsidised onshore windfarms.

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Ding ding! All aboard the ex-Lib Dem minister's solar-powered bus

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:09:28 GMT2017-04-24T09:09:28Z

Norman Baker ditched the ‘constant battle’ of working with Theresa May to run the Big Lemon – the Brighton eco-firm launching a green bus route

Vince Cable and Ed Davey, the former business and energy secretaries respectively, are among the Liberal Democrats that lost their seats in 2015 who are plotting their way back to parliament in this general election.

But an erstwhile colleague has rejected the opportunity to regain his seat in Lewes in East Sussex. Norman Baker, the former transport minister who later quit the Home Office in 2014 after finding working with Theresa May a “constant battle”, sighs: “I don’t need to do the same thing over and over again, that’s the definition of madness.

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Honour for environmental activist farmer, 83, surrounded by mines on three sides

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:01:01 GMT2017-04-24T04:01:01Z

For 30 years anti-pollution campaigner Wendy Bowman has stood firm against mining giants, supporting other landowners under pressure to sell

Each morning just after dawn, if you stop at the top of the hill that separates the town of Singleton from the tiny village of Camberwell in New South Wales, says Wendy Bowman, “you’ll see this brown scud across the sky”.

“It doesn’t go over the ridges; it stays in the valley, going up and down all the time.” She mimes a slow sieving motion: up, down.

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Australian activist Wendy Bowman wins Goldman environmental prize – video

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:00:01 GMT2017-04-24T04:00:01Z

Wendy Bowman, an 83-year-old farmer, has been given the Goldman environmental prize, awarded across six global regions for grassroots work. For three decades Bowman has fought the march of open-cut coalmines across the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and helped organise her community to protect agricultural land and water

• Honour for activist farmer, 83, surrounded by mines on three sides

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Can slag heaps help save the planet?

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 06:00:05 GMT2017-04-23T06:00:05Z

British scientists are exploring ways to use the steel industry’s waste to capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

The Industrial Revolution left a deep mark on our world. Its dawning saw the start of the widespread burning of coal for factories and steam engines and, as a result, the beginning of significant outputs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Our climate is now warming noticeably as these emissions have accumulated across the planet.

The British landscape has also been changed dramatically. In particular, the countryside is now peppered with piles of slag left over from old steel mills. Landscaping these piles of industrial waste has required major efforts by local authorities in recent decades.

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Canadian oil firm pulls out of national park in Peru's Amazon

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:22:50 GMT2017-04-22T21:22:50Z

Pacific abandons one million hectare concession including indigenous peoples’ territories along Brazil border

A Canadian-headquartered company, Pacific Exploration and Production, has pulled out of a huge oil and gas concession overlapping a new national park in the Peruvian Amazon. The concession, Lot 135, includes approximately 40% of the Sierra del Divisor national park established in 2015.

The concession has provoked opposition in Peru and just across the border in Brazil for many years, including regular statements since 2009 from indigenous Matsés people in both countries and a lawsuit recently filed by regional indigenous federation ORPIO. Both Lot 135 and the park overlap territory used by the Matsés and a proposed reserve for indigenous people living in “isolation.”

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British power generation achieves first ever coal-free day

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:44:55 GMT2017-04-22T02:44:55Z

National Grid hails milestone as other sources like gas, nuclear, wind and solar allow UK to keep lights on with all coal-fired powerplants offline

Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid.

The control room tweeted the milestone on Friday. It is the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began. West Burton 1 power station, the only coal-fired plant that had been up and running, went offline on Thursday.

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Reactor goes here ... the £18bn Hinkley Point C starts to take shape

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:05:27 GMT2017-04-21T13:05:27Z

Adam Vaughan visits the nuclear site in Somerset, where EDF is pushing ahead despite challenges from unions and Brexit

Surrounded by a sea of broken rock and mounds of earth on the Somerset coast stands a small, unassuming sign that states simply “R2”.

It is here that the second of two nuclear reactors will switch on in the middle of the next decade if all goes according to EDF Energy’s plan for Hinkley Point C, proving that Britain can still build new nuclear power stations and, more importantly, providing 7% of the country’s electricity.

