Around The Web

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez: ‘Our greed is destroying the planet’

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-09 18:00

The teenage activist and musician who made headlines about climate change when he addressed the UN in June talks about what inspires him

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez’s long hair marked him out from the middle-aged bureaucrats in the room. So did his age. After all, few 15-year-olds get to address the UN in New York, let alone speak with eloquence and passion on climate change. The speech, delivered in June, went round the world. It was viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, and secured him press coverage in everything from Rolling Stone to the Guardian.

For Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced, roughly, shooTEZcat), however, addressing the UN was business as usual, or close to it. For most of his young life he has been working in climate activism, mainly with his group, Earth Guardians, which uses music and speech to engage young people around the world, and has more than 400 regional groups globally.

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Chinese 'ivory queen' charged with smuggling 706 elephant tusks

The Guardian - Fri, 2015-10-09 04:38

Yang Feng Glan, kingpin between east African poaching syndicates and Chinese buyers, accused in Tanzania of smuggling ivory worth £1.62m

A Chinese woman dubbed the “ivory queen” for her alleged leadership of one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings has been captured and charged.

Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling 706 elephant tusks worth £1.62m from Tanzania to the far east. The Elephant Action League, a US-based campaign group, described her as “the most important ivory trafficker ever arrested in the country”.

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Shark tooth left in victim's foot after attack in Western Australia

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-10-08 12:45

Eli Zawadzki bitten by what experts believe was normally-placid grey nurse shark while was surfing near Mandurah on Wednesday afternoon

Shark experts have identified the shark responsible for biting a man near Mandurah, Western Australia, as the usually “very, very placid” grey nurse shark, based on a fragment of tooth pulled from the teenager’s foot.

Eli Zawadzki, an apprentice electrician from Mandurah, was bitten on the lower leg and foot while surfing off Pyramids Beach, about 70km south of Perth, at 5pm on Wednesday.

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Anti-pollution cycling masks tested

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-07 20:08

With thousands dying a year from poor air quality, is a mask as good a safety precaution as a helmet?

Many British urban bike commuters opt to wear a helmet. Some also go for a hi-vis jacket. But considerably fewer use an anti-pollution mask, despite evidence that smog might be the biggest single danger you face on two wheels.

According to a study carried out by Kings College London (KCL), around 9,500 people die in London alone every year due to long-term exposure to air pollution, with most deaths due to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates known as PM2.5s.

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BBC apologises for Radio 4 show that mocked climate science

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-10-07 19:28

Show did not make clear climate sceptics are a minority voice, broadcaster admits, in ‘an unfortunate lapse’ of editorial policy, reports Climate Home

The BBC has apologised for airing a half-hour radio show earlier this year in which a series of high-profile climate sceptics lined up to disparage the science behind global warming.

What’s the point of the Met Office, aired in August, did not make clear sceptics are a “minority voice, out of step with scientific consensus,” the corporation said in an email to climate scientist Andy Smedley.

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Albatross Island: the remote outcrop where conservation counts – in pictures

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-06 11:02

Off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, lies a small island on which 10,000 rare shy albatross live. Their declining population is a concern for conservationists including Dr Rachael Alderman, who has spent the past week on the island monitoring the birds. Photographer Matthew Newton has visted the island on three occasions over the past 12 months, recording the spectacular sight of the colony and the conservationists at work

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Invitation to comment on listing assessment for Hibbertia abyssa (Bandalup buttercup)

Department of the Environment - Tue, 2015-10-06 10:22
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee is seeking comments on the assessment of Hibbertia abyssa (Bandalup buttercup). The public consultation period will be open until 20 November 2015.
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Wildlife thriving around Chernobyl nuclear plant despite radiation

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-06 02:00

High numbers of elk, deer, boar and wolves show long-term effect of world’s worst nuclear accident is less damaging than everyday human activity, say scientists

Wildlife is abundant around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, despite the presence of radiation released by the world’s most catastrophic nuclear explosion nearly three decades ago, researchers have found.

The number of elk, deer and wild boar within the Belarusian half of the Chernobyl exclusion zone today are around the same as those in four nearby uncontaminated nature reserves.

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The sneezing monkey with an upturned face, and other other weird species

The Guardian - Tue, 2015-10-06 01:42

Hundreds of new(ish) species have been discovered in the eastern Himalayas in recent years, including the ‘walking’ fish and a tissue-wielding, snub-nosed primate

Name: The sneezing monkey.

Age: Depends what you mean.

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Think dairy farming is benign? Our rivers tell a different story | George Monbiot

The Guardian - Mon, 2015-10-05 17:00

If a river was polluted by any other industry than farming, there’d be outrage. But we don’t want to know about the impact of our livestock

Eat less meat and fish, drink less milk. No request could be simpler, or more consequential. Nothing we do has greater potential for reducing our impacts on the living planet. Yet no request is more likely to elicit a baffled, hurt or furious response.

This point comes across with astonishing force in the film Cowspiracy. I would question some of the figures it uses, but its thesis – we just don’t want to talk about it – is undeniable. Leaders of the big US green groups either avoided the film makers like the plague or smiled and shook their heads when asked about livestock. State officials were struck dumb by the question.

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England's shoppers say goodbye to free plastic bags

The Guardian - Mon, 2015-10-05 16:00

As England introduces a 5p charge for plastic bags, campaigners say the exemption for small shops should be ended

A 5p tax on plastic bags must be extended to all shops to prevent further damage to the environment, campaigners have warned.

Without the participation of smaller shops, and not just those employing more than 250 staff, the impact of the tax will be limited, they said.

