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Environment | The Guardian



Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.



Published: Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:16:45 GMT2017-12-14T15:16:45Z

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



Court upholds Obama-era ban on new Grand Canyon uranium mines

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:23:04 GMT2017-12-12T22:23:04Z

Celebration of the ruling by environmentalist has been tempered by expectations that the Trump administration will side with mining interests to end the ban

A powerful court ruled on Tuesday that an Obama-era ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon should stay in place, though celebration on the environment side was tempered by expectations the government itself will now side with mining interests to end the ban. A separate, but linked, ruling on an older mine was a defeat for a Native American tribe.

The mining industry and a coalition of Republicans in Arizona and Utah had hoped for court support to tear down an order from the Obama administration in 2012 that protected a million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from mining development for 20 years. But they lost in the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday.

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Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:04:54 GMT2017-12-12T19:04:54Z

  • Sea ice also melting at fastest pace in 1,500 years, US government scientists find
  • ‘The Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago’ – author

Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever, according to a new US government report that also found Arctic seawater is warming and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace in 1,500 years.

The annual report released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed slightly less warming in many measurements than a record hot 2016. But scientists remain concerned because the far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe and has reached a level of warming that’s unprecedented in modern times.

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Wildcats, butterflies, tortoises: all are endangered by Trump's border wall

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:00:32 GMT2017-12-12T11:00:32Z

In the Rio Grande Valley, close to the border with Mexico, the president’s proposed barrier spells danger for the region’s plentiful wildlife

Deep in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, where half the US’s species of butterflies reside in a protected swath of green, Donald Trump’s wall may soon rise from an earthen levee.

The wall is designed to be a barricade to anyone who has crossed the nearby Rio Grande river from Mexico, with a concrete base topped by steel bollards rising 18 feet in the air as well as a 150ft-wide enforcement zone stripped of all vegetation.

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'No shame': how the Trump administration granted big oil's wishlist

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:00:32 GMT2017-12-12T11:00:32Z

The EPA has fulfilled almost all major demands made by the American Petroleum Institute within its first year under Trump

The Trump administration’s zeal for environmental rollbacks has enabled it to fulfill almost all of the top priorities in a “wishlist” drawn up by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the leading lobby group for US oil and gas companies.

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How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump's White House

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:00:31 GMT2017-12-12T11:00:31Z

The oil industry has stalled action on climate change from the inside and sold America on fossil fuels – and its influence goes back further than people realize

When Rick Perry was interrupted by climate-change protesters during his address to the National Petroleum Council in late September, the energy secretary was ready with a retort.

“You want to talk about something that saves lives? It’s the access to energy around the globe,” Perry said, countering a woman worried about deadly hurricanes and a man whose hometown is being submerged by the rising Philippine Sea. “I am proud to be a part of this industry. I am proud to be an American.”

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Macron awards US scientists grants to move to France in defiance of Trump

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:16:49 GMT2017-12-11T21:16:49Z

France’s president awards millions of euros to 18 American scientists to relocate in effort to counter Donald Trump on the climate change front

Eighteen climate scientists from the US and elsewhere have hit the jackpot as France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trump’s presidential term.

The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants – a nod to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan – are part of Macron’s efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

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Patagonia files claim against Trump over removing Bears Ears protections

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:32:39 GMT2017-12-07T18:32:39Z

The company says Donald Trump is exceeding the powers of his office by enacting the largest removal of protection from federal lands in history

A trail run that began years ago in the desert of Utah has brought outdoor retailer Patagonia to an unexpected – and considerably less scenic – crossroads, at a federal courthouse in Washington DC.

Related: Trump slashes size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah

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Ryan Zinke recommends Trump shrink two more US national monuments

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 21:17:44 GMT2017-12-05T21:17:44Z

  • Interior secretary aims to reduce Cascade-Siskiyou and Gold Butte monuments
  • Zinke hits back at Patagonia after ad said ‘the president stole your land’

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke has announced recommendations to shrink two more national monuments in the western US – Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, and Gold Butte in Nevada.