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TfL to spend £18m on preparing London for new electric black cabs

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 16:24:18 GMT2017-04-26T16:24:18Z

Upgrade of capital’s power grids will enable energy companies to install 300 fast-charging stations by 2020

Transport for London is spending £18m on upgrading the capital’s power grids to charge the first generation of battery-powered black cabs.

From 1 January 2018, all new black cabs will have to be battery-powered electric models by law as part of TfL’s effort to reduce toxic pollution from diesel engines.

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Anger after farm worker who admitted animal cruelty is not jailed

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:10:19 GMT2017-04-26T13:10:19Z

Animal rights activists criticise suspended sentence given to apprentice Owen Nichol who was filmed attacking cow and calves

Animal rights activists have criticised a decision not to jail a farm apprentice who was secretly filmed hitting, stamping on and throwing newborn calves at a Somerset farm.

Owen Nichol, 18, who attacked the calves and a cow and repeatedly swore at the animals, was given a suspended prison sentence.

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Most global investors recognise financial risk of climate change, report finds

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:00:15 GMT2017-04-25T20:00:15Z

Global index reveals 60% of asset owners are now taking some action, but warns there is still ‘enormous resistance’ to managing climate risk

For the first time a majority of global investor heavyweights recognise the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks.

But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk.

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Tories 'on very dodgy ground' over delay of air pollution plan, say experts

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:02:10 GMT2017-04-25T16:02:10Z

Constitutional experts say government is on ‘very dodgy ground’ claiming election purdah forces it to postpone publishing pollution strategy

The government’s attempt to delay publishing its air pollution strategy because of the election is “dishonest” and leaves ministers on “very dodgy ground”, according to constitutional experts.

The government had been under a court direction to produce tougher draft measures to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, which is responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year, by 4pm on Monday. The original plans had been dismissed by judges as so poor as to be unlawful.

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High court orders UK government to explain clean air plan delay

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:12:30 GMT2017-04-25T11:12:30Z

Critics say air pollution issue is public health and not political issue and ministers must defend delay in high court

The government has been ordered back to the high court to explain its last-minute bid to delay publication of the UK’s clean air plan.

Politicians and environmental groups had complained that ministers were “hiding behind the election” after they said they could not publish the proposals because of election purdah.

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Cold snap brings snow flurries to Britain

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:35:23 GMT2017-04-25T08:35:23Z

Spring on hold until weekend as forecasters predict Arctic blast will be replaced by hail and thunderstorms through to Wednesday

A blast of late winter weather has brought snow flurries to many parts of northern England and the Midlands.

Towns as far south as Norwich woke to a sprinkling of snow on Tuesday morning, with Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the north-east also reporting wintry showers.

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Plastic-eating worms could help wage war on waste

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:09:07 GMT2017-04-25T00:09:07Z

Wax moth larvae are usually bred as fish bait, but a chance discovery has revealed their taste for plastic – which could be used to beat polluting plastic

For caterpillars that are bred as premium fish bait, it must rank as a better life. Rather than dangling on the end of a hook and wondering what comes next, the grubs are set to join the war on plastic waste.

The larvae of wax moths are sold as delicious snacks for chub, carp and catfish, but in the wild the worms live on beeswax, making them the scourge of beekeepers across Europe.

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Conservationists call for moratorium on logging to save endangered Leadbeater’s possum

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:16:57 GMT2017-04-24T22:16:57Z

Victorian government asked to ‘completely prohibit logging’ on more than 100,000 hectares of the state’s mountain ash forest

Conservationists have called for a moratorium on logging more than 100,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining native forest estate to protect the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

Environmental Justice Australia, acting on behalf of volunteer organisation Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum, wrote to the Victorian environment minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, on Monday requesting she implement an interim conservation order to “completely prohibit logging within the critical habitat of the Leadbeater’s possum” in order to ensure the survival of the species, which is at risk of dying out within the next 40 years.