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Can you identify the UK's most common trees?

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-10-01 19:42

Only 1% of families recognise the UK’s most common trees, according to new research by Unilever. How many can you identify?

Can you identify the UK’s most common trees?

1Which tree is this?AshElmOak2Which tree is this?SycamoreYewBirch3Which tree is this?Giant redwoodOakElm4Which tree is this?HazelHawthornElder5Which tree is this?OakBeechSycamore6Which tree is this?OakYewSycamore7Which tree is this?HawthornElderBirch8Which tree is this?YewSycamoreHorse chestnut9Which tree is this?ElderBirchBeech10Which tree is this?SycamoreHorse chestnutYew

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Samsung TVs appear less energy efficient in real life than in tests

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-10-01 18:30

EU may ban ‘defeat devices’ after laboratory tests raise questions over whether some TVs could be set up to game efficiency tests

Independent lab tests have found that some Samsung TVs in Europe appear to use less energy during official testing conditions than they do during real-world use, raising questions about whether they are set up to game energy efficiency tests.

The European commission says it will investigate any allegations of cheating the tests and has pledged to tighten energy efficiency regulations to outlaw the use of so-called “defeat devices” in TVs or other consumer products, after several EU states raised similar concerns.

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No long-term future in tar sands, says Alberta's premier

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-09-30 23:12

Rachel Notley supports a switch to clean energy to help Canada’s biggest oil-producing province move beyond fossil fuels within a century

The leader of Canada’s biggest oil-producing province has declared she sees no long-term future in fossil fuels, predicting Alberta would wean itself off dirty energy within a century.

In an early reveal of her forthcoming new energy policy, Alberta’s Rachel Notley said she would fight climate change by cleaning up the tar sands, shutting down coal-fired power plants, and converting to wind and solar power.

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Chillagoe Karst Region proposed National Heritage Listing

Department of the Environment - Wed, 2015-09-30 09:24
Comments are sought on the proposal to include the Chillagoe Karst Region on the National Heritage List. Comments close 2 November 2015
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As cobras and vipers spread their deadly venom, it’s getting harder to save lives

The Guardian - Sun, 2015-09-27 08:24

With a quarter of a million fatalities every year, health organisations are struggling to cope. Now antivenom supplies are also under threat

In the late 1970s, a 50-year-old farmer was working in his fields in the Hausa region of west Africa when was he was bitten on the ankle by a snake, probably a carpet viper. Within two hours his leg was badly swollen. The unnamed man, whose case is included in a report by a group of doctors led by Oxford University tropical medicine specialist David Warrell took herbal medicine but continued to sicken. Six days later he was taken to hospital, where doctors found that his urine was bloodstained and he had suffered intense internal haemorrhages. A day later, he died.

The farmer’s fate was grim, if not uncommon at the time, but now, decades later, deaths from snakebites are still on the rise. Recent evidence shows that hundreds of thousands of individuals are dying every year as a result of encounters with cobras, vipers or kraits.

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Ted Smith obituary

The Guardian - Sat, 2015-09-26 00:49
Conservationist who inspired the creation of wildlife trusts and nature reserves

In the school summer holiday of 1937, the conservationist Ted Smith, who has died aged 95, cycled 14 miles from his home in rural Lincolnshire to Gibraltar Point. The sixth-former took his cheap binoculars to look for terns on this lonely stretch of sand and salt marsh beyond Skegness and, surrounded by sky and sea, he fell in love with the place. He noted three “gaudy new houses” on a road cut into the sand dunes, typical of the unrestrained development then enveloping the British coastline.

A passion for wildlife and its habitats fired Smith for the rest of his life. This unassuming teacher battled against the tides of his time, industrial agriculture, toxic pesticides, the supplanting of ancient woods with conifers, the ploughing of heaths, and urban development, to cajole into existence a national network of 47 conservation charities now known as the Wildlife Trusts. Smith combined practical action – saving the last fragments of heath, meadow and coast (including Gibraltar Point) from destruction in Lincolnshire – with farsighted thinking, stressing the importance of landscape-scale conservation and the need to open the trusts’ 2,300 nature reserves to the public.

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Acacia leptoneura added to the list of threatened species under the EPBC Act

Department of the Environment - Fri, 2015-09-25 11:18
The Minister has approved the addition of Acacia leptoneura to the critically endangered category effective 24 September 2015.
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Meet the ecomodernists: ignorant of history and paradoxically old-fashioned

The Guardian - Thu, 2015-09-24 17:00

The people behind a manifesto for solving environmental problems through science and technology are intelligent but wrong on their assumptions about farming and urbanisation

Beware of simple solutions to complex problems. That is a crucial lesson from history; a lesson that intelligent people in every age keep failing to learn.

On Thursday, a group of people who call themselves Ecomodernists launch their manifesto in the UK. The media loves them, not least because some of what they say chimes with dominant political and economic narratives. So you will doubtless be hearing a lot about them.

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The rise of diesel in Europe: the impact on health and pollution

The Guardian - Wed, 2015-09-23 01:57

In a bid to reduce CO2 emissions in the 90s, Europe backed a major switch from petrol to diesel cars but the result was a rise in deadly air pollution

Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests for diesel cars comes after nearly 20 years of the technology being incentivised in Europe in the knowledge that its adoption would reduce global warming emissions but lead to thousands of extra deaths from increased levels of toxic gases.

Diesel was a niche market in Europe until the mid-1990s, making up less than 10% of the car fleet. Diesels produce 15% less CO2 than petrol, but emit four times more nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) and 22 times more particulates - the tiny particles that penetrate the lungs, brain and heart.

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