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Yorkshire dales and Lake District to be extended

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-23 21:00

Announcement to create largest area of national park land in England welcomed by campaigners after two-year wait for decision

Two of England’s most celebrated national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, are being extended, the government has announced.

The Yorkshire Dales national park will expand by almost 24% and the Lake District national park by 3%, creating a large and almost continuous protected area in north-west England.

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Spate of snake attacks strikes Melbourne's cats and dogs

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-23 13:07

Animal hospital reports sharp rise in bites from tiger and brown snakes as reptiles emerge from winter hibernation to exceptionally warm weather

The Victorian government has warned people to be aware of snake activity after a spate of recent incidents in which dogs and cats have been bitten by the reptiles.

Related: Thirsty snakes slither into Australian toilets as dry season bites

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Commonwealth environmental water for sale in Goulburn

Department of the Environment - Fri, 2015-10-23 10:16
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder today announced the sale of 20 GL of temporary water from the Goulburn river catchment.
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Trudeau’s bold change pledge was a ruse. But Canada now has a fighting chance | Martin Lukacs

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-23 03:32

Liberals took up a progressive mantle when the NDP failed to project a vision of environmental and social justice – now it’s up to the public to bend them to their will

On Monday night many Canadians breathed out a sigh of relief. Then they breathed in a whiff of apprehension. The ousting of the Conservatives was a victory, a rejection of Stephen Harper’s politics of fear and racism. But Canadians now confront a Prime Minister gifted in the art of warm, fuzzy claptrap. They won’t be offered what they dreamed of: that was never an option in this election.

The election’s most revealing poll was scarcely reported by the media. Those voting against Harper – sixty to seventy percent of Canada, a progressive majority holding steady through his decade in power – were asked in late September what kind of change they desired. They answered overwhelmingly: not moderate but ambitious, not incremental but immediate. In other words, most people didn’t just want Harper out: they wanted plentiful jobs, a healthy environment, indeed a far more just and fair country.

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Palau approves huge Pacific marine sanctuary

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-10-22 21:45

Tiny archipelago seeks to create world’s sixth-largest area to be fully protected from fishing or drilling

The tiny western Pacific archipelago of Palau has approved the creation of a marine sanctuary twice the size of Mexico.

Conservationists said the 500,000 sq km (193,000 sq mile) sanctuary would be the world’s sixth-largest fully protected area – meaning no fishing, or other uses such as drilling for oil – if it is signed into law by Palau’s president as expected on Monday.

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What I learnt from a month cycling in the Netherlands

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-10-22 16:00

With the right investment in infrastructure and improved liability laws, cycling in the UK could be this successful and our streets could be reclaimed as places for people of all ages to enjoy

Who builds a bicycle road on a 32km-long sea dyke? One akin to a really, really long Severn Bridge, made of earthworks, tumbleweed and gulls, with a six-lane highway? The Dutch, that’s who, and I’m grateful for it.

With no end in sight, only a straight line of smooth tarmac stretching seemingly to infinity, and bordered on both sides by sea, this bike road on the Afsluitdijk is impressive, if only for its sheer length and optimism. After two roadies and a man on a small, rattly moped overtake me at the start, there are no other cyclists using it but me, laden with panniers and tent, while motorway traffic buzzes past, at the foot of a wide, grassy bank.

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Sunscreen contributing to decline of coral reefs, study shows

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-21 19:52

UV filtering chemical is killing off baby coral around tourist resorts, particularly in the Caribbean and Hawaii

A common ingredient found in sunscreen is toxic to coral and contributing to the decline of reefs around the world, according to new research.

Oxybenzone, a UV-filtering chemical compound found in 3,500 brands of sunscreen worldwide, can be fatal to baby coral and damaging to adults in high concentrations, according to the study published on Tuesday in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

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Australia 'could become world leader in solar home battery storage'

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-21 16:08

Energy stored from roof panels could offer the cheapest electricity alternative within three years, Climate Council study says

Australia could become a world leader in home battery storage, with the potential for energy stored from solar panels offering the cheapest electricity alternative within just three years, according to a new report.

Related: Australian homes among first to get Tesla's Powerwall solar-energy battery

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How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-20 18:12

Scientists have been warning for decades that human actions are pushing life on our shared planet toward mass extinction. Such extinction events have occurred five times in the past, but a bold new paper finds that this time would be fundamentally different. Fortunately, there’s still time to stop it.

Periodically, in the vast spans of time that have preceded us, our planet’s living beings have been purged by planetary catastrophes so extreme they make your typical Ice Age look like the geological equivalent of a stroll in the park. Scientists count just five mass extinctions in an unimaginably long expanse of 450 million years, but they warn we may well be entering a sixth.

