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A climate report that we ignore at our peril | Letters

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-07-15 03:37

Though it does not actually say so, the report of the Committee on Climate Change (Report, 12 July) is a salutary reminder that a capitalist economy based on infinite economic growth, as expressed in terms of consumption-led GDP, is unsustainable and, if allowed to continue in its present form, will ultimately devastate the entire planet. Moreover, unless we cease using fossil fuels for energy and replace them with renewables at the earliest possible opportunity, the voluntary agreement reached at last year’s COP 21 climate summit to limit increases in global temperatures to less than 2C will be little more than hot air.

For an energy union like the GMB with thousands of members in the gas industry, the priority must be to establish a viable, UK-based, publicly owned renewable energy industry, thus enabling a just transition for those whose jobs will cease to exist in the coming decades. For this to happen, the vested interests of the privately owned energy monopolies have to be challenged, a point eloquently made by climate activist Naomi Klein at a packed meeting during COP 21 in Paris, organised by the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy network, which GMB supports.

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Government axes climate department

BBC - Fri, 2016-07-15 01:54
The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.
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Scientists call for better plastics design to protect marine life

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-07-15 00:25

Improved materials would encourage recycling and prevent single-use containers from entering the oceans and breaking into small pieces

Plastics should be better designed to encourage recycling and prevent wasteful single-use containers finding their way into our oceans, where they break up into small pieces and are swallowed by marine animals, scientists said on Thursday.

This could be as effective as a ban on microbeads, proposed by green campaigners as a way of dealing with the rising levels of microplastic waste - tiny pieces of near-indestructible plastic materials - that are harming marine life.

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Europe backs lunar drilling technology

BBC - Thu, 2016-07-14 23:03
The European Space Agency has signed a contract to build a prototype drill and chemistry lab that will be flown on a Russian mission to the Moon in 2021.
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The Keartons: inventing nature photography – in pictures

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 21:48

Richard and Cherry Kearton, working in the 1890s, were possibly the world’s first professional wildlife photographers. The brothers’ pioneering photos include the first shot of a bird’s nest with eggs and the first Masai lion hunt.

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Predatory dinosaur had tiny arms like Tyrannosaurus rex

BBC - Thu, 2016-07-14 21:26
A new meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in Argentina that possessed stubby arms like Tyrannosaurus rex.
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Exploring nature

ABC Environment - Thu, 2016-07-14 20:05
What does nature mean to each of us?  Why is nature so pure?  And how do we reconnect with the natural world in an age where our lives are connected to technology?  
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Brexit will force EU countries 'to make deeper, costlier carbon cuts'

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 18:00

Bloc will have to draw up new plan with higher cuts for remaining 27 states in order to meet its carbon reduction target, which could cost billions of euros

Brexit will force the European Union’s remaining 27 countries to spend billions of euros on cutting carbon emissions more deeply to compensate for the UK leaving, according to experts.

The UK will be included in a Brussels communique on 20 July, setting out individual targets for EU signatory states to meet a bloc goal of a 40% emissions cut by 2030, as pledged in Paris last year.

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Pacific ​​islands nations consider world's first treaty to ban fossil fuels

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 17:03

Treaty under consideration by 14 countries would ban new coalmines and embraces 1.5C target set at Paris climate talks

The world’s first international treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels is being considered by leaders of developing Pacific islands nations after a summit in the Solomon Islands this week.

The leaders of 14 countries agreed to consider a proposed Pacific climate treaty, which would bind signatories to targets for renewable energy and ban new or the expansion of coalmines, at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

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From field to fork: the six stages of wasting food

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 16:00

Americans chuck out two tonnes of food a second – be it at the farm for being ‘ugly’ or at the table because we’re too finicky

Every second, an amount of food equal to the weight of a sedan car is thrown away in the US - about 60m tonnes a year. It starts at the farm. The potato that grew to the size of a brick. The watermelon with the brown slasher marks on the rind. The cauliflower stained yellow in the sun. The peach that lost its blush before harvest. Any of those minor imperfections - none of which affect taste or quality or shelf life - can doom a crop right there. If the grower decides the supermarkets - or ultimately the consumer - will reject it, those fruits and vegetables never make it off the farm.

Then there are the packing warehouses, where a specific count must be maintained for each plastic clamshell or box - and any strawberry or plum that does not make it is junked, if it can’t immediately be sold for juice or jam.

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Solar Juice launches solar project finance division

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 15:02
Solar Juice launches new division, Solar Capital, as one-stop shop for PPAs and early project financing.
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Post-Brexit farming subsidies must protect nature, 84 groups say

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 15:01

Protection for birds, wildlife and waterways should come top of the list when any new payments for farmers are considered, NGOs tell new government

New subsidies paid to farmers under a post-Brexit government must be linked closely to environmental responsibilities, a large group of political and civil society organisations has urged.

Protection for birds, wildlife, waterways and other natural goods should come top of the list when any new payments are considered, wrote 84 food, farming and conservation specialists in a letter to Oliver Letwin and Theresa May on Thursday.

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GPS tags reveal the secret life of urban seagulls

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 15:01

Pioneering study of four herring gulls nesting in St Ives, Cornwall, found they spent most of their time foraging for food outside of town

The summer holidays are nigh and with them, no doubt, will come stories of seagulls on the rampage, stealing ice cream and chips and launching attacks on people and pets.

But a ground-breaking study that tracked the movement of herring gulls nesting in the Cornish resort of St Ives suggested they spent little time scavenging for goodies or scraps on the streets.

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Mystery as South Australia pleads with gas generator to switch back on

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 15:00
South Australia pleads with state's most efficient gas generator to switch back on. But what was promised in return? Or was the generator just happy to help?
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Regulator to push networks to consider alternatives to poles and wires

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:49
Regulator proposes new rules to force network operators to consider new technologies - presumably battery storage and local renewable energy - as an alternative to replacing new poles and wires.
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From nightfall to dawn, the garden is the snail's domain

The Guardian - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:30

Sandy, Bedfordshire What language did its tentacles speak? They appeared to be directionless conductors, randomly sampling the air

At nightfall, garden snails began to come out of the woodpile. I found one spiralling up a twig, stretching out its wet elephant skin. Another swung its body to the side, as if it was having a touch of slug envy, and was trying to dislodge its bulky encumbrance of a shell. One was sliding up the patio window and I went indoors to view it from beneath.

Pressed smooth against the glass, the muscles of its body (technically, its foot) rippled as waves might lap over a shallow, sandy beach, each wave a pulse of movement. Any slight change in direction caused the twisting part of the foot to crease, creating a filmy cellophane effect. What language did its tentacles speak? They appeared to be directionless conductors, randomly sampling the air, out of synch with each other, having no bearing on the animal’s purposeful course.

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Solar Impulse: We’ll see solar-powered passenger planes within 10 years

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:27
Fancy a flight in a solar-powered electric passenger plane? According to the two adventurers behind the remarkable Solar Impulse plane completing a unique and fuel-free flight around the globe, that could be a reality within the next decade.
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ACT solar farm rejected by Uriarra begins construction in Williamsdale

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:17
After an inauspicious start to life, the 10MW Williamsdale solar farm is under construction, and should be generating electricity by November.
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Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Portfolio Management Plans 2016-17

Department of the Environment - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:08
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder​ Portfolio Management Plans 2016-17​ are now available.
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First Enphase battery storage system installed in Sydney house

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2016-07-14 14:08
Enphase Energy has installed its first residential battery storage system at a Sydney house, in final phase of testing before mass market rollout.
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