Related: Trump slashes size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah

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Trump slashes size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 01:34:44 GMT2017-12-05T01:34:44Z

President signs two proclamations slashing protections for Utah monuments, representing a triumph for fossil fuel industries, ranchers and Republicans

Donald Trump was widely condemned on Monday for drastically shrinking two national monuments, representing the biggest elimination of public lands protection in US history.

Related: 'We'll see the battle lines': Trump faced by Native American alliance over Bears Ears

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'We'll see the battle lines': Trump faced by Native American alliance over Bears Ears

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:27:02 GMT2017-12-04T12:27:02Z

The president is expected to announce the shrinking of two national monuments on a visit to Utah but native tribes are uniting to oppose a ‘monumental mistake’

On Monday, Donald Trump will visit Salt Lake City. He is expected to formally announce plans to substantially shrink two Utah national monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears.

Related: 'As close as the US gets to Egypt’s pyramids': how Chaco Canyon is endangered by drilling

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President Trump, don't decimate the Bears Ears National Monument | Sally Jewell

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 11:00:08 GMT2017-12-04T11:00:08Z

On Monday, we are expected to see the largest rollback of protections for public lands and waters in US history. This would be a grave mistake

In the middle of my four-day visit to south-eastern Utah in 2016, I was invited into a tipi located between the Bears Ears buttes. The Native American spiritual leaders who still collect medicinal herbs in the area were there, as were leaders from the five tribes of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition: the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Ute and Ute Mountain Ute.

The tribes, not always known to see eye-to-eye, had united to share the importance of this region to their cultures, traditions and spiritual wellbeing. Their emotion was deep and flowing as we sat around the fire, and they expressed the importance of protecting these lands for their children and grandchildren. My job as secretary of the interior was to listen, and their message was powerful.

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'It has no protections': scientists fight for wildfire-burned land amid logging threat

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:00:07 GMT2017-11-15T12:00:07Z

The US cashes in on timber from ‘devastated’ areas – but such land is actually ‘the rarest and most biodiverse habitat in the Sierra Nevadas’, says an expert

Less than a mile from Yosemite national park, Chad Hanson is wading through a sea of knee-high conifers that have burst from the ashes of the vast 2013 Rim fire. The US Forest Service essentially says the baby trees don’t exist.

The agency says that “catastrophic” fires have “devastated” parts of the forest, painting an eerie picture of swaths of blackened tree trunks like something out of a Tim Burton film.

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Nebraska regulators approve Keystone XL pipeline route

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:59:27 GMT2017-11-20T18:59:27Z

Pipeline plan clears last major regulatory hurdle after vote in Nebraska, but legal challenges and protest likely to follow

A panel of Nebraska regulators have voted narrowly in favor of allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to follow a path through the state, removing the last major regulatory hurdle for the controversial project.

The Nebraska public service commission voted 3-2 to approve a permit for the pipeline, which will stretch for 1,200 miles and carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day. The vote saw one of the four Republicans on the commission, Mary Ridder, join with the Democrat, Crystal Rhoades, in opposing the permit. Rhoades said she was concerned about the impact upon landowners and that there was “no evidence” the pipeline would create jobs in Nebraska.

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Keystone XL pipeline decision: what's at stake and what comes next?

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:00:27 GMT2017-11-20T11:00:27Z

Nebraska regulators will decide Monday on the last major regulatory hurdle facing the project. Here’s what you need to know

Nebraska regulators are expected to decide on Monday whether to approve or deny an in-state route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the last major regulatory hurdle facing project operator TransCanada Corp.

The Nebraska public service commission’s ruling is on the Nebraska route TransCanada has proposed to complete the $8bn,179-mile pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf coast refineries. The proposed Keystone XL route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska.

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Keystone pipeline leaks estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:46:22 GMT2017-11-16T23:46:22Z

Officials do not believe the leak in TransCanada Corp’s pipeline, which carries oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, affected drinking water

TransCanada Corp’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in north-eastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported on Thursday.