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The government just announced a gamechanger for cycling in England – Sam Jones

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:45:06 GMT2017-04-26T10:45:06Z

The new cycling and walking investment strategy is the first legislation of its kind to legally bind the government to long-term funding for cycling and walking provision

Unless you’re an avid transport campaigner, it’s likely that among the rush of government announcements made last week, you will have missed one very important one: the publication of the cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS),

The government’s intention to launch a CWIS was first announced in January 2015. It took more than two years, but we now have the first legislation of its kind in England to bind the government with legal commitments to invest in cycling and walking provision.

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March against madness - denial has pushed scientists out into the streets | Dana Nuccitelli

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:00:45 GMT2017-04-25T10:00:45Z

America’s leaders are playing Russian roulette with our future

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and around the world marched in support of science. Next weekend, the People’s Climate March will follow.

Redglass Pictures and StarTalk Radio created a short film in which the brilliant scientist and communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson – though not specifically talking about the science marches – perfectly articulated the motivations behind them.

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Christian Earth Day lessons: worship by protecting creation | Paul Douglas

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 10:00:11 GMT2017-04-22T10:00:11Z

Climate change is a global pro-life issue

Readers of this column know that I tend to focus on breaking science in the climate and energy areas. Sometimes, I stray into politics and other times, I venture further afield. Today, on Earth Day, I was reflecting on best ways to move real action forward and it is clear to me, and almost everyone in this industry, that building bridges between like-minded groups is key.

Frankly, it isn’t just scientists that are concerned about climate change. Our concerns are shared by business leaders, the insurance industry, defense industries, people who enjoy the outdoors, farmers, and many more. Recently, there has been a movement amongst persons of faith as well. In fact, for some people of faith, taking care of the Earth is a mandate from a higher authority. In this light, and to celebrate a very different voice form my own, the following is a guest post by a well-known meteorologist in the USA, Paul Douglas. It turns out he is also a man of faith as well as a business leader. Thanks Paul.

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'Uber for bikes' comes to Cambridge – if you can find it

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:21:49 GMT2017-04-21T16:21:49Z

China’s popular dockless cycle share schemes allow riders to drop their bike wherever they want. Ofo is the first to launch in the UK - but what will our rider make of it?

Ofo, one of a host of Chinese start-ups hoping to do for bikes what Uber did for taxis, has chosen Cambridge for its first foray into Europe, a trial of which launched without fanfare this week.

Chinese cities have seen hundreds of thousands of these ‘dockless’ bikes hit its streets, that now have tens of millions of regular users.

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Green Investment Bank sell-off: only time will tell how green it is | Nils Pratley

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:20:41 GMT2017-04-21T06:20:41Z

The government has secured green ‘commitments’ after the £2.3bn sale. In reality it has secured only ‘good intentions’

The charge that Macquarie is a ruthless asset-stripper that, given half a chance, would dismember the Green Investment Bank clearly stung. As the government unveiled the inevitable sale, for £2.3bn, to a consortium led by the Australian finance house, all sides were anxious to emphasise the buyer’s long-term enthusiasm for its new purchase.

GIB will survive as a discrete entity in Edinburgh. Macquarie will throw a few of its own assets – a couple of windfarms and a waste and biomass plant – into the mix for it to manage. It will report on progress in honouring GIB’s green investment principles. It will aim to invest £1bn a year in green energy projects, more than the £700m-ish that GIB was achieving via taxpayer funding. “We look forward to seeing these commitments from Macquarie delivered, in full, in the months and years ahead,” said Lord Smith of Kelvin, GIB’s chair.

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It's good to hear cycling to work reduces your risk of dying. But that's not why I do it | Laura Laker

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:16:21 GMT2017-04-20T14:16:21Z

The latest study on the health benefits of cycling suggests it can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease. It’s also the most fun you can have on your daily commute

It may not be a surprise to see another study suggesting that cycling to work can drastically reduce your chances of getting cancer and heart disease – those who ride bikes for transport already know how good it makes them feel. However, it’s perhaps yet another motivation for those who don’t, to dust off their bikes – and remember some other reasons cycling to work is so great.

In a five-year study of 263,450 UK commuters, published in the BMJ, researchers at Glasgow University found regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, and the incidence of cancer and heart disease by 45% and 46% respectively.

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Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:00:20 GMT2017-04-17T10:00:20Z

Humans are changing Earth’s climate at an alarmingly fast rate

A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.

