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News In Brief

2014 badger cull failed - but the cull goes on

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2014

Photo: Badgers in the wild by Tim Brookes via Flickr. England's 2014 badger cull has failed to meet key targets for effectiveness with such low numbers of animals shot that TB spread is likely to be increased. But Defra boss Liz Truss insists the cull will go on regardless. more...

Antarctica: warming ocean trebles glacial melt

Tim Radford

17th December 2014

An iceberg floating in the Amundsen Sea, where glaciers are shedding ice faster than in any other part of Antarctica. Photo: NASA / Jane Peterson via Wikimedia Commons. As temperatures rise in the Southern Ocean, warmer currents are eroding the Antarctic ice sheet from below, writes Tim Radford - causing the melting rate to treble in two decades to 83 billion tonnes a year. more...

Commission dumps eco-initiatives in 2015 work plan

Oliver Tickell

16th December 2014

EU drops plans to push up recycling rate to 70%. The back of an industrial estate in Romford, Essex. Photo: roadscum via Flickr. The European Commission has dropped measures to improve air quality and reduce waste from its work plan for 2015 - instead 'cutting red tape' and prioritizing 'jobs, growth, investment' at all costs. more...

Miscarriage and stillbirth linked to fracking chemical exposure

Tamsin Paternoster

15th December 2014

If you want one of these, best put a good distance between you and the nearest fracking well. Photo: Adriano Aurelio Araujo via Flickr. Fracking for oil and gas uses a wide range of chemicals that disrupt reproductive function in both sexes, writes Tamsin Paternoster. Now an academic study has found a powerful correlation between stillbirth, miscarriage, low sperm count, and exposure to fracking chemicals. more...

COP20 extended another day - but where's the money?

Alex Kirby & Oliver Tickell

12th December 2014

A booth at COP20 in Lima - where the collective IQ of negotiators has barely achieved double figures. Photo: Climate Change via Flickr. In a familiar ritual, the COP20 climate talks have been extended for an extra day as delegates struggle to reach some kind of agreement. The good news is that worthwhile emissions reductions may be achieved - but poor countries are asking: where's the money? more...

UK's €46 billion bid for EIB nuclear loan

The Ecologist

11th December 2014

An artist's impression of the Hinkley C nuclear power plant. Image: EDF Energy media library. The UK is bidding for a massive €46 billion loan from the European Investment Bank to finance the construction of three new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point, Wylfa and Moorside - while Poland is seeking €8bn for huge new coal mines and power plants and €12bn for new nuclear. more...

Badger cubs to be shot in new 'summer cull' plan

Damian Carrington / the Guardian

10th December 2014

An English badger cub, innocent as summer days are long. Photo: Peter Burnage via Flickr. England's 2015 trial badger cull will be moved to summer, writes Damian Carrington - when cubs are numerous and easy to shoot. The surprise move follows 2014's failed autumn culls, which missed their minimum kill targets. more...

TTIP - Juncker's 1.1 million signature 'birthday card'

The Ecologist

9th December 2014

No Mr Juncker, that's not 'Happy Birthday' they're singing ... Photo: Felix Kindermann / Stop TTIP. Campaigners today today delivered Commission President Juncker a 'birthday card' with 1.1 million signatures from EU citizens. Yes, it really is his birthday today - but the real message was calling on him to back off from negotiations over the TTIP and CETA trade deals with the USA and Canada. more...

BLM sued - no environmental review of coal leasing since 1979

Mike Gaworecki

8th December 2014

Coal trains near North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Photo: Kimon Berlin via Flickr. Coal leases on public lands operated by the US Bureau of Land Management are responsible for 40% of US coal production and 14% of total US CO2 emissions, writes Mike Gaworecki - yet their environmental impacts have not been reviewed in 35 years. more...

With melting Arctic ice, Canada's polar bears face wipe-out by 2100

Tim Radford

6th December 2014

The possible lengthening of ice-free periods may affect polar bears before the end of the century. Photo: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons. The expected melting of sea ice in Canada's Arctic Archipelago will progressively render huge areas unable to support viable polar bears populations, writes Tim Radford. By 2100 the polar bears could be pushed out altogether. more...

Amazon tribes' forests are a vital carbon sink

Tim Radford

5th December 2014

The forest territories of the Amazon's indigenous peoples are essential for their own survival, their biodiversity, and the carbon they contain. But their precious lands are under growing threat. Photo: Gleilson Miranda/Governo do Acre / Wikimedia Commons As land rights of indigenous peoples are increasingly being violated, writes Tim Radford, new research shows that the planned destruction of the Amazon rainforest is a major threat not only to cultural identity but also to the global climate. more...

UK's 'unlawful' £35 billion support to fossil fuels in ECJ challenge

Oliver Tickell

4th December 2014

Under the new 'capacity market' regulations, Britain's dirtiest coal-fired plants are set to benefit. Photo: Dom Atreides via Flickr. The UK Government plans to lock consumers into a 2.5bn a year, 15-year spend to support peak-time fossil power generation - while undermining energy demand savings capable of achieving the same purpose more cleanly and cheaply. But today the 'unlawful' system has been hit by an ECJ lawsuit. more...

WMO: 2014 set to be the hottest year on record

The Ecologist

3rd December 2014

January-October 2014 average air temperature anomalies over land and sea surface temperature anomalies over the oceans (relative to the 1961-1990 average) from the HadCRUT.4.3.0.0 data set. Image: WMO. The year 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary estimates by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Their latest report, issued today at the UN climate talks in Lima, shows exceptional heat and flooding in many parts of the world. more...

Climate turbulence deals costly blow to olive oil yield

Kieran Cooke

2nd December 2014

Last year’s fine crop of olives in Umbria, Italy, has been followed by what farmers say is the worst in memory.Photo: Carolyn Lyons. The growing popularity of olive oil has driven more intensive systems of olive tree cultivation, writes Kieran Cooke. But they are vulnerable to the kind of extreme weather that has brought pests and disease to olive crops across southern Europe, damaging crops and pushing up prices. more...

Thanks to meat, farming emissions set for 80% rise

Tim Radford

1st December 2014

Increasing amounts of meat in our diets are doing no good to use, or to the planet. Photo: Ariel Dovas via Flickr. The increase in meat and dairy consumption is set to cause huge increases in greenhouse gases, reports Tim Radford. A shift to less animal-based diets would cut greenhouse gases, conserve forests and grasslands - and make us all healthier, with reduced obesity, diabetes and associated conditions. more...

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