Crews shut down the pipeline on Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

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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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Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:07:52 GMT2017-12-14T12:07:52Z

Office for Nuclear Regulation approves design for new reactor at Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, Anglesey

Plans for a major new nuclear power station in Wales have taken a crucial step forward as UK regulators approved the project.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and two other government bodies gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process.

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EU must not burn the world's forests for 'renewable' energy

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:01:06 GMT2017-12-14T12:01:06Z

A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forests

The European Union is moving to enact a directive to double Europe’s current renewable energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a critical flaw in the present version would accelerate climate change, allowing countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees and burning them for energy fully qualifies as renewable energy.

Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quantity of trees and to avoid profound harm to the climate and forests worldwide the European council and parliament must fix this flaw.

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In 10 years' time trains could be solar powered

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:25 GMT2017-12-14T07:00:25Z

A technique has been devised that allows electricity to flow directly from solar panels to electrified train tracks to the trains themselves making solar powered trains more feasible than ever before


Last week, my 10:10 colleague Leo Murray co-authored a new report on solar-powered trains with Nathaniel Bottrell, an electrical engineer at Imperial College.

It’s exciting stuff. We think solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There’s scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester too, and there’s no reason it should just be a British thing either. We’re especially excited about possibilities in San Francisco, Mexico City, India and Spain, but trains and trams all over the world could be running on sun in a few years time.

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Fueling dissent: how the oil industry set out to undercut clean air

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:25 GMT2017-12-14T07:00:25Z

After casting doubt on climate change for decades, skeptic consultants have turned their attention to air pollution

On sunny days, when his classmates run out to play, Gabriel Rosales heads to the school nurse for a dose of Albuterol.

The fine mist opens his airways, relaxing the muscles in his chest. Without it, recess could leave the nine-year-old gasping for breath. He gets a second dose at the end of the day before heading home from St John Bosco Elementary School, in San Antonio, Texas.

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How to feed the world while curbing our appetite for destruction | Letters

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:15:08 GMT2017-12-13T19:15:08Z

There is enough food for everyone, says Chrissie Hynde – if everyone takes only their fair share and stops eating animals. Others suggest improving farming production methods, tackling population growth and taxing meat

Although I strongly agree with and appreciate George Monbiot’s efforts to shed light on the destructive nature of industrialised farming and its effects on animals and environment (We can’t go on eating like this, 11 December), I do not see the wisdom of tarring the entire farming community with the same brush.

Small family farms, where the profits are just enough to sustain the running of the farm, actually replenish the environment and provide for local communities. A non-slaughter farm is humane, realistic and beneficial all around. We need farmers. There is enough food for everyone if everyone takes only their fair share and stops killing and eating the animals.

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'Last year I gave the kids briquettes and everyone yelled at me!' Christmas with Ian | First Dog on the Moon

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:14:00 GMT2017-12-13T07:14:00Z

Ian the Climate Denialist Potato surprises his loved ones with a festive report on climate emissions. Or would they rather get an inflatable Greg Hunt doll?

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The Tories’ rebranding won’t wash: being green is about more than fluffy bunnies | Molly Scott Cato

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:28:17 GMT2017-12-12T12:28:17Z

It’s all very well for Michael Gove to act as if the Tories love animals but they need to see the bigger picture on fracking, renewables and ecology

Up to their necks in Brexit chaos and with Corbyn’s Labour snapping at their heels, the Tories are trying again with a somewhat tired strategy to escape the label of the “nasty party”. They are having another go at acting like environmentalists, this time combining it with being nice to animals. At the helm of this more caring narrative is environment secretary, Michael Gove, tasked with resurrecting the idea that blue is the new green.

Related: Tories briefed on new policies after fears about 'compassionless' image

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Size does matter: wine glasses are seven times larger than they used to be

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:11:58 GMT2017-12-14T11:11:58Z

In the 1700s the average-sized wine glass could hold just 66ml of the tipple. Today it’s not unusual to be handed a glass that holds almost half a litre

Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors may have enjoyed a Christmas tipple but judging by the size of the glasses they used they probably drank less wine than we do today.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the capacity of wine glasses has ballooned nearly seven-fold over the past 300 years, rising most sharply in the last two decades in line with a surge in wine consumption.