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New study shows worrisome signs for Greenland ice | John Abraham

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 10:00:30 GMT2017-04-14T10:00:30Z

Greenland ice is melting fast, and could potentially cause many meters of sea level rise

As humans put more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, ice around the planet melts. This melting can be a problem, particularly if the melting ice starts its life on land. That’s because the melt water flows into the oceans, contributing to rising sea levels. Right now there are three main reasons that sea levels are rising. First, as ocean waters heat, they expand. Second, melting of ice in Antarctica flows into the ocean. Third, melting of ice on Greenland flows into the ocean. There is other melting, like mountain glaciers, but they are minor factors.

Okay, so how much is melting of Greenland contributing to sea level rise? Estimates are that about 270 gigatons of water per year are melting. The melting of an ice sheet like that atop Greenland can occur from the surface as air temperatures and sunlight warm the upper layer of ice. It can also occur from the edges as ice shelves collapse and fall into the oceans in large chunks.

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How much could commuter cycling increase in your part of England?

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:30:20 GMT2017-04-13T07:30:20Z

New tool maps the potential increase in bike journeys under different scenarios – from routes avoiding hills to adopting e-bikes – revealing health benefits and informing future investment

Chances are you live in a place where less than one in 20 commuters regularly cycle to work. Sometimes people assume this is because England is too hilly, or that most home-to-work distances are too far to cycle. Hilliness and distance do matter. However, new research has found that this is only part of the story. With the right cycling conditions, cycling levels could be much higher than they are now.

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Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in DRC

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:54:01 GMT2017-04-25T09:54:01Z

Joël Meriko Ari and Gerome Bolimola Afokao discovered a group of men with a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass. The rangers leave behind 11 children

Elephant poachers have killed two wildlife rangers in a shootout in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reports African Parks, a not-for-profit conservation group that manages 10 protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.

While out patrolling on 11 April, ranger Joël Meriko Ari and Sgt Gerome Bolimola Afokao of the DRC armed forces heard gunshots, African Parks reported. The patrol unit followed signs and tracks until they discovered a group of six poachers who were chopping up a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass.

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David Attenborough’s ‘Guardian headline’ halts Borneo bridge

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 11:03:14 GMT2017-04-21T11:03:14Z

Conservationist denounced Sukau project as a threat to pygmy elephants and orangutans

Officials in Borneo have cancelled plans to build a bridge across the Kinabatangan river, after warnings from Sir David Attenborough and other conservationists that it would gravely endanger pygmy elephants, orangutans and many other jungle species. The news comes just weeks after the Guardian revealed Attenborough’s opposition to the project.

Attenborough originally sent a private letter to the chief minister of the state of Sabah, Musa Aman, in September 2016. Last month, with signs pointing to the bridge still going ahead, the Guardian published excerpts from the letter. The authorities in Borneo have described Attenborough’s now-public opposition as the final blow to the project.

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‘I liked elephant heart. It was soft and very tasty’

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 05:00:17 GMT2017-04-13T05:00:17Z

For 40 years I hunted elephants and other big game in the forests of Rwanda. This is how I became an ex-poacher

I was born in Kinigi, in Rwanda’s Musanze district, about 65 years ago, and it is still my home. I come from the Batwa community; we are very short people. There are about 400 of us, which makes us the smallest tribe in Rwanda.

We lived in the forests long before the government took them over, and we were known as their keepers. They meant everything to us. I did not even know what a school was. Like my parents, my brother and my two sisters, all I knew was life in the forest.

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Secret footage obtained of the wild elephants sold into captivity in Chinese zoos

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:01:41 GMT2017-04-06T11:01:41Z

Animal welfare advocates have filmed some of the wild elephants captured in Zimbabwe last year and shipped to China

Last year more than 30 young elephants were captured from the wild in Zimbabwe and flown by plane to China. The elephants – some reported to be as young as three – were dispersed to a number of zoos throughout the country, including the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, the Beijing Wildlife Park and the Hangzhou Safari Park, according to conservationists.

But what are their lives like now?

