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Shrinking Arctic sea ice threatens the majestic Beluga whale

The Arctic sea ice hosts algae, which sustain a food chain up to the beluga whale. But the ice is decreasing – and in summers, it may be gone entirely by 2050

The beluga whale is one of the most extraordinary species of marine creature known to science. It is a gregarious, pure white Arctic dweller that emits strange, high-pitched twitters that have given it its nickname: the sea canary. Belugas are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s “near threatened” list, because of past whaling and the impact of water contamination.

Now scientists have discovered that Delphinapterus leucas is facing a new global threat. Like many other species that live in the far north, their lives are being disrupted by global warming, according to Thomas Brown of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams), who has been studying belugas for several years.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

The eco guide to keeping your recycling muscles fit

It’s desperately important that we redouble our efforts to combat pollution and waste

Recycling is a bit like fitness. The moment you stop putting in the effort, you lose your muscle.

This was on my mind as I watched microwavable black plastic containers whizzing up a conveyer belt at a recycling depot in Kent. This is progress. Innovation in plastic chemistry means these trays can now be recycled.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Foreign companies flock to build nuclear plants in the UK

A South Korean firm is just the latest to be lured by Britain’s atomic amibitions as safety concerns and cost stalk the industry

Nuclear energy faces an uncertain future globally as concerns over safety and cost dog the industry. But in the UK, foreign investors are queueing up to back projects. The latest is South Korea. Its biggest power company is in talks to join the consortium backing a nuclear power station in Cumbria, in a sign of the continuing allure of Britain’s atomic ambitions to international companies. Kepco said last week it was interested in taking a stake in NuGen, which is 60% owned by Japan’s Toshiba and 40% by France’s Engie, confirming what had been an open secret in the industry for months.

Kepco’s president, Cho Hwan-eik, said that once the terms of a potential deal were ironed out, “we will be the first to jump into the race”.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Fell race tests even the spectators

Dent Fell, west Cumbria Runners in the Jarrett’s Jaunt race have little time to appreciate the fell’s panoramic views of the Solway Firth

By hump-backed Wath Brow bridge, weary fell runners step gingerly down slippery banking into the icy waters of the river Ehen, swollen by overnight rain. Ah, the blessed relief as they rub and knead their calves with fingers and thumbs, jabbing deep into the muscles, soothing aches caused by scaling fellsides so steep they sometimes needed hands to help.

Related: Cumbria’s iron man

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Why reignite Tasmania's forest wars – to produce logs no one will buy? | Lenore Taylor

The state government’s determination to open up protected land for logging is a saga that moves from ridiculous to absurd

I thought I’d seen the turbid depths of policy driven by ideology and perceived political self-interest, but then I turned my attention back to the Tasmanian forest “wars”.

I first started reporting on this issue in 1988 when Bob Hawke and his environment minister Graham Richardson appointed a former judge, the late Michael Helsham, to investigate whether parts of the Tasmanian forest were worthy of world heritage listing. That resulted in the first of many agreements over the decades (in 1989, 1997, 2005 and 2013) in which federal and state governments paid hundreds of millions of dollars to “end the forest wars once and for all” by restructuring the industry and determining which forests should be protected and which should be open to logging.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Inspectors find safety irregularities at Creusot nuclear forge in France

Evidence of doctored paperwork found at Areva-owned forge, which has made parts for Hinkley Point

An international team of inspectors has found evidence of doctored paperwork and other failings at a forge in France that makes parts for nuclear power stations around the world.

The UK nuclear regulator said the safety culture at the site, which has produced forgings for British plants including Sizewell B and the planned new reactors at Hinkley Point, fell short of expectations.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Anti-Adani activists vow 'direct action' against mine contractor Downer

Campaigners will occupy work sites, chain themselves to machinery and clog phone lines, Galilee Blockade says

A group of activists say the mining contractor Downer Group is the “prime target” of a civil disruption campaign to force it to walk away from a $2bn deal to build and run Adani’s proposed Queensland coalmine.

Galilee Blockade organisers warn members of their network will occupy work sites, chain themselves to machinery and clog phone lines, among other actions that will cost Downer money until it exits a non-binding contract over the contentious Carmichael site .

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

The EU is right to put bees before business | Letters

Sarah Mukherjee accuses the EU proposal to ban neonicotinoids from fields of being “political” (Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticides, March 24). Damn right. If she means supporting the long-term interests of people over the short-term blinkered interests of a few businesses, I can hardly think of a better definition of the word.

From DDT to lead in petrol, businesses have fought tooth and nail against legal restrictions, until they came and the predicted disasters never happened. But why stop at fields and neonics? Our parks and gardens have become vital havens for all kinds of wildlife and yet our garden centres are filled with wildlife-unfriendly herbicides and pesticides, ironically shelved alongside the “bee and butterfly friendly” plants. At least farmers can argue, whether or not you agree, that their livelihoods and our food is at stake. Little is at stake if we ban all poisons from our parks and gardens, beyond a few weeds on our paths and some greenfly. Future generations will be astounded that we took so long.
Charles Harris
London

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Murder in Malaysia: how protecting native forests cost an activist his life

Malaysian activist Bill Kayong fought to save forest lands from logging and oil palm development. Like a troubling number of environmental campaigners around the world, he paid the highest price, reports Yale Environment 360

Environmentalists at risk: read part one in this series

It was 8.20am on 21 June 2016. Bill Kayong, an up-and-coming political activist in Miri, a coastal oil town in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, was 15 minutes into his morning commute, waiting in his pickup truck at a traffic light across from a shopping mall. Suddenly, two bullets shattered the side window and struck him in the head, killing him instantly.

Kayong was one of dozens of people killed while defending environmental and human rights causes in 2016. His life was taken just one day after a report from the human rights group Global Witness revealed that the previous year had been “the worst on record for killings of land and environmental defenders”, with 185 people around the world killed while taking a stand against development projects ranging from dams, to mines, to logging, to agricultural plantations.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change