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Sheffield council votes to fell trees planted in memory of war dead

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:06:02 GMT2017-12-14T10:06:02Z

Campaigners condemn move to chop down tribute to local soldiers in long-running row over £2bn renovation

Councillors in Sheffield have voted to fell dozens of trees planted 98 years ago in honour of fallen soldiers in a move attacked by critics as “the first publicly sanctioned desecrations of a war memorial”.

Campaigners have fought a long battle with Sheffield city council over the fate of the trees, planted in 1919 as a “living memorial” to soldiers killed in the first world war.

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After years of toxic oil spills, indigenous Peruvians use tech to fight back

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:00:28 GMT2017-12-14T10:00:28Z

Fidel Sandi’s Achuar community has been plagued with oil contamination for decades – but he is now able to collect and gather evidence for his claims

Armed with territorial knowledge, rubber boots, smartphones and drones, indigenous Amazonians in Peru are doing what state and private oil companies have long failed to do: report oil spills that have been polluting their corner of the rainforest for decades.

Fidel Sandi, 33, a leader in the indigenous Achuar community of San Cristobal, plunges a stick into the spongy soil of a palm swamp and watches as sticky crude bubbles to the surface leaving an oily sheen on the water.

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Research shows that certain facts can still change conservatives’ minds | Dana Nuccitelli

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:00:29 GMT2017-12-14T11:00:29Z

But it’s political corruption, not public opinion that’s blocking American climate policy

There’s a debate between social scientists about whether climate change facts can change peoples’ minds or just polarize them further. For example, conservatives who are more scientifically literate are less worried about global warming. In essence, education arms them with the tools to more easily reject evidence and information that conflicts with their ideological beliefs. This has been called the “smart idiot” effect and it isn’t limited to climate change; it’s also something we’re seeing with the Republican tax plan.

However, other research has shown that conservatives with higher climate-specific knowledge are more likely to accept climate change – a result that holds in many different countries. For example, when people understand how the greenhouse effect works, across the political spectrum they’re more likely to accept human-caused global warming.

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The US is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate | John Abraham

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-12-13T11:00:00Z

As America is battered by climate-intensified weather disasters, Republican politicians are trying to slash climate research funding

The United States is great in many respects. But we certainly aren’t perfect; we’ve made some pretty silly choices. One of the dumb choices politicians in the United States want to make is to defund climate science so we wont be able to prepare for increased disasters in the future. We can see how shortsighted this in when compared alongside with the costs of disasters.

Just think about the respective magnitudes. Estimates put the costs of the three big 2017 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) at approximately $200 billion. It is somewhat challenging to estimate the actual cost because not only is there rebuilding that must occur, but there are also lingering damages from loss of power, dislocation of people, and other long-lasting factors. Some reports estimate that the damage may end up being as high as $300 billion – a staggering amount.

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It's beloved, but Australia's magpie is an international bird of mystery | Leo Joseph

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:30:08 GMT2017-12-12T08:30:08Z

Our magpies are not the same as Europe’s, so why do they share a name? The bird of the year has a complicated back story

The Australian magpie has been crowned bird of the year but how much do we really know about it? Where do magpies fit in the evolutionary scheme of things? Why do we even call them magpies?

DNA sequencing technology has revolutionised biology. Our understanding of the evolutionary tree of bird life – that is how species and groups of birds are related to each other and how their evolution has unfolded on the planet’s changing continents – is no exception. We now have a much better understanding than we did just 30 years ago of where all the species of the world’s birds perch, so to speak, on that tree.