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Good news for elephants: China's legal ivory trade is 'dying' as prices fall

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 10:41:00 GMT2017-03-30T10:41:00Z

Elephant conservationists hopeful that demand for ivory in China is falling amid government clampdown on ivory sellers, but experts remain wary of poaching

The wholesale price of raw legal ivory has dropped by almost two thirds since China, the world’s largest ivory importer and trader, announced plans to close down its domestic market, according to new research.

Researchers working for the conservation organisation Save the Elephants visited Beijing and Shanghai, as well as six cities whose markets had never been surveyed before: Changzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Suzhou and Tianjin. The researchers, Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, concluded that the legal trade in ivory is dying.

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Did George Orwell shoot an elephant? His 1936 'confession' – and what it might mean

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 08:00:33 GMT2017-03-18T08:00:33Z

George Orwell wrote a shocking account of a colonial policeman who kills an elephant and is filled with self-loathing. But was this fiction – or a confession? An Orwell expert introduces the original story

British imperialism being a largely commercial concern, when Burma became a part of the empire in 1886 the exploitation of its forests accelerated. Since motorised transport was useless in such hilly terrain, the timber companies used elephants. These docile, intelligent creatures were worth their weight in gold, hauling logs, stacking them near streams, launching them on their way and sometimes even clearing log jams that the foresters could not shift.

In the 1920s a young would-be poet, an ex-Etonian named Eric Blair, arrived as a Burma Police recruit and was posted to several places, culminating in Moulmein. Here he was accused of killing a timber company elephant, the chief of police saying he was a disgrace to Eton. Blair resigned while back in England on leave, and published several books under his assumed name, George Orwell.

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Paichit – the baby elephant saved from a palm oil plantation in Indonesia

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 07:19:23 GMT2017-03-16T07:19:23Z

Orphaned at a few months old and nursed back to health by a local wildlife centre, Paichit’s story has serious implications for critically endangered Sumatran elephants

Pushing on 400 kilograms, baby Paichit knows when it’s feeding time.

He lets out an appreciative bellow, a rumbling baby elephant purr from his patch in the Sumatran jungle, as soon as his mahout (keeper) Julkarnaini approaches bucket in hand.

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Can elephants and humans live together?

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 06:00:05 GMT2017-03-06T06:00:05Z

Berserk beasts, trashed crops, vengeful villagers: tales of ‘conflict’ come thick and fast as humans and elephants are forced into closer contact. But does it have to be war? Across Asia and Africa, there are hints of how we might live in peace

While I was working on this article, two people were killed by wild elephants near my home in south India. Mary Leena, a middle-aged woman, was rushing to church for an early morning service. At an intersection, she came face to face with a huge male elephant as it turned the corner. Both panicked; the elephant swung his trunk out, and she was thrown into a wall. She was rushed to the hospital, but died on the way.

Three weeks later, a lorry driver on a national highway heard someone calling for help. He found an old lady in the tea bushes, badly injured. She was walking along the road, encountered wild elephants, and was thrown into the bushes. She too died shortly after.

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David Attenborough attacks plan for Borneo bridge that threatens orangutans

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 14:12:15 GMT2017-03-02T14:12:15Z

Endangered pygmy elephants and orangutans threatened by scheme for Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

David Attenborough and Steve Backshall have joined conservationists and charities asking officials in Borneo to reconsider a bridge that threatens one of the last sanctuaries of the rare pygmy elephant.

There are now just 1,500 of the world’s smallest pachyderm, according to WWF, and about 300 of them make their home in the 26,000-hectare Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, in the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. But construction teams have begun preparatory work for a bridge that will cross the Kinabatangan river which weaves through the region. The area is also home to critically endangered orangutans, proboscis monkeys, clouded leopards, gibbons, sun bears, pangolins and thousands of other jungle species, and hosts a thriving eco-tourism industry where travellers can view wildlife from boats on the river or while hiking into the forests.

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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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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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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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Could you live with just three toiletries?

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 07:00:32 GMT2017-04-08T07:00:32Z

Startup Akamai is on a mission to get people to wash less – but changing modern hygiene habits will not be easy

Imagine clearing out that bathroom cupboard bursting with bottles and tubes and replacing them with just three products.

