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Glastonbury Thorn chopped down as town rages over attack on famous tree

The Guardian - Fri, 2010-12-10 05:39
Tree said to have grown from Joseph of Arimathea's staff is sawn down in 'act of violence against a living thing'

It may have looked like a scrubby bush high on the bare slope of a hill in Somerset, but it was one of the most famous trees in England, and once one of the most famous in all Christendom. And it has been felled by vandals.

The attack left the crown trailing to the ground beside the almost severed trunk of the Glastonbury Thorn, said to have flowered on Wearyall Hill every Christmas day for 2,000 years, since Joseph of Arimathea thrust the staff he brought from the Holy Land into the soil and it miraculously broke into blossom.

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WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord

The Guardian - Sat, 2010-12-04 07:30
Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord

- WikiLeaks cables: Cancún climate talks doomed to fail, says EU president
- Cancún climate change summit: Week one in pictures

Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.

The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.

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Why is a former Greenpeace activist siding with Indonesia's logging industry?

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-12-02 16:00
The Sumatran rainforest faces destruction. And now one of the biggest tree companies has hired a former green campaigner to justify its actions

I don't often find myself praising Tesco, but – deep breath – here goes. This summer it did something brave and good. It de-listed a supplier: not on its usual commercial grounds but for ethical reasons. This was not an easy decision. The company in question is a huge concern, whose political and economic connections make Tesco look like a corner shop. Its produce is cheap. But Tesco made the right call. It seems to me that Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) could make a fair claim to being one of the most destructive companies on the planet.

APP is part of the Sinar Mas conglomerate, a Chinese-Indonesian company owned by a fantastically rich dynasty called the Widjajas. Founded in 1962, it grew during the regime of Indonesia's dictator General Suharto into one of Asia's most powerful companies, with interests in palm oil, coal, property and banking. It has been the focus of criticism from human rights and environmental groups for years. But now it is a company with an urgent mission.

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Video | RSPB Feed the Birds day

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-10-28 16:00
There are plenty of ways to help garden birds survive the winter months according to the RSPB's new 'Feed the Birds Day' this Saturday Continue reading...
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What's the carbon footprint of ... email?

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-10-21 16:00
The sending, sorting and filtering of spam email alone accounts for 33bn units of electricity each year

• More carbon footprints: the internet, cycling a mile, others
Understand more about carbon footprints

Our recent piece on the carbon footprint of the internet generated plenty of coverage, so next up in our map of the world's carbon emissions is … email.

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What's the carbon footprint of ... a volcano?

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-10-07 16:00
Human emissions dwarf volcanic emissions, but a big eruption can nonetheless kick out a huge amount of CO2.

• More carbon footprints: the internet, cycling a mile, more
Understand more about carbon footprints

If you have been a victim of the rumour, persistent in some circles,
that volcanic CO2 emissions dwarf those of human activity, now is the
time to be liberated.

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China's great green wall grows in climate fight

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-09-23 18:44
China is speeding ahead with its massive tree-planting project to combat climate change - but questions still remain over the great green wall's effectiveness

In pictures: China's Great Green Wall in Heilongjiang
China's Great Green Wall under threat from insatiable demand for wood

Dubbed "The Great Green Wall," a human-made ecological barrier designed to stop rapidly encroaching deserts and combat climate change is coming up across China. By 2050, the artificial forest is to stretch 400 million hectares – covering more than 42 percent of China's landmass.

China already has the largest human-made forest in the world, covering more than 500,000 square kilometres, and the Communist Party this year announced it had reached its stated goal of 20 percent forest cover by 2010. The government envisions a line of trees stretching 4,480 km from Xinjiang province in the far west to Heilongjiang province in the east.

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Manufacturing a car creates as much carbon as driving it

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-09-23 16:30
Making a new car creates as much carbon pollution as driving it, so it's often better to keep your old banger on the road than to upgrade to a greener model.

• More carbon footprints: nuclear war, cycling a mile, more
Understand more about carbon footprints

The carbon footprint of making a car is immensely complex. Ores have to be dug out of the ground and the metals extracted. These have to be turned into parts. Other components have to be brought together: rubber tyres, plastic dashboards, paint, and so on. All of this involves transporting things around the world. The whole lot then has to be assembled, and every stage in the process requires energy. The companies that make cars have offices and other infrastructure with their own carbon footprints, which we need to somehow allocate proportionately to the cars that are made.

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Video: Peru's water protests halt Machu Picchu tourism

The Guardian - Wed, 2010-09-22 20:16
Dan Chung reports on the standoff between Peruvian police and protesters campaigning against an irrigation project that could leave communities around the town of Espinar without water Continue reading...
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Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson: 'You don't watch whales die and hold signs and do nothing'

The Guardian - Tue, 2010-09-21 19:40
Anti-whaling activist Paul Watson speaks out on relationships with whales, protest versus intervention and veganism

Paul Watson doesn't care what you think. The captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been putting himself between whales and harpoon ships for more than 30 years, preventing the killing of countless cetaceans. He's been called a terrorist, a greater threat than Al-Qaeda, a liar. None of it bothers him.

"I am here to say things people do not want to hear and do things people do not want to see. I am here to piss people off – that is my job," the 59-year-old Watson says in Ron Colby's 2008 documentary Pirate for the Sea.