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It's not asking the earth for independent watchdog to fill EU gap

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:00:28 GMT2017-12-12T08:00:28Z

Michael Gove must deliver on his promise to give ‘the environment a voice’ to ensure short-term politics do not interfere with the natural world

Michael Gove has raised the stakes for those of us determined to see a world-class environment for the UK. The environment secretary has vowed that the government will establish a “new, world-leading body to give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account, independent of government and able to speak its mind freely”.

MPs will debate this new institution during the next stages of the withdrawal bill in parliament on Tuesday and must ensure Gove’s promises are turned into legally binding commitments.

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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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Environmental crusaders risk their lives to save Philippine paradise

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 12:36:31 GMT2017-12-06T12:36:31Z

A small group of civilian para-enforcers is taking the protection of Palawan’s threatened rainforest from illegal loggers into their own hands

Tata gives hand signals for his men to drop to the rainforest floor as the searing whine of a chainsaw fades, their mission to save a critically endangered piece of paradise in the Philippines suddenly on hold.

Former paramilitary leader Efren “Tata” Balladares has been leading the other flip flop-wearing environmental crusaders up and down the steep mountains of Palawan island for the past 15 hours in the hunt for illegal loggers.

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Battle for the mother land: indigenous people of Colombia fighting for their lands

Sat, 28 Oct 2017 23:05:12 GMT2017-10-28T23:05:12Z

The 50-year civil war is over but, in the Cauca Valley, indigenous communities are on frontline of fight against drug gangs, riot police and deforestation

In pictures: Colombia’s land battles shatter the peace in Cauca Valley

A green-and-red flag flies over a cluster of bamboo and tarpaulin tents on the frontline of an increasingly deadly struggle for land and the environment in Colombia’s Cauca Valley.

It is the banner for what indigenous activists are calling the “liberation of Mother Earth”, a movement to reclaim ancestral land from sugar plantations, farms and tourist resorts that has gained momentum in the vacuum left by last year’s peace accord between the government and the leftwing guerrillas who once dominated the region – ending, in turn, the world’s longest-running civil war.

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‘For us, the land is sacred’: on the road with the defenders of the world’s forests

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 12:25:30 GMT2017-11-04T12:25:30Z

A busload of indigenous leaders have been crossing Europe to highlight their cause before the start of UN climate talks in Bonn

Of the many thousands of participants at the Bonn climate conference which begins on 6 November, there will arguably be none who come with as much hope, courage and anger as the busload of indigenous leaders who have been criss-crossing Europe over the past two weeks, on their way to the former German capital.

The 20 activists on the tour represent forest communities that have been marginalised over centuries but are now increasingly recognised as important actors against climate change through their protection of carbon sinks.

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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’ 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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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 14:00:04 GMT2017-12-08T14:00:04Z

Amazon river dolphins, a foraging raccoon and a snow-covered swan lake are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT2017-12-14T06:00:23Z

Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them. By Jacob Mikanowski

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

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Tesco faces legal threat over marketing its food with 'fake farm' names

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:41:59 GMT2017-12-13T11:41:59Z

Charity accuses UK supermarkets of misleading customers with fake farm branding and claims Tesco is damaging the reputation of a real farm with the same name

Major UK supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Lidl are being urged to stop using controversial “fake farm” branding on own-brand meat products, with a food charity claiming they are misleading shoppers.

The Feedback charity is backing the owner of a genuine farm called Woodside Farm – a name Tesco has also used on its value pork range since 2016 – and is threatening legal proceedings if the retail giant does not drop the name Woodside Farms.

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Living alongside elephants: a study of human and animal habitats

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:12:29 GMT2017-12-14T11:12:29Z

A new book commissioned by David Attenborough’s charity, The World Land Trust, documents life on the small and important elephant corridor which allows the animals to cross safely between ranges in Kerala, India

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English rivers polluted by powerful insecticides, first tests reveal

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:20:13 GMT2017-12-13T07:20:13Z

Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were found in nearly all rivers tested, increasing concerns over their impact on fish and birds

Rivers in England are contaminated with powerful insecticides, new testing has revealed, increasing concerns over the impact of the toxic chemicals on fish and birds.

Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the European Union in 2013 due to the harm they cause to bees and other vital pollinators. Following even more evidence of harm, an EU vote to extend the ban to all outdoor uses is expected soon.

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400-year-old Greenland shark is oldest vertebrate animal

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:18:57 GMT2016-08-12T08:18:57Z

Shark, which would have reached sexual maturity at around 150 years, sets new record for longevity as biologists finally develop method to determine age

She was born during the reign of James I, was a youngster when René Descartes set out his rules of thought and the great fire of London raged, saw out her adolescent years as George II ascended the throne, reached adulthood around the time that the American revolution kicked off, and lived through two world wars. Living to an estimated age of nearly 400 years, a female Greenland shark has set a new record for longevity, scientists have revealed.

Related: Forget Nessie, now is the time to spot basking sharks in Scottish waters

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Meat tax ‘inevitable’ to beat climate and health crises, says report

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:55:51 GMT2017-12-11T11:55:51Z

‘Sin taxes’ to reverse the rapid global growth in meat eating are likely in five to 10 years, according to a report for investors managing over $4tn

“Sin taxes” on meat to reduce its huge impact on climate change and human health look inevitable, according to analysts for investors managing more than $4tn of assets.

The global livestock industry causes 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and meat consumption is rising around the world, but dangerous climate change cannot be avoided unless this is radically curbed. Furthermore, many people already eat far too much meat, seriously damaging their health and incurring huge costs. Livestock also drive other problems, such as water pollution and antibiotic resistance.

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Power from mini nuclear plants 'would cost more than from large ones'

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 15:30:54 GMT2017-12-07T15:30:54Z

UK government study finds electricity would be nearly one-third pricier than it would from plants such as Hinkley Point C

Electricity from the first mini nuclear power stations in Britain would be likely to be more expensive than from large atomic plants such as Hinkley Point C, according to a government study.

Power from small modular reactors (SMRs) would cost nearly one-third more than conventional large ones in 2031, the report found, because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.

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Scottish fishermen say EU is taking 'hardline' quotas stance pre-Brexit

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:36:12 GMT2017-12-13T11:36:12Z

As annual fisheries negotiations conclude, fishermen’s federation says ‘entrenched views’ in EU could affect future talks

Scottish fishermen have raised concerns that the EU is adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to Brexit negotiations.

Annual negotiations over fishing quotas – expected to be the penultimate talks the UK participates in before leaving the EU – were concluded in Brussels early on Wednesday.

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Quarter of Christmas jumpers were worn once and discarded last year

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:30:12 GMT2017-12-13T06:30:12Z

Charity urges people to rewear last year’s jumper to reduce the waste impact of the throwaway festive fashion

One in four Christmas jumpers bought last year was thrown away or is unlikely to be worn again, according to new research which reveals that most novelty sweaters will only ever be worn once.

Emblazoned with flashing lights or more tasteful alpine motifs, the festive apparel is so popular that about £220m will be spent on them in the run up to Christmas this year.

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'Soul-crushing' video of starving polar bear exposes climate crisis, experts say

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 23:27:25 GMT2017-12-08T23:27:25Z

Footage from Canada’s Arctic shows emaciated animal seeking food in scene that left researchers ‘pushing through their tears’

Video footage captured in Canada’s Arctic has offered a devastating look at the impact climate change is having on polar bears in the region, showing an emaciated bear clinging to life as it scrounged for food on iceless land.

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Wylfa nuclear plant closes in Wales

Wed, 30 Dec 2015 18:15:32 GMT2015-12-30T18:15:32Z

Station in Anglesey, the oldest in the UK, shuts as focus is on energy provider EDF over its plans for new facilities at Hinkley Point

Britain’s oldest nuclear plant closed on Wednesday, leaving in its wake a £700m decommissioning bill and further questions about the UK’s ability to keep the lights on.

The closure of the Wylfa plant in Wales after 44 years of service puts more pressure on EDF Energy to take a final investment decision for new reactors at Hinkley in Somerset.

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