Around The Web

Scotland’s first female gamekeeper

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-08-19 08:45
Scotland's first female gamekeeper, Portia Simpson, reveals how she broke into a traditionally conservative, male-dominated profession. She shares her unique and compelling account of the day-to-day life of a huntswoman.
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A Big Country

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-08-19 06:20
Living and working on a remote conservation reserve in outback Queensland; we saddle up for a lesson in cowboy dressage; go riding with disabled children; and get a delivery from the Outback Letterbox Library.
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Tanzanian police believe wildlife activist may have been tracked by his killer

The Guardian - Sat, 2017-08-19 03:33

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

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

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

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

The Guardian - Sat, 2017-08-19 01:47

Brown bears fishing, a rare white moose, and a puma found in a São Paulo office block are among our images from the natural world this week

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Silver linings: the climate scientist who records cloud behaviour

The Guardian - Sat, 2017-08-19 00:26

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

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

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

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Government faces fresh criticism over Green Investment Bank sell-off

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-08-18 23:05

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable questions UK’s commitment to environmental projects after GIB sale to Australian bank Macquarie

The government is facing renewed criticism after pushing through the “disastrous” sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to the Australian bank Macquarie, as fresh concerns are raised over its commitment to environmental projects.

A consortium led by Macquarie agreed to buy the GIB, which was established in 2012 by the coalition government to fund green infrastructure projects such as windfarms and a waste and bioenergy power plant. The consortium also includes Macquarie’s in-house infrastructure fund and the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a pension fund for British higher education institutions.

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Rained-out festival has left the fields in chaos

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-08-18 14:30

Minninglow, Derbyshire The Y Not festival site is still a mess, but a walk along the High Peak Trail underlines the resilience of nature

At the top of Gratton Dale, turning into Mouldridge Lane, the familiar white-walled pasture had been transformed. Diggers and tractors swarmed across the fields, beeping frantically. Grass had been churned up everywhere, and serried ranks of portable loos leaned like wearied soldiers. I was baffled. Was this some sort of war re-enactment?

Then I saw the word TONY spelled out in giant letters in the middle of the busiest field, only the Y was drooping and the N was the wrong way round.

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Genex solar + pumped hydro project clears another hurdle

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 14:22
Genex signs agreement to connect its Kidston Renewable Energy Hub to the grid, taking the project one step closer to completion.
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BMC Ecology Image Competition 2017 – in pictures

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-08-18 14:00

From elephant shrew to Tibetan antelope and the two towers of Antarctica, here are the best wildlife and nature photographs from this year’s competition

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Researchers one step closer to efficient, colorful solar panels

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 13:49
Researchers at Netherlands’ AMOLF Institute develop method to make solar panels green. Next stop, red and blue – and maybe even white.
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Graph of the Day: Higher SA wind output, lower wholesale power prices

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 13:16
Unlike yesterday's chart on gas, today's graph shows wind has the opposite effect – more output takes power prices lower.
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Pic of the Day: Old meets new at solar-powered antique shop

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 13:12
We love this winter-time image of the solar powered Smythesdale Antique shop – and the message that it sends.
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Windlab’s 1200MW Kennedy Energy Park set for construction, after IPO windfall

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 12:52
CSIRO spin-off raises $50m in IPO, finalising finance for world-leading wind, solar, battery storage project in north Queensland.
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Australian wind delivers more record low prices, as private sector piles in

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 11:36
AGL Energy secures PPA of below $60/MWh for 453MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm, to be built in Queensland by 2019 after reaching financial close Thursday. AGL chief says deal signals private sector's readiness to invest in Australian renewables – but warns policy certainty still vital.
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Redflow chooses Thailand for battery factory

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2017-08-18 11:08
Australian battery company Redflow Limited has today announced it has established a company in Thailand to manage production of its zinc-bromine flow batteries in South East Asia.
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Queensland conservationists call for river-mining ban to protect Great Barrier Reef

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-08-18 10:58

State mines minister rejects two applications at reserves west of Cape Tribulation which campaigners say should set a precedent

The “archaic” practice of mining rivers in north Queensland is making a mockery of Australia’s key policy to protect the Great Barrier Reef, wasting multimillion-dollar efforts to cut runoff pollution, its opponents say.