According to a bold new paper in The Anthropocene Review, this time would be different from past mass extinctions in four crucial ways – and all of these stem from the impact of a single species that arrived on the scene just 200,000 years ago: Homo sapiens.

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Plastic bag charge cuts use 80% in Scotland

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-20 15:00

First year of Scotland’s 5p bag charge sees huge reduction in use and £6.7m raised for good causes in bid to cut waste and litter

The number of plastic carrier bags handed out in stores was slashed by at least 650 million in the first year of Scotland’s 5p charge.

New figures released on the anniversary of its introduction indicate the levy has cut usage by around 80%, equivalent to 650 million fewer bags than in previous years.

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Hawaii shark attacks: one might have been an eel – officials

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-20 13:07

Bite by an eel would be the first recorded in waters of the surfing haven, say authorities

A surfer may have been bitten by an eel, rather than a shark, in an encounter off Hawaii’s popular Waikiki Beach, according to officials.

The surfer was hurt on Saturday within hours of a shark attack on a man off Oahu’s Lanikai Beach. Both men were taken to hospital.

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Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet's most important stories

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-20 01:50

Our editors highlight the most important environment stories, debate and analysis in a briefing delivered direct to your inbox each week

In each edition of Green light, our editors highlight the most important stories of the week and the data, opinion pieces and background guides that will help you put those stories in context. We’ll also flag up our best video, picture galleries, podcasts, blogs and green living guides.

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Which countries are doing the most to stop dangerous global warming?

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-16 18:43

In November, nearly 200 countries meet in Paris for United Nations talks to agree a new climate deal. Find out below how their pledges - known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs - compare in our in-depth analysis of 14 key countries and blocs, in partnership with Climate Action Tracker

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Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project approved

Department of the Environment - Thu, 2015-10-15 13:42
The Minister has approved the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project subject to 36 strict conditions to minimise its potential environmental impacts.
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Pacific nations beg for help for islanders when 'calamity' of climate change hits

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-14 07:45

Coalition of Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tokelau ask wealthy nations to help their people migrate and find work if they have to flee because of rising sea levels

Pacific island nations have pleaded with wealthy countries to help their people migrate and find work if they are forced to flee their homelands because of the consequences of climate change.

Related: Besieged by the rising tides of climate change, Kiribati buys land in Fiji

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Wildlife photographer of the year 2015 winners - in pictures

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-14 07:30

Canadian amateur photographer Don Gutoski has been named wildlife photographer of the year at London’s Natural History Museum for his image, Tale of two foxes. Here are the winning images in all categories

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In 2050 there will be 9 billion people on earth​. H​ow to feed them

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-14 02:38

Have we reached ‘peak farmland’? Patrick Barkham digs into a new book about food and the future, while Chris Newell provides a graphic summary of the challenges ahead

’Tis the season of harvest festivals and farmers are celebrating another bumper crop. British farmers have this year twice smashed the record for the world’s highest-yielding wheat crop ever recorded, first in the Lincolnshire Wolds and then on a farm overlooking Holy Island in Northumberland.

Squeezing ever-higher yields from the same fields is one reason why the famous theories of Thomas Malthus, the cleric who predicted catastrophic famine and disease as population growth outstripped food production, haven’t come to pass. During the last 40 years of the 20th century, when the world’s population doubled from 3 to 6 billion, our annual production of grain rose even faster, nearly tripling over the same period.

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Methane release from melting permafrost could trigger dangerous global warming | John Abraham

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-13 20:00

A policy briefing from the Woods Hole Research Center concludes that the IPCC doesn’t adequately account for a methane warming feedback

While most attention has been given to carbon dioxide, it isn’t the only greenhouse gas that scientists are worried about. Carbon dioxide is the most important human-emitted greenhouse gas, but methane has also increased in the atmosphere and it adds to our concerns.

While methane is not currently as important as carbon dioxide, it has a hidden danger. Molecule for molecule, methane traps more heat than carbon dioxide; approximately 30 times more, depending on the time frame under consideration. However, because methane is present in much smaller concentrations (compared to carbon dioxide), its aggregate effect is less.

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Tetchy tweets suggest frayed tempers in UK energy department

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-13 18:28

Series of tweets from minister Andrea Leadsom accuse critics of lies, distortion and nonsense

Are those running the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) having a meltdown? The tweets sent by energy minister Andrea Leadsom certainly suggest tempers are running high: she accuses critics of lies, distortion and nonsense.

The ministerial seats at Decc must be getting hotter by the day. More than 1,000 jobs have gone in the solar power industry, with bosses blaming the government’s intention to slash solar subsidies by almost 90%. The statement by Leadsom’s predecessor, Greg Barker, that the evidence for cuts is “pretty poor” and will “kill the industry” can only have added to the heat. But should the response of a minister of state to such criticism be to let the red mist descend?

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