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Unsustainable sea-farers: the last Bajau sea nomads

The Guardian - Tue, 2010-09-21 01:14
As the Malay Bajau people risk destroying the reefs that sustain them, photographer James Morgan captures a centuries-old culture close to extinction

The last of the sea nomads Continue reading...
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The last of the sea nomads

The Guardian - Sat, 2010-09-18 09:03
For generations they have lived on the ocean, diving and fishing, and rarely setting foot on land. But now these marine nomads risk destroying the reefs that sustain them

In pictures: the last Bajau sea nomads

Diana Botutihe was born at sea. Now in her 50s, she has spent her entire life on boats that are typically just 5m long and 1.5m wide. She visits land only to trade fish for staples such as rice and water, and her boat is filled with the accoutrements of everyday living – jerry cans, blackened stockpots, plastic utensils, a kerosene lamp and a pair of pot plants.

Diana is one of the world's last marine nomads; a member of the Bajau ethnic group, a Malay people who have lived at sea for centuries, plying a tract of ocean between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. The origins of the Bajau diaspora are recounted in the legend of a princess from Johor, Malaysia, who was washed away in a flash flood. Her grief-stricken father ordered his subjects to depart, returning only when they'd found his daughter.

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Bike thief tells how to stop your cycle from being stolen | Frederika Whitehead

The Guardian - Mon, 2010-09-13 16:00
Omar Aziz was hooked on crack for 13 years and stole bikes to feed his habit. He explains how to protect your bike from thieves

How to stop your bike being stolen
Will anything stop the bike thieves?

Omar Aziz started stealing bikes when he was 17 and carried on until he finally weaned himself off crack cocaine at the age of 29. Now he wants to make amends. He is volunteering in his local area and he agreed to advise Guardian readers how not to get their bikes stolen.

Aziz stole a lot of bikes to feed his habit: "When I sell one thing I go and buy my drugs, smoke it, when it finishes, I have to go and get more. I nick another bike," he said.

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Alex Salmond unveils plan to turn Scotland into 'world's first hydro-economy'

The Guardian - Thu, 2010-09-09 03:29
Proposed legislation would allow state-owned Scottish Water to use vast landbank and pipe network for renewable energy projects

The state-owned utility Scottish Water is to be given new powers to build windfarms, hydro schemes and "green" power stations in partnership and competition with established energy companies.

The company, one of the country's last remaining state-owned firms, could generate £300m or more in extra revenues by using its 80,000 acres of land and vast pipe network for renewable energy projects.

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Video | BP Deepwater oil spill report: 'A terrifying picture'

The Guardian - Wed, 2010-09-08 21:59
The Guardian's head of environment, Damian Carrington, and energy editor Terry Macalister look at BP's report into the Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20 April, which killed 11 workers and began America's biggest ever oil spill Continue reading...
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The growing pains of Otter Farm

The Guardian - Sun, 2010-09-05 09:06
When Mark Diacono started cultivating a West Country smallholding, he decided to let his taste buds call the shots. So it was out with the potatoes… and in with the cardoons, medlars and olives

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a bit of garden will plant it with potatoes, onions and carrots. Faced with a world of possibilities, a special madness takes over and we fill our precious patch with the cheapest, most widely available food we can think of. I did exactly the same the first year I grew anything. Never again. All those summer hours spent watering and weeding for a few sackfuls of maincrop veg was a good way of finding out what other interesting things I'd rather be doing. I wanted to grow some of what I ate, but this wasn't it.

The following year, in 2004, on our way back from our wedding party, we came to Otter Farm for the first time. I had my own business advising local authorities and government agencies about managing the landscape, but I had the urge to keep animals and to grow some veg and plant some trees at the same time, but that was as detailed as my mind had it. I certainly wasn't thinking of a business – just growing some of what my wife and I wanted to eat.

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Bjørn Lomborg: the dissenting climate change voice who changed his tune

The Guardian - Tue, 2010-08-31 08:19
With his new book, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg has become an unlikely advocate for huge investment in fighting global warming. But his answers are unlikely to satisfy all climate change campaigners

Few statisticians can have inspired more passion than Bjørn Lomborg, the Danish academic who became famous as the author of the controversial (some would say contrarian) Skeptical Environmentalist, which set him up as perhaps the world's best-known critic of the dominant scientific view of global warming and the ensuing climate change.

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China's mega-jams show the true cost of coal | Jonathan Watts

The Guardian - Wed, 2010-08-25 22:57
The number of coal trucks suggest strains on China's energy supply that are equal to those on its transport system

It is not easy to wake a coal truck driver at 2am, but I had to do it at least twenty times last night to get home from the massive traffic jam on the border between Hebei and Inner Mongolia.

Several miles ahead, the roads had been cleared but the drivers had spent so long motionless that most of them had long since switched off their engines, turned off their headlamps and curled up in their cabs to sleep. We were stuck behind their snores.

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Cycling without brakes? You're breaking the law | Matthew Sparkes

The Guardian - Wed, 2010-08-25 17:00
Common sense would suggest you'd be mad to cycle without brakes, but it can be done by skilled riders – although not legally

The odd emergency stop is an inescapable fact of life for the cyclist, which is why it seems odd to me that there are thousands of riders in the UK merrily cruising along without brakes. And they are breaking the law.

There are BMXs, often fitted with a freewheel and stopped with a trainer to the tyre, the braver subsection of fixed-gear riders and those whose bike is badly maintained to the point where there are no working brakes to speak of.

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Greenland ice sheet faces 'tipping point in 10 years'

The Guardian - Wed, 2010-08-11 04:29
Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level

The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today.

Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University

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