That’s what US-based personal care startup Akamai is trying to persuade people to do, in an unusual business move – asking customers to buy less.

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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 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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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:03:51 GMT2017-04-21T13:03:51Z

Sharks at night, a feeding vampire bat and California’s wildflower super bloom are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 17:14:24 GMT2017-04-13T17:14:24Z

Ducks, red deer, cherry blossoms and leopards in the hill forests of Myanmar are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:21:16 GMT2017-04-07T14:21:16Z

Snowshoe hare, flying fish and pink flamingos are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:00:04 GMT2017-03-31T13:00:04Z

Orcas on the attack, bioluminescent mushrooms and a giant Australian cuttlefish are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:00:34 GMT2017-03-24T14:00:34Z

Cactus flowers, a former circus bear and a baby elephant are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:00:11 GMT2017-03-17T14:00:11Z

Nesting bald eagles, Adélie penguins and a newly hatched Komodo dragon are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 14:02:09 GMT2017-03-10T14:02:09Z

A rare jaguar sighting in the US, a green toad and spring flowers are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:00:04 GMT2017-03-03T14:00:04Z

Poison arrow frogs, a Steller sea lion and a chameleon are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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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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California ‘super bloom’ visible from space – video report

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:42:30 GMT2017-04-26T13:42:30Z

Wildflowers have erupted across California deserts in the past month in a phenomenon known as a ‘super bloom’. After heavy rainfall ended months of drought, the flowers carpeted such vast areas that the transformation was visible from space

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Baby whales 'whisper' to mothers to avoid predators, study finds

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 02:41:33 GMT2017-04-26T02:41:33Z

Scientists reveal unique, intimate form of communication between humpback mothers and calves as well as silent method to initiate suckling

Newborn humpback whales and their mothers whisper to each other to escape potential predators, scientists reported Wednesday, revealing the existence of a previously unknown survival technique.

“They don’t want any unwanted listeners,” researcher Simone Videsen, lead author of a study published in Functional Ecology, said.

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Satellite Eye on Earth: March 2017 – in pictures

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:19:10 GMT2017-04-26T13:19:10Z

Mount Etna, India’s ship graveyard and trees in Africa are among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month

The Mackenzie river system is Canada’s largest watershed, and the 10th largest water basin in the world. The river runs 4,200km (2,600 miles) from the Columbia icefield in the Canadian Rockies to the Arctic Ocean. If your vehicle weighs less than 22,000lb, you can drive the frozen river out to Reindeer Station. The bitterly cold ice road runs for 194km between the remote outposts of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. White, snow- and ice-covered waterways of the east channel of the Mackenzie river delta stand out amid green, pine-covered land. The low angle of the sunlight bathes the higher elevations in golden light. The pond- and lake-covered lands around the river are home to caribou, waterfowl, and a number of fish species. Several thousand reindeer travel through this area each year on the way to their calving grounds.

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10 emperor penguin facts for World Penguin Day – in pictures

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 06:13:40 GMT2017-04-25T06:13:40Z

Emperor penguins are perfectly adapted to survive harsh Antarctic conditions but their habitat is threatened due to climate change. To celebrate World Penguin Day, the WWF has chosen its top 10 emperor penguin facts

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Adani coalmine at heightened risk of becoming a stranded asset, report says

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:11:23 GMT2017-04-24T22:11:23Z

Carmichael project likely to be ‘cash flow negative’ for most of its operating life, according to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

The risk of the controversial Adani Carmichael coalmine becoming a stranded asset has increased in the last 12 months, according to a new report.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), says the Carmichael project is likely to be “cash flow negative” for the majority its operating life, even with concessional loans.

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'Sightings' of extinct Tasmanian tiger prompt search in Queensland

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 02:57:41 GMT2017-03-28T02:57:41Z

Eyewitness accounts of large, dog-like animals in state’s far north spur scientific hunt for thylacines, thought to have died out in 1936

“Plausible” possible sightings of a Tasmanian tiger in northern Queensland have prompted scientists to undertake a search for the species thought to have died out more than 80 years ago.

The last thylacine is thought to have died in Hobart zoo in 1936, and it is widely believed to have become extinct on mainland Australia at least 2,000 years ago.

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