“Instream” mining in Queensland, the only state still allowing the excavation of rivers for gold, tin and silver, is unleashing torrents of fine sediment in one of the reef’s largest catchments.

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Total solar eclipse: Meet Sharon and Billy Hahs

BBC - Fri, 2017-08-18 08:27
Now Sharon and Billy Hahs are preparing for one in their own backyard.
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'Insure' Great Barrier Reef for billions to protect and restore its ecosystem values: Nature Conservancy

ABC Environment - Fri, 2017-08-18 06:51
Coral reefs, coastal mangroves and even forests could be insured to help pay for their protection and restoration, says the Nature Conservancy.
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Noise from offshore oil and gas surveys can affect whales up to 3km away

The Conversation - Fri, 2017-08-18 06:18
Migrating humpback whales avoid loud, nearby sounds. BRAHSS, Author provided

Air guns used for marine oil and gas exploration are loud enough to affect humpback whales up to 3km away, potentially affecting their migration patterns, according to our new research.

Whales’ communication depends on loud sounds, which can travel very efficiently over distances of tens of kilometres in the underwater environment. But our study, published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology, shows that they are affected by other loud ocean noises produced by humans.

As part of the BRAHSS (Behavioural Response of Humpback whales to Seismic Surveys) project, we and our colleagues measured humpback whales’ behavioural responses to air guns like those used in seismic surveys carried out by the offshore mining industry.

Read more: It’s time to speak up about noise pollution in the oceans

Air guns are devices towed behind seismic survey ships that rapidly release compressed air into the ocean, producing a loud bang. The sound travels through the water and into the sea bed, bouncing off various layers of rock, oil or gas. The faint echoes are picked up by sensors towed by the same vessel.

During surveys, the air guns are fired every 10-15 seconds to develop a detailed geological picture of the ocean floor in the area. Although they are not intended to harm whales, there has been concern for many years about the potential impacts of these loud, frequent sounds.

Sound research

Although it sounds like a simple experiment to expose whales to air guns and see what they do, it is logistically difficult. For one thing, the whales may respond to the presence of the ship towing the air guns, rather than the air guns themselves. Another problem is that humpback whales tend to show a lot of natural behavioural variability, making it difficult to tease out the effect of the air gun and ship.

There is also the question of whether any response by the whales is influenced more by the loudness of the air gun, or how close the air blast is to the whale (although obviously the two are linked). Previous studies have assumed that the response is driven primarily by loudness, but we also looked at the effect of proximity.

We used a small air gun and a cluster of guns, towed behind a vessel through the migratory path of more than 120 groups of humpback whales off Queensland’s sunshine coast. By having two different sources, one louder than the other, we were able to fire air blasts of different perceived loudness from the same distance.

We found that whales slowed their migratory speed and deviated around the vessel and the air guns. This response was influenced by a combination of received level and proximity; both were necessary. The whales were affected up to 3km away, at sound levels over 140 decibels, and deviated from their path by about 500 metres. Within this “zone”, whales were more likely to avoid the air guns.

Each tested group moved as one, but our analysis did not include the effects on different group types, such as a female with calf versus a group of adults, for instance.

Our results suggest that when regulating to reduce the impact of loud noise on whale behaviour, we need to take into account not just how loud the noise is, but how far away it is. More research is needed to find out how drastically the whales’ migration routes change as a result of ocean mining noise.

The Conversation

Rebecca Dunlop receives funding from the Joint Industry Programme on E&P Sound and Marine Life (JIP), managed by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), and from the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Michael Noad receives funding from the Joint Industry Programme on E&P Sound and Marine Life (JIP), managed by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), and from the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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Leading elephant conservationist shot dead in Tanzania

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-08-18 02:56

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

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

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

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